Fifty-four years ago, the term "BLEVE" (BLEH-vee), for Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion, was relatively unknown in the fire service, which is probably why Hamden Firefighters Bill Esposito and Burt Hillocks were more focused on extinguishing a blaze atop a 6,000 gallon gasoline transporter than with the real potential for a BLEVE. But only a few weeks after the North Haven incident, a fire in a massive gasoline storage facility in Kansas City, Kansas resulted in a monstrous BLEVE that took the lives of five firefighters and injured dozens more.
The New Haven Evening Register, Thursday, July 9, 1959 (Courtesy of Chan Brainard) Photo by Donald Yosua
The burning tanker was on Dixwell Avenue just east of the Hamden-North Haven town line when fire companies from both towns were alerted and responded. Hamden's Engine 4, only 2/10 of a mile away, arrived first. Donald Yosua's newspaper photos clearly show that the fire was well involved by the time Ff. Esposito was able to apply the first water from Engine 4's Rockwood fog applicator.
Fortunately, the tanker was nearly full, which reduced the likilhood of a BLEVE during those first critical minutes before Hamden firefighters arrived. The potential for a BLEVE was very real nonetheless, placing Firefighters Esposito and Hillocks in an extremely perilous situation, which they defused through quick action.
Hamden Firefighter Bill Esposito advances toward a burning gasoline tanker with a Rockwood low-velocity fog applicator on a charged 1-1/2" handline. (Photo by Donald Yosua, from Local 2687 Collection)
The New Haven Evening Register, Thursday, July 9, 1959
April 2000 at Sta. 9
35 Years - Battalion Chief Don LaBanca
Website congratulations to B/C Don LaBanca, who has completed 35 years of service with the Hamden Fire Department. Don has been the most senior member of the department for the last several years.
Don began his HFD career as a Grade B firefighter on May 30, 1978 and was assigned to Platoon 3, then led by D/C George Reutenauer. He was promoted to lieutenant in December 1984 and captain in August 1993. On his promotion to battalion chief several years ago, Chief LaBanca became shift commander of Platoon 3, right where he began his career as a new firefighter.
Wishing B/C LaBanca all the very best as he starts Year 36!
Memorial Day 2013
May 27, 2013
One word ("OOOPS") is worth a thousand pictures . . .
This I.A. Sneiderman photo from the late 1950s appears to have been shot on Dixwell Avenue near the high school overpass to the Wilbur Cross Parkway. The parkway sign suggests that the truck was southbound. The driver obviously realized that his cargo was not going to make it (some aren't that lucky - or intuitive). Careful backward maneuvering with the aid of HPD undoubted remedied his dilemma. Or, maybe like another semi driver in a similar predicament, he just let some air out of the trailer's eight tires, allowing his cargo to clear the bridge.