Hamden's Most Senior Firefighter Will Retire April 30th
Battalion Chief Donald LaBanca, who started his Hamden Fire Department career on May 28, 1978, will hang up his bunker gear at the end of this month. Chief LaBanca was promoted to lieutenant in 1984, captain in 1993 and battalion chief in 2006. Having already acquired a reputation as an aggressive firefighter, in 1985, then-Lieut. LaBanca and his Engine 2 crew rescued a pregnant woman from the third floor of an Edwards Street house that was well involved when they arrived on scene.
The members of the HFRA wish Donny a long, happy and healthy retirement! (See you at the July 7th meeting, Don!)
Photo by John Mongillo, Jr.
H & D Paper Products Co. 110 Webb Street April 20-21, 1969
On April 20-21, 1979, the Hamden Fire Department battled back-to-back fires at Corey's Lumber Co. and Howard Johnson's. Exactly ten years to the day earlier, on a quiet Sunday evening, one of the most spectacular blazes in Hamden Fire Department history struck the H&D Paper Products Co. at 110 Webb Street. The loss was estimated at $500,000.
HFD Mountain Rescue Team - CLICK to read 2/19/12 New Haven Register article and see video
In 1991, students studying the art of food preparation at Eli Whitney Vocational Technical School presented the Station 2 crew of Platoon 1 with a special cake that looked a lot like Engine 2. Standing (L-R) are Ff. Dick Carney, Ff. Tim O'Flynn, Capt. Mike Ambriscoe, Ff. Gary Couture and Ff. Bill Davin. Lieut Dennis Baker, seated between two unidentified civilians, is about to do the honors.
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Baker)
April 1938 - New Seagrave 600 GPM Pumper
Hamden purchased two new pieces of apparatus in 1938. On February 26th, the new "Emergency Squad" was delivered by the Wood Engineering Service of Topsfield, Massachusetts. It was the earliest ancestor of today's rescue units, and cost $1,976.
The Squad was equipped with a booster reel and a 150 g.p.m. pump. Stationed at Headquarters, the squad rolled on all alarms in town.
A few weeks later, on April 12th, Hamden took delivery of a new Seagrave 600 g.p.m. "canopy-cab" pumper that cost $7,524. The new Seagrave replaced the 1925 Seagrave "Suburbanite" 350 g.p.m. pumper that had been Engine 4 since it was new.
After a new 150 g.p.m. pump was installed on the '25 Seagrave, it was assigned to Dunbar Hill Vol. Co. 8, replacing the 1918 Stewart chemical truck it had inherited from Co. 5 in 1930.
On June 13, 1939, a new 500 g.p.m. Diamond-T pumper costing $4,500 was delivered to Headquarters. The 1938 Seagrave was transferred to Station 2, where it replaced the 1919 Seagrave 750 g.p.m. pumper, which was the first piece of apparatus paid for by the town.
Co. 5's "Patrol Wagon," on a 1921 Packard Twin-6 chassis, was still listed in a 1936 notation. It was gone by the end of the decade, at which time the 1919 Seagrave spare pumper was moved to Station 5.
Hamden Fire Department Apparatus Inventory 1940 Station 1 – Highwood Engine 1 – 1926 Maxim 500 g.p.m. pumper Ladder 1 – 1926 Maxim city service ladder truck Station 2 – Humphrey Engine 2 – 1938 Seagrave 600 g.p.m. pumper - Delivered 4/12/38 - $7,524 Station 3 – Whitneyville Engine 3 – 1928 Maxim 750 g.p.m. pumper
Station 6 – Merritt Street Engine 6 - 1924 Stutz 350 g.p.m. pumper
Station 7 – Mix District Engine 7 – 1935 Dodge 150 g.p.m. pumper Station 8 – Dunbar Hill Engine 8 – 1925 Seagrave 150 g.p.m. pumper
Wilton's Diamond-T pumper - it's either a '38 or '39 - is a virtual clone of Hamden's 1939 Diamond-T pumper (pictured above) delivered two months earlier. Hamden's pumper did not sport rear fender skirts like the beauty below, but Hamden's 1941 Diamond-T city service ladder truck, delivered three years later, did feature that flashy extra. The skirts disappeared by 1948.
Like last week's "Spark" feature, this photo was taken August 20, 1939 at the Connecticut State Firemen's Association Convention Parade at Bridgeport and was made available through the courtesy of G. Donald Steele. (More to come, of course.)