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Chief John Tramontano (1937 - 2015)
It is with deep regret that we announce the sudden passing of retired Hamden Fire Chief John R. Tramontano last Friday, September 4th, at his home in Gilford, New Hampshire.
Active and retired Hamden fire and police personnel and all other fire service colleagues and friends of Chief Tramontano's are invited to a Memorial Service, conducted by members of the Hamden Fire Department in cooperation with the Tramontano family, to be held at Hamden's Memorial Town Hall, Whitney and Dixwell Avenues, on the morning of Saturday, September 19th from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.
Retired fire personnel still in possession of their dress blues are encouraged to wear them.
For the third time in as many months a new battalion chief has been named by the Hamden Board of Fire Commissioners. At the regular monthly meeting last Wednesday evening, twenty-eight year department veteran Ron Desroches was named to succeed Battalion Chief William Fitzmaurice, who retired last month.
Ron Desroches joined the fire service in 1976 as a member of the Dunbar Hill Volunteer Fire Co. No. 8. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps two years later, where he served for four years, completing his active duty at the rank of Sergeant.
Ron began his service as a member of the career department on February 9, 1987. Following his recruit training, Ron was assigned to Platoon 2, which he will now lead as the department's newest battalion chief. He was promoted the Lieutenant in June 1999, and Captain in February 2006.
Just before administering the oath to Chief Desroches, longtime HFD fan and Hamden Town Clerk Vera Morrison noted that in her twenty years as Town Clerk she believes that she has admininstered more oaths to newly promoted fire officers in 2015 than in all previous years combined.
This is the first time in department history that three new shift commanders have been named during the same calendar year - indeed, within three months. In addition to B/C Desroches, B/C Rich Otlowski was promoted in June to replace retired B/C Don LaBanca and B/C Gary Couture was promoted last month to replace retired B/C Sam DeBurra. The previous record was two. In May 1984, Captains Jack Laffin and Tom Doherty were promoted to succeed D/C [B/C] Paul Rosadina and D/C [B/C] George Reutenauer as commanders of Platoons 1 and 3, respectively.
The members of the HFRA wish Battalion Chief Ron Desroches all the very best. Those of us who have worked with Ron through the years know that he will do very well in his new role.
And Station 5's Raymond K. Spencer Memorial Annex is still the
newest completely new construction for Hamden's career apparatus.
R.K., Spencer - Annex Dedication - September 4, 1975 (Photo by Jack Harriet)
September 4, 1975 - Mt. Carmel Fire Station Annex Dedication
Forty years ago, on Thursday evening, September 4, 1975, the annex of Station 5 in Mt. Carmel was officially dedicated. Master of ceremonies for the dedication that night was Co. 5 President Raymond K. Spencer, for whom the annex was officially named thirty-six years later.
Mayor Lucien DiMeo, Chief V. Paul Leddy and department chaplain Rev. Owen Sanderson all spoke before a crowd of about one hundred present and former members of the career and volunteer companies, as well as many family members and friends.
Two unrelated facts about the event stand out four decades later. First, it was the last time a completely new structure was built for the purpose of housing Hamden career fire apparatus. Second, the event was videotaped at a time when home video was still years in the future.
We have posted a YouTube presentation of portions of this video presentation, with remarks by Chief Leddy, Mayor DiMeo and Rev. Sanderson. Several past and present members of the paid department (in 1975!) were introduced by Chief Leddy.
By the summer 1974, the 1939 Diamond-T pumper that had been Engine 7 was to be sold by the town. In August 1974, Co. 5's line officers approached Chief V. Paul Leddy. If Co. 5 built a simple storage garage behind Station 5 to accommodate Car 55, they asked, would the Chief assign them Co. 7's old 1939 Diamond-T pumper?
Chief Leddy agreed. But the town's youthful purchasing agent was preparing to dispose of the pumper. He was reluctant to give the pumper back to the fire department, stating that it would bring "at least five hundred bucks" back to the town's treasury. Co. 5's line officers politely pointed out to the young man that their firefighters had just spent hundreds of man hours over several days assisting the career department fighting a nasty fire involving thousands of old tires on State Street. The purchasing agent had no comeback. He released the pumper back to the fire department for eventual assignment to Volunteer Co. 5.
This started a chain of events that led to the construction of a building annex for Station 5 during the following year. Station 5's annex, paid for entirely by the volunteers, would be capable of housing Hamden's largest apparatus at the time.
On September 4, 1975, the entire annex dedication ceremony was videotaped on a B&W reel-to-reel videotape recorder. Portions of the recording were posted on YouTube.
September 4, 1975 Annex Dedication Program - Courtesy of Gil Spencer (CLICK to enlarge)
Helping Allison Stratton and her family with strong local fire service ties . . .
Hamden Fire Marshal Brian Dolan contacted us recently. "I am looking for help for a family member and hopeful that members of Hamden FD can help out. My cousin, Allison Stratton, was afflicted by a severe heart and nervous system virus last October. She was literally healthy one day, Life-Stared to the hospital the next, and on life-support for over a week.
Allison was able to fight through the virus and survived. She is now paralyzed, with a spinal cord injury, and is wheelchair bound as a result of the illness. She is married with two young children."
Brian noted that Allison was born and raised in Hamden. Her father, Phil Stratton, is a retired New Haven firefighter. Brian is trying to raise as much money as possible for Allison and her family, which has growing financial concerns as a result of her illness and physical limitations.
"The family suddenly went from two incomes to one. Their house now requires many renovations to make it handicap accessible."
Donations can be made payable to the “Allison Stratton-Peterson Fund.”
The Fund is hoping to collect any donations by September 25th so that they may present all the Hamden FD donations to the family at one time. For more information on how to donate, please contact the website at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hamden High Freshman Alerts Town Walk Tenant of Fire
Brandon Sealey with HFD Friend by Squad 1
From the Office of the Fire Chief:
On Sunday 8/30/2015 at 17:45 Hamden Central Communications received a 911 call reporting an alarm activation and an uncontained oven fire in Building 11000 in the Town Walk Drive apartment complex. At approximately the same time, Hamden High School freshman Brandon Sealey  was riding his bike in the rear of the building.
Brandon heard the sound of an activated smoke detector and saw light smoke coming from the sliding doors leading to the deck of the apartment with the oven fire. He ran to his first floor apartment and retrieved a fire extinguisher, giving it to his adult neighbor from the affected apartment. As the Hamden Fire Department arrived in the complex, the fire was extinguished without extension. Lt. Naples from Squad 1 confirmed the fire was extinguished and ventilated the building prior to allowing residents to return.
For his willingness to help a neighbor and quick actions that led to the extinguishment of an incipient fire, Brandon was recognized by the Firefighters at Station 4 when he visited with his parents yesterday.
Smoke detectors, properly maintained alarm systems, and portable fire extinguishers can save lives and property. Never re-enter a smoke filled building to attempt to extinguish a fire. The positive outcome at this call was due to quick action of an alert high school student within a minute of the smoke detector activation.
New Rear Mount Pierce 105' Aerial Ladder Replaces Two Antiques
From The Hamden Chronicle, September 1, 1990 (Courtesy of Gil Spencer)
In late 1989 the department's 1970 Maxim 100 footer was declared unsafe and was removed from service. Hamden's first aerial ladder truck, a 1958 Maxim 75' "Junior Aerial," was still in service as a spare when 1990 dawned, but was taken out of service permanently shortly thereafter.
While the town scurried to purchase a new aerial truck, the East Haven Fire Department lent the department their spare 1967 Seagrave aerial to tide things over until the new 105' Pierce rear mount arrived in September. For many years after the new 100' Pierce tower ladder arrived in 1991, the 1990 aerial, a quint, was assigned to Station 5 as "Truck 5" and responded on still alarms as an engine company. The truck, now quartered at Station 9, still serves the department as a spare.