Mrs. Walter Shaw, who had just celebrated her 80th birthday with family and friends the night before, perished tragically in an early morning fire that detroyed the Ridge Road home of her daughter and son in law, Mr. and Mrs. Rollin Mettler.
Subsequent news accounts stated that the family dog had alerted the family's maid, whose living quarters were near those of Mrs. Shaw. The maid awoke Mrs. Shaw and the two of them started to make their way out. However, Mrs. Shaw insisted that the maid alert other family members and that she would be able to exit the home unaided. She apparently lost her way in the smoke and later was found lifeless but unburned, the victim of smoke inhalation.
The fire at the home, located near the Hamden-North Haven town line, was discovered by a patroling North Haven police officer who alerted North Haven Fire Department, then an all-volunteer department, which dispatched West Ridge Volunteer Co. 3. On arrival, North Haven fire personnel alerted Hamden. Hamden Engines 4, 3, the ladder truck and emergency squad responded. Four units from North Haven assisted Hamden. Fire apparatus from both towns were on scene for five and one half hours.
From time to time every fire department gets these kinds of calls. Hamden firefighters this past week responded to a fire that can be best characterized as "nasty." When fighting a fire in trash, garbage, refuse - whatever you want to call it - you don't always know exactly what's burning. The job becomes even more challenging when the fire lies deep within the cargo area.
When all vestiges of the fire are gone the problem of cleaning up the mess begins. Fortunately, that task does not fall within the scope of the fire department's responsibility.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016 (HFD photo)
April 22 - At 8:11 last Wednesday morning the Hamden Fire Department was dispatched to a reported garbage truck on fire in front of 20 Bradley Avenue. Bradley Avenue is immediately adjacent to Station 2 at 71 Circular Avenue. Engine 2 responded from quarters.
The truck was fully loaded with recycling material and the engine and cab were on fire. Radiant heat from the cab and engine ignited the recycling load.
The Hamden Police Department closed both Circular and Bradley Avenues during suppression operations due to the location of the hydrant.
An access point was made to the cargo area, but the fire could not be extinguished fully while the load was on the truck. With the cooperation of All American Waste, the owners of the garbage truck, dumpsters were brought to the scene for clean-up. A 100 ton capacity wrecker was used to lift the cargo area while Hamden Public Works operators used a backhoe to remove the burning debris from the truck. The load was then fully extinguished.
[The website thanks the Fire Chief's Office and Dep. Chief Gary Merwede for providing this article and photo.)
Been there, done that . . .
Hamden firefighters extinguishing fires in trash trucks has been documented several times before. Here are just a few . . .
April 2, 1969 - Capt. Paul Rosadina and his crew of Engine 2 tackle this stubborn fire
in this refuse truck behind one of the complexes at Kaye Vue Drive, off Mix Avenue.
c. 1966 - Lieut. Luke Tobin, Firefighter Sid Trower and fellow Engine 3 crew members
work on this pile of trash in the middle of Thornton Street.
November 23, 1964 - Not too long before the Thornton Street event (above), Lieut Tobin and his crew had this one. This trash fire was near the old Quinnipiac College "campus," once located at the corner of Whitney Avenue and Servoss Street. Originally known as Larson College, the building is now an upscale assisted living residence called Larson Place.
The New Haven Register, Tuesday, November 24, 1964 (Courtesy of Chan Brainard)
When the Hamden Fire Department was re-organized under career fire officers in April 1942, the department's only full-time administrative position was that of Fire Chief, a position that was filled by Raymond C. Spencer. Chief Spencer had no second-in-command. But that would change.
Several years after Albert Purce was appointed as the full-time fire marshal, the Fire Commission designated him as the department's "assistant chief." When Bob O'Donnell became marshal following Purce's 1968 retirement, he was offered the department's number two position but declined.
At the time, the fire marshal, the shift commanders and the training officer were management personnel. The shift commanders and the training officer all held the rank of "Deputy Chief." Without a permanent second-in-command, Chief V. Paul Leddy decreed that, in his absence, the deputy chief who was on-duty would be Acting Chief of the Department.
When the five deputy chiefs and the marshal joined the union in 1982, the only management department member was Chief Leddy. In his absence the Chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners was the Acting Chief. This awkward situation led to the 1983 creation of a permanent second-in-command, properly designated as "Assistant Chief."
EMS Officer Walter Macdowall was appointed as the department's first Assistant Chief. He was sworn in with Chief John Tramontano on April 30, 1984.
The title "Assistant Chief" was changed to "Deputy Chief" shortly thereafter to satisfy some within Hamden's political establishment, by conforming to the police department's nomenclature for its second-in-command. Some of Hamden's politicians at the time complained, "Why does the fire department need five deputy chief positions when the police department has only one?" (HPD did have only one D/C at the time.)
Some of the pols could not grasp the fact that the police and fire positions of "deputy chief" were not the same job and came with far different salaries. Repeated explanations fell on deaf ears. Again and again the Chief would try to make his point. "Let me explain: A captain in the army and a captain in the navy both have the same title. But the naval captain is the equivalent of a full colonel in the army. Similarly - are you following me? - the police department deputy chief is second-in-command of the entire police department, but fire department deputy chief is a shift commander, the same as a police captain."
The pols still didn't get it. (Surprise!) So a compromise was hammered out, lest the shift commanders' positions be lost altogether. On June 1, 1984, the shift commanders' title of "Deputy Chief" was changed to "Commander." More than a decade later, on February 1, 1995, the Hamden Fire Department rank of "Commander" was renamed "Battalion Chief." (NOTE: In 1961, Chief V. Paul Leddy successfully lobbied the Fire Commission to change the rank of "Battalion Chief" to "Deputy Chief." The more things change . . . )
The Renegade Pigs Motorcycle Club, Gertz-Meriden Motorcycle Club of Connecticut, Inc. is comprised of police officers, firefighters, and any other public safety officers or employees. The club sponsors the High Hopes Home in Meriden for severely handicapped and abandoned children.
The Club also makes donations to other charities during the year, including Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys for the Home, the Meriden Fire Department and, when possible, other organizations that support their cause. The Club's only source of income is an annual Motorcycle Raffle.
This year's raffle prize - the ONLY prize - is a
Brand New 2016 Harley Davidson Street Glide!
Only 2000 tickets will be sold, at a cost of $20.00 per ticket.
The drawing for this beautiful motorcycle will take place on July 30th at 5:00 p.m. at the Meriden American Legion, Post #45, 835 Hanover Rd., Meriden, Connecticut. The lucky winner need not be present at the drawing, but is responsible for all taxes.
Contact Rich (Rambo) Maybury at 203-927-1641 for a ticket (or tickets) and/or for more information.
The only really noticeable differences in these two photos of Thornton Street taken fifty years apart, is that the 1964 Chevy has been replaced by a late model Nissan Versa and the two trees on the right have gained a lot of girth. (Oh yeah, and the trash fire is out.)