From the 1940s until the 1960s, it was common practice for Hamden's fire chief to report on the monthly activities of the fire department. This report of the January 1957 activities seems quaint by today's standards, considering the hundreds of calls the department receives each month 60 years later. While the January 1957 fire activity report seems quite dated today, the sentiment regarding it, expressed at right, is timeless.
The website received this excellent early 20th century photograph of a legendary area firefighter whose descendant, known to all Hamden firefighters, followed in some of his ways.
Jack Cunningham was driver of the horse-drawn hook and ladder truck in his community's fire department, an opportunity missed by early Hamden smoke eaters because Hamden never had horse-drawn apparatus.
Accompanying this photo was the sender's comment, "This is my great grandfather, Jack Cunningham, driver of the horse drawn hook and ladder back in early 1900s. Lived to be 93. Shot of whiskey every day. Lost his eye in a fight. Can't make it up. Different time back then. I knew him for a short while. His history (fire service that is) probably helped me with my career path."
Undoubtedly, Firefighter "One-Eye" Jack Cunningham, as he was known, would be smiling today to know the career path taken by his great-grandson, whose identify is revealed at the bottom of the week's update page.
Firefighters Robert Reutenauer and Clem Kammerer were photographed perched on Company 6's Stutz 350 g.p.m. pumper, Engine 6, in this 1939 photo at old Station 3.
The Stutz was purchased for $7,150 in April 1924 by the Whitneyville Annex Volunteer Fire Association, which changed its name to the Merritt Street Volunteer Fire Association the following year.
Clem Kammerer joined the department in 1928 and retired in 1959. Robert Reutenauer served from 1926 until his retirement in 1957. His son, George, joined the department in 1946 and retired in 1984 at the rank of Deputy Chief (shift commander).
May 1939 at the Whitneyville fire station on Putnam Avenue, which closed in September 1970.
The Stutz remained in service at Merritt Street until it was replaced by Highwood's 1926 Maxim in early 1942. Never again in service as a first line piece, the Stutz was eventually sold to Company 7 member Dwight Kirk, who replaced the original 70 gallon booster tank with a tank of 400 gallon capacity to protect his farm in northern Hamden. The pumper was sometimes pressed into service when needed for fires in the north end.
Former Chief Paul Wetmore, Sr. and his brother Jim remember the truck wasting away in a field near their Shepard Avenue home. The only apparent survivor from the truck is its warning whistle from the WWII era, when sirens were not used on fire apparatus lest they be mistaken for air raid warnings.