Whitneyville Apartment Explosion 1181 Whitney Avenue Tuesday, October 18, 1977
Off-duty Hamden firefighter Ralph Tomaselli was working his part-time job at Stone's Sunoco station at Whitney and Auger when a gas-fed explosion destroyed an apartment building right across the street at 1181 Whitney Avenue. Ralph, along with fellow employee Wolfram Kaminskas and by-stander Gary Jones, immediately rushed into the burning debris in an attempt to rescue two elderly victims. CLICK on The New Haven Register article below for the story.
CLICK image to enlarge for easier reading
Captain Daniel Liston of HPD confers with Chief V. Paul Leddy (Hamden Chronicle photo)
Hamden firefighter operates ladder pipe from the 1970 100' aerial truck as Training Officer, Dep. Chief Ken Harrington and another Hamden firefighter check through the debris below. (Hamden Chronicle photo)
CLICK to enlarge for easier reading (Newspaper articles on this page courtesy of Gilbert Spencer)
Firefighter Ralph Tomaselli and Civilians Recognized for Heroic Efforts Following Blast
Annual Dinner at Reilly's Restauarant, April 6, 1978 - Hamden Firefighters' Association president Bob Slater presents the 1978 Alfred Ramelli Award to Firefighter Ralph Tomaselli. L-R: Craig Reynolds, Rev. Owen Sanderson, Pres. Slater, Wolfram Kominskas, Ff. Tomaselli, and Bob Stone.
On October 18, 1977, Firefighter Tomaselli, who was off duty, and the civilians pictured here were at the scene within seconds to search for and assist victims following an apartment building explosion at 1181 Whitney Avenue.
At 1:30 Thursday afternoon, Hamden fire apparatus were dispatched to a reported structure fire at 23 Newton Street in the Hamden Plains section of town. A single 9-1-1 caller had notified Central Communications that flames were showing from the rear of the multiple family home. Engine 2 from Circular Avenue arrived on scene at 1:31 and confirmed a working fire at that location.
The fire was located in the right rear of the home. Following a thorough search of all floors, personnel determined that all occupants had exited the home. They were found uninjured in the next-door neighbor’s yard. Battalion Chief Otlowski declared the fire under control 1:43, but held units on scene to check for extension in interior and exterior walls.
Portions of the basement and one bedroom sustained water, smoke and heat damage. According to a late Thursday update, the first floor tenants would be temporarily displaced. Fire Marshal Brian Dolan is investigating the origin and cause of the fire.
One firefighter was transported from the scene by AMR. He was treated for exhaustion and dehydration at Yale New Haven Hospital, and was released by Thursday evening.
Serious Accident on Wilbur Cross Pky.
At 1:50, during the overhaul phase of fire ground operations, Central Communications was notified of a motor vehicle accident with entrapment on Route 15 Northbound near Exit 61 (Whitney Avenue). Rescue 1 and Squad 1 cleared the Newton Street fire and responded with Engine 5. Companies arrived on scene at 1:53, reporting a single vehicle head-on into a tree with two Priority 1 patients inside.
The male and female occupants were extricated by fire department personnel, and advanced life support treatment was initiated on scene. They were transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital via AMR for treatment and evaluation. At 2:26 p.m., the scene was turned over to the Connecticut State Police for accident investigation.
The website thanks the Fire Chief's Office and Dep. Chief Gary Merwede for providing the article and photo.
Summer 1974 - At first glance, the pumper in the foreground of the image below looks like Engine 3, the 1973 Maxim 1,000 GPM Telesqurt. But the cab-mounted turret foam nozzle says otherwise. It's actually Engine 4, Hamden's 1973 Maxim 1,000 GPM pumper with the foam delivery system. The Telesqurt is parked right behind it.
Photo by Ed Doiron, Sr.
The older Maxim at right is Engine 5, the 1954 750 GPM. The flatside compartments (not visible in the photo) and the 10 lugnuts on the front wheels distinguish this pumper from the almost identicial 1951 and 1952 models.
The apparatus are parked just inside the Dixwell Avenue parking area for the old Centerville School (now the Miller Library and Thornton Wilder Senior Center), where the Fire Chief's Office was relocated a few months earlier. The Chief's Office was previously on the second floor of the town hall, right above the north entrance just south of Station 4, approximately where it is located today.
CLICK this photo to see why these engines were parked there.
He was a giant in the annals the American fire service and a prolific fire service author and lecturer. Earlier this week, Fire Engineering reported that retired Chief Alan Brunacini of the Phoenix Fire Department had passed away on October 15th.
Chief Brunacini joined the Phoenix department in 1958. Having worked in every position in the department, Brunacini was appointed chief in 1978 and served until his 2006 retirement. He was a strong advocate of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and was considered the father of the Incident Command system, which the HFD adopted in the mid-1980s following the appointment of John Tramontano as Hamden's fire chief.
In 1986, Chief Brunacini sent Chief Tramontano a complete set of Phoenix's SOPs. Several of the Brunacini's SOP books served as templates for Hamden's own SOPs. Read more about Chief Brunacini by clicking on the link below.
From Chief Brunacini's obituary:
"He moved up the fire-department ranks, holding every sworn position. Along the way, he took note of what worked and what needed fixing. When he promoted to Fire Chief in 1978, Bruno sparked a much-needed revolution. A gentle-hearted philosopher with a keen wit and kind disposition, his leadership creed was sincere, smart and simple: Prevent harm. Survive. Be nice. Bruno’s primary focus was firefighter safety. Second only to that, he told his charges, take gentle care of our citizens. He was a dedicated advocate for “Mrs. Smith”—that’s the name he chose to represent any fire-department customer. Treat Mrs. Smith with respect, he said. Be kind, show compassion. Chief Bruno was nothing if not genuine, and he showed those he worked with the same gracious consideration he expected for the citizens of Phoenix."