NOTICE TO MEMBERS: Due to unforeseen scheduling issues, the January 2018 "Winter" Meeting of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association will be delayed one week, to Thursday, January 18th at 9 a.m. at the Hamden Elks Lodge. A meeting agenda and menu will be sent to all members right after the New Year.
On Tuesday, December the 5th at 2:09 p.m., the Hamden Fire Department was dispatched to 1047 Whitney Avenue for a reported apartment fire at the Lakeshore Apartment complex, on the corner of Whitney Avenue and Davis Street. The neighbor 9-1-1 caller reported smoke coming from the building and flames could be seen from the rear of the address. It was unknown if the apartment was occupied at the time of dispatch.
Engine 3 arrived on scene in three minutes and transmitted confirmation of a working fire. Crews forced entry to the locked apartment as well as the unit directly next door and found no one was home in either apartment. The fire was in a rear facing living room and quickly knocked down. Additional crews checked for fire extension.
The fire had vented by breaking out the rear windows shown in the photo above, and was contained to the living room, which was the room of origin. Smoke and heat damage travelled throughout the affected apartment. The residents at number 1047, two adults and an infant, have been relocated by the American Red Cross.
The neighbor's quick reporting of the emergency and rapid extinguishment of the fire resulted in no other units having displaced residents. Property managers were on scene to assess damage before the last apparatus cleared the scene.
The photo at left shows the living room couch, which was origin of the fire. Fire Marshal Brian Dolan has determined the laptop that was plugged in and charging on the couch as the point of origin. The photo below more clearly shows the laptop, far left on the couch.
Accessories that require charging should never be left unattended or placed on surfaces that may inhibit ventilation. It was not determined if the unit overheated or there was a failure of electrical or battery components. No injuries were reported at this fire.
The website thanks the Fire Chief's Office and Dep. Chief Gary Merwede for providing this article and photos.
Website regulars and old-time Hamdenites may recall Hamden's worst mass-casualty emergency. On July 4, 1950, a freak lightning strike killed three and injured seven others at a family gathering outside the 65 West Shepard Avenue home of Mr. and Mrs. Leonard A. Dorman, where the organizational meeting of the Mix District Volunteer Fire Co. No. 7 had taken place in November 1924. The occasion was a party to celebrate the Fourth of July and the upcoming 21st birthday of the Dormans' son, Leonard Jr., one of the seven survivors.
Leonard Dorman Jr. passed away last week at the age of 88. He was a longtime member of the Mix District Volunteer Fire Co. No. 7. We would like to share an email we received from Leonard Dorman's son-in-law, former Hamdenite David Ormstedt of Bloomington, Indiana.
Mr. Ormstedt wrote of the recent passing of his father-in-law, who had lived on West Shepard Avenue for his entire 88 years. He wished to share a poignant tribute paid to Dorman by his 9-year old great-grandson, Nicholas Titzer, who is also Ormstedt's grandson. Here is an excerpt from his email:
"Leonard was a member of Mix District Volunteer Fire Co. No. 7 for 52 years. Some time ago he had given his old Co. 7 hat to his great-grandson, Nicholas Titzer of Greenwood, Indiana. Nick, age 9, was close to his great-grandfather and wanted to bring the hat to his funeral. This picture is Nick wearing the hat at Leonard's burial at St. Mary's Cemetery on Whitney Avenue.
"It was very moving for all the old Hamdenites who were there and a testimonial to the enduring legacy of those who served in the Co. 7 volunteers."
David Ormstedt Bloomington, Indiana
Thank you, Mr. Ormstedt, for sharing with our readers this fine tribute to Leonard Dorman. His was one of Hamden's great stories.
The HFRA thanks Erwin "Jim" Wetmore for the recent donation of the dedication plaque from Hamden's 1925 Seagrave "Suburbanite" 350 GPM pumper that was delivered in February 1925 to Centerville Co. 4.
The '25 Seagrave was the first piece of new apparatus to be acquired following the 1925 creation of a Hamden Board of Fire Commissioners and the subsequent appointment of Chief Charles Loller.
From the 1925 Annual Report of the Town of Hamden:
During the past year the fire department became an official branch of town government, with the Board of Fire Commissioners being raised by an act of the legislature and ratification of a special town meeting. The commission is made up of three members who have been named by the selectmen, the personnel of the commission being: Edgar W. Mason, chairman; George W. Warner, chairman ex-officio; William Balke and Thomas J. Callahan, and Harry Andrews, secretary.
Photo courtesy of Chan Brainard
The 1925 Seagrave was fourteen years old when this photo was taken in front of old Station 3 on Putnam Avenue, with Firefighters Clem Kammerer (left) and Robert Reutenauer on board. Shortly after this photo was taken, the pumper was transferred to Co. 8 in Dunbar Hill, where it remained in service until December 1957, when it was then handed over to the newly formed West Woods Volunteer Fire Co. No. 9.
While responding to alarm in Highwood in December 1927, this pumper overturned after hitting a raised trolley rail on Whitney Avenue in Spring Glen, resulting in the death of Centerville Co. 4 volunteer Firefighter Edward Meegan (see last week's update). The pumper was repaired locally and returned to full service.
The 1957 newspaper photo below shows the old pumper being repaired at the Shop behind Humphrey Station 2 by Supt. Clem Wetmore and his assistant, Firefighter Ken Harrington, who worked part-time in the Shop before the Assistant Superintendent's position was created. The caption erroneously states that the truck was a 1924 model - it was officially a 1925 model, delivered in February 1925. But it was definitely ancient at the time of the photo.
The final assignment for the 1925 Seagrave, at West Woods Co. 9, was short-lived. In 1959, the pumper was traded in to the O.B. Maxwell Co. for $250.00 worth of credit toward the purchase of the 1959 Maxim "cab-forward" pumper. The fate of the truck is unknown. But, sadly, it is likely that it went the way of so many other former Hamden fire apparatus: the junkyard.
Fortunately, Supt. Clem Wetmore had the presence of mind and the desire to help preserve the department's history by rescuing the pumper's dedication plaque that was donated to the HFRA archives earlier this past week from Clem's son, Jim. Thank you, Jim!
Local historian Anthony "Tony" Griego, a retired New Haven police sergeant and lifelong resident of the State Street section of Hamden, donated this photo of the Merritt Street Co. 6 fire station that he took in the winter of 1971, right after it closed.
Tony, who is a member of Hamden's Historic Properties Commission, is keenly interested in saving images of local landmarks before they are no longer around and, therefore, often lost to history. He has hundreds of such photos and most of his subjects met the wrecking ball years ago. Fortunately, this old Hamden fire station, like all other former Hamden fire stations, has been "re-purposed" as a business occupancy and remains standing today. Thank you, Tony!