Tanker Disaster on Glenbrook Avenue Saturday, February 24, 1973
On Saturday afternoon, February 24, 1973, Hamden firefighters on Platoon 3 got a lot more than they bargained for when they arrived at 86 Glenbrook Avenue on a reported truck fire. The truck was fuel oil tanker, fully involved.
The driver was preparing to make a heating oil delivery to the home of Myrtle Bryden when a fire started in the cab of the truck and extended to the adjacent gasoline tank. Noticing the smoke, the driver moved away from his truck just before the gasoline tank expoded, taking the oil cargo along with it.
The initial response was Engine 2, responding from Station 2 via Helen to Glenbrook. On arrival, Engine 2 immediately called for a full assignment consisting of Engine 1 and Ladder 1 (out of Station 2), Rescue 1 (out of HQ), and Engine 3 and Car 30 (out of Station 3).
Captain Tom Doherty, the officer on Engine 3, responded via Dixwell to Woodin Street to Glenbrook. Tom recalled that it was only he and driver Ray Chase on Engine 3, a 1968 Maxim 1000 GPM S model. They took the hydrant at the corner of Glenbrook, which was about 500 feet from the scene. Fire was coming off the top of the tanker. Flaming gasoline had engulfed a parked car and was flowing in the gutter.
The crews of Engines 1 and 2 were already on several lines, busy containing and extinguishing the fire on the Helen Street side, preventing entension to the surrounding houses. One engine was supplying an 1 1/2" Rockwood nozzle with a low velocity fog applicator attached, which has proved effective on gasoline fires. (Nearly thirty years earlier, in November 1944, the New Haven Fire Department extinguished a monster 10,000 gallon gasoline fire in a railroad cut near State Street using a 500 GPM Rockwood fog nozzle and nine other lines with fog nozzles.)
While Ray Chase hooked up big to the hydrant with Engine 3, several civilians helped Tom lug 500 feet of uncharged 2-1/2" supply line toward the scene, with an additional 100 feet of 1-1/2". He connected the 1-1/2" line to the tip of the 2-1/2" Rockwood nozzle at the end of the supply line (this can be seen in the newspaper photo above). When Ray charged Engine 3's supply line, Tom was able to direct a fog pattern toward the front of the truck with the 1 1/2". Tom says it was crazy.
The fire was extinguished in fairly short order. The tanker truck and parked car were totally destroyed, a nearby van was partially damaged, and the Bryden home suffered extensive heat damage.
Although there was great potential for a genuine conflagration on Glenbrook Avenue that day, swift containment efforts by Hamden firefighters' prevented any significant damage to other homes and property.
The photos on this page were taken by two different photographers. Unfortunately, neither is identified.
Ed Note: Your webmeister was with off-duty Hamden Firefighter Tony "Moonman" Melillo at the Meriden Mall to meet legendary WNBC DJ Don lmus ("in the Morning") for the debut of his record album "10,000 Hamburgers to Go." Returning to Tony's '66 Chevelle in the parking lot, we could see the huge column of black smoke in the southern sky. Uh oh.
The members of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association, Inc. wish to congratulate Captain Hugh O'Callaghan on being named the Hamden Elks' Firefighter of the Year for 2018. HPD's Scott Jason has been named Police Officer of the Year. Dale Kroop, who has been Director of the Hamden Economic and Community Development Department for the past 18 years, is Hamden Citizen of the Year.
The dinner to honor all three will be Saturday, March 10th at 6 p.m. at the Hamden Elks Lodge, 175 School Street. Tickets are $30 each and may be obtained by calling Carl Ameto (203-444-1782) or Phil Wilson (203-248-6800).
Capt. O'Callaghan was appointed to the Hamden Fire Department on March 4, 2002. He was promoted to lieutenant in January 2010 and captain in May 2015. He is presently assigned to Station 2 on Platoon 4.
Test results of first female fire candidates published - headline somewhat misleading
In November 1977, the Town of Hamden conducted its first civil service exam for entry level firefighter that featured a physical agility examination based on job related tasks. Previously, candidates were treated to a battery of calisthenics and other tests that measured physical endurance. But those earlier exams did not test for, among other things, such measurable skills as climbing an aerial ladder with 60 lbs. of equipment or carrying 125 lbs. of dead weight up and down a ground ladder.
The New Haven Register, Thursday, February 23, 1978
It is interesting how the editor spun the headline for this article. The two female candidates were not really "denied Hamden fire jobs." In an examination that was 50% written and 50% oral, the females' final scores among the 127 candidates were simply not high enough for probable appointment during the two years the list would be active. So were the scores of about 100 other male candidates.
The article referenced five female candidates who had recently failed New Haven's physical agility exam and were suing the city because they contended that New Haven's agility test was discriminatory. However, the Hamden female candidates did pass Hamden's ungraded pass-fail agility exam, which was job task-related.
Each of the job-related tasks was pass-fail - all of them measurable standards. For example, "The candidate, wearing a bunker coat, helmet, boots, gloves, and a Scott airpack, shall climb to the top and return to the turntable of a fully extended 75-foot aerial ladder, elevated at an angle of 60-degrees, in three minutes or less."
The candidate either accomplished the task in the alloted time or he/she did not. Those who did not failed.
The top eight candidates for appointment were listed in the order in which they finished. The first six were appointed the following May. Most of these recruits went on to careers that exceeded 25 years. Donald LaBanca had served 38 years of service when he retired two years ago.
The town appointed its first female firefighter, Kerry (Paul) Castracane, in September 1987. Two other female firefighters, Roberta Angiletta and Kim (Shara) Talmadge, have been appointed since. Castracane and Angiletta, now retired, both served long careers as paramedics.