Hamden Paid Firemen's Sick Benefit Assn. Established
The Hamden Paid Firemen's Sick Benefit Association (SBA), a new association for career Hamden fire personnel only, was organized 70 years ago at fire headquarters in the spring of 1948. It replaced the Hamden Firemen's Benevolent Assn., which was organized in 1932 for paid drivers and substitutes. All surviving records of both associations are in the archives of the retirees' association.
Elected at the organizational meeting on April 21, 1948, the association's first president was then-Firefighter Paul Leddy (always called "Paul," his use of his first name initial "V" came later). Another "Paul," Paul Rosadina was elected vice president. Leddy's younger brother Francis, nicknamed "Chalky," was the association's first secretary. Longtime firefighter Frank Nolan was elected treasurer.
Minutes of the first meeting have not survived, but according to the Secretary's Annual Report, there were seven regular meetings from April 21, 1948 to February 9, 1949.
"The Pension and Civil Service Plans were discussed at great length throughout the year and it was finally to reject the Civil Service Plan and to accept the Town's Pension plan with the provision that the retirement age be lowered to sixty years.
"The annual Firemen's Ball was held at the Town Hall on November 24th, 1948 with a net profit of $2,785.68.
"The Association requested a raise in pay for all grades and officers with the final outcome that these raises were given but the men below Grade A were put back to their original grade before October 1st, 1948.
"A committee was formed to write up the By-Laws and they were finally adopted at the February 2nd, 1949 meeting.
"We are closing the fiscal year 1948-49 with 36 members." - Francis Leddy, Secretary.
Like virtually all other Hamden paid firefighters at the time, the Leddy brothers had come from the ranks of the volunteers, both having been members of the Mt. Carmel company. Association records indicate that the first paid Hamden firefighter who had not been a volunteer was probably Fred Fletcher, a New York native who joined the department in April 1946. The second was Rosadina, who joined the department six months later.
December 22, 1995 - (L-R) D/C George Reutenauer and D/C Francis "Chalky" Leddy (both retired), Rev. John Abbott of Connecticut Hospice, and B/C Gil Spencer (Ret.), the SBA's last president, standing behind Rev. Abbott.
When collective bargaining for firefighters was finally permitted in the 1960s, the SBA became the bargaining unit for Hamden's non-management personnel. But this eventually created a problem. All members of the department at the time were members of the SBA, including the chief, the fire marshal, and the five deputy chiefs, all of whom were management.
A new bargaining unit, the Hamden Firefighters Association, was formed in 1978 for the department's non-management personnel only. However, the Sick Benefit Association continued to remain active to provide up to $100 in medical expense reimbursements annually, as well as death and retirement benefit payments, for those personnel who had chosen to remain members.
By the early 1980s membership in the SBA had fallen to about two dozen. Following its 1983 annual meeting, subsequent SBA meetings were not held for over ten years, although benefits continued to be paid to SBA members still on the books.
In 1995, the I.R.S. began inquiring about the status of the organization. So, the members who were on the books as of 1983, both active and retired, met once again to decide the fate of the organization.
In November 1995, after considering several possible courses of action, the members voted to dissolve the Hamden Paid Firemen's Sick Benefit Association. After about a dozen unpaid $500 death benefits were distributed to the families of deceased members, and all other debts paid, the last members of the SBA voted to donate their remaining treasury Connecticut Hospice.
On December 22, 1995, about a dozen members of the Hamden Paid Firemen's Sick Benefit Association gathered in Station 4, where the association's first meeting was held in 1948. Retired Deputy Chiefs George Reutenauer and Francis "Chalky" Leddy, both charter members of the SBA, presented Rev. John Abbott of Connecticut Hospice with a check for $15,484.50 - a generous Christmas gift and a fitting way to conclude business.
Firefighter John Reilly is pictured in the foregound, with Ff. Rick Kenyon right behind. Ff. Harry Cubbellotti is on the turntable of Ladder 1. It looks like the ladder pipe is being fed by a pumper just out of camera range. This truck, which was delivered more than 12 years earlier, was repainted red and fitted with a soft top shortly after this photo was taken.