On Sunday, October 24, 1993, Lieut. John Spencer and his Engine 2 crew were first due on reported structure fire in the Johnson Building at 965 Dixwell Avenue, a large multi-occupancy brick building in the Highwood section that had once served as the U.S. Army Reserve Center.
Platoon 3 under Commander (B/C) Tom Doherty was starting its second of three days when the alarm was called in about 9:15 a.m. In addition to Engine 2 on the first alarm were Engine 3, Tower 1, Rescue 2 and Car 3. On arrival about a half-mile from the fire station, Engine 2 gave a "Signal 65, smoke showing." Shortly thereafter, "Signal 73!"
Cmdr. Doherty called for a second alarm, which brought Engine 4, Truck 5, Rescue 1, and Volunteer Companies 7 and 8. Engine 9 relocated to Station 2 along with New Haven's Truck 4 out of Webster Street. North Haven covered Station 4. Bethany responded directly to the scene to assist. It was going to be a long haul.
Chief Paul Wetmore Sr. had been chief of the department for only a couple of months. The chief was on his way home from New Hampshire when he got word of the fire, but lost no time getting to the scene. The newspaper and TV news accounts below tell the rest of the story.
The Connecticut Post, Monday, October 25, 1993 (Courtesy of Gil Spencer)
Ed. Note: The young Co. 8 volunteer firefighter on the ladder in the newspaper photo below, preparing to take out the window, was aspiring to became a career firefighter, a dream that was fulfilled the following year. With 24 years on the job, he is presently Acting-Chief of the Department.
The New Haven Register, Monday, October 25, 1993 (Courtesy of Gil Spencer)
The New Haven Register, Tuesday, October 26, 1993 (Courtesy of Gil Spencer) - CLICK TO ENLARGE
“LOOK . LISTEN . LEARN . Be aware . Fire is everywhere”
The Hamden Fire Department participated in many community outreach events for this year’s Fire Prevention Week, which was themed “LOOK.LISTEN.LEARN. Be aware. Fire is everywhere”.
This theme produced from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the United States Fire Administration (USFA) focused on teaching people of all ages to LOOK for places fire can start and identify the fire hazard, LISTEN for the sound of the smoke alarm and go to your outside meeting place, and LEARN two ways out of each room that are free of clutter.
The crews of the Hamden Fire Department provided over 40 station tours, visits to schools, day cares, housing complexes, and town events in the month of October reaching over 1500 people ranging from pre-schoolers to the elderly. Anyone looking for more information on fire prevention and safety can reference the USFA site: U.S. Fire Administration and the NFPA site at:NFPA.
The Hamden Fire Department Twitter - @HamdenFireDept , also regularly tweets statistics and safety messages. The Hamden Fire Marshal office is also available for questions at 203-287-3181.