Retirees of the Hamden Fire Department had been talking about this for years. Finally, a group of retirees got together at Bobby Viglione's barber shop* in North Branford and stuffed about 80 envelopes, each containing a copy of the letter below, inviting our fellow retirees to an organizational meeting of what would become the Hamden Fire Retirees Association, Inc.
Most of the addresses were readily available, but some of our retirees had moved away from the area to parts unknown, and the town, citing "confidentiality," could not provide any info. It took awhile but our little group was able to locate most of the missing retirees.
The expectation was uncertain, but within a month or so more than 50% of retirees joined up, and by the end of 2009 we had over 80%. We're still looking for Roger Sullivan and Tommy Hart. Any ideas?
* Tonsorial parlors seem to bode well for Hamden fire organizations. Hamden's first fire company, Highwood's Pioneer Hose Co. No. 1, was organized in 1896 in William Dick's barber shop.
This photo of future Hamden Fire Marshal Brian Dolan, taken by his dad at Station 3 around 1975, shows young Dolan with a very youthful-looking Firefighter Bob Slater alongside Truck 2, driven by Slater on Platoon 1. The Dolan family lived on Edgecomb Street, two doors away from Stevens Street, where Slater owned a house occupied by a friend of the future fire marshal.
Six-year old Brian Dolan and Firefighter Bob Slater beside Truck 2 at Station 3 (Photo by Dolan's dad)
The tables got turned recently when Bobby Slater met up with Fire Marshal Brian Dolan at Station 3.
1974 - Little Brian Dolan in Truck 2 - CLICK TO ENLARGE
2019 - "Little" Bobby Slater in Tower 1 - CLICK TO ENLARGE
Above right: Brian Dolan is pictured sitting in Truck 2, the ancestor of a piece of apparatus that he would ride decades later when he was assigned to Station 3. Dolan may be the only currently active department member to have sported that eight-point hat. Hamden's eight-point hats were replaced in December 1984 by the traditional round firefighters' cap.
On Sunday, April 5, 1964, members of Hamden's paid and volunteer fire companies participated in a "search and communications" drill. A few days later, the New Haven Journal-Courier reported that the drill, conducted by Chief V. Paul Leddy and Civil Defense Director Dep. Chief Daniel Hume, was also a test of the "new citizen's band radio operation."
The object of the drill was to locate a supposedly radioactive 15" square box that had been hidden the day before somewhere in Brooksvale Park. The box was located by Co. 8 Capt. John DeMatteo after only two and one-half hours. Using radiological detection instruments, the box was determined to be safe for removal. Members of the West Woods Women's Auxiliary provided refreshments.
Courtesy of Gil Spencer and Chan Brainard - CLICK to enlarge
Not mentioned in the newspaper caption were Co. 5 members Jim Mathis and Don Steele, who were standing off to the right. Among the other drill participants pictured were future career member, Ed Doiron, who would join the department at the end of the year, and Fred Fletcher, who already was an 18-year department member. Fred was an elected line officer of Co. 5 at the time.
When significant emergencies occurred in those days, all off-duty career department personnel were expected to return to duty. So, career members who lived in volunteer districts were often active members of those volunteer companies.
This past week, department training officer Lieut. Charlie Lubowicki Jr. conducted a post-repair water flow test on Engine 5 in accordance with NFPA 1911 to ensure that the pumper continued to its rated capacity from a hydrant. It did, and then some.
Engine 5, a quintuple combination pumper rated at 1500 GPM, was set up next to Tower 1 at the rear of the Hamden Middle School, where the 8" main provided 145 psi of static pressure. Nice going, Lieutenant.