This past week marked the centennial of the birth of Hamden's longest serving fire chief, V. Paul Leddy, born April 27, 1919. Ironically, it also marked the 35th anniversary of his retirement and the 25th anniversary of his passing, on April 29, 1994.
V. Paul Leddy began his fire service career on February 22, 1938, when he applied to join the Mt. Carmel Volunteer Fire Co. 5, where he served as the company's secretary for several years. He joined the Hamden Fire Department as a career firefighter on November 4, 1941, but was granted leave for military service just a few weeks later following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Leddy returned to the department in 1946 after serving in the U.S. Army during the Second World War. Two years later he was elected the first president of the newly-organized Hamden Paid Firemen's Sick Benefit Association.
As the department grew during the postwar years, he was promoted to lieutenant in 1949. With the newly adopted 56-hour workweek in 1951, Leddy was promoted to captain to command the new Platoon 3.
In 1954, all three of the department's captains, each a shift commander, were designated "battalion chief." The following year, Batt. Chief Leddy was appointed Hamden's Civil Defense Director. On November 19, 1960, Leddy succeeded Chief Raymond C. Spencer, who retired after serving 18 years as Hamden's first paid fire chief.
The Hamden Fire Department experienced its greatest expansion during Leddy's nearly 24-year tenure as chief. The number of Hamden Fire Department personnel grew from 67 to 125, two new fire stations were built, and an additional engine and truck company were added. Emergency Medical Technician certification for Hamden firefighters was introduced in 1971 and paramedic (ALS) emergency medical service was introduced five years later.
Chief V. Paul Leddy retired on his 65th birthday, April 27, 1984, and was succeeded by Chief John Tramontano. On April 29, 1994, just two days after celebrating his 75th birthday, V. Paul Leddy passed away in his sleep at his home on Cumpstone Drive. His funeral Mass of Christian Burial, with full department honors, was held on May 2nd in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. He is buried in St. Mary's Cemetery in Mount Carmel.
CLICK HERE to view more photos chronicling the fire service career of Chief Leddy.
The New Haven Register, Saturday, April 30, 1994 (Courtesy of Jim Koutsoplos)
The New Haven Register, Tuesday, May 3, 1994 (Courtesy of Jim Koutsoplos)
New Window Rescue Technique Demonstrated at Station 2
Batt. Chief John Spencer narrates this brief video that shows Lt. Jay McCarthy's Platoon 1 crew demonstrating a new window rescue technique that can be used in situations where a disabled firefighter, or any disabled individual, can be lowered from an upper floor using a ground ladder.
Website thanks to the Fire Chief's Office for making this outstanding training video available.
Commissioner Abner Oakes, Chairman of the Hamden Veterans Commission, recently presented several of our active brothers, all U.S. military veterans, with commemorative coins to honor our veterans now serving the town. Thank you for your service, gentlemen.
Some of HFD's US military veterans - Back row (L-R): Firefighters Zach Deutscher, Doug O'Rourke, Kevin Delaney, and Dave DeMarest; Front (L-R): Firefighter Craig Smart, Lieut. Julio Lopes, and Comm. Abner Oakes, Chairman of the Hamden Veterans Commission.
Faulty pumper injures North Haven fire chief; results in mutual aid from Hamden
North Haven firefighters had their hands full early Monday afternoon, May 6, 1974, while fighting a working house fire at 46 Mountain View Terrace, which runs east off Whitney Avenue near Spring Glen School.
According to news accounts, West Ridge Co. 4's brand new apparatus was in pump gear and pumping water when it suddenly jumped back into road gear. The pumper lurched forward and crashed into Chief John Rosadini's car as he was removing his gear from the trunk. The chief sustained a knee injury and was transported by ambulance to the hospital. Hamden's Engine 3, Engine 4, Ladder 2 and Rescue 1 were dispatched to the scene to assist North Haven.
Originally posted 5/2/14
The New Haven Register, Tuesday, May 7, 1974 (Courtesy of Gil Spencer)
In the right-hand photo above, Hamden's Ladder 2 (as it was called then) can be seen in the background as North Haven Fire Chief John Rosadini is wheeled to the ambulance. The chief, who narrowly avoided serious injury or worse, was treated for a knee injury.
When retired Hamden Firefighter Bob Slater was in town recently for the annual dinner, he recounted his experiences at this fire as the Platoon 1 driver of Ladder 2: I do remember that I was driving the ladder truck, which was the first Hamden unit to arrive, followed by Engine 3, Engine 4, the rescue, and our shift commander (Dep. Chief Paul Rosadina).
Ladder 2 (1974)
When we pulled up, the North Haven Chief was waving at me. He was lying on the grass between the road and the sidewalk, across the street from the structure. He appeared to have at least one broken leg.
The Chief's injury was a result of the North Haven engine jumping out of pump gear, into road gear, and pushing three cars together. The Chief was between two of the cars getting his gear on when the engine lurched forward.
A North Haven volunteer firefighter was hanging upside down while leg-locked into a ground ladder that was extended to a second-floor window of the house. He had dropped an inch-and-a-half line with an open nozzle that was jumping around the front yard just like a garden hose.
Another firefighter came to me and said they needed a ground ladder in the back of the house. He didn’t know what size, but guessed they needed a 40-footer. We got him our 35-foot extension ladder off Ladder 2 and took it to the rear of the structure, where another firefighter said he just wanted to get to the back-porch roof that was about 10-feet high.
North Haven had knocked down most of the the fire by the time of our arrival. It was a kitchen fire caused by a worker redoing counter tops, I believe.
HFD's Platoon 1 shift commander, D/C Paul Rosadina, who spelled and pronounced his last name one-letter differently, was distantly related to North Haven's Chief John Rosadini.
As mentioned in the above May 1974 article, "Ladder 2" was the department designation for the department's 100' aerial ladder truck. Its radio designation at the time was "Ladder 43." The radio designations for the career pumpers, for example, were 30 plus the department designation. Engine 5 was "Engine 35," Engine 9 was "Engine 39."
That all changed two months later. On July 1 1974, the department's career apparatus designations and radio designations became one and the same, and the term "TRUCK" was used for our ladder apparatus. Volunteer apparatus designations remained 50 plus their company desigations, with the exception of Co. 7's 1937 Dodge Bros. brush truck, which remained Engine 47.
Notice of June 14, 1974 - Courtesy of the Fire Chief's Office
Frank Erff in 2017
Frank W. Erff, NHFD (Ret.)
(1938 - 2019)
The website regrets to report the passing earlier this week of retired New Haven Firefighter Frank Erff, father of Hamden Central Communications Technician Matthew Erff and a longtime member of the New Haven County Fire Emergency Plan. Our condolences go out to Matt and the rest of the Erff family at this sad time.
CLICK HERE to view Mr. Erff's obituary in The New Haven Register.
Bob and Karen Slater deeply appreciate and would like to thank all the HFRA members for their thoughts, prayers, and cards during their time of sorrow from the loss of their son, Eric Anthony Slater, who passed away suddenly on April 10th.
We will always remember our brother firefighters who made the supreme sacrifice, and the thousands of other innocent victims who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
Always keep them, their families and the FDNY in your thoughts and prayers.