Friday, May 17: (Happy arrival of Grandchild #7) = (a slight delay in today's update preparation)
Lubowicki Sworn-in as Department's 9th Asst. Chief
Mayor Leng looks on as Asst. Chief Lubowicki is sworn in by Town Clerk Vera Morrison
Scores of department members, friends, family, and department retirees jammed into the town hall rotunda Thursday afternoon as Charles Lubowicki Jr was sworn in as Hamden's Assistant Fire Chief.
Lubowicki comes to the job as an eighteen year department veteran, who has served ten years as a company officer and two-plus years as the department's Training and EMS Officer. He is the eighth department second-in-command to be appointed since it became a permanent position in 1983, and the ninth overall since the department was reorganized under paid officers in 1942.
Chief Merwede and Mayor Leng
Fire Chief Gary Merwede praised Lubowicki's accomplishments with the department. As Training Officer, he became an EMS-I (instructor), a FEMA qualified logistics specialist, actively participated on interdepartmental and town-wide safety committees, developed policies meeting OSHA requirements, and changed department recording and data collection methods that are reviewed by the ISO.
Lubowicki completed his bachelor's degree in Public Safety Administration in 2017 and will receive his master's degree in Fire Science and Emergency Management next week from the University of New Haven.
Mayor Curt Balzano Leng began his remarks expressing the great honor it was for him to appoint Chief Gary Merwede as Hamden's newest fire chief. "Today, I have the great honor to officially welcome a strong partner in the leadership of that department in Asst. Chief Charles Lubowicki." The Mayor praised Lubowicki as being more prepared to take on his new responsibilities than any other individual he has seen.
Acknowledging the ever-increasing call volume and the many new challenges facing firefighters over the years, the Mayor remarked, "The world seems to get more complex every day, and with it the challenges. Yet we stand here today, with confidence that our department is adapting not only to meet these new needs, but meet them in a caring, effective, and prepared manner."
Following the oath administered by Town Clerk Vera Morrison, Asst. Chief Lubowicki thanked his family and friends for their support, and Chief Merwede, Mayor Leng, and other town officials for their confidence in him. His dad, Charles Lubowicki Sr., known to many fire department retirees, is retired from the Hamden Police Department.
Praising his fellow Hamden firefighters' dedication to the job, Lubowicki remarked that each member of the department averaged 192 hours of training in the past year, surpassing the I.S.O. standard. "The footprint of our fire department is larger than ever before," he noted, "with multiple members with master's and bachelor's degrees in public administration, fire science, and emergency management."
He praised the many department members who have achieved important career milestones, including National Fire Academy certified executive fire officers, managing fire officers, as well as certified apparatus operators, Connecticut Fire Academy instructors, and Connecticut peer support leaders. Hamden fire personnel also present and teach at conferences all over the country. "Thank you for going the extra mile for yourselves, your careers, and for the image of then Hamden Fire Department."
Asst. Chief Lubowicki recently returned from delivering a class at the Oklahoma State Fire Conference about the work the department has done "to bring firemanship back to the forefront and ensure our safety on the fireground through knowledge, fitness, and training." He concluded his remarks with this pledge to department personnel. "I look forward to supporting you and our mission as your new assistant fire chief."
The members of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association wish Asst. Chief Charles Lubowicki Jr. every success in his new role as the department's new assistant fire chief. Congratulation, chief!
Fiancee Bisera Plazinic pins on the new badge - CLICK TO ENLARGE
Asst. Chief Lubowicki and fiancee Bisera Plazinic
Congratulations from the Chief
His dad, Charles Lubowicki Sr., Hamden Police Department (Ret.), Asst. Chief Lubowicki, and sister Sarah Lubowicki
Mayor Leng, Comm. Oswald Brown, Chief Merwede, Asst. Chief Lubowicki, Comm. Henry Candido, and Comm. Jim O'Brien
When the Hamden Fire Department was re-organized under career fire officers in April 1942, the department's only full-time administrative position was that of Fire Chief, a position that was filled by Raymond C. Spencer. Chief Spencer had no second-in-command, but that eventually would change.
On July 9, 1956, the Board of Fire Commissioners appointed Albert Purce to be the department's Assistant Chief, in addition to his duties as Fire Marshal. When Bob O'Donnell became marshal following Purce's 1968 retirement, he was offered the department's number two position but declined.
The shift commanders and the training officer were all management positions in 1968, and all held the department rank of "Deputy Chief." Without a permanent second-in-command, Chief V. Paul Leddy decreed that in his absence the senior on-duty deputy chief would be Acting Chief of the Department.
When the five deputy chiefs and the marshal joined the union in 1982, the only management department member was Chief Leddy. In his absence, the Chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners was the Acting Chief. This awkward situation led to the 1983 creation of a permanent second-in-command, properly designated as "Assistant Chief."
EMS Officer Walter Macdowall was appointed as the department's first permanent career assistant chief. He was sworn in with Chief John Tramontano on April 30, 1984.
Former HFD career Firefighter William "Bill" Bossoli
Newest (and Oldest) Member
He was sworn in on September 11, 1950 with six other recruits, some of whom we worked with through the years. But like several other young firefighters at the time, William "Bill" Bossoli could not raise his family on the wages paid to Hamden firefighters in those days. So, by 1956, Bill packed it in to go into private industry - his own - as a watch and clock repairman. On Saturday, May 18th, Bill will celebrate his 100th birthday,
Bill entered the fire service in 1938 as a new member of the Mt. Carmel Volunteer Fire Co. After World War II, he and his brother Charles opened up a Tydol service station at the corner of Whitney Avenue and Home Place, which was the site of a raging gasoline fed fire thirty-nine years later (see below).
When their business went belly-up in 1950, Bill joined the Hamden Fire Department with six others, including Richie Lostritto, now a youthful 93 and an active member of the HFRA. Bill and Richie worked together in the same crew at Headquarters led by then-Capt. Paul Leddy.
At last Wednesday's monthly meeting of "Journey" at the Hamden Senior Center, the HFRA historian presented Bill with his own copy of the group photo taken in October 1950, as well as his 2019 dues card for his brand new membership in the HFRA, where regular membership is open to anyone, retiree or not, who ever served as a career member of the department.
Sick Benefit Assn. Annual Dinnber at Headquarters - October 10, 1950 - CLICK TO ENLARGE
Firefighter Bossoli - 1950
Courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society
Above, several weeks after his September 11, 1950 swearing-in, 31-year old Bill Bossoli posed on the Headquarters ramp with five other recruit firefighters, Larry Bellemore, Bob "Whitey" Williams, Burt Hillocks, Richie Lostritto, and Tim Cummins. The two newly promoted company officers pictured with Chief Raymond C. Spencer were Lieutenants Daniel Hume and Emil Strain.
Below, former Hamden Firefighter Bossoli and retired Batt. Chief Gil Spencer enjoyed lots of memories at Bill's 100th birthday observance at the May "Journey" meeting in the Senior Center last Wednesday. In 1951, rookie Co. 5 volunteer firefighter Gil got his first ride on a fire engine with Bossoli at the wheel of Mt. Carmel's 1930 Maxim 600 GPM pumper with a 40-gallon water tank.
Gil recalls that while shuttling water back and forth between the hydrant and a grass fire on Brooksvale Avenue, with each trip Bossoli maneuvered Engine 5 closer and closer to the stone outcropping at the curve near where Farmington Drive is today. "How close was I that time?" Bill would holler to the very nervous volunteer Spencer with each pass.
Firefighter Bossoli and Batt. Chief Gil Spencer (Ret.)
Bill with Joe Rahl and Richie Lostritto at the April 26, 2011 Co. 5 Reunion Dinner at the Elks
Bassett's Getty Service Station 3050 Whitney Avenue Wednesday, September 9, 1987
Mechanic touched off blaze that enguled service station, then blamed department for "not doing more" to save building.
On Wednesday, September 9, 1987, a mechanic using a torch underneath an automobile ignited a gasoline fire in Bassett's Getty Service Station at 3050 Whitney Avenue. The building was fully involved within minutes. Miraclulously, no one was injured.
CLICK on the photo at right to view more previously unpublished photos of the incident, as well as news articles about criticism that was leveled against the department by a Council member, whose brother's torch caused the fire.
CLICK to see more photos and articles
Bossoli's Flying-A Service 3050 Whitney Avenue Thursday, October 28, 1948
Future Hamden Firefighter Opens Service Station in the Same Building
Thirty-nine years before Bassett's Getty Service Station went up in smoke, Bill and Charles Bossoli of Mount Carmel opened a Tydol Flying-A service station in the same building.
In a video interview conducted in November of last year, Bill Bossoli admitted that their business enterprise was very short-lived because too many of their customers were also their friends, some looking for freebies and "good deals," which the good Bossoli Bros. were loath to deny.
Two years later, Bill Bossoli decided that he wanted more stable employement, in a field which he had enjoyed as a volunteer firefighter since 1938. On September 11, 1950, Bill joined seven other recruits who were sworn in as brand new Hamden firefighters. Bill, who is now a very sharp 93 years of age, left the department in 1956.