The weekly Friday Home page updates will end on Friday, June 28th. Occasional website updates will continue.
389 Weekly Updates - 1 to go!
Pete Lynch Promoted to Lieutenant
Chief Gary Merwede has announced the recent promotion of Firefighter Peter Lynch to the rank of lieutenant. Lieut. Lynch will be officially sworn in this coming Monday, June 24th, at 11 a.m. in the Memorial Town Hall rotunda. The public is welcome.
The website will have photos for next week's final Friday website update.
Humphrey's Charles Coe Becomes Hamden's First "Paid Man"
In 1915, the Whitneyville volunteers purchased the town's first motorized pumping engine for $5,500 (see article below). Three years later, the town made its first purchase of fire apparatus: two chemical trucks, one for Highwood and the other for Mt. Carmel, for a total of $3,700. But one hundred years ago this month, the town purchased its first motorized pumping engine, and brand new 1919 Seagrave 750 g.p.m. pumper, for a whopping $12,500 ($185,037.57 today).
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Firefighters Joseph Hromadka (standing) and Ed Kromer (at the wheel), are pictured in this 1939 photo of the 1919 Seagrave 750 g.p.m. pumper on the ramp of old Station 3 on Putnam Avenue.
Ff. Charles Coe
When it was delivered in June 1919, Hamden's new Seagrave pumper was placed in service at the Humphrey fire station (Co. 2), where it remained a first line piece for twenty years.
Charles Coe, who was hired by the Humphrey company the previous year as a "janitor" for their station, became Hamden's first paid apparatus driver. The earliest paid drivers were paid by the individual volunteer companies they served, and the volunteer companies were reimbursed by the town. By 1926, in addition to Humphrey, there were paid drivers at Highwood, Whitneyville, Centerville, Mt. Carmel, and Merritt Street.
The 1919 Seagrave was replaced in June 1939 by a 600 g.p.m. 1938 Seagrave canopy-cab pumper delivered the previous year for the Centerville station.
Easily recognized by its right-hand-drive steering, the 1919 Seagrave was still serving as a spare engine well into the 1950s when, walking to school, your webmaster would see it parked in the south bay at the Mt. Carmel station.
Ff. Howie Hurlburt Sr.
The late Howard Hurlburt Sr., a firefighter assigned to Station 5 when he came on the job in 1948, occasionally drove this ancient spare pumper, affectionately dubbed "Big Bertha."
Driving Big Bertha was no cinch, either. When Ff. Hurlburt drove it on his first nighttime call, he couldn't find the headlight switch, so he used the spotlight behind the booster reel. He also had to stand up to steer the thing from Whitney Avenue onto West Woods Road.
The brakes on Big Bertha apparently worked by applying pressure to the chain drive. Ff. Hurlburt said he was always concerned that if the chains ever broke he'd be without brakes. "Time to bail out!"
Chief Loller's records - c.1936
Over forty years ago, Russell Loller, the great-grandson of Hamden's first fire chief, Charles Loller, lent your webmaster numerous notes belonging to the chief. Among them were some of the 1936 maintenance records of all apparatus. These notes provide an interesting profile of the 1919 Seagrave.
This is the only known photo of Hamden's 1919 Seagrave. Unlike most of Hamden's discarded apparatus, which were either traded in or junked, there is no record of when or how this pumper was disposed of.
Are there any other photos of this (or other) apparatus out there?
Hamden's first motorized pumping engine photographed at Whitneyville firehouse
This photo of Co. 3 with their new Maxim engine was also printed on a postcard that was found in Joe Taylor's outstanding collection of old Hamden photographs. The caption on the postcard stated that the photo was taken on June 20, 1915.
June 20, 1915 - Members of the Whitneyville Volunteer Fire Association pose with their brand new 1915 Maxim combination pumping and chemical truck in front of their Putnam Avenue quarters.
The original wood-frame building was donated by the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. and subsequently moved to the site at 39 Putnam Avenue. The original building was torn down between November 1926 and May 1927, and a new two-bay brick building was constructed in its place. During the six months the new fire station was under construction, the temporary site of a Hamden fire station was actually a private home.
From the Station 3 Logbook (1926-1947): "We moved our [1910 Locomobile and 1915 Maxim] from the old Fire house to H.F. Hall's garage on Thursday Nov. 18, 1926. Was moved back to New quaters (sic) Saturday May 15, 1927." 116 Putnam Avenue was H.F. Hall's address, located between Clifford Street and Lilac Avenue. Mr. Hall was a prominent member of Co. 3 and part owner of Brock-Hall dairy.
The new two-bay brick fire station was officially dedicated on May 28, 1927. It was acquired by the Town of Hamden from the Whitneyville volunteers in 1951 and continued to serve as Station 3 until September of 1970, when new Station 3 was opened at the corner of Ridge Road and Hartford Turnpike.
1915 - Whitneyville Co. 3 testing its brand new Maxim 500 GPM pumper, the first pumping engine manufactured by Maxim (HFRA Collection)
The Whitneyville Fire Association purchased this brand-new Maxim triple combination pumping engine for $5,500. The apparatus was built on a Thomas Flyer chassis. Even though Mt. Carmel had acquired a Model-T Ford roadster in 1913 to pull its hose cart, the 1915 Maxim was Hamden's first motorized fire apparatus. It was considered a triple "combination" pumper because it had a 500 GPM rotary gear pump, it carried hose, and it also was a chemical truck, as can be seen by the transversely mounted tanks behind the driver's seat.
This 1915 Maxim also had the distinction of being the Maxim Company's first motorized pumping engine, as noted by author Walter McCall in his 1976 book, American Fire Engines Since 1900, (Crestline Publications, Inc., Glen Ellyn, IL: 1976).
New Haven County Fire Emergency Plan at Dunbar Hill
The 82nd annual meeting of the New Haven County Fire Emergency Plan was held once again at the Dunbar Hill Volunteer Fire Company Station 8 last Tuesday evening. The June meeting of the regional association of fire departments has been held at Station 8 for many decades. Each month the host department provides a demonstration or talk on fire service techniques or trends.
Hamden is well represented in the Emegency Plan. The president is Bill Fitzmaurice and Clark Hurlburt is recording secretary. Emergency Plan chaplain, Rev. Owen Sanderson, is retired pastor of Hamden's Christ Lutheran Church, also chaplain for the Hamden Fire Department and the HFRA.
Following the meeting, Hamden Firefighter Cal Brennan, assisted by personnel of Platoon 2, conducted a demonstration of the hi-angle bail out system on which Hamden firefighters have been training recently.
Ff. Brennan describes the training scenario to the Plan members assembled outside Station 8.
Ff. Brennan explains the upcoming training evolution
For about the last year, Ff. Brennan also has been working for Flash Fire Industries, a company that makes portable training facilities available to individual fire departments. According to the company's website (www.FlashFireIndustries.com):
"Flash Fire Industries was started to address one of the fire department's toughest challenges: training. As the requirements have gotten tougher and more extensive, the availability of acquired structures have decreased and the rules regarding them have gotten stricter.
Thus Flash Fire was born as the only mobile firefighter training trailer that is available as a rental. Fire departments can now train on Forcible Entry, Roof Ventilation, any window evolutions, confined space, and many other evolutions without ever leaving their firehouse.
The trailer was designed around three major components. Forcible Entry, Window Evolutions, and Roof Ventilation. In addition, we have the ability to do confined space operations, metal cutting saw operations, and future expansion plans for a standpipe and SCBA skills stations. See “Trailer Features” for a full description of all the features."
This portable platform, which can be purchased or rented, can be configured for many different types of training scenarios, including window training, forcible entry, confined space, roof ventilation, bailout training, and metal saw operations, among others. Tuesday night's demonstration for Emergency Plan members was set up for bailout training.
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With the assistance of Lt. Kevin P. Martin and Ff. Nick Borrelli on the portable platform, Ff Ralph DiFonzo III uses his bailout equipment to lower himself safely from the second story window to the ground.
Ret. B/C Doherty and former Bethany Chief Quinn
Ret. NHFD Dep. Chief Gould and B/C Desroches
Some other familiar faces were there last Tuesday night. Retired B/C Tom Doherty and former Bethany Fire Chief George Quinn, and newly-retired NHFD Deputy Chief Bill Gould and Platoon 2 B/C Ron Desroches. Both of these guys are Co. 8 alumni and both became career firefighters in 1987. Bill is part of a proud family tradition of New Haven firefighters. His dad retired as a battalion chief and his grandfather, William F. Gould, retired as Assistant Chief of the New Haven Fire Department.
Ff/Paramedic Kurt Vogt
George Hindinger, longtime captain of the Dunbar Hill volunteers, and his fellow Company 8 members once again put on a terrific meal for the members and guests of "the Plan," followed by fresh strawberries from the Hindinger Farm. The Plan's June meeting at Co. 8 has been a traditon for decades. Our own Chick Manware joined the HFD in 1971, but long before then and ever since Chick has represented West Haven's Stevens Heights volunteers with the Plan. Veteran Hamden Firefighter/Paramedic Kurt Vogt, on the job 25 years this coming September, has been the president of Local 2687 for the past seven years.
Those of us who worked at Station 4 will always remember Flo, who lived next door and who dropped in frequently, usually with a supply of candies and other goodies for the firefighters who worked there. For years, Flo Strong worked at the Brown Stone House, Reilly's, and Hamden Townehouse, as well as the Elks. She was a sweet soul who loved to stop by to chat with her firefighters at 4s.
We're very sad to report that Flo passed away last Monday, just sixteen days from her 100th birthday. Friends are invited to visit with her family on Saturday, June 29th from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. at BEECHER & BENNETT FUNERAL HOME, 2300 Whitney Ave., Hamden.
We have learned of the passing last week, on June 17th, of Honorary HFRA member Bonnie Cargan, widow of our brother Firefighter Charlie "Chaz" Cargan, who passed away in March 2013, and who served on the department from 1968 until his 2000 retirement. Please keep Bonnie's family in your thoughts and prayers at this sad time.