Fire Chief Gary Merwede is pleased to announce that The Hamden Fire Department has received an award of $45,983.34 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for COVID 19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) reimbursement.
This funding is from the Assistance to Firefighters grant (AFG) COVID-19 supplemental program, a subsect of the AFG program which provides millions in funding to fire departments across the country. Over 2100 hundred departments in the US applied for funds specifically related to PPE costs already spent on or in immediate need to combat the COVID-19 Pandemic response and Hamden is in the first 100 recipients.
In the early staging or planning and preparation, Chief Merwede and his administrative team saw the need to secure PPE for first responders before the needed gloves, masks, and gowns were in short supply due to the global aspect of the response. Using known commodity chains and logistical awareness, the department was able to secure the needed items which put additional strain on regular operational spending.
This grant will give the Hamden Fire Department the ability to ensure further PPE can be purchased without an added financial burden to the taxpayers, and replace well-worn equipment that would have been scheduled for replacement if the COVID 19 pandemic had not occurred.
The grant application required deep and substantial justification based on departmental funding and the usage-rate of pandemic PPE. Most medical PPE is designed for single- use only to prevent contamination.
July 1974 - Engine 4, Platoon 2 - Up top, Firefighter Steve Hitchcock; Seated below (L to R) are Firefighters Ed Doiron, Bob Kenney, Bob Viglione, Ed Charbonneau (below Viglione), and Lieut. Gil Spencer (standing).
Firefighter Ed Doiron was on vacation the day his platoon caught the Hamden Ridge Apartments at 787 Mix Avenue.
Accompanied by a couple of his Co. 5 buddies, Ed had just departed his home on Treadwell Street to visit Don Steele at the Commission on Fire Prevention and Control. Steele was a Hamden volunteer firefighter who worked for the Commission. Ed was hoping to get some kids' coloring books on behalf of the Sick Benefit Association for the October Fire Prevention program at the Hamden Mart.
Ed was driving his green 1965 Rambler, one of those old SNET phone company cars you could buy for about $700 at Fisher Brothers Used Cars down on Davenport Avenue. It was equipped with a lowband scanner with a 33.54Mhz crystal for Hamden fire.
While the '65 Rambler was stopped at the traffic light at Mather and Dixwell, Ed and his passengers heard the siren and then observed the rotating red beacon on Car 49 as it flew past them with Asst. Supt. Paul Wetmore Sr. at the wheel.
Something was up. Shop personnel did not usually respond unless it was a significant structure fire. Some descriptive fire department radio traffic over Ed's car scanner and the large column of smoke rising above the Hamden Plaza confirmed that the boys' car trip would be delayed.
The New Haven Register, Thursday, July 21, 1960 (Courtesy of Gil Spencer)
The above newspaper photo heralded the upcoming benefit softball game between Hamden cops and firemen, which took place on Monday, July 25, 1960 at Rochford Field. The expression on fire department coach John O'Hare's face in the glossy photo below, taken during the trophy presentation, is a clue to the outcome of the game.
July 25, 1960 - Following the game, the trophy is presented to the winning team. L-R: Coach John O'Hare, Dep. Chief Everett Doherty, Sgt. Dan Liston (HPD), Chief Robert Thatcher (HPD), and Officer Jack Sarracco (HPD). Jack Sarracco and John O'Hare are presently fellow members of the Hamden Guardian Services Retirees Association, LLC. Jack is also "Dad" to Hamden Fire Department Lieutenant Matt Sarracco.
John, now 93, continued to play on the department's softball team until the late 1970s, when he and your webmeister made up the battery (John caught). In 1976, we took our division but lost the league title to a NHFD team in a controversial game at Blake Field. A Conga line of opposing batters declined to swing at perfect strikes that were called balls by an umpire who was relieved of league umpiring duties following the protested loss. (No sour grapes in this paragraph, of course.)
Governor Lamont Directs Flags Lowered to Half-Staff
in Honor of U.S. Representative John Lewis
HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he is directing U.S. and state flags in Connecticut to be lowered to half-staff as a mark of respect for the memory and longstanding public service of U.S. Representative John Lewis of Atlanta, Georgia, beginning immediately until sunset on the date of interment, which has not yet been determined.
Accordingly, since no flag should fly higher than the U.S. flag, all other flags, including state, municipal, corporate, or otherwise, should also be lowered during this same duration of time.
“On behalf of the State of Connecticut, I thank Congressman Lewis for the decades of service he gave to our nation, and the impact he made throughout the entire country in the ongoing effort to bring positive change in the face of injustice. He leaves behind a legacy that will forever inspire us in immeasurable ways. He is an icon and a hero, and his passing is a terrible loss for our country."
The Office of the Governor will send out a notification when flags should be returned to full-staff.
In the summer of 1989, an F4 tornado ripped through southern Hamden, leaving damage in the millions of dollars. The 1989 tornado was an incredible challenge for the Hamden Fire Department and all other emergency agencies.
Check out the photos, news accounts, and our day-after video showing the incredible damage to the Whitneyville-Highwood neighborhoods. While tape rolled, commentary was added occasionally to establish exact locations because many areas were unrecognizable.
On the Fourth of July 1950, a freak lightning strike killed three and injured several others outside the 65 West Shepard Avenue home of Mr. and Mrs. Leonard A. Dorman, where the organizational meeting of the Mix District Volunteer Fire Co. No. 7 had taken place in November 1924.
The occasion was a gathering of family members and friends to celebrate the birthday of the Dormans' son, Leonard E. Dorman, 20, who was among the injured. The younger Dorman had been a member of Mix District Co 7 since 1945. Also among the injured was the late Frank Warner, then 26, also a member of Co. 7. He reported that there was no indication of storm activity in the area. The lightning strike was totally unexpected.
The Hamden Fire Department responded under the command of Capt. Everett Doherty. According to details provided in the Hamden Chronicle article below, a chain hanging from a nearby tree conducted the fatal electrical charge.
This was one of Hamden's earliest mass casualty incidents on record. Police, fire and ambulance personnel worked valiantly to render assistance to the survivors. Rev. Joseph Peters of the Mt. Carmel Congregational Church also responded to render spiritual support to the surviving family members. Three months later, Rev. Peters would be appointed with Fr. Bernard Miller, assistant pastor at St. Rita's Church, as one of the first two chaplains of the Hamden Fire Department.
In the years that followed, this tragic incident was often cited in local warnings for people to avoid standing beneath trees during electrical storms.
The Hamden Chronicle, July 6, 1950 (Courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society)
Capt. Everett Doherty started his career on the Hamden Fire Department in late 1927. He retired in 1966 at the rank of deputy chief. Lt. Paul Leddy was appointed in November 1941. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1949, captain in 1951 and named battalion chief in 1954. In November 1960, B/C Leddy was appointed Chief of the Department, a position in which he served until his 1984 retirement.
Lt. James Strain was appointed in 1942, became a lieutenant in 1949, captain in 1954 and deputy chief in 1961. He retired in 1973. Firefighter Francis "Chalkie" Leddy was appointed in 1946, was promoted to lieutenant in 1956, captain in 1964 and deputy chief in 1970. He retired in 1986.
Firefighter Fred Fletcher was appointed in 1946 and retired in 1980. Firefighter Dan O'Connell joined the department in 1948 and was promoted to lieutenant in 1963. He retired in 1986. Co. 5 volunteer firefighter Joe Rahl joined the department as a career member in 1956. Joe served 33 more years before his retirement in late 1989. Joe, who turned 95 last year just before he passed away, was the last surviving member of the crew mentioned in the 1950 article. He was a member of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association.
From July 1 to July 10, 1995 the Town of Hamden hosted three of the several sports venues for the 1995 Special Olympics World Games: Bowling, at the Hamden Bowling Lanes; Baskeball, at the Quinnipiac College Gym; and the Bicycle Race, along Whitney Avenue from New Haven to Cheshire.
For over a year the Hamden Fire Department, with the assistance of several other area fire departments, spent hundreds of hours preparing for the enormous ten-day increase in the town's population.
Hamden Safety Coordinator for the games was Batt. Chief Tom Doherty, assisted by Batt. Chief Mike Ambriscoe. They headed the Game's Safety Committee for all Hamden venues. Capt. Dave Johnson and Capt. Bob Viglione coordinated Fire Safety operations, Capt. Paul Wetmore, Jr. organized Emergency Medical Services, and Capt. Don LaBanca was responsible for Logistical operations.
The 1995 Special Olympics World Games were the single largest athletic event in the world that year. Batt. Chief Doherty began organizing department members toward this effort early in 1994. From the beginniung of the planning stages until the last day, virtually all Hamden career and volunteer personnel contributed their time and effort to make the department's safety mission a success. Fire personnel from North Haven, Bethany, Cheshire, and Madison offered a tremendous amount of assistance as well.