After many years of research, and a great deal of help from many contributors, a written and photo history of the Hamden Fire Department is finally in the works! It is being compiled, edited and will eventually be published in book form. There will be lots of original and previously published photos, news accounts, personal stories and historical accounts on the evolution of the volunteer and paid companies from 1896 to the present. There will be plenty of photos and stories about the fire stations, the apparatus, and notable fires. At the present time it is expected that the book will be organized chronologically in chapters covering specific eras. We'll keep you posted - DGJ
CLICK on the photo to read an abridged excerpt from the war years.
Working Hard For a 42-Hour Workweek
October 2010 - From 1951 until 1970, Hamden firefighters worked a 56-hour workweek, consisting of four 10-hour days followed by two days off, then four 14-hour nights followed by two days off.
Forty years ago, on Tuesday, October 6, 1970, the Hamden Fire Department implemented a new 42-hour work week. It was not achieved easily.
Sept. 1995 - Hal Prescher, Dave McDermott (in his new "Lolita" sunglasses) and Johnny Longo doing some needed landscaping at Station 3.
Dave, the Stylish Landscaper!
Dave ("What can I fly at next?") and John ("Put down the camera and get over here!")
Station 3 offered its own unique set of work details. In the early days there was Purgatory Hill in the backyard, or washing all ten thousand windows every Wednesday. On this particular day in the late summer of '95, Harold, Dave and John decided to clear a path to the flagpole - for whatever reason cannot be recalled. But they were a great crew who always knew how to have some fun while tackling a mundane chore.
1924 - Whitney and Dixwell (Photo courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society)
This is the view looking north on Whitney Avenue at Dixwell eighty-six years ago. The new Memorial Town Hall at left is still under construction, as evidenced by the scaffolding seen in the photo. The original town hall, completed in 1888, was only 36 years old when it was torn down to make way for the much larger edifice that took its place. The small Centerville fire station, constructed in 1907, was also razed for the project.
The Malovolti Building on the northeast corner of Whitney and Dixwell was razed after being gutted by fire in February 1941. The site remained vacant until the Brown Stone House Restaurant was built in 1949. Note the ancient gas lit street lamp on the corner.
In addition to Memorial Town Hall, several other structures in this photo remain standing today, including the building immediately north of the town hall (presently scheduled for demolition), the brick building right across the street, and the wood frame building just north of it.
Bill Bossoli - HFD (1950-56)
October 3, 2010 - Recently, former Hamden firefighter Bill Bossoli stopped by the Hamden Historical Society room at Miller Library, where he ran into a couple of HFD alumni doing their usual Thursday afternoon research.
Bill, now 91 with a memory like a steel trap, was able to assist the researchers by providing some missing details about the Hamden Fire Department of the early 1950s. Gil Spencer was there when Bill stopped by. Gil noted that Bill was driving Engine 5, the 1930 Maxim, when he had his first ride on a piece of fire apparatus. Naturally, a lot of good stories and a few laughs followed.
Bill was sworn in 60 years ago this week with Larry Bellemore, Tim Cummins, Burt Hillocks, Richie Lostritto, and Bob "Whitey" Williams. He has lived in Mt. Carmel all his life and hopes to attend our next meeting on Oct. 12.
Lt. Frank Critchett (1950-2010)
Lieutenant Frank Critchett (1950 - 2010)
It is with deep regret that we announce the passing this past weekend of retired Hamden fire lieutenant Frank Critchett. He was 60 years old.
Frank was appointed to the Hamden Fire Department in April 1981, and was promoted to Lieutenant in 1987. He retired in the mid '00s. Frank was also an active member in the Seymour Fire Department, having once served as Chief.
The funeral service was conducted Thursday morning by Hamden Fire Department Chaplain, Rev. Owen Sanderson.
The members of the Hamden Fire Retirees' Association wish to express our sincere condolences to Frank's family.
Station 6 Home Movie! January 1969
Harold Mangler and Frank Cubbellotti were on duty at Station 6 when someone took an 8mm home movie there. The fire station was still owned by the Merritt Street volunteers, although they had not been active for several years.
The quality of the film isn't too bad. There are occasional "pop-ups" that provide some additional information about the station, the apparatus and the guys who worked there that day. Enjoy!
In May 1986, an old house on Arch Street was scheduled for demolition to make way for a new condo complex. The owners, the Pasqualoni family of Cheshire, donated the house to the Hamden Fire Department for live fire training. During the last two weeks of May, training in fire attack and ventilation tactics was conducted for all career and volunteer firefighters.
Over the course of two weeks, Vic Mitchell documented much of the training on his new VHS camcorder. During the final day of training, just before we let the building rip, the exercises were attended by a very unexpected visitor.
Class of July 1970 - CLICK to view more (Photo courtesy of Bob Kelo)
Bob Kelo sent in this great group photo taken at Station 9, when he and 14 other recruit firefighters were in training with Dep. Chief Hume in the summer of 1970. This was the final group hired to fill out the four platoons required by the 42-hour work week that was scheduled to begin three months later. CLICK on the photo to view the other photos taken the same day.
Front (L-R): John Calamo, John Corbett, Tony D'Agostino, Dep. Chief Daniel Hume, Tom Mikolinski, and Bill Giaquinto.
Rear (L-R): Frank Dorman, Bill Coppola, Steve Hitchcock, Jeff Stoehr, Dennis Cosgrove, Ray Chase, Howie Hurlburt, Jr., Bob Kelo, Bob, Kenney, and Jim Hagerty.
The last of these men to retire was Bill Coppola, who retired as a Battalion Chief in 2006.
Many of our retirees knew Larry Smith when he was a Hamden police captain. Now a beloved small-town baker and avid cyclist in South Dakota, Larry has had Parkinson's disease for nearly 20 years. This spring we will follow him as he bikes across his state to raise awareness about the benefits of recumbent cycling and Parkinson's.
Larry refuses to give up or submit to the prognosis of a wheel chair. Instead, Larry demonstrates the power of keeping your body active and mind positive, proving that sometimes the best cure is living life to its fullest. As Larry’s wife Betty states: “if you love life, and have a life that you love, you’ll fight for it.”
"Ride With Larry" is a short, inspirational documentary about an amazing guy many of us knew when he was a Hamden cop.
August 1968 - Lt. Joe McDermott in rescue boat donated by Hamden Red Cross in 1948. (Photo by Ed Doiron, Sr.)
November 10, 2010 - Happy 235th Birthday USMC!
Veterans' Day 2010 Hamden Firefighters Have Served in
World War I - World War II Korea - Vietnam - The Gulf Afghanistan - Iraq ______ Thank you!
CLICK to visit new website for the Mt. Carmel Volunteer Fire Co. 5, celebrating 100 years in 2011
1912 - Mt. Carmel Volunteer Fire Co. Officers and New Hose Cart - L-R: Capt. James Strain, Sr., Bud Fitch, and Arthur Pelton. Small boy is James Strain, Jr., who would serve as a career member from 1942 to 1973, retiring as a D/C shift commander.
FIRESIDE RESTAURANT 3307 Whitney Avenue Thanksgiving Day (and Night) Thursday, November 23, 1967
The Fireside Restaurant lived up to its name on Thanksgiving Day 1967. Shortly after noontime, Capt. Don Steele of the Mt. Carmel Volunteer Fire Co. was driving south on Whitney Avenue in his '65 Dodge wagon. As he approached the "Big Y" (Yantic Beef Co.), just north of Sherman Avenue, he thought he saw smoke coming from the Fireside Restaurant right across the street.
Eli Moore - Hamden Plaza 2100 Dixwell Avenue Monday, December 23, 1957
Just two days before Christmas 1957, a two-alarm fire of unknown origin started in a rear storage area of an Eli Moore store at the Hamden Plaza. The fire department was notified at 5:25 pm. and the fire was out about a half-hour after the first apparatus arrived. Losses were estimated at more than $100,000.
The three photos above were among hundreds of slides donated to the HFRA last year by former Chief John Tramontano. When he was the department's training officer, Chief Tramontano began the practice of photographing various drills in detail. The resulting slide shows were used as training aids in future training sessions and for public education activities. These photos, taken in the rear parking area of Station 3 in the summer of 1982, show some of the younger members of Platoon 3 training in mountain rescue techniques.
The Hamden Chronicle, October 6, 1966 (Courtesy of Chan Brainard)
Firefighter Russell Smith demonstrates high expansion foam at Headquarters as Mayor John DeNicola, Sr. and Dep. Chief Training Officer Daniel Hume look on. The other two firefighters are not identified in this Hamden Chronicle photo. However, the pump operator appears to be George Patten and the other firefighter looks like Charlie Carlson. At the time, all three firefighters were assigned to old Platoon 3, led by Dep. Chief James Strain.
The 1965 Mack 750 GPM, served as Engine 4 from August 1965 until October 1968.
(From November 1957 until December 31, 1965, John DeNicola, Sr. served as Hamden's last First Selectman. He was subsequently elected as Hamden's first mayor under a new town charter that took effect January 1, 1966. Mayor DeNicola's son, John Jr., served as Hamden's sixth mayor from 1985-87; and his daughter, Barbara, served as Hamden's ninth mayor from 1997-99.)