'Tis theSeason! Hamden Cheerleaders, Firefighters and Toys . . .
December 2000 - Hamden Councilman Henry Candido (third from right in green coat) and the Hamden High School Cheerleaders enlist the help of Hamden firefighters outside the Toys-R-Us Store at the Hamden Mart for their annual Toy Drive. Austin "Augie" Williams (far left) is next to an unidentified Hamden police officer. Harold Mangler is at the far right. (All of these 2000 photos by Bob Mordecai)
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Website thanks to Richie Maybury for providing this photo of Local 2687 members at Station 3 preparing to deliver hundreds of toys to Yale-New Haven Hospital for Christmas 1997. L-R: Mark Bareltta, Richie Maybury, Unidentified Rep. from Y-NH, Dave Johnson and Ray Ramelli.
CLICK HERE and help a kid this Christmas!
Hamden Chronicle - November 29, 1946
65 Years Ago!
Some of us worked with the guys who took this 1946 exam to become Hamden firefighters.
Appointed from this list were Bob "Bubby" O'Donnell, Vinnie Roth, Ray Carofano and Sid Trower. All of these men served at least 30 years on the job. O'Donnell, Hamden's second uniformed fire marshal, put in 40!
Look what the starting pay was - and for an 84-hour workweek! Six 10-hour days, followed by one long (24-hour) day, followed by six 14-hour nights, followed by a single 24-hour day off. Then the cycle began anew.
70 Years Ago! U.S. Attacked Hamden Fire Department Prepares for the Worst
The New Haven Sunday Register "EXTRA" published the evening of Sunday December 7, 1941. CLICK to enlarge
WWII War Bond Poster (Image courtesy of Chick Manware)
Seventy years ago, on Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor triggered America's entry into World War II. In his address to Congress the following day, President Franklin Roosevelt asserted that we would "gain the inevitable triumph." Three years and eight months later we did.
Norman Rockwell's iconic "Freedom From Fear," one of the Four Freedoms that he illustrated during WWII
The country was unified after Pearl Harbor. In the first few days, tens of thousands of young men swarmed local recruiting stations to join in the fight. From the beginning until V-J day, Americans were focused on supporting our men in the armed forces and defending the U.S. homeland against a Juggernaut of vicious and determined enemies.
Still under the leadership of volunteer officers at the time of the attack, Hamden's paid and volunteer firefighters began preparing for the worst. The Red Cross provided first-aid courses. Training sessions were conducted to prepare firefighters for air raids and bombings. A call went out among the Hamden citizenry for "auxiliary firemen" to supplement the volunteer and paid manpower in the event of an air raid.
Some of Hamden's volunteer fire companies manned their stations each night well into 1942, making them immediately available to the paid forces in the event of an emergency. An excerpt from from Mt. Carmel's meeting minutes of March 12, 1942: "All volunteers for night services at the firehouse are to give their names to [volunteer] Capt. [Francis] Leddy, who will arrange groups of four with a given Lieut in charge of his shift."
The war led to the reorganization of the Hamden Fire Department under paid officers. In April 1942, the Board of Fire Commissioners conducted examinations to determine the department's new leadership.
As a result of examinations, Raymond C. Spencer was appointed as Hamden's first paid fire chief. The department's first paid company officers, Capt. Joseph Hromadka, Capt. Al Purce, Lieut. Everett Doherty and Lieut. Roland Ruwet, were promoted from the ranks of the paid firefighters. Line personnel now numbered two officers and ten firefighters on each of two platoons.
1941 Diamond-T Ladder Truck
Most Hamdenites today are probably not aware that Winchester's powder farm on Putnam Avenue made Hamden a potential military target. Given the limitations of enemy aircraft at the time, however, sabotage was a far more plausible threat than an enemy air raid. Nonetheless, the potential existed and some Hamden residents near the powder farm feared enemy incendiary bomb attacks.
With essential wartime priorities going to larger communities and the military, the war put many orders for new fire apparatus on hold. But Hamden had placed its orders for a new ladder truck and pumper with the Wood Engineering Service of Topsfield, Massachusetts well before December 7th.
The new apparatus were delivered in early 1942. On February 11, a new 1941 Diamond-T city service ladder truck was placed in service at the Highwood station, replacing the 1926 Maxim ladder truck that was demolished when hit by a trolley car the previous year. Two months later, a new Diamond-T 600 g.p.m. pumper was placed in service as Engine 1 at the Highwood station. The 1926 Maxim 500 g.p.m. pumper that had been Engine 1 since new was transferred to the Merritt Street station to replace Co. 6's 1924 Stutz 350 g.p.m. pumper.
Later in 1942, Hamden acquired some unique additions to the department's firefighting inventory. Maxim manufactured something called a "Blitz Buggy," a gasoline powered 500 g.p.m. pump, mounted on a trailer, that could be either hand drawn or pulled by a motor vehicle. The Hamden Fire Department purchased two of these Maxim blitz buggies through the O.B. Maxwell Co. for $1,662 each.
Hamden's 1942 Town Report listed the blitz buggies as "Defense Equipment." Thus began a unique era in the history of the Hamden Fire Department. According to one newspaper article, one of the blitz buggies was "stationed in a garage in Spring Glen . . . under the direction of Calvin Shepard, captain of the newly-formed Spring Glen fire fighting unit." The other blitz buggy was assigned to "the Pine Rock section . . . under the supervision of Fire Marshal Charles P. Loller."
A November 1942 description of the Department written by Firefighter Al Molleur stated, "The Town has over 150 trained auxiliary firemen, and for emergency two Maxim 500-gallon Blitz Buggies have been purchased, one stationed at Spring Glen and one at Wilmont."
The Maxim blitz buggies, and the two auxiliary fire defense companies to which they were assigned, helped reinforce the firefighting capabilities of the Hamden Fire Department during the war. "The Department is very proud of its auxiliary firemen," wrote Molleur, "as these men will be of great service to the town in the case of an emergency."
The Spring Glen and Pine Rock area auxiliary fire companies eventually disbanded and the blitz buggies were moved to the Whitneyville and Mt. Carmel stations. Both units were still listed on a department inventory dated February 5, 1952. An added notation to that same inventory indicated that the blitz buggy housed at Whitneyville was traded in to the O.B. Maxwell Co. on July 16, 1952 as a partial payment on the 1952 Maxim 750 pumper. It is not known for certain what happened to the blitz buggy at Mt. Carmel, but it is believed to have been purchased by a local farm.
In Hamden's 1944 Annual Report, Chief Spencer wrote, "The Fire Department has operated very efficiently the past year despite the shortage of manpower, due to five members being in the armed forces." Those career department members on leave to serve during WWII were Joseph Hromadka, Stuart Keeler, V. Paul Leddy, James Strain and Emil Strain.
With the reduction in the workweek from 84 to 67.1 hours in 1948, then down to 56 hours in 1951, the number of Hamden's career personnel grew significantly. In all, a total of 50 World War II veterans would be hired as career members of the Hamden Fire Department.
One veteran who joined the department after the war, William Hines, was stationed at Schofield Barracks adjacent to Hickam Field on that December day in 1941.
congratulations go out to HFRA member Sam Jones, who was named Omega
Man of the Year by the Iota Alpha chapter of the Omega Psi Phi
Fraternity. Sam served on the department from 1961 until his retirement
The honor was extended on
Saturday, November 12th on the campus of Sam's alma mater, the
University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Congratulations, Sam!
May 1979 - Driving Truck 2
Website congratulations go out to HFRA member Bob Slater, who has just celebrated 30 years at Disney in Florida. Bob retired from the department in 1981 and headed south with his wife Karen to accept a position in Security at Disney World.
Many HFRA members have enjoyed Bob and Karen's hospitality when visiting in Florida. Congratulations, Bob!
Dec. 2011 - 30th Anniversary at Disney
Fifty years ago this week, on December 11, 1961, The Hamden Board of Fire Commissioners appointed three new firefighters: George Patten, William LaVelle and Paul Wetmore, Sr. All three started on the job January 2, 1962. Patten served for many years as a negotiator for the Hamden Paid Firemen's Sick Benefit Assn. and Local 2687, IAFF. He retired in 1995 and passed away in March 2003. LaVelle left the department in 1968 to go into business. Wetmore went on to serve as Chief of the Department from 1993 until his retirement in 1996.
The members of the Hamden Fire Retirees' Association wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. May all your holiday wishes come true!
To our brothers and sisters who continue to serve in the fire, police and EMS services in Hamden and elsewhere, we wish you and yours a very Happy, Healthy and Safe New Year.
"Deck the (Town) Halls . . . "
December 1939 - Hamden Town Hall's annual Christmas decorations are up. This is a tradition that has lasted decades. The "HAMDEN" neon sign at the roof's edge was installed for the Hamden Sesquicentennial, celebrated three years earlier. The sign remained a fixture on the front of the town hall well into the 1970s. (Photo courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society)
December 1947 - A real sense of postwar hope and optimism may have been responsible for the somewhat glitzier decorations on Memorial Town Hall this year, which included Santa and his team. "Rudolph" would join two years later thanks to Gene Autry, but we don't think he ever appeared at the town hall. (Photo courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society)
2000 Christmas Party - CLICK to view photos.
Memories of Christmas Past
For decades, starting with the Hamden Paid Firemen's Sick Benefit Association, the members of the Hamden Fire Department have celebrated the Christmas season with a party for their children and grandchildren. For over 30 years, the annual holiday gathering has been sponsored by the Hamden Professional Firefighters, Local 2687, IAFF. We have pictures from the Christmas parties of 1983 and 2000. (We're always looking for more!)
1983 Christmas Party - CLICK to view photos.
Those who have pictures from these or other Christmas parties are urged to share them (firstname.lastname@example.org).
To our brothers and sisters who continue to serve in the fire, police and EMS services in Hamden and elsewhere, we wish you and yours a very Happy, Healthy and Safe 2012.
January 1, 2012, marked the 40th anniversary of the passing of Hamden firefighter Alfred Ramelli, who was stricken while on duty a week earlier on Christmas Eve. Firefighter Ramelli was a 23-year veteran of the Department. His son, Ray, joined the Hamden Fire Department in January 1970 and served for 30 years.
This 1970 photo by Cal Stoner shows the brand new Station 3 with apparatus in place. L-R: Engine 3 (1968 Maxim S-model), Truck 2 (1970 Maxim 100' aerial), and Rescue 1 (1959 International Travel-al). Behind Rescue 1 is Engine 6 (1954 Maxim). The Deputy Chief's car, Car 30, ran out of the rear overhead door behind Engine 3. That would change in November 1971, when the two International rescues were taken out of service. A new Rescue 1 was put in service at Station 4 and Car 30 took over the spot in front of Engine 6.
THOSE WERE THE DAYS! The photographer was in "alarm readiness" in the dayroom at Station 3 when snapping this 1978 photo. Notice the ancient cable TV controller atop the equally ancient console TV set. (CLICK to enlarge)
Memorial Day 1978 - Some schmoozing after the parade. Lt. John Tramontano and Dep. Chief George Reutenauer at left, and Ff. Howie Hurlburt, Jr. and a guy who looks like it might be Ff. Ralph Dievert at right. (CLICK to enlarge)