Meeting Agenda: Communications, Treasurer’s Report, Incorporation and Local 2687 V.P., Dave Beaton, will provide update.
All retired and former HFD welcome!
June 1982 - Ffs. Dennis Cosgrove and Bob Viglione, with Lieut. Bill Coppola, sprucing up Engine 4 at the start of the day. (Photo by John Tramontano)
August 21, 1993 - Station 4 - Capt. Dave Johnson, Ff. Jim Dunlop, Cmdr. Bill Coppola, Ff. Bob Anthony, Ff. Rich "Rambo" Maybury and Ff. Ron Desroches.
"Blackie" was the last mascot at Station 4. This photo is from a November 1957 issue of "The Suburban Spokeman," a regional weekly newspaper that briefly took the place of "The Hamden Chronicle" for a few months in late '57 and early '58. (Article courtesy of Chan Brainard) CLICK for more on HFD mascots.
Firefighter Stan Brown sometime in the early 1960s
The former "For Members" page in the above menu is now the "Members Only" page, which contains new indexes for the secured pages. HFRA members who do not have their own user name and password should email HFDBadge102@aol.com.
It is customary in many fire departments, including Hamden's, to reassign older apparatus to less active stations when new apparatus is delivered. Some Hamden pumpers, like the 1965 Mack, have been assigned to as many as five different stations during their active service. But Hamden's Truck 1 was the only Hamden engine or truck company to be located at sixdifferent locations during its years of active service.
1908 - Hamden's First Truck Company
Hamden's first truck company got started in Highwood in 1908, when the Highwood Volunteer Fire Association built a hand drawn wagon containing various hand ladders. It was housed first in the old New Lebanon Mission Hall, which was located on the north side of Morse Street, not too far from Dixwell. In 1909, the Highwood volunteers built their permanent quarters at the corner of Dixwell and Morse, where Ladder Co. 1 found its second home.
The old-timers often told stories that, all these years later, seem to challenge plausibility. When Highwood's assistance was needed further up Dixwell Avenue, so the story goes, the Highwood volunteers would hitch their ladder truck to a next trolley car heading north on Dixwell. One wonders if trolley passengers were permitted to get on or off while the firefighters responded. In any event, the Highwood truckmen could go no further than Benham Street, where the Dixwell Avenue trolley line ended.
1926 Maxim City Service Truck
There is no record of just how long Highwood's hand drawn truck remained in service. But in March of 1926, Ladder Co. 1 became motorized when Highwood acquired a new Maxim city service ladder, along with a new Maxim 500 g.p.m. pumper, costing the Town a total of $12,500.
On Wednesday, March 19, 1941, Hamden's only ladder company, now called the "Hook & Ladder," responded to a reported oil burner fire at the home of Mr. Peters at 2316 Dixwell Avenue (approximately where the Firestone store is today). Just past Dixwell and Mather, Hamden's 1926 ladder truck collided with a trolley car and flipped on its side. Miraculously, the only firefighter on board, driver David F. Howe, was unhurt. But at the tender age of fifteeen years, Hamden's only ladder truck was totaled. For nearly a year Hamden did not have a truck company.
From surviving records, it is not clear whether New Haven was on call for Hamden should a truck company be needed. But six months after losing its only ladder truck - and five months before acquiring a new one - Hamden experienced a major structure fire at 840 Prospect Street, the last house before the New Haven city line. The fire caused $25,000 in damages to the home of the Gratenstein family, a sizable loss for a house fire 70 years ago. If called, it is likely that either New Haven's Truck 4 from Dixwell Station or Truck 6 from Edwards Street would have responded.
1942 at Highwood Station
In February of 1942, Hamden's brand new two-tone 1941 Diamond-T city service ladder truck was delivered. A ladder truck was back in service at the Highwood station!
When you drive past the old Highwood station today, you wonder how that ladder truck, and the 1942 Diamond-T pumper that was Engine 1, ever could have fit into that place. Somehow, they did.
1957 at Station 2
The Highwood station closed on October 1, 1951. The "Hook & Ladder" and its stablemate, Engine 1, joined Engine 2 at the newly-renovated Humphrey fire station at 71 Circular Avenue. Hamden's first ladder truck company, the "Hook & Ladder," "Ladder 1," or "Truck 1," was at its third location, and would remain there for nearly another quarter century.
When the ladder company moved into the new three-bay Humphrey station, it occupied the northernmost bay. Eventually an officer's room was built behind the north bay and the truck was moved to the center bay. But the designation over the north bay door still read "Truck Co. No. 1."
1976 - Station 2 - Eng. 1, Truck 1, Eng. 2
When the 1958 Maxim 75' "Junior" aerial ladder truck was delivered in late 1958, it was placed in service at Station 2 as "Ladder 1," replacing the 1941 Diamond-T ladder truck, which went in reserve at Station 5 until it was sold to New Milford in 1963.
When radios were installed in Hamden fire apparatus, the fire department shared the same frequency with the police and public works. The radio designations for the fire units were between numbers 30 and 59. Engine 1 was "Engine 31," Engine 2 was "Engine 32," and so forth. The Chief was "Car 40," the Marshal "Car 41" - and the truck company, Ladder 1, was "Ladder 42."
Hamden's second truck company, the 1970 Maxim 100' aerial, was placed in service as "Ladder 2" at the brand new Station 3 in 1970. And even though the fire department had acquired its own radio frequency many years earlier, the new Ladder 2 became "Ladder 43" on the radio.
Despite the fact that the "Truck Co. No. 1" label had adorned the front of Station 2 since the early 1950s, the truck company stationed there was still called "Ladder 1" Over the years, many department members had argued that the proper term for a ladder truck was, in fact, "truck." Finally, on July 1, 1974, the radio designations for all apparatus changed. Ladder 1 (or Ladder 42) became Truck 1, and Ladder 2 (or Ladder 43) became Truck 2.
When the new Rescue 2 was placed in service at Station 2 on April 9, 1976, Truck 1 was transferred with two firefighters to its fourth location at Station 5.
4/9/76 - Ff. Braun pulls Truck 1 out of Sta. 2 for the last time . . .
. . . and up Circular Avenue toward Mt. Carmel.
For the next eight years, four firefighters were assigned to Station 5, manning Engine 5 and Truck 1.
In late 1984, a department reorganization resulted in a third lieutenant for each platoon, and an officer was assigned to Station 9 for the first time.
On November 3, 1984, Truck 1, with its two personnel, was transferred to its fifth location at Station 9. An officer and three firefighters were now assigned to Station 9, manning Engine 9 and Truck 1. Station 5 went back to being a "two-man" house.
11/3/84 - Firefighter Braun pulls Truck 1 out of Station 5 for the last time . . .
Ff. Braun and Truck 1 arrive at Station 9.
Ff. Braun backs in Truck 1 at Station 9 the first time.
Station 9 crew on November 3, 1984 (CLICK to enlarge)
TAC 1 at Station 3
The Station 9 four-man-house experiment was fairly short-lived. In late 1985, the department underwent another reorganization when a fourth lieutenant's position was added to each platoon.
On December 1, 1985, one firefighter on each platoon was transferred from Station 9 to Station 3, leaving an officer and two firefighters on Engine 9. The 1958 Maxim 75' aerial truck was removed from service. Remaining quartered at Station 9 as a reserve ladder truck, it was designated as "Truck 2."
The 1970 Maxim 100' aerial ladder truck at Station 3, now designated as "Truck 1," became a two-piece truck company, running with TAC 1. Now Hamden's Truck 1 was officially assigned to Station 3, that company's sixth location!
TAC 1, short for "Tactical Unit 1," was the 1975 Ford reserve rescue unit, previously designated as "Rescue 3." It contained a cascade air system for refilling air tanks, the Hurst tool, air bags, spare tanks and other specialized equipment. An officer and three firefighters were assigned to this new two-piece truck company.
For the next five years whenever the 1970 Maxim was out of service due to repairs, the 1958 Maxim was moved to Station 3 to once again act as Truck 1.
The '58 Maxim aerial ladder truck did have one last run out of Station 9, however. On May 25, 1988, Engine 9 was dispatched to the Davenport Residence on a third alarm. Station 9's officer that night, Lt. Bob Mordecai, ordered one of his riders, Ff. John O'Hare, to follow Engine 9 to the scene with the '58 Maxim aerial ladder truck.
1958 Maxim 75' Aerial Ladder Truck (1958-1990)
1970 Maxim 100' Aerial Ladder Truck (1970-1990)
The 1958 and 1970 Maxim aerial ladder trucks were both removed from service by early 1990 and eventually sold at auction to the same private buyer.
In February 1990, the East Haven Fire Department lent Hamden its spare 1968 Seagrave 100' aerial ladder truck, while Hamden awaited the delivery of a new Truck 1, a Pierce 105' rear-mount aerial ladder truck, which arrived in late August of that year.
1973 - Lt. Gil Spencer
Three Station 9 "Firsts"
In December 1968, then-Firefighter Gilbert Spencer was the first career firefighter on "old" Platoon 2 to be assigned to the brand new Station 9 - then a one-man station. By 1973, Spencer, now a lieutenant, was assigned to Station 4 on "new" Platoon 2. In those days, the Station 4 officer was also in charge of the Station 5 and Station 9 firefighters on his platoon.
One day in May 1973, Lt. Spencer and Firefighter/EMT Walt Macdowall drove to Station 9 in Rescue 1. Spencer now recalls that their trip to Station 9 was for some sort of task, perhaps hose testing, that would keep them both up there for several hours.
Shortly after arriving at Station 9, Firefighter Macdowall was called back to Headquarters for an interview with the Fire Commission for the position of lieutenant. During Macdowall's absence, Lt. Spencer was ordered to put his gear on Engine 9, thus - albeit briefly - making him the first career officer on Engine 9. (And, yes, Macdowall was promoted to lieutenant.)
Completing a hat trick of Station 9 "firsts," in November 1984, Capt. Gilbert Spencer became Station 9's first house captain.
The first officers assigned to Station 9 were Lt. Dick Stacey (Pl. 1), Lt. Dan O'Connell (Pl. 2), Lt. Bob Chadwick (Pl. 3), and Capt. Gil Spencer (Pl. 4). Two years later, Spencer was promoted to Commander (now Battalion Chief).
Hamden's First "Emergency Squad" - February 27, 1938 Where was this photo taken? You may be surprised at the correct answer. (Hint: Forget what was stated previously on this website.)
Photo snapped on February 27, 1938 - But where?
While perusing ancient issues of The Hamden Chronicle this week at the Hamden Historical Society, an HFRA member spotted this photo commemorating the 15th anniversary of the delivery of Hamden's 1938 Diamond-T "Emergency "Squad."
At first glance, veteran Hamdenites will swear they know the location of this photo. Do you? You may be very surprised. (The HFRA member was.) Answer next week.
Fire Marshal-Designate Dennis Harrison
May 1982 - Fire Marshal Bob "Bubby" O'Donnell (Tramontano photo)
From the Local 2687 website, we have learned of the promotion of Captain Dennis Harrison as Hamden's sixth Fire Marshal. The
swearing-in ceremony is tentatively scheduled
for Tuesday, January 31st. The time and location will be posted when
known. Dennis has been on the Department since February 1987.
Following WWII, Robert "Bubby" O'Donnell joined the
Department in January 1947. Bob was promoted in lieutenant in 1956, and
captain the following year when Capt. Dan Hume became the Department's
first training officer. When Hamden's first uniformed fire marshal, Al
Purce, retired in 1968, Bob got the job. Always a cheerful guy armed
with plenty of funny stories, "Bubby" loved listening to his 1940s music
The Hamden Chronicle, February 19, 1953
February 1953 - Hamden's 1938 Seagrave "canopy-cab" was the fifth piece of apparatus to have a two-way radio installed. (Brainard photo)
There's an interesting tale behind this set of locally produced cutlery - CLICK to see why.
Sam Mednicow's Used Cars 2230 State Street, corner of London Drive Monday, January 25, 1971
Legendary local used car salesman, Sam Mednicow, was slightly injured when the space heater in the office of his used car dealership exploded on Monday, January 25, 1971. Several cars in his inventory were destroyed along with the office. Platoon 2, under the direction of Deputy Chief James Strain, responded with Engines 3 and 4, Ladder 2 and Rescue 1. The ladder pipe of the new ladder truck was put into action successfully despite the notoriously narrow mains on State Street at that time.
May 1, 1970 - (L-R) Councilman Ray Chase, Sr. joins Councilman Tom Pagnam, Mayor Bill Adams and Councilman Dick Macaboy, as the first foursome to tee off at Laurel View Country Club. (Photo courtesy of Tim Pagnam)
Councilman Ray Chase, Sr. (1923-2012)
Former Hamden Councilman Raymond Chase, Sr., father of HFRA member Ray Chase, passed away on January 21st.
Mr. Chase served as 1st District Councilman on the Hamden Legislative Council from 1968 to 1972, when he was an ardent proponent of many fire department improvements. Two new fire stations were built during his two terms on the Council. An avid golfer (see historic photo at left), Mr. Chase also served as Chairman of the Council's Public Works Committee.
The funeral for Mr. Chase was Thursday. The members of the HFRA extend our condolences to our brother Ray and the entire Chase family.
These photos were obtained through the efforts of Bob Mordecai. Much appreciated!
Church in factory photo was a case of mistaken identity!
Over the years, almost everyone who has commented on the 1938 Emergency Squad photo below thought that it was taken in front of Hamden's Whitneyville Congregational Church, including the website editor. But a recent revelation (no pun intended) confirmed (sorry!) that the church in the background was in Topsfield, Massachusetts, up the street from where the truck was manufactured.
The brass at the Wood Engineering Co. undoubtedly wanted a dignified backdrop for their handiwork before sending it off to Hamden, where it would serve more than 20 years as the "Squad," and another ten with Volunteer Co. 9. It was sold to a private buyer in 1971. Its present location is unknown.
February 27, 1938 - Hamden's brand new 1938 Diamond-T "Emergency Squad" pictured in front of the Topsfield (Massacusetts) Congregational Church, which still stands, just up Main Street from where the Wood Engineering Co. was located until the early 1960s.
From Editor Francis J. "Bud" O'Connor's weekly column, "The Melting Pot," in the December 30, 1952 issue of The Hamden Chronicle, we learn the truth!
Today - Topsfield Congregational Church (image taken from Google Earth)
1976 photo of the Whitneyville Congregational Church (photo by John Frohlich)