This photo was scanned from the 1940 Hamden Annual Town Report, which heralded the recent renovation to Station 4, then known as "Fire Headquarters." The bay doors were moved from the north side of the fire station to face Whitney Avenue.
The pride of the department were these two nearly new pieces of apparatus. At left is the "Emergency Squad," built on a 1938 Diamond-T chassis. At right is Hamden's newest pumper, rated at 500 GPM, built on a 1939 Diamond-T chassis. Both pieces were manufactured by the Woods Engineering Service of Topsfield, Masssachuetts. These pieces remained in service in various capacities for several more decades. The 1938 squad was sold in 1971, and the pumper in 1977.
9 a.m. Radio Test
Monday, July 13, 1981
Every morning at 9 a.m., the fire dispatcher conducted a radio test to all cars and apparatus. The test format, used since the 1960s, began with the dispatcher announcing, "This is KCG-711 Hamden, testing to all units at 9 a.m."
The first unit called was usually Car 30, the car assigned to the deputy chief (now B/C). On Mondays, the day of this test, volunteer and staff vehicles were included in the radio test. Volunteer apparatus were called at the start of the test, and staff vehicles at the end.
When the dispatcher called one of the radios, the firefighter on that unit's mike gavethe unit's designation, followed by "OK on test." The fire dispatcher would acknowledge with, "10-4 [name of unit]" When the 10 codes were replaced by numeric signals in June 1984, the radio test response became simply, "[Name of unit] 99."
The Hamden Fire Department employed various versions of the 10 Codes for radio messages from the 1950s until 1984. The 10 Codes list above was modified and enlarged in November 1981 with the advent of Central Communications. Following input from line personnel, Hamden's 10 Codes were replaced in June 1984, with the adoption of numeric signals, similar to those used for years by the New Haven Fire Department.
This photo of Firefighters Warren Blake and John McKee was taken by Firefighter Stan Brown around 1965. Stan was an amateur photographer, many of whose photos have been preserved by Chan Brainard. Chan recently donated many of his own photos and hundreds of HFD-related newspaper articles from 1955 through the 1990s. Lots of good stuff will be shared in the coming weeks and months!
CLICK to enlarge
May 1, 1981
This roster is an interesting snapshot of the department at a pivital stage.
Deputy Chief Training Officer Ken Harrington's 1980 retirement resulted in the first department promotion in over seven years. With Harrington's position vacant, Capt. Thomas Doherty acted as training officer when eight new recruits were hired in January 1981. But neither he nor the other two captains still on the job wished to apply for the permanent position. Civil Service re-wrote the specifications, allowing lieutenants with three or more years in grade to apply for the position.
Dep. Chief Harrington's vacancy as training officer was filled in April by Lt. John Tramontano. Ironically, seven years earlier, Tramontano had been the last man to receive a promotion - to lieutenant - the direct result of then-Capt. Harrington's promotion to training officer. Harrington's vacancy on Platoon 2 was filled by Lt. Burt Hillocks, whose vacancy on Platoon 4 was filled by Ff. John Tramontano.
The seven year drought of promotional opportunities affected dozens of firefighters hired in 1969-70, who were not on the job long enough to qualify for the previous lieutenant's exam, conducted in 1973. Some firefighters were on the job nearly twelve years before getting their first shot at a promotion in early 1981, when Civil Service finally authorized a promotional exam.
Chan Brainard sent this 1965 photo by Stan Brown of the old 1st Platoon testing hose at Station 2. Those whose faces can be seen are (L-R) Ff. Dave Herrmann, Capt. Francis "Chalky" Leddy, Ff. Sid Trower, Ff. Howard Hurlburt, Sr., and Ff. John McKee.
New Home for Hamden's First Tower 1
Jennings Township, Indiana Tower 1 - 1991 Pierce Lance 1500/350/100' (Photo by Frank Wegloski)
Firefighter Daryl Osiecki found these photos of Hamden's first Tower 1, by photographer Frank Wegloski, on the www.firenews.org website. Mr. Wegloski generously gave permission to the HFRA to post them on our website. The 1991 Pierce Lance 100' "quint" tower ladder was in service here until early last year. When Hamden's new Smeal Tower was delivered in March 2011, the Pierce was sold to the Jennings Township Fire Department of Austin, Indiana.
Looking as good as it did the day it was delivered, Tower 1 continues to serve the city of Austin, Indiana as an active piece of firefighting apparatus.
Jennings Township, Indiana Tower 1 - 1991 Pierce Lance 1500/350/100' (Photo by Frank Wegloski)
The sale of Hamden's 1991 Pierce Tower to Austin, Indiana was not the first time one of our trucks was purchased by another fire department. In 1963, Hamden's 1941 Diamond-T city service ladder truck was sold to New Milford's Water Witch Fire Co. for $2,200. The 22 year old truck had been stored at Station 5 since the delivery of Hamden's first aerial truck more than four years earlier. The truck resurfaced in Hamden just in time for the 1986 Hamden Bicentennial, although the snazzy rear fender skirts that accompanied its 1942 delivery were long gone. Does anyone know its present whereabouts?
Brand new in '42 - CLICK to enlarge
Still looking good in '86 - CLICK to enlarge
October Meeting at the Elks
A record number of HFRA members attended the recent October meeting of the Association. Election of officers for 2013 took place.
Chairman Bob Maturo of the newly organized Hamden Guardian Services Retirees Assn. LLC spoke to the members regarding that association's goal of protecting the pensions and benefits of those Hamden police and fire department retirees who join the HGSRA.
In less than one month, more than half of the retirees of both departments have joined. For more information, CLICK on the HGSRA tab on the menu at the top of this page.
March 1973 - Don on his 1951 Seagrave pumper
G. Donald "Don" Steele
1919 - 2012
It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of G. Donald "Don" Steele, 93. A memorial service for Don was held last Tuesday at Elim Park in Cheshire.
Don was an active member of Co. 5 from the early 1960s until well into the 1980s, having served as its captain from 1967 to 1972. Don was also very active in other fire service organizations in Connecticut, including New Haven's Box 22 Associates and the New Haven County Fire Emergency Plan, of which he was secretary for many years.
An enthusiastic fan of the fire service, Don was also an experienced ham radio operator. Since it was established in June of three years ago, the HFRA website has featured many of Don's photos of the early days of the Hamden Fire Department.
Don attended the April 26, 2011 Co. 5 member reunion and the November 11, 2011 Centennial Celebration at the Elks, at which he was one of three World War II veterans presented with a quilt from Quilts of Honor. Our thoughts and prayers are with Don's family.
The members of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association, Inc. are honored to announce that, as of October 9, 2012, all twenty-six surviving widows of our deceased brothers have been officially inducted into this Association as Honorary Members:
1921 - 25th Anniversary of the Highwood Volunteer Fire Association (Photo courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society)
The HFRA thanks Hamden Historical Society archivist Joe Pepe for locating an original copy of the 25th anniversary program, commemorating the December 10, 1896 organization of the Highwood Volunteer Fire Association, from which this photo was scanned. The members are seen gathered in front of the Highwood station at the corner of Dixwell Avenue and Morse Street. Their 1918 Stewart chemical truck was only three years old when this photo was taken. Co. 7 received the chemical truck in 1926 when it was replaced at the Highwood station by a new Maxim 500 gpm pumper. The Highwood station closed in October 1951 and was sold shortly thereafter. The building still stands today.
Stan Brown's 1967 photo of Station 2, courtesy of Chan Brainard, showing (L-R) the 1959 Maxim "cab-forward" (Engine 2), the 1958 Maxim 75' "Junior" Aerial (Ladder 1), and the 1938 Seagrave "canopy cab" (Engine 1).
December 2001 - Ff. Kevin O'Hare, Capt. Don LaBanca and Ff. Ray Dobbs at Station 9, celebrating Ray's last day on the job after 32 years on the job. Kevin retired two years later. Don, now a BC and the most senior member of the department, is presently in his 35th year on the job. (Photo by Bob Mordecai)
One theme of this week's website update is "VIDEO."
Coincidentally, two video "firsts" for the Hamden Fire Department occurred within days of each other 30 years ago this week.
October 29, 1982: Firefighter Gerry Dinneen Brought the Hamden Fire Department into the "Video [Tape] Age"
30 years ago this week, on October 29, 1982, Hamden Firefighter Gerry Dinneen captured the first "modern day" video of a Department function, the 1982 Co. 7 Halloween Party at Station 7. This seemingly inconsequential event sparked an interest by Department brass in the use of video as a means of documenting department events as well as its potential as a training tool.
During the next three years, Gerry taped a number of department functions, including the Department's first Awards Night in 1985. The Department suffered a tremendous loss when Gerry passed away suddenly later that year on Christmas Day. In his brief career with the HFD, Firefighter Gerald Dinneen made a difference.
Ff. Gerry Dinneen (1945-85) - CLICK to view video
CLICK photo to view video
30 Years Ago!
Mountain Rescue Team Sunday, October 31, 1982
When three Branford teenagers got lost after dark on Sleeping Giant State Park, HFD's Mountain Rescue Team was called in. Fortunately, the kids turned up after police dogs located them only a short distance from the ranger station.
WTNH Channel 8 News covered the incident. Several of the Mountain Rescue Team members, including Chick Manware, Tony Melillo, John Tramontano and Ed Charbonneau, can be seen in the news report.
In preparation for the possible landing of Hurricane Sandy sometime during or following the upcoming weekend, the HFRA website is forwarding the following message from Hamden's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT):
This is a perfect time to remind you, it is still hurricane season. Emergency managers have been keeping a close eye on Sandy, saying that by early next week it could miss the New England region entirely, brush by it, or slam directly into it early next week. Experts believe the area will not go unscathed. A direct-hit scenario would have “huge implications” in New England, the Weather Service said in a forecast discussion posted Wednesday. Even if Sandy only makes a “close pass” it will likely impact the New England region with strong winds that would topple trees, causing widespread power outages, storm surge, and coastal flooding.
If you have not done so already, it is important to ensure that you:
· Check your family’s emergency supply kit – make certain you have food, water, medications, and other necessities to sustain you, your family and family pets for at least 72 hours.
· Follow the direction of local officials –evacuation orders may be issued by officials, so follow their guidance. When it comes to swimming, follow local warnings as well. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by storms.
· Remember food safety – power outages and flooding may happen as a result of a tropical storm or hurricane, so have a plan for keeping food safe. Have a cooler on hand to keep food cold, and group food together in the freezer so it stays cold longer.
· Have an adequate communication plan - be sure friends and family know how to contact you. Teach family members how to use text messaging as text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call can’t get through.
Keep in mind, hurricanes bring heavy rains, storm surges, and possible flooding events. Avoid walking or driving through any flooded areas – it takes only six inches of fast-moving flood water to knock over an adult and two feet to move a vehicle. Remember: Turn Around, Don’t Drown!
For those who may be in the path of Sandy, you can get hurricane safety tips right on your phone by downloading these useful apps:
Local 2687 President Kurt Vogt invites all Hamden Fire Retirees to join Local 2687 members in welcoming IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger, who will be stopping in at Hamden's Station 3 next Wednesday, October 31st at 10:30 a.m. President Schaitberger's visit is part of a two (2) day swing through Connecticut designed to let members hear from the State and National leadership.
The Local is planning to have sandwiches and refreshments for everyone, so if you expect to attend please contact Kurt (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dave Johnson (email@example.com) so that the Local may have an approximate head count.
To All Retirees:
The visit to Station 3 by IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger, originally scheduled for Wednesday, October 31, has been cancelled due to the expected severe weather.
This photo was taken thirty years ago during the department's annual Fire Prevention Week demonstration at the Hamden Mart. Just why Ed Doiron is digging the hole isn't quite clear. Maybe a mighty oak stands there now. Strangers coming to Hamden today, however, would have no idea where to find that oak. Everything in the background is long gone and the typography significantly altered by the removal of thousands of cubic yards of earth. (Photo by Ed Doiron, Jr.)
60 Years Ago!
1988 - New Rescue 1
Hamden Chronicle - October 30, 1952
April 1988 - Firefighter Donnie Buechele is shown here checking "the box" on Hamden's newest Rescue 1, on a 1988 GMC chassis, which was just placed in service. The Superior Shoe Repair building in the background on the east side of Whitney Avenue (formerly Berman's Cleaners) was torn down several years ago. (Photo by Ed Doiron, Jr.) CLICK to enlarge
1974 - Behind Station 5, Training Officer, D/C Kenneth Harrington, observes [what appears to be] Ff. Carmen Amarante, as he prepares to force open the driver's door on another firefighter's donated 1963 Ford Fairlane. Before the days of the Hurst Tool, the department used a hand-pumped hydraulic tool. The firefighters in the background are Dennis Cosgrove, Tom Mikolinski and Bob Viglione. (Photo by Ed Doiron, Sr.) CLICK to enlarge
ATTENTION ALL RETIRED
The Hamden Guardian Services Retirees Association, LLC (HGSRA), an organization formed recently by retired Hamden cops and firefighters to oversee and protect our pensions and benefits, is now a legal entity in the State of Connecticut. (NOTE: This is NOT the same association as the HFRA, Inc.).
We recently contacted every retired Hamden firefighter for whom we have an email address or home mailing address*. Information on the HGSRA was provided along with an application form. If you did not receive the notification and application form please contact this website right away (HFDBadge102@aol.com).
Over 140 Hamden fire and police retirees have joined the HGSRA as of October 26th.
The Hamden Fire Retirees Association, Inc. (HFRA), is pleased to provide a page for the Hamden Guardian Services Retirees Association, LLC on this website for informational purposes. See menu tab "HGSRA" Please be sure to check it frequently, particularly during the next few months.
A meeting for all new members of the Hamden Guardian Services Retirees Association, LLC will take place on Thursday, November 15th at 7 p.m. (location TBA). All members as of that date, or those retirees who plan to join at the meeting, are welcome. The Executive Board of the HGSRA will report on the status of the pension plan and on future HGSRA activities.
A specific meeting agenda and the location of the meeting - we are looking into several possible locations - will be posted on the HGSRA page of this website and sent to all HGSRA members as the meeting date nears.
*Confidentiality regulations prevent the Town from disclosing addresses of retirees. Does anyone know how we may contact retiree Thomas Hart? We also have a California address for a Roger Sulllivan, but we're not sure he's our retiree. Mail delivered to oldaddresses is often discarded by those presently living there and not returned to the sender.