Sunday morning fire at Chestnut Hills Apartment goes to 5 alarms
Website thanks to Asst.Chief Lubowicki and Marshal Brian Dolan for providing all the information below.
In what may be the largest mutual aid response to Hamden in fire department history, Hamden firefighters, assisted by New Haven and other neighboring communities, fought a stubborn fire Sunday morning at the Chestnut Hills Apartments in the void between the third floor ceiling and the solar panel-laden roof. Over 90 residents from 57 apartments had to be evacuated.
925 Mix Avenue - Photo from FOX 61
It all began Saturday night at 11:36, when Engines 2 and 3, Tower 1, the Squad, Rescue 2 and Car 3 were dispatched on a box assignment to a reported fire at the Chestnut Hill Apartments, 925 Mix Avenue. Responding companies arrived at 11:40 PM and reported heavy fire and smoke coming from the roof of the apartment complex.
On the report of a working fire, Engine 5, Cars 1, 2, 4, Marshal's office and Shop personnel were dispatched. Additional firefighting crews began a room by room search of the 57 unit building to ensure that all occupants had exited safely.
Firefighters manually activated the building alarm to evacuate all residents as interior smoke detectors had not yet been activated. Upon accessing the roof firefighters encountered multiple solar panels, HVAC equipment, and the roof deck itself on fire. Smoke began to bank down into the hallways of the building.
A nightmare scenario: Trying to contain the fire, which was rolling across a common cockloft between the third floor ceiling and the roof, which was covered with solar panels. (New Haven Register photos)
A second alarm was ordered, which brought to the scene Hamden's Engine 9, North Haven's Engine 1, Tower 1, Car 2, and AMR's Car 50. Hamden's Stations 3, 5, and 9 were covered by NoH Engine 6, Cheshire Engine 5, and Bethany Engine 9, respectively. CERT was alerted and responded quickly.
The fire was running an internal void space between the third floor ceilings of the apartments and the roof deck. This made for a very labor intensive fire attack and posed many challenges for firefighters. Fire crews had limited access from the roof due to the limited walkable surfaces.
NHFD's Truck 4 out of Station 6 with aerial ladder to the roof (New Haven Register photo)
A 3rd alarm was ordered, which brought to the scene New Haven's Engine 6, Truck 4, Car 33 (East Battalion Chief), and Wallingford's Engine 2, and Car 1. Woodbridge, North Branford, and Prospect each sent an engine company to add coverage to Stations 5, 4, and 3, respectively.
** Hamden's Tower 1 on the south side of the building
A majority of the roof was covered with solar panels and mechanical equipment. Other roof areas had been made structurally unsafe from the volume of fire. The fire had to be accessed from the third floor apartments which involved pulling down the drywall ceilings in the hallway and dwelling units.
On the 4th alarm, Bethany and Cheshire each sent an additional engine company and New Haven's Car 31 (Chief of Department) and Car 39 (Asst. Chief of Operations) both responded.
With the help of neighboring departments, firefighters were able to bring the fire under control after approximately three hours. Firefighters were able to limit the fire spread to the void space and the roof. The fire did not extend into the units, but there was heavy smoke and water damage throughout the building. Personnel remained on scene to check for any hot spots.
Three firefighters were treated at the scene by American Medical Response for heat exhaustion. There were no reported civilian injuries. Ninety residents were displaced as a result of the fire and the building is currently uninhabitable. The American Red Cross and Hamden Community Services are providing assistance with housing and other needs for the residents.
The fire is believed to have started in the ceiling void space of the third floor of the building. The Hamden Fire Marshal’s Office and the Connecticut State Police Fire Investigation Unit are conducting an ongoing investigation into the exact cause of the fire.
Among the best local TV news coverage was that of WFSB reporter Christian Colon - CLICK HERE
Posted 6/28/2021 - 1700 hrs.
CERT provided needed on-scene rehab and refreshments - Great job, CERT! (Still captured from WFSB news footage)
Revisions to the posting about this fire will be ongoing as new information is provided.
GoFundMe account set up for residents impacted by Hamden apartment fire.
Chief Gary Merwede announced yesterday that the recipient of Hamden Fire Department's Firefighter Sam Jones EMT Scholarship is graduating senior Clay Hardy, Hamden High School Class of 2021.
Clay will be attending classes at the Yale Center for EMS beginning the second week of July. Prior to sitting for the National Registry EMT test, students must have “ride time” to treat patients in the field under the guidance of a Paramedic Field Instructor. Clay will be completing his ride time with Hamden Fire Department in the Hamden Community.
Pictured (L-R) are: Dan Cocchiola, Hamden High Asst. Principal and Guidance Coordinator; Asst. Chief Lubowicki; scholarship recipient and 2021 Hamden High graduate Clay Hardy; Chief Gary Merwede; and Firefighter/EMT Larry Bowden, who will be Clay’s departmental mentor through the EMT course this summer.
The Sam Jones EMT Scholarship was established for EMT certification training for a graduating high school senior of color. It was named in honor of the Hamden Fire Department's first African-American firefighter, Samuel Augustus Jones (1925-2015), who was appointed in May 1961. Sam's fire department career lasted nearly thirty years, after which he and his wife Elaine retired to Knoxville, Tennessee.
The Sam Jones EMT Scholarship was announced by Chief Merwede last January. CLICK HERE to read the website posting.
* 1980 - Station 2, 4th Platoon - (Photo by Dave Strawhince)
The website thanks retired Battalion Chief Dave Strawhince, who emailed several great group photos that he took (some, like this one, with a timer) during his first several years on the department.
The above photo was taken in front of Station 2 on a balmy spring day in 1980. L-R: Firefighters Dave Strawhince, Ralph Tomaselli, Ronnie Altieri, Howie Hurlburt, Jr., Ray Dobbs, Lieut. John Tramontano, Firefighters Bill Mulcahy and Harry Cubbellotti. Joe Mulligan, the ninth member of the 1980 Station 2 crew of Platoon 4, was off-duty that day.
Dave Strawhince began his career in 1978 as a recruit firefighter on the 4th Platoon, which he would eventually lead as its shift commander from the mid-2000s until his retirement last August.
The website has learned of the passing on Sunday of retired Hamden Police Chief John "Jack" Ambrogio, who was 87 years old. Chief Ambrogio joined the Hamden Police Department in 1956. Often considered a controversial figure in Hamden government, he served the department for 42 years, the last twenty-four as Chief.
Funeral will be from Beecher & Bennett Funeral Home, 2300 Whitney Avenue, Hamden, Thursday June 24th at 9:00 a.m. followed by his Mass of Christian Burial to be celebrated at 10:00 a.m. at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Whitney Ave., Hamden. Friends may also visit with his family at the funeral home on Wednesday from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
The members of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association extend our sincere condolences to Chief Ambrogio's family and to the members of the Hamden Police Department.
Many Hamden "alumni" attend - Spencer named Lifetime Member
* L-R: Vic Mitchell, Bill Fitzmaurice, Jim Wetmore, Tom Doherty, Dave Johnson, and Clark Hurlburt. Seated are Chick Manware and Rev. Owen Sanderson. (For this photo we gave Chick "dual citizenship" because for the Plan he actually represents Stevens Heights in West Haven, where he got his fire service start when they were still using horses.) Bob Freeeman photo
Pictured above is only part of the Hamden contingent at the June meeting of the New Haven County Fire Emergency Plan held last Tuesday at Station 8, where the Plan's June meetings have been held every year for decades.
Our own Bill Fitzmaurice (B/C Ret.), longtime active member in Emergency Plan activities, is its current president. It should come as no surprise that many fire officers continue to make tangible contributions to the fire service in this organization of area fire officers, even after their retirements from active firefighting.
For Hamden, the highlight of the meeting was the election of Hamden retired Batt. Chief Gil Spencer to Lifetime Membership in the organization. Gil began his fire service career at the Mt. Carmel Volunteer Fire Company, and he joined the Plan after his election as 2nd Lieutenant in the fire company 65 years ago. Gil joined the career department in 1957, advancing to lieutenant in 1970, captain in 1981, and Commander (B/C) in 1986. He retired in 1992. Congratulations, Gil!
Below are the guys who fixed the meal and served the strawberry shortcakes, courtesy of Hindinger's Farm. Co. 8 Capt. George Hindinger and his family have generously supplied the desserts that have become long associated with the Plan's June meetings at Co. 8. Thank you, George & Co.!
* George's Co. 8 "Kitchen Staff" (L-R): Mark Guarino, Dave Lockery, Capt. Hindinger, Paul Wetmore III, and Russ Wetmore. All did an outstanding job preparing the food and refreshments for Plan members at the June meeting of the NHCFEP. Thank you, guys.
The website was shocked and saddened to learn earlier today of the passing on Sunday of retired New Haven Fire Chief Michael Grant, who was 70 years old. Chief Grant joined the NHFD in 1972. Often called "a fireman's fireman," he served 42 years, the last eleven as Chief of Department.
A tweet from the NHFD earlier today summed up the admiration and respect of his fellow firefighters, "His leadership and knowledge will have an impact on this department for generations to come.”
The members of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association extend our sincere condolences to Chief Grant's family and friends and to the members of the New Haven Fire Department. RIP Chief Grant.
1971 - Summertime ladder demonstration at the rear of the high school. Ff. John Reilly is in the foregound, with Ff. Rick Kenyon right behind. Ff. Harry Cubbellotti is on the turntable of Ladder 1. It looks like the ladder pipe is being fed by a pumper just out of camera range. This truck, which was delivered more than 12 years earlier, was repainted red and fitted with a soft top shortly after this photo was taken.
Jim Dunlop and his wife Debbie have moved to their new home in South Carolina, making his presiding at a meeting just a tad difficult. In his email resigning as Association vice president, which he has been since 2014, Jim nominated Bill Fitzmaurice to replace him.
The members at the June 8th meeting extended Jim a well-deserved vote of thanks for his past service. Bill Fitzmaurice was then unanimously elected to fill Jim's unexpired term, ending December 31, 2022. The secretary was elected treasurer, a dual role he held until last year.
A Hamden treasure, he headed Hamden's Veterans Commission
Abner Oakes, III of Hamden died peacefully surrounded by family on May 29th, Memorial Day weekend 2021. He was the loving husband of Cynthia Miller.
Born in Montreal, Quebec, he was the son of Abner Oakes and Marjorie Allyn Oakes; he lived in Hamden for more than 50 years and was an integral part of the Greater New Haven community. He attended Phillips Academy and graduated from Dartmouth College in 1956.
As a Navy veteran, he became interested in military veterans’ affairs. In 1973 he and his wife Cynthia spearheaded the creation of a monument to veterans in Hamden’s Freedom Park. He founded the Hamden Veterans’ Commission and served as its chairman. In 2010 he was inducted into the Connecticut Veterans’ Hall of Fame.
Friends are invited to attend calling hours with the family on Sunday, June 6, from 3:00 to 6:00 pm at Peter H. Torello & Son Funeral Home, 1022 Dixwell Avenue, Hamden. The funeral service is also open to friends and will take place at the same location on Monday, June 7, at 10:00 am. A private burial service will follow. Those that wish to honor Abner’s legacy can donate to the Wounded Warrior Project at https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/.
To read Abner's complete obituary please CLICK HERE.
Station 4 benefit two very fortunate car occupants.
June 3, 2016 - This car went off the northbound side of Wilbur Cross Parkway last Tuesday afternoon, near the northbound Whitney Avenue exit and entrance ramps. Arriving on scene at 1300 hours, the personnel of Squad 1 and Rescue 1 began patient treatment and vehicle stabilization. An immediate request for assistance brought Tower 1 and Engine 2 to the scene to help prevent the automobile from falling off the retaining wall and to assist with rescue.
Hamden Fire Department Photo
Firefighters chained the car to the guardrail to maintain its stability, then placed simple lifelines on each patient, who were then assisted to stretchers a few feet away. Firefighter Scott Blake is positioned on the ladder as a safety measure in case someone slipped.
Engine 2, seen in the photo, was positioned up on the parkway, while the Squad, Tower 1 and Rescue 1 were in a small unpaved area adjacent to the parkway overpass on the east side of Whitney Avenue. Parkway traffic flow was reduced to a single lane when state police closed the traffic lane closest to the accident.
The two vehicle occupants, a male driver and female passenger, were both extricated within 15 minutes of arrival. They were transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital via AMR for treatment and evaluation. The extent of their injuries do not appear to be life threatening at this time. The cause of the accident is under investigation by the Connecticut State Police. .
Originally posted 6/3/16
[The website thanks the Fire Chief's Office and Dep. Chief Gary Merwede for providing this article and photo.)
Each of the photos below, featuring HFD marching units from 1949 to 1979, can be enlarged to 1500 x 1000 pixels. Just click on the image. Also, website thanks to a fellow HFD retiree for this amazing video dedicated to those who gave their last full measure of devotion so that we may live in peace and freeedom.
** CLICK on the photo to view a three minute 8mm home movie of the 1962 and 1963 Memorial Day Parades
June 3, 2011 - Ten years ago, Bob Mordecai took these photos of a nasty auto accident that demolished a late model Cadillac on Whitney Avenue in Mt. Carmel. This was when the 1990 Pierce aerial ladder truck was running out of Station 5 as "Truck 5." Lieutenants Brian Forsyth (T5) and Gary Couture (E4), and Firefighters Ed Emerson (T5), Kerry Castracane (R1), Mike Green (R1), Sam DeBurra (E4), and Gary Greene (E4) are some of the personnel who can be identified in these photos.
Originally posted 6/3/11
* AMR Medic wheels the patient to the waiting unit
* Lt. Gary Couture (far left), Ff. Sam DeBurra, and Lt. Brian Forsyth. Ff. Ed Emerson at driver's side door.
* Totalled Caddy after slamming into tree - Gary Greene (leaning over med box) and Mike Green, with Lt. Brian Forsyth in background
* HPD Sgt. Bill Sikorsky, Ff. Ed Emerson, and Lt. Brian Sikorsky examine the wreckage
* Ff. Ed Emerson, Lt. Brian Forsyth, Ff. Kerry Castracane and HPD Sgt. Bill Sikorsky