November 30 - This beautiful cake honored ten Hamden Fire Department members who will be officially retired as of tomorrow morning. Created by Cindy Turner, mom to one of the retirees, it was served to the scores of active and retired department members who, along with many family members and friends, attended a reception for the retirees yesterday morning at Hamden's Memorial Town Hall.
Tune in tomorrow, when an article and numerous photos of the event will kick off the December 2021 HFRA home page.
(November 27, 2021) - One of the worst fires in the history of the New Haven Fire Department occured on this date one hundred years ago when fire raced through the Rialto Theatre on College Street, resulting in the deaths of nine theater patrons and injuries to more than 75 others.
It is believed that the fire was started by incense burning for atmorphere during a showing of the newly-released motion picture "The Sheik," starring Rudolph Valentino.
CLICK HERE to read the front page and Page 3 of the Monday, November 28, 1921 edition of the New Haven Evening Register, courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society, to read the many articles about this historic local tragedy.
Rialto photo published in New Haven Firefighters, by Box 22 Associates, Arcadia Publishing, 2005
Saturday will mark a significant anniversary for a man who has been continuously affiliated with the Hamden Fire Department since he was voted to the membership of the Mt. Carmel Volunteer Fire Co. on Tuesday, November 27, 1951.
Gilbert Spencer joined Co. 5 on that date 70 years ago and has maintained his membership as an active member of the company ever since. Almost half of that 70 years was spent as a career member of the department. Joining the career department in December 1957 as a recruit firefighter, Gil retired at the end of November 1992 at the rank of Commander (now Battalion Chief).
Mayor Curt Leng honored Gil with a Mayoral Citation last month on the 70th anniversary of his application to join Co. 5. Gil has been recuperating from a leg infection and will be presented with the citation from the Co. 5 membership when he is up and about once again.
Gil’s father, Raymond K. Spencer,* joined the fire company in August 1925, and was its president for nearly 30 years, from the 1950s to the 1980s. Ray Spencer was just shy of 70 years with the company when he passed away in March 1995. Ray’s father, Robbin Spencer, served as a founding member of the North Hamden Volunteer Fire Association in December 1911 and joined Co. 5 when the former company folded in 1925.
Gil’s son, John, also an HFD battalion chief, will be retiring next Tuesday, exactly 29 years to the day after his dad. John’s fire service career began in the early 1980s as a member of Co. 7, culminating with the last 34 years and 10 months as a career member.
Gilbert Spencer, his grandfather Robbin, his dad Raymond K., and his son John represent an incredible combined total of over 180 years of fire department service to the Town of Hamden. Gil's fellow members of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association congratulate him on this remarkable milestone and wish him a speedy recovery.
* Not to be confused with Raymond C. Spencer (1895-1978), who served as Hamden's first career fire chief from 1942 to 1960. Raymond C. and Raymond K. were actually distant cousins.
We deeply regret to announce the passing on Friday, November 19th, of HGSRA Member and HFRA Honorary Member Jacqueline "Jackie" Kelo, widow of our deceased brother, Lieutenant Robert Kelo (1939-2016), who served with the Hamden Fire Department from 1970 until his retirement on February 1, 1998.
Jackie is survived by her devoted daughter, Deborah Kelo of Chesterfield, VA, son Michael Kelo his wife Susi and their children Ella and Landry, sister Barbara Ganetsky of Southbury, CT.; former daughter-in-law Michelle and husband Charles along with numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. In addition to her husband Bob, Jackie was preceded in death by their son, Robert Edward Kelo, Jr.
The family will receive friends 5:00 to 7:00 pm, Monday, November 29 at the Chesterfield Chapel of Bennett Funeral Home, 14301 Ashbrook Pkwy.
A Mass of the Resurrection will be held 12:00 pm, Tuesday, November 30 at St. Gabriel Catholic Church, 8901 Winterpock Rd. Interment will be private.
In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to the Coach Bobby Kelo Memorial Scholarship Fund and sent to the following address: Valley Community Foundation, 253-A Elizabeth St., Derby, CT 06418
Department's new Asst. Supt. - Vera's last swearing-in
Asst. Supt. Pucillo congratulated by Town Clerk Vera Morrison
November 23 - At twenty-six years on the job, the longest serving Hamden Town Clerk since the 19th century, and perhaps for all-time, Vera Morrison, conducted her final swearing-in yesterday morning in the Legislative Council Chamber in Memorial Town Hall. John Pucillo Jr., a five-year veteran of Hamden Public Works, was sworn in as the Hamden Fire Department's new Assistant Superintendent of Apparatus before dozens of department members. He replaces Glenn Tricarico, who retired earlier this year.
In remarks before the crowd, Chief Gary Merwede noted that, "John Pucillo Jr comes into the Hamden Fire Department with extensive experience as a mechanic. He holds an Associate Degree in Applied Science and General Automotive Technology from Gateway Community College, certificates from General Motors Service Technical College, completed training with the Abex Friction and National Wheel Clinic for certification in heavy-duty air braking systems, and most recently worked for our own Hamden Public Works Department servicing, maintaining, and repairing their truck fleet and heavy equipment."
The members of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association congratulate Asst. Supt. Pucillo and wish him all the best in his new role.
* Chief Merwede congratulates Asst. Supt. Pucillo
* Pucillo is flanked by three predecessors, Don Buchele (Ret.), present Supt. Jim Lafond, and Glenn Tricarico (Ret.).
We deeply regret to announce the passing on November 19th of HFRA Honorary Member Nancy Callahan, 88, widow of our deceased brother, Firefighter Robert "Ace" Callahan (1925-82), who served with the Hamden Fire Department from 1959 until his retirement on October 31, 1980.
. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Tuesday (tomorrow) morning at 11:00 in Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Hamden. Burial will follow in Centerville Cemetery.
. A calling hour will be Tuesday morning prior to the Mass, from 9:30-10:30 at Sisk Brothers Funeral Home, 3105 Whitney Ave., Hamden.
. Memorial contributions may be made to the ALS Assoc., CT Chapter, 4 Oxford Rd., Unit 4E, Milford, CT 06460. www.siskbrothers.com.
We deeply regret to report the passing last Wednesday of Leonard F. "Lenny" Lye, noted Hamden CPA and a good friend to many HFRA retirees and active department members. Many years ago Lenny's accounting firm purchased an ad in one of the Local 2687 calendars, which led to a longtime professional relationship with the Local and many of our members. Many of us considered Lenny and good friend and advisor, and Lenny and his wife Ruth were almost always present at the Local's annual retirement dinners.
Funeral services will be held Monday at 11:00 a.m. at Christ Church of the Good Shepherd, 600 Shepard Avenue. Burial will be private. Calling hours are Sunday (tomorrow) from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Sisk Brothers Funeral Home, 3105 Whitney Avenue. (The family requests that attendees wear masks.)
The members of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association, Inc. extend their sincere condolences to Ruth and the rest of Lenny's family at this sad time.
CLICK HERE for Lenny's complete obituary in The New Haven Register.
Dispatcher Carol Conway, one of eleven original Central Communications dispatchers.
"Attention, stand by for a dispatch . . ."
Forty years ago, on November 19, 1981, 9-1-1 service came to Hamden. With a total of eleven cross-trained civilian dispatchers, the dispatch facilities of the Hamden fire and police departments were combined into one unit called "Central Communications."
When Hamden or North Haven residents with telephone prefixes of 248, 281 or 288 dialed 9-1-1, their calls were answered at Hamden's public safety answering position (PSAP) at Central. North Haven residents with Hamden telephone prefixes had their 9-1-1 calls forwarded manually to North Haven.
9-1-1 calls from Hamden residents with New Haven prefixes (562, 624, 777, etc.) were answered at New Haven, then forwarded to Hamden. The introduction of Enhanced 9-1-1 in 1988 enabled the telephone company to have all Hamden residents' 9-1-1 calls answered at Central.
Central Communications was located in the basement of the old Miller Memorial Library. The facility was renovated and enlarged in 1990. In 2012, Central Communications moved to the new annex of the old Memorial Town Hall.
1963 - Dispatcher Wilbur Baker in the Alarm Room
Before Central Communications, all Hamden fire dispatching was performed in the "Alarm Room," a small room up a few stairs at the rear of the apparatus floor at Station 4. The fire dispatchers, each assigned to a platoon, were all experienced uniformed members of the Hamden Fire Department.
The Comprehensive Employment Training Act (CETA), enacted in the mid-1970s, provided federal funding to municipalities to hire and train unemployed individuals to fill various positions. In 1976, Hamden hired civilian fire dispatchers under the CETA program. The uniformed Hamden firefighters previously responsible for dispatching, Ray Carofano, Wilbur Baker, Russ Norman and Bob "Ace" Callahan, all of them on the job for decades, were placed back on the line.
Eventually, four full-time civilian fire dispatchers were hired and assigned to work the same 42-hour work schedule as the firefighters, 3-on-3-off. However, their schedules were not in sync with the four platoons. A civilian dispatcher's first day (or night) on duty was always the last day (or night) of the platoon.
When the Hamden Fire Department's four dispatchers moved over to Central Communications, they joined four Hamden Police Department dispatchers and three additional employees, all civilians, working a 40-hour week on three eight hour shifts. Eventually, all eleven were cross-trained in fire and police dispatch procedures.
Originally posted 11/25/11
May 1982 - Dep. Chief/Training Officer John Tramontano in Central Communications' Original Location
1982 - Central Communications dispatcher Marge Gambardella, now Marge Yacano, at the fire dispatch position in the original location of Central Communications (Photo by John Tramontano)
On his last day on the job in 2012, Dispatcher Brian Esposito provided a grand tour of Hamden's new Central Communications. A truly state of the art communication facility, it is located on the second floor of Hamden Police Department Headquarters in the annex of Hamden's Memorial Town Hall.
* Dispatcher Brian Esposito - Last Shift
* Only Two Hours to Go!
* Fellow Retiree Bob Sjogren with Brian
* This status board is the 21st century descendant of the ancient magnetic labels.
* Just in case! The original running card file, placed in service in November 1981, is still available as an emergency back-up.
(November 15) - The nine fire department employees who retire at the end of this month is an all-time record for fire department retirements in a single month.
Department members, already stressed because of COVID, will have to fill these vacancies until they can be filled with new faces, possibly as early as March of next year - and that's being optimistic. Checkout Meghan Friedmann's article, "Firefighter exodus raises concerns," that appears above the fold on page one of today's edition of The New Haven Register.
Some background - The number of department retirements in 2021 so far stands at thirteen, which ties with 1993, when the Town offered a "golden handhake" to eligible employees who were given an extra two years' credit if they left by June 30, 1993, when five of the thirteen employees retired. Eight others had retired previously that year.
Until now, the record for retirements in a single month was when six department members retired at the end of June 2006, including Chief Jim Leddy, Fire Marshal Mark Barletta, three lieutenants, and one firefighter.
This year's retirements are also top heavy with supervisory personnel, including the assistant chief, two battalion chiefs, three captains, and two lieutenants. The other five retirees include the assistant superintendent of apparatus, one fire inspector, and three firefighters.
Representing nearly 250 years of dedicated service
(November 11) - Earlier this week, the website received the following announcement from Fire Chief Gary Merwede:
As you know, several of our Hamden Fire Department members have submitted retirement papers to the Hamden Employee Retirement Board, effective 11/30: · Assistant Chief Lubowicki 21.16 years · Battalion Chief Spencer 34.81 years · Captain Evers 24.25 years · Captain Amatrudo 34.19 years · Captain Bannon 22.75 years · Lieutenant Matthews 21.76 years · Fire Inspector Turner 25.72 years · Firefighter Mike DeLine Sr 21.16 years · Firefighter Victor Jackson 21.16 years · Firefighter Kim Talmadge 21.01 years (Retired 10/4/2021) These retirements will have an immediate and significant impact on our department. Each of these valued Officers, Firefighters and Staff have served with honor and distinction, as have the members that retired over the summer, Battalion Chief Couture 34.56 years and Lieutenant Vogt 26.97 years. The work before us is great and our department is up to the challenge. We are on pace for just under 10k calls with a daily average of 27 alarms per day. We have responded to 34 structure fires so far in 2021. Keep the faith and keep doing what you do. We need to continue to work together for the safety of our community and our membership. With every challenge comes new opportunities.
At their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, the Hamden Employees Retirement Board approved the retirements of nine veteran firefighters. A tenth, Firefighter Kim Talmadge, had been approved at a special meeting in late October.
In his remarks, HERB member Chief Gary Merwede praised the new retirees, "As a firefighter, fire officer, and now as chief of the department, I have worked with each of these members their entire careers, with the exception of Chief Spencer and Captain Amatrudo, who were both members of the 3rd Platoon when my crew came in on 1994. We went to many, many calls together. Each one of these individuals has served this department and this community with honor and distinction - each one contributing in their own way, with their own skills to the delivery of our mission. I am proud to have served with all of them. They will be missed. And I wish them the best in their retirements."
The loss of nearly 10% of the department's forces, the majority of them supervisory personnel, poses a challenge. The HFRA congratulates our newest retirees and thanks them for their years of dedicated service to the department. We also hope and trust that the new Town administration and Legislatiove Council will provide adequate and proper assistance to Chief Merwede and the department in order to address the numerous challenges posed by the unprecedented departure of so many supervisory personnel at one time.
The department will have coffee and light refreshments on Monday 11/29 at 10 am in the Legislative Council Chambers to say a combined thank you and good luck to all of our (new) retirees and to wish them the best of luck in the future.
The Hamden Fire Department's Gamewell fire alarm system, gone since 1998, was featured in a Hamden Chronicle article published 70 years ago this week, which provided a local history of the system and how it was tirelessly maintained by Superintendent of Alarms and Apparatus Clement Wetmore.
Published in The Hamden Chronicle, Thursday, November 8, 1951 (Courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society)
Reviewing a few of the hundreds of slides in the HFRA archives that were taken by 29-year department member Ed Doiron (1938-2017), we are posting some that may, or may not, have been previously posted. An avid photographer, Ed captured many Hamden Fire Department events, including some significant fires and other emergencies. More to come.
* Memorial Day 1978 - Lieut. Dave Herrmann, Firefighters Ed Badamo and Jeff Stoehr
* 1978 - Firefighters Ray Reilly and Dave Howe
* In the 1975 Memorial Day Parade, a Platoon 1 firefighter is behind the wheel of the 1973 Maxim 1,000 GPM pumper with the pump-and-roll foam delivery system. Ten years later the truck body was rebuilt by Pierce. The foam system was removed and high-side compartments were added onto the driver's side.
* Also in the 1975 parade, HFD's Car 53 was a 1969 F-Series Ford equipped with a "cherry-picker" feature that made servicing the alarm system easier and a lot safer for Shop personnel.
* Summer 1974 - Platoon 2 at Station 4. L-R: Lieut. Gil Spencer, Firefighters Bob Viglione and Steve Hitchcock
* Firefighter Jim Leddy and Lieut. Gil Spencer
* 1975 - Lieut. Bill Hines and Firefighter Jack Mordecai