This page was revised 10/31/2020 for the 50th Anniversary of the Station 3 dedication.
November 1, 1970
Town Dedicates Last New Fire Station
Under the leadership of Chief V. Paul Leddy, the Hamden Fire Department experienced an unprecedented era of expansion from the time he was appointed in 1960 through the early 1970s. A new engine company and truck company were added, the number of personnel nearly doubled, and the town built its first (and last) two new fire stations. Except for the fire station that was part of Memorial Town Hall, all other Hamden fire stations had been built and owned by the individual volunteer fire companies that were organized before 1956.
The residents of the far northwestern part of Hamden in West Woods finally acquired a career engine company in December 1968 when the new Station 9 was dedicated. The West Woods area had been served previously by the West Woods Volunteer Fire Co. No. 9, organized in 1956, and the career engine at Mt. Carmel. The West Woods volunteers built their station onto the old one-room school house at the corner of Johnson and Still Hill Roads. That company remained active until 1988, twenty years after the introduction of career Co. No. 9.
From 1910 on, the Spring Glen-Whitneyville area was served by the Whitneyville Volunteer Fire Co. 3, located at 39 Putnam Avenue. In 1921, the Whitneyville Annex Co. 6 was organized at 21 Merritt Street to serve the residents of the State Street area between the North Haven and New Haven town lines. Starting in the mid-1920s, both fire stations had paid personnel assigned.
The Whitneyville station at 39 Putnam Avenue was razed and rebuilt in 1927. In 1950, valued at $60,000, the fire station was sold to the town for the $16,000 still owed on the mortgage on condition that the volunteers, no longer an active firefighting force, would continue to have full use of the second floor. The volunteers at the Merritt Street station had gone inactive by 1960, but the town continued to rent their building to house Engine 6 and its career personnel.
By the time Leddy became chief in 1960, it was apparent that the department needed a fire station capable of housing a ladder truck larger than the seventy-five footer at the Circular Avenue station, Hamden's largest station at the time. By mid-decade plans were in the works for a new station that would take the place of the Putnam Avenue and Merritt Street stations.
In 1967, land for a large new fire station was purchased at the corner of Ridge and Hartford Turnpike for $70,000. Construction began in 1969, and the new station was completed by the summer of 1970 at a cost of $274,000. The Putnam Avenue and Merritt Street stations closed. The apparatus and personnel quartered there were moved into the new station on September 11, 1970. Formal dedication of the new station took place on Sunday, November 1st.
(Article courtesy of Chan Brainard)
Station 3 - 39 Putnam Avenue - Rescue 1 and Engine 3
Station 6 - 21 Merritt Street - Engine 6
CLICK either photo to enlarge and view personnel names.
March 1967 - Hartford Turnpike and Ridge Road, site of the new Station 3 (Courtesy of Gil Spencer)
December 1969 - New Station 3 Under Construction (Courtesy of Chan Brainard)
New Haven Register, October 27, 1970 - Courtesy of Gil Spencer (CLICK to enlarge)
Capt. Joe McDermott in the new watch area. Note the annunciator panel that allowed the watchman to keep track of the status of other apparatus. This was necessary because of Hamden's Class B Gamewell system.
Deputy Chief Training Officer Dan Hume conducting driver training on Ladder Two with Firefighter Bob Slater
These four color photos by Edward Doiron, Sr. (CLICK on any one of them to enlarge)
Capt. McDermott and his crew sprucing up for the dedication. 180 panes of glass had to be washed, inside and out, every Wednesday.
Firefighter Dave Herrmann would don a lieutenant's badge shortly after this photo was shot, when the department went to a 42-hour workweek.
The New Haven Register, Monday, November 2, 1970
The dedication of new Station 3 was an appropriate occasion on which to swear in the department's newest chaplain, Rev. Owen Sanderson of Christ Lutheran Church on Shepard Avenue.
"The Rev," as he is affectionately and respectfully known, has been a good friend and advisor to both career and volunteer department members of all religious persuasions since the 1960s. Now, 89 years of age, Rev. Sanderson retired recently as pastor of his church. But he is still on the job as department chaplain and chaplain of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association.
Officially named "The Ridge Road Fire Station," the address of the building is actually 441 Hartford Turnpike.
Dedication Program for Station 3 - November 1, 1970 (CLICK to enlarge)