When the fire dispatchers' position moved from the alarm room at Station 4 to Central Communications in November 1981, a number of new "dispatch protocols" were instituted. Additional information to assist responding units, such as providing cross streets and map numbers, was announced over the PA system and on the operations frequency with every dispatch.
The current status of out-of-service hydrants & sprinkler systems, closed streets, and other abnormal situations, previously disseminated only through notices tacked onto station bulletin boards, was now also announced at the start of every shift.
At every roll call, the fire dispatcher announced a litany of out-of-service hydrants, sprinkler systems, alarm boxes, and all other conditions that posed a potential problem. One of the unintended consquences of this new procedure, however, was that roll call announcements became lengthy and monotonous. No one was listening.
Thirty-year veteran firefighter Fred Knudsen came up with the solution: Eliminate the lengthy and repetitive announcements at roll call and replace them with a weekly bulletin distributed to all fire stations that would list any new, old or repaired conditions since the previous bulletin, as well as any other announcements.
On Monday, March 1, 1982, Xeroxed copies of the first of 233 Communications Bulletins were issued to all stations and staff. Roll call announcements thereafter included only those abnormal conditions that occurred, or were repaired, since the current bulletin was issued.
Bulletin contents were not limited to official Department announcements. They frequently contained announcements for Local 2687, as well as information on upcoming Town and Department social events. Once in a while you might even find a homemade cartoon submitted by someone on one of the shifts.
From time to time, the website will post some of these and other possible items of interest from the Communications Bulletins.
Most of the time, the Bulletin was printed weekly on Thursday mornings so the Deputy Chief could drop them off at each station with the paychecks. Newly issued bulletins were easily identified because they were printed on different colored paper each week.
The Hamden Fire Department Communications Bulletin, inspired by Firefighter Fred Knudsen, lasted nearly seven years.
Fred Knudsen joined the Hamden Fire Department on October 8, 1951. He was president of the Hamden Paid Firemen's Sick Benefit Association during 1967 and 1968, when non-management department members fought for and won a 42-hour workweek that began with the start of the 1970-71 fiscal year. Fred served more than 34 years with the Department, retiring on March 1, 1986, the fourth anniversary of Communications Bulletin No. 1. Hepassed away on July 2, 1998, at the age of 75.
1st Communications Bulletin - March 1, 1982 (CLICK to enlarge)
Final Communications Bulletin - January 6-11, 1989 (CLICK to enlarge)