Last update: Saturday, December 31, 2022 - 1247 hrs
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North Haven Fire Department LODD
The Executive Board of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association, Inc. deeply regrets to report the death of 22-year veteran North Haven Firefighter Matthias Wirtz (46), early Monday morning while fighting a house fire on Quinnipiac Avenue. We will keep our members and other website viewers apprised of further information as it becomes available.
Please keep Firefighter Wirtz's family and fellow members of the North Haven Fire Department in your thoughts and prayers at this very sad and difficult time.
CLICK HEREfor Chief Naples' message to HFD personnel
Governor Lamont Directs Flags To Half-Staff in Honor of North Haven Firefighter Matthias Wirtz
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he is directing U.S. and state flags in Connecticut lowered to half-staff in honor of North Haven Firefighter Matthias Wirtz, who died in the line of duty this morning while responding to a residential fire.
Flags should be lowered immediately and remain lowered until sunset on the date of interment, which has not yet been determined. Accordingly, since no flag should fly higher than the U.S. flag, all other flags, including state, municipal, corporate, or otherwise, should also be lowered during this same duration of time. The Office of the Governor will send out a notification when flags should be returned to full staff.
“The passing of North Haven Firefighter Matthias Wirtz is heartbreaking, and we honor his bravery and courage in responding early this morning to a multi-alarm residential fire, where over a dozen people have become displaced,” Governor Lamont said. “This is particularly upsetting as it comes at a time of year when families and friends are gathering to celebrate the holiday season. His passing is a painful reminder that first responders work every single day of the year, 24 hours a day, and often miss holidays with their families in order to protect the people of our state. My heart is with his family, friends, and colleagues in the North Haven Fire Department.”
12/26/22 - 1729 hrs.
Dues and Meeting Notice!
The Winter Meeting of the HFRA will be held at the Hamden Elks, 175 School Street, Thursday morning, January 12th starting at 9:00 a.m.
FREE continental breakfast of Danish, donuts, juices, milk & coffee will be served.
Dues: Check, PayPal, or In-person
For your convenience, and to save you the 63-cent* postage cost that becomes effective on January 22nd,
we are providing this PayPal button →
for remitting your $15 annual HFRA dues.
2023 dues cards will be given to paid-up members at the January 12th HFRA meeting, or mailed to them afterward.
The Hamden Board of Fire Commissioners Monday evening promoted Capt. Jason Blyth to the rank of battalion chief. Batt. Chief Blythe will assume command of Platoon 3, the position previous held by Batt. Chief Rich Otlowski, who retired at the end of last month.
In remarks before the group assembled in the town hall rotunda, Chief Jeffrey Naples noted that "[o]ur battalion chiefs hold new administrative roles, knowing they can help shape the department moving forward. The battalion chiefs are the middle management to link the line and administration, which is vital for our chain of command and transparency."
B/C Blyth earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial and Management Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. A 23-year department veteran, he began his fire service career in 1992 as a volunteer in Branford. Hired by Hamden in 1999, he was promoted to lieutenant in 2007 and captain in 2012. As house captain of Stations 3 and 9, he was responsible for overseeing budgets, maintenance, and apparatus.
Chief Naples praised Blyth's record, "He has trained, mentored and guided many of our firefighters who are now leaders in our department. Jason has had the experience of taking command of multiple incidents, ensuring accountability and efficiency. I look forward to having him lead our department in his new role while we work side by side. Congratulations!"
The members of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association echo Chief Naples' sentiments and wish Batt. Chief Blyth all the best in his new role.
Having been confirmed by Hamden's Legislative Council on November 28th, Jeffrey Naples was sworn in on Thursday, December 8th as the Hamden Fire Department's 10th fire chief since the department was formally established by an act of the state legislature in February 1925.
When the crowd in the rotunda grew much too large for the 10 a.m. swearing-in ceremony, the proceedings were moved to the Legislative Council Chamber, where there was barely enough seating for all.
After remarks from Mayor Lauren Garrett, Town Clerk Karimah Mickens administered the oath to Chief Naples. For his remarks and many photos of the event, CLICK HERE.
Department Stunned by Sudden Loss of Esteemed Member
Forty years ago, on December 4, 1982, our department was shocked and saddened when Firefighter-Paramedic Edward G. Charbonneau died sudddenly while on weekend exercises with the U.S. Army Reserve. He was 43.
Remembering Firefighter Edward G. Charbonneau,
Who Died in the Line of Duty, Serving His Country
Edward "Eddie" Charbonneau was appointed to the Hamden Fire Department on August 27, 1968. During his fourteen-year career, Eddie was a loyal and dedicated firefighter. He was among Hamden's first seventeen Emergency Medical Technicians in 1971. Five years later, Eddie was among Hamden's first paramedics.
In addition to his fire department career, Ed Charbonneau also served in the U.S. Army Reserve. On Saturday, December 4, 1982, while on maneuvers with the U.S. Army Reserve in Windsor Locks, Edward Charbonneau died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was 43 years old.
CLICK HERE for a Hamden Chronicle article about Hamden ALS featuring Ed.
December 1 - Mayor Lauren Garrett's appointment last month of Asst. Chief Jeffrey Naples to serve as Hamden's 10th fire chief was approved unanimously by Hamden's Legislative Council last Monday evening.
The members of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association, Inc. wish Chief Naples all the best as he officially takes over the reins of the department following his swearing-in next week. All retirees are invited to attend next Thursday morning, December 8th, at 10:00 in the rotunda of Hamden's Memorial Town Hall.
Initially turned down by Mayor Peter Villano, the position of EMS Officer was eventually approved when the union agreed to leave open the line vacancy that would be created by the appointment.
The job was originally to have the title Deputy Chief/EMS Officer as it paid the same wage as a line deputy chief (the shift commander title at the time). However, the political establishment at the time could not handle yet another "deputy chief" so the position remained unranked while being paid the same as a deputy chief, and the holder of the job simply kept his line rank.
The New Haven Register, Sunday, November 28, 1982
With EMS calls beginning to dominate the number of emergency responses, it was clear by 1982 that a fulltime officer was needed to coordinate all of the department's EMS training, equipment, protocols with C-MED and the areas hospitals, among many other things. The appointment eventually went to then-Lieut. Walt Macdowall, who had been acting in that capacity on a part-time basis.
In 1984, Macdowall was then appointed as the department's first official assistant fire chief but remained the EMS Officer. In 1987, the job was once again offered to a member of the union. Lieut. Charles Esposito, one of the first certified paramedics along with Macdowall, was appointed. When Esposito retired in 1993, the job (incredibly) remained unfilled. When the training officer position, vacant since 1990, was re-established in 1999 the role of EMS Officer was incorporated into the new position, which also included all fireground training.
Department members and civilians recognized for meritorious acts
For the first time since February 1989, the department conducted a ceremony to acknowledge and honor fire personnel and civilians who provided life-saving interventions. On Thursday, November 17th, Mayor Lauren Garrett and Chief-designate Jeff Naples were assisted by Local 2687 President Dave Beaton and Lieut. Pete Lynch in presenting plaques to the honorees.
Front Row (L-R) - Lt. Mike DeLine Jr., Ff/P Wilson Rodriguez, Mayor Garrett, Kristen Avery, Anna Mulvey, Maria Melton, Kelsey Snedexer, Brian Moore, Ff/P Bill Fitzmaurice Jr., Ff/EMT J.P. Cristini. Rear (L-R) - Lt. Pete Lynch, Capt./TO Julio Lopes, Chief-desognate Jeff Naples, Capt. Mike Dowling, Lt. Scott Blake, Ff/P Chris Dosin, Ff/EMT Terry Gould, Ff/EMT Ryan Shea, Ff/P John Coughklin, and Ff. Larry Bowden
Batt. Chief Rich Otlowski is retiring after 28 years with the department. Rich came on the job as a paramedic in September 1994 with 10 other recruits. His record is an outstanding one as clearly demonstrated by the leadership he has provided during those 28 years, advancing from the Firefighter to Lieutenant, Captain and finally, 7-1/2 years ago, to Battalion Chief as shift commander of Platoon 3.
Numerous active and retired department members joined Rich and some of his family members at Station 3 on Tuesday, November 22nd for an informal farewell gethering. Lots of good memories shared with a gentleman who has left a very postive legacy in his nearly three decades with the department.
Garrett Appoints Asst. Chief Jeffrey Naples as Hamden's 10th Fire Chief
November 8 - The New Haven Register reports that Hamden Mayor Lauren Garrett has named Acting Chief Jeffrey Naples to be Hamden's 10th fire chief since the HFD was created as a municipal department nearly a century ago. He replaces Chief Gary Merwede, who retired at the end of July. Chief Naples' appointment is expected to be confirmed by the Hamden Legislative Council at their November 9th meeting.
Chief Naples received his Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in Secondary Education from Southern Connecticut State University in 2004, and further went on to receive a Master of Science in Emergency Management from University of New Haven in 2021. He has also attended the National Fire Academy.
Naples has served the Hamden Fire Department for the past 16 years as a Firefighter, Lieutenant, and station Captain. He was appointed the department's assistant fire chief earlier this year following the retirement of Asst. Chief Charles Lubowicki.
Chief Naples has a proven track record as a fire officer, including Incident Management, Fireground Operations, Station Management, and collaboration on administrative projects.
The members of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association wish Chief-designate Naples all the very best in his new department role.
CLICK HERE to read Meghan Friedman's article about Chief Naples' appointment, which appeared in this morning's edition of the Register.
It was in October 1982 that VCR technology was first made available to the department from several department members. On Halloween 1982, Engine 5 and Rescue 1 responded to Sleeping Giant State Park to assist in search and rescue efforts for three Brandford teenagers who got lost on the mountain before sunset.
The first of dozens of television news items about Hamden Fire Department activities through the years was captured off WTNH Channel 8 (New Haven) when that station covered a happy ending to three missing Branford teenagers lost on Sleeping Giant.
CLICK on this photo to view this Nov. 1, 1982 news story on YouTube
The New Haven Register, Monday, November 1, 1982 - CLICK on the image to enlarge for reading.
Mountain Rescue Team members (L-R) Ff. Tony Melillo, D/C Training Officer John Tramontano, and Ff. Chick Manware.
Glimpses of several Hamden fire personnel can be seen as all three of the young ladies gallopped off the tower trail and into the arms of their worried parents at the ranger station. Watch the video a couple of more times. Can you ID them? We already gave you three.
(A message from 2022 to our 1982 AV brothers: Pay no attention to those warnings that all VCR cassettes will degrade within ten years.)
Forty years ago, Hamden Firefighter Gerry Dinneen shot the first "unofficial" department video at the Co. 7 Halloween Party on Friday, October 29, 1982. He used his own video equipment, a Panasonic "shoulder pack" with a separate camera that did not have auto-focus.
A single VHS cassette in those days was very expensive - about $12. As more people bought VHS recorders, the price of VHS cassettes came down considerably. During the next couple of years, Gerry shot a number of events for the Department, including the first Awards Ceremony in 1985. Sadly, Gerry died later that year, on Christmas Day, of natural causes.
Firefighter Anthony "Tony" Melillo
(October 6, 1945 - October 19, 2022)
It is with great sadness that we report the passing of retired Firefighter Tony Melillo (77) Wednesday morning in New Hampshire following a brief illness. Tony served on the department from 1969 until his retirement in 1996, and was a member of the HFRA and the HGSRA. In 1987, Tony was appointed to the position of Mechanic in the Repair Shop, a position he held until returning to the line in January 1991.
There was no question but that Tony marched to a different drummer than most folks, but he was the genuine article when it came to his devotion to helping others. One of Tony's passions was astronomy, which often found him in the backyard of Station 5 in the middle of the night staring at the heavens through his telescope.
In a career culture that is rife with nicknames, his passion resulted in his department colleagues dubbing him "Moonman," which he really appreciated.
Tony is survived by his wife Betty and several siblings, and was predeceased 40 years ago by his two-year old daughter Astrid, whom he now joins. Arrangements are incomplete at this time, but will be announced on the website once they are known.
Please keep Betty and the rest of Tony's family in your thoughts and prayers at this sad time.
Governor Lamont Directs Flags To Half-Staff in Honor of Fallen Bristol Police Officers
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he is directing U.S. and state flags in Connecticut lowered to half-staff in honor of two officers from the Bristol Police Department who were shot and killed in the line of duty late last night while responding to a domestic violence situation involving family at a private residence in Bristol. A third officer was also shot and has been seriously injured.
Sergeant Dustin DeMonte, 35, and Officer Alex Hamzy, 34, were killed in the shooting, according to officials. Officer Alec Iurato, 26, was severely injured.
Flags should be lowered immediately and remain lowered until sunset on the date of interment, which has not yet been determined. Accordingly, since no flag should fly higher than the U.S. flag, all other flags, including state, municipal, corporate, or otherwise, should also be lowered during this same duration of time.
The members of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association extend our condolences to the families of Sergeant DeMonte and Officer Hamzy and to the members of the Bristol Police Department on this terrible loss, and wish for a complete and speedy recovery for Officer Iurato. The Office of the Governor will send out a notification when flags should be returned to full-staff.
October 13th - The Hamden Fire Retirees Association held its 51st meeting yesterday afternoon at the Elks Hall, with 20+ members in attendance. Minutes will be available soon, with a link to be posted later.
Honorary Membership was voted to Rita O'Hare and Carolyn White, whose husbands, retired Firefighter John O'Hare and and former Firefighter Guy White, had passed away since the July meeting.
All four new Honorary Members voted into the Association this past year were formally inducted into the HFRA at yesterday's meeting when memorial plaques were presented to their families.
Seated (L-R): Dave Strawhince, Ralph Tortora, Bob Viglione, Paul "Froggy" Frodel, Bob Mordecai, Bill Fitzmaurice, and Mike Murray. Standing (L-R): Harold Mangler, Jim Leddy, Dave Johnson, Dave Berardesca, Don Buechele, Jim Koutsopolos, Acting Chief Jeff Naples, Jeff Pechmann, Austin Williams, and Chick Manware. (Some members arrived a little later.) - Thanks to Janet Tragianese for snapping this photo.
President Joe Biden has ordered that the United States flag be flown at half-staff from dawn until sunset tomorrow, Sunday, Oct. 9, to honor the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service. All other state and municipal flags should also be flown at half-staff.
We are deeply saddened that we have just received word of the September 3rd passing of former Hamden Fire Commissioner James O'Brien, who had served on the Hamden Board of Fire Commissioners for many years. Jim genuinely enjoyed and appreciated serving on the Commission. Until the pandemic, he was always in attendance at department swearing-in ceremonies and other functions.
We also have just learned that Jim was predeceased by his loving wife Angela. The two of them were always present at the Local 2687 annual retirement dinners.
We understand that Jim and Angela were survived by a daughter, with whom Jim was living out of state following Angela's passing. Their daughter is planning a memorial Mass for Jim at Church of the Ascension, 1040 Dunbar Hill Road, on Saturday, October 29th at 11 a.m.
Please keep the O'Brien family in your thoughts and prayers.
CLICK HERE to read Jim's obituary published October 22nd in The New Haven Register.
There isn't an HFRA meeting that goes by when someone doesn't ask about Joe Mulligan. "Do you ever hear from Joe?" "What's he up to?" "Does he still live around here?" Not to mention those who sometimes inquire about whether he's "up there," perhaps playing set back with some of our late members.
Well, here's "living" proof that Joe is still among that adjective - and he looks damn good. This photo was taken just last Wednesday at the Dixwell Avenue Dunkin' Donuts, when Joe and your webmeister got together for a second meeting to catch up on old times.
After 25 years on the job, in 1994 Joe decided to pack it in. That was the last most of us heard from him for literally decades, although he was among the first to sign up to join the new retirees' group after we organized thirteen years ago. Finally, about two months ago the two of us hooked up once again, spending the better part of two hours at the Whitney DD remembering a lot of our past and present buddies in a session that was peppered with many a laugh (the names Heriot, O'Hare, Laffin, Davin and Yocher among others being mentioned frequently.)
As we all know, there is something unique and very special about the fire service. People "on the outside" often do not fully understand the solid relationships that often develop over the years, especially the irreverent humor that is never found in other careers.
I reminded Joe of one pursuit we often enjoyed. When his 4th platoon was ready to go home on the morning of my 3rd Platoon's first day on, Joe would frequently ask, "Got any scoops?" This of course was in reference to any rumors of transfers or anything else. If neither one of us had anything to share we usually made something up just to see if it made the rounds. If you're a paid fireman, you know exactly what we meant. Some things never change.
Seeing Joe last Wednesday was like a tonic, and we plan to do it again real soon.
It is with deep regret that we report the passing of Erwin “Jim” Wetmore, beloved husband of Beverly Brain Wetmore, who passed away peacefully on September 28, 2022 in the Hospital of St. Raphael surrounded by his loving family. Jim was born on March 5, 1937 in New Haven to the late Marion Kirk Wetmore and Clement Wetmore, Hamden's first Supt. of Alarms & Apparatus. His son Ronald is a retired Milford Fire Department battalion chief. His brother Paul Wetmore Sr. served as Hamden's fourth career fire chief from 1993 to 1996.
At 17 years old, Jim joined the Mix District Volunteer Fire Co. and was still an active member until he passed. He was Captain for many years and felt very honored that he could help his community in a town that he loved. During the Flood of ’82 he rescued two people marooned in Mill River and was later cited for heroism (see article below). He was also on the committee that started the Hamden Firework Display.
He was a devoted husband, proud father and grandfather, loving brother and uncle, and faithful friend. He will be missed by all who knew him. Jim will be remembered by his five boys, Ray (Becky) of Hamden, Roger (Lana) of Cheshire, Rich (Michele) of Windermere, FL, Ron (Tricia) of Wallingford, and Tom (Betsy) Purtell of Cheshire; his daughter, Jennette (Bob) Battipaglia of Cheshire; 22 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; brother, Paul (Betty) Wetmore; sisters, Gloria Scarpa and Lila Stevens; and many nieces, nephews and friends. Predeceased by his siblings and their spouses, brother, Duane (Helen and Sharyn) Wetmore, Gladys (Stan) Brown, Laura (Gerald) Wolf, Ellen (Roy) Alling, Viola Wetmore and Murial Wetmore; and brothers-in-law, Mike Scarpa and Fred Stevens.
Friends may visit with his family on Monday, October 3rd from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at BEECHER & BENNETT FUNERAL HOME, 2300 Whitney Ave, Hamden. A Memorial Service will be held on Tuesday morning in the funeral home at 10:00 a.m., followed by burial in Mt. Carmel Cemetery. Memorial donations may be sent to the Parkinson’s Foundation at www.parkinson.org, or to the charity of your choice.
CLICK HERE to read Jim's complete obituary from Beecher and Bennett.
Please keep Bev and the rest of the Wetmore family in your thoughts and prayers at this sad time.
Memorial Day Memories
These two photos were among a cache of images that Jim donated to the HFRA archives several years ago. The three sons of Clem Wetmore, Duane, Jim and Paul, all made significant contributions to the Hamden Fire Department.
Wetmore Cited for Heroic Act
in June 1982 Flood
All career and volunteer companies performed outstanding work saving lives and preserving property during the June 1982 flood.
CLICK to enlarge - c. 1955 - The Wetmore "boys" during a Memorial Day observance at the Hamden High School. L-R: Jim Wtmore, Duane Wetmore, Supt. Clem Wetmore, and future Chief Paul Wetmore Sr.
CLICK to enlarge - During the same mid-1950s Memorial Day, Jim and Duane Wetmore pose with their kneeling brother and future Chief Paul Wetmore Sr.
Three New Lieutenants Bring Officer Corps to Full Strength
Lieutenants Raymond Pouncey, Kevin Martin, and Nicholas Borelli
September 28 - Before dozens of department members, family and friends, the department swore in three new lieutenants yesterday morning in the rotunda of Hamden's Memorial Town Hall. Due to the unprecedented number of officer retirements since the end of last year, it is the first time in nearly a year the that department's officer force is at full strength.
CLICK HERE for photos and a brief article about the event, as well as Mayor Lauren Garrett's announcement regarding her request for over $800K in capital improvements for the department.
Saturday, September 24th - Some really good news from HFRA president Bob Mordecai, who stopped in today to visit member Bobby Macauley at his North Haven home. Morty reports that Bobby was recently released from the convalescent home where he was recuperating following a nasty fall. He told Morty that he is on the way to a 100% recovery, which is really good to hear.
Hoping we see Bobby at our 1 p.m. meeting on October 12th at the Elks' Hall for our annual Memorial Plaque presentations.
Mayor Lauren Garrett has proclaimed Sunday, September 11, 2022, as Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance in the Town of Hamden. All flags in Hamden should be flown at half-staff.
Click on the image at right to read the Mayor's entire proclamation.
CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE IT
Absolutely beautiful tribute from our oldest political and military ally. It will bring tears to your eyes.
Governor Lamont: Flags Lowered To Half-Staff in Honor of Queen Elizabeth II
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that – in accordance with a proclamation from President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. directing flags to be lowered throughout the country as a mark of solemn respect for the memory of Queen Elizabeth II – he is directing U.S. and state flags in Connecticut to be flown at half-staff beginning immediately until sunset on the date of interment.
Accordingly, since no flag should fly higher than the U.S. flag, all other flags, including state, municipal, corporate, or otherwise, should also be lowered during this same duration of time.
The Office of the Governor will send out a notification when flags should be returned to full-staff.
Hamden swore in its newest firefighter at Memorial Town Hall last Monday morning. Marine Corps veteran Sam Guttman and five other recruits were appointed at the end of July. The five other recruits will begin their training this week at the Connecticut Fire Academy and will be sworn in once they have graduated. Recruit Firefighter Guttman is already certified and will be assigned to Station 2 on Platoon 2.
We regret to report the passing in Florida last Wednesday, August 10th, of former Hamden Firefighter Guy White (83), who served as a career member of the department from 1971 to 1978, when he left to take a position in the insurance industry in Georgia.
A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Guy had been a member of the West Woods Volunteer Fire Association before joining the career department in 1971 with the first wave of new personnel after the 42-hour workweek was instituted. He was assigned to Station 3, where he was assigned to both Engine 3 (Telesqurt) and Truck 2.
Guy leaves his wife Carolyn, a daughter Denise, and a son Guy Carl White III. His family reports that he will be cremated and interred at the National Military Cemetery in Canton, Georgia.
Please keep Guy's family in your thoughts and prayers at this sad time.
Gil Spencer Recognized for 70 Years' Volunteer Service with the HFD
The presentation was to have taken place last October, but a brief hospital stay delayed it until this week, when retired HFD shift commander Gil Spencer was recognized with a mayoral citation for his 70 years of continuous membership in the Mt. Carmel Volunteer Fire Co. No. 5.
Between their volunteer and career service, Gil and three other members of his family have contributed an amazing 180+ years' service to the Town. CLICK HERE to read about the presentation.
The HFRA extends our sincere condolences to our Hamden brothers and sisters in blue and to the family of newly-retired Hamden police officer Michael L. Pantera of North Branford, who passed away suddenly August 2, 2022, only two days after being retired. Officer Pantera had served 24 years with the Hamden Police Department until reaching the mandatory retirement age of 65 late last month.
Friends may attend his funeral on Monday, August 8th at 9:00 a.m. from BEECHER & BENNETT FUNERAL HOME, 2300 Whitney Ave., Hamden, followed by his Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 a.m. at St. Paul VI Parish/Blessed Sacrament Church, 321 Circular Ave, Hamden. All may also visit with his family on Sunday, August 7th from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the funeral home. Entombment will take place in All Saints Mausoleum, North Haven. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Mike's memory may be made to the Mike Pantera Memorial Fund at https://www.gofundme.com/f/mike-pantera-memorial-fund. To send a condolence to his family, please see his obituary at www.beecherandbennett.com.
Scores of active and retired department members, as well as many friends and family members of Chief Gary Merwede gathered in the Legislative Council chambers at Memorial Town Hall last Friday to join in a poignant farewell for a truly beloved and respected colleague.
It is with deep regret that we report the passing yesterday evening, July 24th, of retired Hamden Firefighter John O'Hare (95). He died at home with his wife Rita by his side.
John came on the job in 1953 and served until he reached age 65 at the end of October 1991. He was an active member of both the HFRA and HGSRA and was a regular meeting attendee until his health began to deteriorate about two years ago.
Friends and family are invited to call on Thursday, July 28, 2022 from 9am to 10am at the Cody-White Funeral Home, 107 Broad St., Milford, CT 06460. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11am on Thursday, July 28, 2022 at Holy Infant Church 450 Racebrook Rd., Orange, CT. Interment will follow at Orange Center Cemetery, Orange Center Rd., Orange. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Hamden Fire Retirees Association, PO Box 185605, Hamden, CT 06518. To leave online condolences, please visit www.codywhitefuneralservice.com.
Please keep Rita and the rest of John's family in your thoughts and prayers at this sad time.
Electric Bus Destroyed - Lithium-ion battery believed to be the cause
TV News excerpts from WTNH, FOX-61, WFSB, and NBC-30
A nearly brand-new electric bus was totally destroyed last Saturday, July 23rd, in a fire that is believed to have been caused by the lithium-ion battery used to propel it.
News footage compiled from four different southern Connecticut media outlets tell the story. In the clip from New Haven's WTNH, B/C Rich Otlowski explains that fighting fires in electric vehicles is brand new territory for the fire service for which personnel are now being trained.
Hamden's fire crews had to deal with extremely high temperatures in order to protect exposures and prevent extension in order to allow the fire to burn itself out. The application of water only makes the flames more intense, as in magnesium fires. Water run-off would also increase the chances of polluting the nearby Quinnipiac River.
Twenty Members Attended the 50th Meeting of the HFRA
July 15th - The Hamden Fire Retirees Association held its 50th meeting last night at the Elks Hall, with 20 members in attendance. Honorary Membership was voted to Margaret Lostritto and Nikki Dobbs, whose husbands, HFRA members retired Supt. Richie Lostritto and Ff. Ray Dobbs, passed away since the previous meeting. The new Honorary Members will be formally inducted into the HFRA at the October meeting, when memorial plaques will be presented to their families.
CLICK TO ENLARGE
Standing (L-R) - John O'Dea, Dennis Harrison, Bob Viglione, Dennis Baker, Jim Koutsopolos, Paul Frodel, Don Buechele, Jim Leddy, Harold Mangler, Bob Surprise, Dave Berardesca, Paul Turner. Seated (L-R) - Dave Johnson, Bernie Amatrudo, Kerry Castracane, Don LaBanca, Tom Doherty, Bob Mordecai, Chick Manware, and Kevin Shields. Photo by Barb Johnson
In a surprise notification earlier this week, Chief Gary Merwede announced that he will be retiring from the department at noon on Friday, July 29th, after nearly 28 years of service, the last four of which as Chief.
Chief Merwede led the department through some of its most tumultuous challenges, including the entire COVID pandemic, a tornado that plowed a large swath through northern Hamden, several general alarm fires, and a rash of department retirements believed to be related to uncertainties surrounding the pension plan.
As a firefighter and company officer, Merwede served in every elective position in Local 2687, the Hamden Fire Department's affiliate of the IAFF, including many years as its president, which gave him the unique ability to work more effectively with his labor counterparts. His term as Chief might be best characterized as the building of solid and effective department leadership through teamwork at all levels.
Along with the efforts of his predecessor, Chief David Berardesca, the department under Merwede's leadership in 2019 achieved an ISO rating of 2, its best ever. Only recently, Merwede was able to acquire $8.6 million in state funding for a much needed and long overdue new fire headquarters to be located in southern Hamden.
In a very thoughtful message to his department colleagues, Chief Merwede expressed his gratitude, "if I measured up to the challenge in the minds of some it is only because I have had the benefit of working for and with the best and the brightest in the professional fire service."
The members of the HFRA thank Chief Gary Merwede for the outstanding leadership he provided as Chief and wish him a long, happy, and healthy retirement.
Page 1 - New Haven Register, Thursday, July 14, 2022
After 28 years with the Hamden Fire Department, I have decided to retire from public service on July 29th, 2022 at noon. I have been blessed to work for a department that protects the town where I grew up and raised my family, a department with an excellent reputation and hard working dedicated firefighters and fire officers. It is every leaders’ hope that their tenure will be well regarded by history. I can say that if I have measured up to the challenge in the minds of some it is only because I have had the benefit of working for and with the best and the brightest in the professional fire service.
During my career I have worked with several town administrations while performing the duties of my position at the time. Thank you to Mayor Jackson for my appointment as Assistant Chief, to Mayor Leng for my appointment as Fire Chief, and Mayor Garrett for fully supporting the Fire Department budget for Fiscal ’23 and appointing Jeff Naples as our Assistant Fire Chief.
I also would like to thank each Department Head for the cooperation and collegial atmosphere that I have been a part of during my time as Fire Chief. Hamden has talented and dedicated people working in the public’s interest and I appreciate their hard work and willingness to partner with the Fire Department in the delivery of our mission.
Administration in the public sector requires constant interaction with the representatives of labor. In my case it has been a relationship with the Hamden Professional Firefighters, IAFF Local 2687 and their leadership. Arriving at solutions for complex problems requires good communication, common goals, and trust. I am proud of what we have accomplished together over the years and appreciate Local 2687’s dedication to safety, service, and getting it right.
Every ending is the opportunity for a new beginning. Succession planning has always been a part of the Fire Department, because everyone is replaceable and the mission must go on. All future communications that you would normally send to me, please start directing to Asst. Chief Jeff Naples. On average the Fire Department responds to 31 emergencies every day and our high level of service will continue.
Thank you for your kind consideration. It has been a privilege to work with each of you.
Website thanks to Ernestine Hines, widow of Lieut. Bill Hines (1918-1979), for providing this photo to Bob Slater, who provided it to us. This photo of Capt. Joe Hromadka and his crew of Platoon 1 was taken 70 years ago on July 7, 1952 in front of fire headquarters.
The 1938 Diamond-T "Rescue Squad" is at the left and at right is Engine 4, the 1939 Diamond-T 500 GPM pumper - CLICK TO ENLARGE
A member created this video years ago from his own photos, including a photo of his great-grandfather in his Civil War uniform, to a classic recording featuring all four stanzas of "America, the Beautiful." Please enjoy, as you reflect on the lyrics and their significance to today's anniversary.
Governor Ned Lamont, Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz, Mayor Lauren Garrett, and Chief Gary Merwede hosted a press conference yesterday, June 28th, at Station 2 to announce a $8.6 million grant from the state of Connecticut to finance the building of a new Hamden Fire Headquarters on Putnam Avenue, at the corner of Gallagher Road, a new street about a tenth of a mile east of Dixwell Avenue.
All images below may be enlarged by clicking on them.
Architectural rendering of Hamden's proposed fire headquarters - CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
L to R: Sen. Martin Looney, State Rep. Robyn Porter, Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz, Mayor Lauren Garrett, Chief Gary Merwede, Asst. Chief Jeffrey Naples, and Governor Ned Lamont
Chief Merwede provided an eloquent acknowledgement of his and the department's gratitude for the state grant of $8.6 million that will provide the Hamden Fire Department with a fire headquarters that was first requested by Chief V. Paul Leddy in the 1970s. It will be the first new fire station since 1970.
Likewise, Local 2687 President Dave Beaton expressed his appreciation to the Governor, the Mayor and the rest of the local and state legislators there. Citing cancer due to environmental exposures as the leading cause of firefighter deaths, Dave noted that the new facility will feature a space for turnout gear requiring cleaning before re-use, individual living quarters, which are far more desirable these days due to what we've learned about the spread of infectious viruses during the pandemic.
Governor Ned Lamont addressing active and retired department members on the apparatus floor following the announcement of a $8.6 million grant for a new Hamden Fire HQ.
Chief Merwede and Asst. Chief Naples with Governor Lamont (Capt. K.P. Martin in back)