Chief Merwede Retiring
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.