Friday, November 18: (Happy arrival of Grandchild #5) = (a slight delay in update preparation)
Today's website update will be posted sometime tomorrow, Saturday, November 19th.
Please check back.
John Raymond Corbett III ("Bear")
1959 - 2016
We deeply regret to report the passing on Sunday of John Raymond Corbett III of East Haven, son of HFRA & HGSRA member and retired Hamden Firefighter John R. Corbett, Jr. and his wife Barbara, following a long illness. In addition to his parents, John is survived by his wife Joan and daughter Alison.
Friends may call on John's family this coming Saturday morning, November 19th, at 10:00 a.m. at St. Francis Church, 397 Ferry Street in New Haven. A Funeral Mass will follow at 11:00 a.m. Please keep the Corbett familes in your thoughts and prayers at this sad time.
A link to John's complete online obituary in the New Haven Register is below.
The E-Boards of the Hamden Guardian Services Retirees Association and the Hamden Fire Retirees Association regret to announce the passing last Tuesday of HGSRA member and retired Hamden Police Officer Robert "Bob" Reutenauer, in Florida, following a brief battle with cancer.
Bob's brother, HGSRA member Richard, is also retired from the Hamden Police Department. Bob was predeceased in 2012 by his brother, Hamden Firefighter Paul Reutenauer. Please keep Bob's family in your thoughts and prayers.
Sweltering Heat, Oppressive Humidity and a Make-shift
"Apartment" Building Pose Major Problems for Firefighters
Firefighters Felled by Heat Exhaustion
A two-and-half story wood frame dwelling on Dix Street that was illegally converted into five apartments posed a serious problem for firefighters attempting to fight an interior attack because of the unconventional layout of interior rooms.
At about 9:30 on the evening of July 11, 1981 a former tenant of 32 Dix Street in the Highwood section of town drove by his former home to show relatives where he lived when a student at SCSC. Seeing smoke coming from the building, he alerted the building's residents and then notified fire headquarters.
Four months before the introduction of 9-1-1 and the opening of Central Communications, fire department emergencies were reported by dialing 248-5521 to reach Hamden's fire dispatcher, who still occupied the old Alarm Room at Station 4.
Civilian dispatcher Donna DiPino dispatched Engine 1, Engine 2, Rescue 2 and Truck 2. In Car 30 was Platoon 1 shift commander Deputy Chief Paul Rosadina. Three minutes after dispatch, when Rescue 2 arrived on scene and transmitted a signal "10-8" for a working structure fire, Dispatcher DiPino followed protocol and dispatched the third due engine company, Engine 3.
Chief V. Paul Leddy was away on vacation. In 1981, when all five deputy chiefs were still in management, the on-duty deputy chief was Acting Chief. On the night of July 11th it was Dep. Chief Rosadina.
In the four hours following the initial alarm, several other units would respond to the scene, including Engine 4, Engine 9, Rescue 3, Training Officer D/C John Tramontano (Car 51) and the Supt. of Alarms & Apparatus Richie Lostritto (Car 52).
It was a very difficult fire. Almost immediately there was a need to replenish SCBA bottles. Rescue 3, equipped with a cascade air system aboard, was dispatched. North Haven and Cheshire supplied air and additional SCBAs.
New Haven was on stand-by in quarters to respond if needed for any additional Hamden alarms. At one point, New Haven's Engine 6 from Goffe Street station was dispatched to Newhall Street near the city line to investigate smoke, which turned out to be the Dix Street job.
About an hour into the emergency several off-duty officers and firefighters were called to assist at the scene. High temperatures and stifling humidity led to numerous incidents of heat exhaustion, including the hospitalization of a 55-year old Captain Luke Tobin, who was thought to have suffered a heart attack.
CLICK ON THE NEWS ARTICLE BELOW TO ENLARGE AND FOCUS IT FOR EASIER READING
The New Haven Register, Sunday, July 12, 1981 - CLICK to enlarge for easier reading
HFD TIME CAPSULE: RADIO TRANSMISSIONS PRESERVED
The Hamden Chronicle, July 15, 1981
Firefighter Ed Doiron, who happened to be working extra on Engine 9 that night, monitored and recorded the radio frequencies of several area fire departments for Keith Victor's "Alarm Room News."
Thanks to Ed's preservation of these recordings, we are fortunate to have most of the radio transmissions from the Dix Street fire, starting with the first alarm companies going "10-1" (on the air) after being dispatched.
Ed's recorder was activiated every time his scanner broke squelch. Over four hours of radio transmissions have been condensed into about fifteen minutes.
At one point, New Haven Fire Department dispatched Engine 6 out of the Goffe Street fire station to investigate smoke in the Newhallville area. You can hear the officer on Engine 6 repeatedly radioing NHFD Communications with questions about the report of smoke, finally attributing the Newhallville smoke to the Dix Street blaze.
The tape is a virtual time capsule. The vast changes in radio protocol are quite evident, as well as the obvious lack of an incident command system, which was eventually adopted in the mid-1980s. Many voices familiar to retirees can be heard, some of which have been silent for years.
CLICK on the photo at right to hear these 35-year old radio transmissions on YouTube. The video matches the faces of the personnel with their voices. Photos of the actual apparatus in service in 1981 are also depicted in the video.
New URL as of 11/11/16 2215 hrs.
32 Dix Street Today
The department's most senior active member, Firefighter Jay Connolly, had been on the job exactly six months.
Assigned to Engine 2 that night, Jay recalled being with a crew on an interior hose line, attempting to reach the seat of the fire, which was between the second and third floors.
In addition to stifling heat and humidity, Jay said that a major problem was the maze-like layout of the rooms, which made advancing hose lines very difficult.
The next morning, heavy equipment was brought in to demolish the upper portions of the house, which was eventually rebuilt. The displaced families found shelter with friends and relatives. Captain Tobin was treated at HSR for heat exhaustion and released. He remained on the job three more years, retiring near the end of 1984.
Hamden firefighters were dispatched to 787 Choate Avenue for a reported structure fire at 10:58 Thursday morning, November 9th. Central Communications received a 911 call from a passerby, who reported fire coming from the structure.
Dispatched to the scene were Engines 9 and 5, Squad 1, Rescue 1, Tower 1 and Car 3 responded, with Engine 3 as R.I.T.
Rescue 1 happened to be at Station 9 when the call came in and arrived on scene with Engine 9 at 11:00 a.m. Engine 9 reported heavy fire from the garage, extending to three sides of the house. Engine 9 and Rescue 1 personnel stretched lines to the garage and into the home for fire suppression and to search for occupants.
Firefighters' initial search determined the no one was inside the home. Fire extended to the attic of the home through the exterior soffits.
The incident commander was Battalion Chief Richard Otlowski. After the fire was declared under control at 11:29, three firefighters were transported to Yale New Haven Hospital for burns received during operations. All three have been treated and released. There are no civilian injuries reported.
The occupants of the home are to be relocated with family and friends. Hamden Fire Marshal Brian Dolan’s preliminary investigative report has determined the area of origin to be the garage area, however the cause is still under investigation at this time.
[The website thanks the Fire Chief's Office and Dep. Chief Gary Merwede for providingthe information and photos for this article.)