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 & A/Chief Naples with Governor Lamont (Lt. K.P. Martin in back)