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Hamden Firefighters' First Visit to Station 6 in 48 Years
On Sunday afternoon, July 15, 2018 at 3:20, the Hamden Fire Department was dispatched to a reported structure fire at 21 Merritt Street.
Arriving first on the scene, Tower 1 reported smoke showing from the flat roof on the westward side of the brick building. Other companies on the assignment were Engine 3, Engine 2, Squad 1, Rescue 1 and Car 3.
Firefighters accessed the area using saws and hand tools to pull back the roofing material and interior ceilings. Fire was found in several joist bays and extinguished. Battalion Chief Gary Couture declared the fire under control at 3:30.
The building, which now houses KMK Insulation and a residence above, was built by the members of the Whitneyville Annex Fire Department when the fire company was organized in 1921 to protect the residents of the East Rock/State Street area of Hamden.
The company was renamed the Merritt Street Volunteer Fire Co. No. 6 in 1925. Beginning with a paid driver for Engine 6 in the late 1920s, career firefighters were assigned to Merritt Street until the end. The firehouse closed in September 1970, when Engine 6 was reassigned to new Station 3 at Hartford Turnpike and Ridge Road. Engine Co. 6 was deactivated in 1974.
In the photo below, the shadow of the former fire company sign is still visible above the garage door. The narrow bay opening was one of the major reasons the station was unable to house larger more modern fire equipment in 1970.
The fire was ignited during roof repairs around a rooftop scupper. Torches used to soften asphalt based sealant ignited the wooden framing members below. Damage was confined to a relatively small area. No injuries were reported.
The website thanks the Fire Chief's Office and Dep. Chief Gary Merwede for providing all info and photos.
Whitneyville Annex fire station in 1922, shortly after it was built (Courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society)
On Wednesday, July 11, at (7:44) p.m., the Hamden Fire Department was dispatched to a reported appliance fire at 768 Pine Rock Avenue. The first unit, arriving at 7:47, reported smoke showing from the single-family home and transmitted that a working structure fire was underway.
The initial search was negative. Residents were found to have escaped the home prior to the fire department arriving on scene.
Engine 2 from Circular Avenue made entry and was able to suppress and extinguish the fire, confining it to the kitchen area. Additional crews remained on scene for overhaul, ventilation, and salvage of personal items.
No injuries were reported. The fire was declared under control at 8:10 p.m. by Battalion Chief Ronald Desroches. All companies were cleared from the scene by 9:10 p.m.
Fire Marshal Brian Dolan has determined the accidental fire originated in the ice-maker of the kitchen refrigerator, extending quickly to the adjacent cabinetry. The residents of the home will be displaced during kitchen repairs and are currently staying with neighbors.
During suppression operations at 768 Pine Rock, an unrelated call for smoke in an apartment building at 304 Pine Rock was dispatched at 8:01. Units arrived on scene at 8:05 p.m. The smoke in the first floor hallways of Building “C” was due to an overheated pot on the stove, which only required ventilation. No residents were displaced or injured.
The website thanks the Fire Chief's Office and Dep. Chief Gary Merwede for providing all info and photo.
HFRA member Bob Slater sent these photos of this 1960s John Bean 750 GPM pumper on a Ford chassis. Bob was at an out of town restaurant recently and was attracted to the piece because he and his wife Karen live in Davenport, Florida, the town labeled on the truck. But when got closer to the truck, he noticed a couple of things that didn't compute, given its advanced age.
First, a "Call 9-1-1" message was painted on the truck. And although 9-1-1 has been around a long time, it seemed unlikely that 9-1-1 service would have coincided with the service life of this antique. He also thought the modern light bar somewhat an anachronism.
The pumper is in pretty bad shape cosmetically - lots of rust througb spots due to constant exposure to the elements. There was no info on whether the truck still runs or pumps. He also reported that the "9-1-1" marking and the modern light bar were added later by the current owner.
John Bean, out of Lansing, Michigan and Tipton, Indiana, was a division of Ford Motor Company. We're going to try to find out more about the pedigree of this particular pumper. The search is always a challenge.
The 25th Annual Hamden Volunteer Firefighters' Fireworks was a huge success. The fire retirees have been staunch supporters of this fine Hamden tradition since the HFRA was organized nine years ago. The fireworks committee's acknowledgement of our donation, normally shared at the Summer meeting, is in a pdf file at left.
The 1948 City Directory lists the owner of 57 Gorham Avenue as Clarence Stretch. This is all that was left of the garage at that address following a fire that also destroyed the Depression-era automobile inside.
There was no accompanying news article, but the response to this incident was most likely Engine 2 out of Humphrey Station 2, Engine 1 and the ladder truck out of Highwood Station 1, and the Squad out of Headquarters, Station 4. The entire inventory of the department on that day of this incident is listed below.
Hamden Fire Department Apparatus Inventory July 1948 Station 1 – Highwood Engine 1 – 1942 Diamond-T 600 g.p.m. pumper Ladder 1 – 1941 Diamond-T city service ladder truck Station 2 – Humphrey Engine 2 – 1938 Seagrave 600 g.p.m. pumper Station 3 – Whitneyville Engine 3 – 1928 Maxim 750 g.p.m. pumper
Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - Lieut. Frank Critchett, Lieut. Gary Merwede, B/C Bill Coppola, and Lieut. Sam DeBurra - Courtesy of D/C Merwede - CLICK to enlarge
The last shift for any firefighter is a bittersweet experience. The guys at Station 3 congratulated Lieut. Frank Critchett on his upcoming retirement with an impromptu gathering on his last shift, Wednesday night, November 30, 2005.
Frank Critchett came on the job in April 1981 and was promoted to lieutenant in 1987. He had been a Seymour volunteer firefighter and once served as Chief of that department. Frank lost his battle with cancer on October 10, 2010. His funeral was held in Hamden with HFD Chaplain, Rev. Owen Sandesron officiating. Frank's widow, Mary, is an Honorary member of the HFRA. She was presented with the association's first memorial plaque in November 2010.
A storage structure at the Winchester powder farm off Putnam Avenue was destroyed the day before Fourth of July in 1934, when about 600 lbs. of gun powder exploded due to "spontaneous combustion." An airplane over the area was rocked by the resulting concussion, according to its pilot, Fred Fowler. According to this Hartford Courant article, six pieces of Hamden fire apparatus responded to the incident.
The Winchester powder farm was located generally within the Whitneyville area bounded by Putnam Avenue, Dixwell Avenue, Treadwell Street and Clifford Street, where Leeder Hill Drive is today. The area was cleared of Winchester buildings in the mid-1960s.
Here is the earliest newspaper account we have of a fire in Hamden, from the July 1, 1853 edition of the New Haven Palladium. The exact location of the building was not mentioned in the article, but an 1868 map of Hamden suggests that the Hamden Iron Co. may have been the "Iron Works" that was located in the Woodruff factory at Broadway and Ives. Built in 1833, most of the Woodruff factory building was destroyed by fire in January 1968.
Apparently this "fire proof" building wasn't so fire proof. Forty-three years before the organization of Hamden's first fire company, even a small fire usually resulted in the total loss of a building and its combustible contents.
Originally posted 12/28/12
Photocopy provided by Julie Hulten, Hamden Historical Society
100 Years Later
Thursday, June 25, 1953
The Hamden Chronicle - Courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society
One hundred years after the fire at the Hamden Iron Company, this truck was headed up Ives Street with a load of cutlery from the Fleming Company, located in the old Woodruff factory at Ives and Broadway. It didn't make it.
The old Woodruff factory was where the Hamden Iron Company is believed to have been located when it caught fire almost one hundred years to the day earlier. The Fleming Company would burn fifteen years later on January 12, 1968.
The building in the background, located at the corner of Whitney Avenue, presently houses the Mt. Carmel Wine and Spirit Shoppe. The Mt. Carmel Volunteer Fire Co. was first quartered in a rear wing of that building - now demolished - until the present station was completed in 1926.
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that he is directing U.S. and state flags in Connecticut to fly at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Tuesday, July 10, 2018, in honor of U.S. Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. John H. Canty, a World War II airman from Winsted who was killed in action in 1944 at the age of 22 and whose remains were recently discovered and returned to his family. A funeral service and burial with full military honors is being held Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C.
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.
“Staff Sgt. Canty put his life on the line and made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the United States, and for that we are forever grateful,” Governor Malloy said. “These many decades later, he has rightfully returned home and will receive a proper burial at one of our nation’s most sacred grounds alongside other heroes who fought on behalf of our country. We are forever grateful for his service, and I ask all Connecticut residents to join me in honoring Staff Sgt. Canty’s memory and sacrifice.”