The New Haven Evening Register, Monday, December 15, 1958 (Courtesy of Chan Brainard)
Modern EMS in Hamden probably began when the first of two International Travelal "station wagons" was placed in service at Station 2 in December 1958. Designated as "Rescue One," this unit was joined a year later by a new 1960 Travelal, "Rescue Two," which was stationed at Headquarters. Rescue One was transferred from Station 2 to Station 3 on Putnam Avenue in early 1961.
Capt. James Strain (standing) was promoted to Battalion Chief in 1961 to command "old" Platoon 3. With the 42-hour workweek in 1970, Chief Strain headed "new" Platoon 2. When Chief Strain retired in April 1973, Firefighter Joe McDermott, by then a captain, was promoted to replace Chief Strain as the shift commander of Platoon 2. Joe retired in 1991 and is a member of the HFRA.
Firefighter Mike "Mickey" Cantarella served on the Department from 1951 until 1969. Firefighter Dave Herrmann came on the job in 1949. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1970 and retired in 1979. Dave was among the scores of residents who were rescued during the 1988 Davenport Residence fire. He was interviewed during a local news broadcast.
Some eye-opening statistics illustrate perfectly how Hamden Fire Department responses have increased since Rescue 1 went in service sixty years ago:
During December 1958, when Rescue 1 went in service, the department responded to a total of 5 "Oxygen/Emergency" calls. The rest of the department's responses for that month broke down as follows:
Grass fires - 5
Motor vehicles - 6
Buildings - 3
Oil Burners - 1
Chimneys - 2
False alarms - 2
Miscellaneous - 25
For a total of 49 calls department-wide in December 1958.
With one more month to go, HFD has already logged 10K+ runs in 2018
(From Hamden Patch on December 10th- (by coincidence, the 60th anniversary of Rescue 1 going in service)
HAMDEN, CT — (From the Hamden Fire Department): November 2018 Response Statistics):
The Hamden Fire Department responded to 831 alarms in November 2018 for an average of 27.7 runs per day. The average response time across all categories remains under 5 minutes.
HFD personnel treated 831 patients.
The largest patient demographic category is (age 65+) 39.9%
Chest pain, difficulty breathing, syncope / unconsciousness, generalized pain / weakness, and traumatic injury were the largest categories.
(5) fires inside or including structures.
(605) Rescues, including (537) Medicals, (43) MVA with injury and other categories.
(26) Hazardous Conditions
(82) Service Calls
(41) Good Intent
(71) False alarms
Training Officer Lieut. Charles Lubowicki Jr. documented 892 hours of training including an SCBA Confidence Course and MAYDAY drill.
The Fire Administration has been working with the Engineering Department and GIS software to review response data and apply it directly to our fire districts. Periodic review of this information is essential so we can be sure to deliver the best possible service to our community.
This project encompasses several layers of data and considers population density, target hazards, industrial and commercial fire protection needs, student housing, multi-family dwellings and our ability to respond to large scale or concurrent emergencies.
The fire department continues to absorb increased call capacity. We have already responded to more than 10,800 alarms and with one month to go in 2018 are projecting a 22% increase in volume over last year.
Hamden's First Paid Fire Chief and Fire Marshal Pass One Day Apart
Department members were saddened 40 years ago this week with the sudden passing of two department icons, former Chief Raymond C. Spencer, 83, and former Fire Marshal Albert D. Purce, 75, who died within 24 hours of each other.
Chief Raymond C. Spencer
November 19, 1895 - December 14, 1978
Fire Marshal Albert Purce
August 21, 1903 - December 13, 1978
Raymond C. Spencer had been a volunteer assistant fire chief for many years before his 1942 appointment as Hamden's first career fire chief. He succeeded Charles Loller, who had been appointed volunteer fire chief when the Hamden Board of Fire Commisioners was established in 1925. Chief Spencer served until his retirement in November 1960, when he was succeeded by Chief V. Paul Leddy.
Albert D. Purce was appointed driver at the Centerville station in 1925, and a year later he was assigned to the new fire station at Mt. Carmel. When career officers were appointed in April 1942, Purce and Joseph Hromadka were named the department's only two captains, each to command a platoon of paid firefighters. Two years later, Purce was appointed fire marshal, his duties to be performed in addition to those of shift commander. When fire marshal became a fulltime position in 1949, Purce was appointed and served until his retirement in 1968, when he was succeeded by Marshal Robert "Bubby" O'Donnell.
Until his passing, Chief Spencer was a morning regular at the Brown Stone House, frequently quipping with active department members Reilly and Johnson, who often stopped for breakfast following their night shift at 3's. One of Marshal Purce's last public appearances was three years earlier at the dedication of the new annex at the Mt. Carmel station, where he had been the first paid driver.
The winter of 1960-61 was a particularly cold and snowy one, starting with the second week of December. Newly-appointed Chief V. Paul Leddy issued an appeal to residents to clear the hydrants nearest their homes. As always, on-duty personnel were out doing the same thing.
New Haven Evening Register, Wednesday, December 14, 1960 (Chan Brainard Collection)
In the above Register photo, Firefighters Dave Herrmann an Dick Stacey are shoveling out hydrants in 2's territory. Both men, veterans of World War II, would eventually become officers. Herrmann made lieutenant in 1970 and Stacey two years later.
Appointed to the department in October 1949, Herrmann served for thirty years. Stacey, who was appointed in November 1956, also served for thirty years. Lieut. Dave Herrmann passed away in 1998 at age 82. Lieut. Dick Stacey passed in 1986 at age 65.
The pumper seen in the photo is the 1938 Seagrave, which was Engine 1 in those days.