We have been notified, and are saddened to report, of the passing on Wednesday, October 31st, of retired Firefighter Ernest "Ernie" Braun (82) in Branford, Connecticut.
Ernie joined the Hamden Fire Department in January 1970. With the new 42-hour workweek a few months later, he was assigned to Platoon 3 under Deputy Chief George Reutenauer. For most of his career, Ernie was assigned to truck companies at Station 3, Station 5 and Station 9.
Ernie had the unique distinction of being the only Hamden firefighter to drive the apparatus of a re-assigned engine or truck company from its former station to its new station - twice! In April 1976, he drove Truck 1 from Station 2, where the truck company had been assigned since 1951, to its new home at Station 5. In November 1984, he drove Truck 1 from Station 5 when it was re-assigned to Station 9.
Firefighter Ernie Braun retired on the last day of June 1993.
This week marks the 60th anniversary of the delivery of the 1958 Maxim "Junior" Aerial Ladder truck that Ernie Braun drove in the above two photos. This was Hamden's first aerial ladder truck, making many truck company operations far safer and more efficient. The cost of the truck was $32,000 - $277K today.
1958 Maxim 75' "Junior" Aerial Ladder Truck - placed in service at Station 2 at 8 a.m. on November 19, 1958
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The front of the new aerial ladder truck can be seen in the middle bay at Station 2 in this November 10, 1958 photo, just before it was placed in service. The truck would run out of that middle (mis-labeled) bay until April 9, 1976, when it was re-assigned to Station 5 in Mt. Carmel.
Firefighter Joe McDermott, 60 years ago, one of the ladder truck's first drivers.
Thanks to Jim Beirne for sending this great ad from Fire Engineering (Jan. 1959) that featured our new Maxim 75' Junior aerial ladder truck, placed in service on November 19, 1958.
The Hamden Chronicle published the new pay schedule for all fire department personnel, recently voted on by the Board of Finance.
Two things are quite evident from this article. First, times have changed. Second, despite the change in the value of the dollar since 1948, with an entry level pay of $50 a week - $526.76 today, fire department pay was woefully inadequate for a young father to support his family, even in 1948.
Despite the new 67.1-hour workweek that went into effect at the beginning of that year, which allowed for very little extra time for working a second job, most firefighters had to work second jobs just to make ends meet.
Sadly, several excellent men who joined the department following World War II were forced to leave the job for better-paying employment elsewhere.
Sgt. Aceto with Sergeant-Major of the Army Daniel A. Dailey at the November 8, 2018 "No Slack Battalion Ball"
Nearly three years ago, the website reported that our own Jeanine Aceto, retired Hamden Fire Department secretary and HFRA honorary member, was the proud mom of one of America's newest soldiers, United States Army Pvt. Antonio Aceto.
Today, Private Aceto is Sergeant Aceto. Congratulations Sgt. Aceto! Jeanine reports that her one-time 2-pound "pre-mie" was presented with "a coin" by the U.S. Army's top soldier, Command Sergeant Major Daniel Daley, at the "No Slack Battalion Ball" on November 8th.
A June 2015 high school graduate, then-Private Aceto graduated basic training at Ft. Benning, Georgia on December 11, 2015. He moved up steadily and was promoted to sergeant last July. He is now an infantryman with the 101st Airborne at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky and is expected to be deployed next month. The members of the HFRA wish Antonio well - and be safe! Godspeed, Sgt. Aceto!
Sgt. Antonio Aceto, third from right, with his other non-com buddies at the recent "No Slack Battalion Ball"
Back in 1996, when he was a rookie with the department, Lieut. Jeff Pechmann participated in one of the first annual Hamden Professional Firefighters Local 2687 Thanksgiving turkey drives organized by Firefighters Richie Maybury and John Longo (see Register article below). Since then, Jeff has been organizing this annual Local 2687 tradition. He and his committee from Local 2687 are doing it once again this year.
All retirees who live locally are invited to Station 5 on Monday morning, November 19th at 10:30 to help organize and label turkeys for this year's drive.
After 20+ years, this will be Lt. Pechmann's final turkey drive. He is passing the torch to Ff. Tom Paranzino, who will carry on the tradition next year. We thank Jeff for his many years of dedication to this very worthy holiday event.
The members of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association wish all of our website visitors a very Happy Thanksgiving.
New Haven Register, November 27, 1996 (Courtesy of Gil Spencer)