Future Hamden fire brass play hookey to witness 1945 joint NHFD-HFD demonstration on Ives Street.
Photo courtesy of Local 2687
Gilbert Spencer and Tom Doherty remember this 1945 demonstration very well. As fifth graders at Mt. Carmel School, Gil and Tom were returning to school following their lunch hour at home (until the 1960s, Mt. Carmel school kids could go home for lunch). As the two of them walked along Whitney Avenue, a New Haven Fire Department ladder truck passed them and turned into Ives Street. "What the . . !" It would have been unthinkable for these two future Hamden BCs to not follow suit. And so they did.
The New Haven Fire Department was conducting a demonstration on the effectiveness of fog application in heavy Class A fire situations. Hamden provided the vacant 2 1/2 story house for the demonstration. Fire officials from all over the region attended and the results of the demonstration were published in Fire Engineering.
According to the article, there were no hydrants at the location. Water was drafted from nearby Mill River by a Hamden pumper (probably Whitneyville's 1928 Maxim 750 GPM), which supplied New Haven's Truck 3, a 65' straight frame aerial ladder truck assigned to Station 10 on Lombard Street.
Before long, Gil Spencer and Tom Doherty were joined by several of their classmates. The demonstration consisted of five separate burns involving both interior and exterior attacks. Everyone seemed transfixed by the spectacle of firemen attacking flames as they leapt from the windows and licked at the ancient clapboards. It was definitely an exciting diversion for the kids. It also caused them to lose track of the time. Eventually, an additional and somewhat unexpected spectator joined the crowd.
The principal of Mt. Carmel School was Miss Elvira Holm (think "Miss Gulch"). The magic of the occasion ended abruptly when Gil and Tom caught sight of Miss Holm - and she caught sight of them. Ouch! Described by Gil as a stern disciplinarian, Principal Holm "suggested" that he, Tom and the rest of the kids "get right back to school." And so, they did.
The house in the demonstration stood on Ives Street, between the two bridges at Broadway and Spruce Bank Road. According to the 1937 Hamden City Directory, the house was once occupied by Walter H. Beach.
Read more below about this interesting and unique collaboration between the Hamden and New Haven Fire Departments in Fire Engineering article below (courtesy of Chan Brainard).
The ladder pipe of New Haven's Truck 3, a 65' Seagrave aerial from Station 10 on Lombard Street, discharges a fog pattern over demo house (Article courtesy of the Strain family and the Hamden Historical Society)
1949 - This automobile decal was found in the minutes book that contained the year 1949. It was probably
a sample sent by the company looking to get some business from the fire company.