HISTORY OF CROMWELL FIRE DEPARTMENT
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November 2, 1928 – Chief Charles A. Johnson called the first meeting of the Cromwell Fire Department to order at 8:15 p.m. The firehouse was not yet completed so the meeting was held at Chief Johnson’s repair garage (on the corner of Main Street and Community Field Road). With fire headquarters incomplete, the newly arrived 1928 Maxim Triple Combination was housed in Chief Johnson’s repair garage. The new 500 gallon pumper carried 150 gallons of water, 150 feet of ¾” hose, 350 feet of 1½” hose, 500’ of 2½” hose and various smaller items of equipment.
January 29, 1929 – The department’s first by-laws were approved.
February 2, 1929 – The West Street firehouse was dedicated.
1929 – Carl & Nellie Thorell started the dispatch center.
January 2, 1930 – Apparatus went to the Methodist Church fire in Middletown. This is the earliest recorded mutual aid call of the department to another town.
October 7, 1941 – Hjalmer Blomberg was appointed the second Chief of the Cromwell Fire Department.
March 1942 – Control of the sirens was transferred from the phone company to the firehouse.
February 1943 – Chief Blomberg requested a second, used truck to fight grass fires.
October 1943 – The Fire District accepted the amendment to the Charter, as passed by the State of Connecticut, which expanded the limits of the Fire District to cover the entire town. Formerly the Fire District covered only parts of town served by water mains.
November 1945 – Chief Blomberg requested $35,000 for two new trucks, a new chassis for the skid pump, a new alarm system and an addition to the firehouse. The Chief was advised to return at a later date with a revised proposal not to exceed $10,000.
April 1946 – Contracts for two new trucks were assigned with Maxim Motors for approximately $11,000.
April 7, 1949 – First recorded call of the newly instituted ambulance service operated free to all by the firefighters.
October 1949 – A new three bay addition to the rear of the firehouse is approved for $9,200. This was completed in March 1950.
October 7, 1952 – Clarence L. Stetson was appointed as the third Chief of the Cromwell Fire Department.
March 1, 1953 – The town’s largest fire occurred at St. John’s Church. East Berlin, Middletown, and Portland gave assistance. The entire structure was consumed.
June 1953 – Purchase of a base radio, antenna, two truck radios and two handi-talkies were authorized.
April 1960 – Initial steps were authorized to obtain land at the corner of Court Street and Geer Street for a second firehouse.
October 1961 – Approval of $2,000 is given for the purchase of .8 acres of land at the corner of Court Street and Geer Street for the second firehouse.
October 2, 1962 – Christopher E. Rose was appointed as the fourth Chief of the Cromwell Fire Department.
January 1965 – Town Discount Store, next to former Sav-Mor (then Star Foods) burned to the ground and required the largest mutual aid to prevent loss of Star Foods.
May 1965 – Home alerting sets for each firefighter replaced the need to call the firehouse for the location of the fire.
May 1966 – Court Street Firehouse was dedicated. A five-bay station.
June 11, 1968 – Richard A. Watrous was appointed the fifth chief of the Cromwell Fire Department.
August 1970 – Minimum age for membership is lowered from 21 to 18.
September 1970 – Former Sav-Mor Market is destroyed by fire.
August 1974 – The air horn alarm system, that was started 22 years ago, is removed and a dispatch room is constructed at the West Street firehouse.
October 1975 – Donald Swanson appointed the sixth chief of the Cromwell Fire Department. Sal Monarca appointed as Assistant Chief.
November 1976 – Increasing complexity of Federal and State laws, plus the increasing number of ambulance calls, prompted changes in the Cromwell’s ambulance service. An Ambulance Division within the fire department was established with fire department members and citizens comprising the division. All division members must be a fully qualified and certified EMT.
February 1978 – Members of department voted to purchase the “Jaws of Life.”
April 1979 – Lord Cromwell Inn fire, mutual aid is given by East Berlin, Westfield, and Middletown. A large portion of the Inn is destroyed.
1979 – Carl & Nellie Thorell the originating dispatchers of Cromwell retire. They were the oldest dispatchers in America and placed in the Guinness Book of World Records.
December 1983 – Prior to delivery of the Aerial Scope a Truck Company was formed. State courses were given at the firehouse. Training was also given at Middletown, Rocky Hill, Glastonbury, and Manchester Eight Utilities Fire Departments.
October 1984 – William Lee is appointed the seventh Chief of the Cromwell Fire Department. Also appointed for the first time was a Deputy Chief. David Logan was appointed to this position.
March 1985 – Lord Cromwell Inn suffers its second fire. The fire was located in the rear of the old wing.
October 1985 – William Dilk is appointed the second Deputy Chief of the Cromwell Fire Department.
October 1987 – Russell Johnson appointed the third Deputy Chief of the Cromwell Fire Department.
1988 – 5” LDH (Large Diameter Hose) is purchased to be used as water supply lines at fires.
October 1988 – Fire District now appoints three Chiefs: Chief, Deputy Chief, and Assistant Chief.
October 1988 – David Colligan appointed first Assistant Chief of the Cromwell Fire Department.
June 1989 – Creation of high angle rescue team, participating departments: Cromwell Middlefield, Westfield, Durham, and Rocky Hill.
July 1989 – Fire District and Fire Department implements pension for its members.
Spring 1990 – The dispatch room at West Street is moved to Court Street and many new features are added.
September 1990 – A joint venture between fire and police departments combine the location of base radios and one transmission tower on top of the hill on Shunpike Road allowing for better communications.
Fall 1990 – Department adopts and trains personnel in Incident Command System.
1991 – Compliance with new OSHA requirements.
November 1991 – Radio repeaters installed in all apparatus to enhance radio communications on fire grounds.
December 1991 – Secretary is hired to assist chief’s office with increased paperwork.
September 1992 – Department personnel are trained in compliance with OSHA regarding Bloodborne Pathogens.
Fall 1992 – Proposal for site acquisition for a third firehouse.
May 1993 – Willowbrook Plaza suffers from major fire. Westfield, East Berlin, Middletown, and Rocky Hill provide mutual aid.
October 1994 – David Colligan appointed the fourth Deputy Chief of the Cromwell Fire Department.
October 1994 – Frank Seidl appointed as the second Assistant Chief of the Cromwell Fire Department.
1994 – Cromwell’s Fire forms Explorer Post 46 to involve young people in the fire service.
April 1995 – Auxiliary Division is formed as a support unit to the department.
1995 – Regional Dive Teams are formed. Members are from Cromwell, South District, Haddam, Portland, and East Hampton.
November 1995 – Town repeater installed to aid in use of Hi-Band radios.
October 1996 – Fire District makes changes in terms of office for Chiefs positions to two-year terms; maximum eight years in each office.
October 1996 – David Colligan appointed the eighth Chief, Frank Seidl appointed fourth Deputy Chief, and Douglas Logan appointed the third Assistant Chief of the Cromwell Fire Department.
December 1996 – The Coles Road fire station put into operation sitting on 54 acres of land at a cost of $2.3 million for both.
December 1997 – Department moves to bring ambulance division back into fire department.
May 1998 – Renovations to upstairs of Court Street include larger chief’s office and room for people who standby.
May 1998 – Dispatch is now totally computerized
November 2, 1998 – 70 Years of Service to the Town of Cromwell (115th CSFA Convention).
Summer 1999 – Automatic External Defibrillators placed on the ambulances.
Spring 2000 – Automatic External Defibrillators placed on all fire apparatus.
Fall 2000 – Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) is first implemented by the dispatchers.
Summer 2001 – AT&T puts up a new tower next to the town water tank and gives us space for our antennas.
July 1, 2004 – The dispatch center complies with state statues.
September 2004 - Cromwell hosts its second Connecticut State Firefighters Association Convention and parade.
October 2004 - Chief Frank Seidl succeeds David Colligan and becomes the 9th Chief of the Cromwell Fire Department. Douglas Logan becomes the 5th Deputy Chief, and James Bellamo becomes the 4th Assistant Chief.
August 2005 - The New Lane temporary station is officially open until the West St. station is torn down and rebuilt.
September 2005 - West Street Station, the oldest fire station in Cromwell is officially closed to give way for a new fire house and district offices.
October 2005 - Ground breaking ceremony for the new West Street station held.
October 2006 - Chief Stephen Pendl succeeds Frank Seidl and becomes the 10th Chief of the Cromwell Fire Department. James Bellamo becomes the 6th Deputy Chief, and Donald Quick becomes the 5th Assistant Chief.
February 2007 - New Lane fire station closed and the new West Street fire house officially opens.
September 15, 2007 - Ribbon cutting ceremony to open new West Street Station
September 21, 2008 - Cromwell hosts the 125th CSFA Convention for the 3rd time in Middlesex County History.
March 2009 - Cromwell replaces its Marine unit originally donated by Fire Commissioner Edward Clapp with a new 20 ft. Aluma-craft Rescue Boat designated as Marine #11.
February 2011 - Cromwell is faced with on of its most unrelenting snow and ice seasons on record taxing the department resources with over 120 calls for assistance during one three day event.
August 2011 - The department assists the town during Hurricane IRENE helping clear downed trees, pumping water out of numerous structures and assuring there are no hazards from downed power lines.
January 2013 - Chief Stephen Pendl, Deputy Chief James Bellamo, and Assistant Chief are reappointed to office and Michael Salonia Appointed as Assistant Chief.
Octobert 2014 - Ladder 3 put into service
January 2015 - Chief Stephen Pendl, Deputy Michael Salonia, Assistant Chief William Clare, and Assistant Chief Tom Duff appointed to office.
March 2015 - The Thorell Communications Center is dedicated.