Written By Al Pokrob
In 1953 my father, who was a builder and land developer, saw an ad in the Register that 37 acres of land was for sale. He, with the help of Robert Conroy purchased the land with the intention of putting in roads and selling building lots.
They hired Joseph Barone to put in the roads. But before that could be done my uncle, Robert Conroy and I were hired to cut down trees where the roads were going to be. We spent the summer of 1953 cutting the trees with an axe. Then my father and I built a building on what is now Lake View Avenue. My wife and I painted the building. It was the headquarters for the salesman. A man by the name of Eddie Nichols was hired as the real estate agent to sell the lots.
During the late 1950’s individuals built on much of the land. A few of the owners, especially Bill Murdock and Al Clark went door-to-door trying to drum up interest to build a firehouse.
We had to agree to get 25 men to sign up for training to be firemen. Danny Hume from the Hamden Fire Department was hired to train these men. Of the original 25, only Joe Bellonio and myself are the only ones still living in our district. In June, there was a large dinner at Restland Farms for the purpose of honoring the men who passed the training. It was attended by over 200 people, many who were town and even state officials. It was at this affair that my father donated a parcel of land which we could build a firehouse. Shortly afterward, Joe Bellanio led a group of volunteers in laying cinderblocks. When that was done, Mr. Casella and I were in charge of the roof construction. Mert Benham and I handled the interior consisting of sheetrock and kitchen cabinets. This work would have been impossible if it weren’t for the countless hours volunteers put in building the firehouse. Many[FH1] [FH2] [FH3] of the materials were donated by local businesses from town and Wallingford.
Our first piece of apparatus was an old Maxim!!
On the night of Amy 17, 1965 a fully loaded gasoline truck collided with a car carrier on the corner of Rt. 17 and White Hallow Rd. The gasoline truck exploded sending sheets of fire a hundred feet in the sky. I was watching TV when the explosion sent flames everywhere. I looked out the window and couldn’t believe what I saw. I jumped into my car and raced to the firehouse. I was met with Ron Gemmel. We jumped into the fire truck only to be met by flaming gasoline running down Rt. 17 burning everything in its path. We turned left and laid hose to a pond in the corner of Young’s Apple Orchard Rd. We called Durham to help us since we didn’t have enough hose to reach the tanker. Eventually fire departments from the surrounding towns sent men and fire trucks. Since the fire blocked Rt. 17 the only help we got from other towns to our north was from Durham. As we fought our way to the burning cab, we met such heat that the road was buckling under our feet.
When we reached the cab, we were surprised to find the driver had escaped. During the height of the calamity, several of us were on the lower side of the fre. Burning gasoline flowed out of the truck and raced down the hill where we were fighting. We all dropped the hose and ran for our lives. One of the men fell and broke his ankle. We were able to pull him to safety. We spent all night there fighting which has turned out to be the worst fire the town has ever had. The tanker had to be towed in pieces. In the following years, there have been calls of all kinds, most of which are medicals, ranging from broken bones to heart attacks. In addition to answering calls for assistance, the fire department has entertained many various ways to server the children of our area, such as Easter egg hunts, Santa at Christmas and many other functions put on by professional entertainers.
One of our major fundraisers in the past was BINGO
Let’s not forget the women who have provided refreshment at fires and other major calls. So you can see how valuable the dept. is to our town. The men and women serve without pay and are a major value to our community, serving countless hours.