White Hill Volunteer Fire Company 5 members reflect on 75 years of service – NBC Connecticut
This is a 75th anniversary celebration of White Hills Volunteer Fire Company 5, which is hosting several events to mark the occasion this year.
This includes an Easter flower sale at Shelton station on Friday and Saturday. This is one of the many fundraisers that keep the volunteer department running.
In three quarters of a century, a lot has happened.
“We respond to around 500 service calls a year,” captain Daniel Tatun said. “House fires, car crashes, EMS assists, cats stuck in trees.”
Now the members of Fire Company 5 reflect on these events.
“Our saying is ‘Neighbors Help Each Other,'” said Tatun, who has been with the company for 11 years. year.”
The White Hills Civic Club was established in 1946 to provide for the welfare of the families who lived in the neighborhood at the time.
In less than a year, the fire company was founded. The first fire truck was purchased in 1948 for just $7,000. This truck was originally stored at the Monroe Fire Station.
“When there was a fire, they had to go to Monroe to pick up the truck and come back to White Hills,” said firefighter Francis Wheeler.
Wheeler has been a firefighter with the department for 63 years, almost since its inception. He said things used to be different.
“At the time, all the gear, helmets, coats and boots, was on the trucks,” Wheeler said. “If you haven’t succeeded, you have nothing to wear. So then, you couldn’t get into the fire.”
He said passing time means changes in protocol.
“When we walked into a fire and had to go through a door, you felt the door with the back of your hand. You didn’t have gloves on,” Wheeler said. “Your ears were your idea of how far I could go in the fire.”
Wheeler responded to one of the most notorious fires in the department’s history. A firebombing at the BF Goodrich factory in Shelton in 1975 was considered by the FBI to be the nation’s largest arson attack at the time.
“When I got downtown, I looked across Howard Avenue and saw BF Goodrich,” Wheeler recalled. “It reminded me of images I had seen of fires in New York with flames coming out of all the windows. And we were all there at night.”
Bringing the flames under control required considerable effort.
“We were charged with lowering the Housatonic River, because our trucks were in the river pumping water,” Wheeler said.
Yet, in the performance of his duties, danger did not cross his mind.
“It was part of my job,” he said.
Fire Company 5 has fought several notable fires over the decades.
“The Sheldon Boys Club fire was downtown, and I remember being on the third floor there trying to save the building,” said Soren Ibsen Jr., treasurer, with 35 years of service. . A few years ago you could see it from Long Island, the column of smoke was so, so big.”
These firefighters rely on thousands of hours of training.
“I’ve been in some pretty hot fires!” said Ibsen.
They walk willingly in the face of danger, all to protect their friends and neighbors.
“Firefighting is a dangerous job, but with the right training, you know, I hope we all get back to the fire station safe,” Ibsen said. “I don’t think about it too much. You know, we’re here to save lives.”
The fire department is partially funded by the city, but relies heavily on fundraising. They are hosting several fundraising events this year as part of the 75and anniversary celebrations.
The Easter flower sale started on Friday and will continue on Saturday at the fire station at 2 School House St. in Shelton. You can also pre-order flowers.
The Fire Company will also host a seated banquet for over 200 guests in September, and advertisers can purchase space in a banquet brochure.
Other annual events hosted by Company 5 include a Boot Drive, Pancake Breakfast, Tree Lighting, Santa on the Fire Truck, and Fire Safety.
All of these fundraisers help them buy specialized vehicles and equipment, thermal cameras, extrication tools, CO and gas meters and many other necessary equipment and tools.