Founded in 1882, Echo Hose Hook & Ladder Fire Company No. 1 has the distinction of being the oldest of the city’s four fire companies.
The company is now at 379 Coram Ave. in downtown Shelton, but the original building was on Howe Avenue, and served as both firehouse and police station.
The sign that adorned that building hangs now in the social room of the Coram Avenue firehouse, along with a photograph of early 1900 firehouse members under the same sign and a photo of the company’s 125th anniversary parade.
A recent study showed that the building isn’t compatible with the fire apparatus, Asst. Fire Chief Paul Wilson said, and the floor isn’t workable and needs to be replaced.
“In 1961, this was a great location,” Wilson said. But now, the relatively narrow street makes it difficult to maneuver the 47-foot-long ladder truck out of the building.
“We can’t get it out onto the street in one sweep,” he said.
The company will soon add a new 40-foot-long squad truck to its apparatus, and it will be equally as difficult to maneuver out of the building.
Mayor Mark Lauretti is working on acquiring property for a new firehouse, Wilson said.
Shelton’s fire department is the largest volunteer fire department in Connecticut and is among the top three in New England in terms of volunteers, Wilson said.
Members participate in four to eight drills a month, as well as citywide training and monthly training sessions at other city fire companies.
Recently, firefighters received training in using a personal escape system that enables them to leave upper windows of a burning building using ropes attached to their gear.
There is also extrication training, and structural fire training at fire schools in Fairfield and New Haven.
A new system ensures that all members check in for assignment when they show up at a fire scene, Wilson said. Otherwise, members may not know that the firefighter is inside a burning building.
Echo Hose has two fire engines, a tower truck, a rescue truck, a utility truck and a boat, and 80% of company’s 80 volunteers are trained in water rescue.
This summer, the company will acquire an $800,000 squad truck that can handle both rescue and fire emergencies, Wilson said.
The current 1984 rescue vehicle can only carry two people to emergency scenes in its cab, and the rest ride outside.
“Open seats are not acceptable,” Wilson said. “The new squad truck will get six firefighters to the scene in the cab.”
It’s equipped with a water tank and a light tower that can illuminate a scene, and its purchase was approved in a referendum.
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