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 The Beginning

January 12, 1917: Sandy Hook Citizens

Take Steps For Fire Protection

Shortly before the advent of World War I the Sandy Hook area saw a period of rapid growth. It was a result of this growth and desire for community service that led a group of men to call an organizational meeting for a fire company that would protect and service the district of Newtown known as Sandy Hook. A meeting of the citizens of Sandy Hook, about 30 people, was held on Tuesday, January 12, 1917, in Glovers Hall to consider the question of fire protection. 

Louis T. Briscoe called the meeting to order and outlined the purpose for which the meeting was called.  John O. Pitzschler was made Chairman.  A committee was appointed to confer with Newtown Water Company with regard to extending its water mains to Sandy Hook, as the Sandy Hook residents also desired the establishment of a number of hydrants in that district.  The committee appointed to confer with Newtown Water Company consisted of A.M. Briscoe, M.A. Corbett, E.W. Troy and Austin Hurd. 

 For the purpose of levying a tax to pay for the water it was proposed to incorporate Sandy Hook as a fire district.  A committee appointed to present this matter to the Legislature consisted of T.F. Brew, M.D. Beers, George F. Taylor and T.J. Corbett.  Deputy Sheriff Beers, T.F. Brew and T.J. Corbett “motored” to Woodbury on Wednesday afternoon, to confer with the Orenaug Fire Department in that town to get a line on plans for a fire district.  No definite boundary lines for the proposed fire district in Sandy Hook was made, but it was suggested going as far as the residence of Michael Haugh on Washington Avenue, out Gas Street (Riverside Road), and as far as the Fabric Fire Hose Factory toward the Highland Division Railroad Station.

Sandy Hook residents took real interest in the matter and it was hoped the project for the organization of the fire district would work out successfully.

The Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Company was formally organized on June 6, 1938, with 18 charter members. Its chief was Hiram Hanlon, and its first officers were J. Hayden, Assistant Chief; H. Warner, Treasurer; Robert Lockwood, Secretary; Roswell Tilson, 1st Engineer; Frank Oberstadt, 2nd Engineer; and Fred Kuhne, Captain.

The company’s Articles of Association were filed on March 24, 1939. The document was received by Joseph H.A. Symonds, Commissioner of the Superior Court for Fairfield County, on March 24, 1939. The fire company paid a charter fee of $15.



June 1938: The first softball team was formed in the fire company.

July 16, 1938: The company’s first social function, a dance, was held. The fire company later began holding dances on a regular basis on Wednesday and Saturday nights.

September 1938: The company began to canvas the town for funds to buy equipment.

September 6, 1938: Attorney Joseph H.A. Symonds drew up a charter for the company.

October 21, 1938: A representative from Fire Underwriters of New York spoke to the company regarding fire protection standards.

March 2, 1939: An alarm system was suggested. The Plastic Molding whistle was used for this purpose.

March 7, 1939: The Charter for Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Company, Inc. was approved by the Connecticut Legislature.

March 21, 1939: The Ingram home on Glen Road burned.

February 23, 1940: The John Flynn home burned.

November 21, 1941: The dairy barn, silo and hay at the farm of John Kearns burned.

August 23, 1944: Sandy Hook accepted a new Mack Fire Engine as its first full-fledged truck. The vehicle was tested at a pumping capability of 500 gpm at 120 lbs of pressure through its Hale 2-stage pump.

October 5, 1957: Members of Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Company posed for photos in their recently acquired dress uniforms.

February 10, 1958: A house fire in Pootatuck Park resulted in a total loss of the home for the J.T. Jones family.

June 14, 1958: The M. Hathaway house was gutted in Pootatuck Park.

June 24, 1958: A Shore Road house fire led to the gutting of the home of H. Hallengren.

December 15, 1958: A house in Pootatuck Park was completely destroyed with its oil burner exploded.

February 24, 1959: D. Cameron’s house trailer was totalled on Gray’s Plain Road.

March 31, 1959: The house of J. Randall, located within Pootatuck Park, was a total loss.

May 29, 1959: Sandy Hook assisted Hook & Ladder at a train derailment at the Church Hill Road overpass. The accident held up north-south freight traffic for over two days.

September 7, 1959: A committee was appointed by Sandy Hook Company members to search for land for a new firehouse.

March 12, 1960: Old Mill Road house was damaged, studio and garage destroyed in an early morning fire during a snowstorm.

January 31, 1965: The home of R.B. Snow on Longview Drive was heavily damaged by fire.

February 7, 1965: A house was destroyed on Community Lane, off Bradley Lane.

March 17, 1965: A house fire at the Rasmussen residence in Shady Rest left the home gutted.

May 4, 1965: A lightning strike sparked a fire that heavily damaged a Cedarhurst home.

May 27, 1965: A barn was destroyed and a garage damaged during an early morning fire at Warner Farm, off Route 34.

July 12, 1965: A barn fire at C. Ketchell Farm on Toddy Hill Road left two firemen slightly burned.

April 15, 1966: Thirteen men were on the scene of a forest fire on the railroad tracks near Stevenson for five hours.

July 11-12, 1966: A forest fire in Cedarhurst kept 42 men on the scene for more than 11 hours.

August 8, 1966: Forest fire on Zoar Road. Forty-three men worked the scene for ten hours.

August 9, 1966: Forest fire on Zoar Road continued or rekindled, with 15 men working another 11 hours assisted by Monroe and Stevenson.

September 17, 1966: Forty men spent 13 hours battling a major fire in the town brush dump. Southbury assisted. There were two minor injuries and minor damage to one truck.

December 12, 1966: The Lorenzo home, off Walnut Tree Hill Road, was completely destroyed by fire.

February 1967: Three buildings, including Newtown Cleaners, were completely destroyed by fire. Firefighters fought the blaze, in subzero temperatures, for over four hours. Hook & Ladder used its aerial truck for the first time.

April 9, 1969: A brush fire burned over forty acres on Gelding Hill Road.

June 1, 1969: As a prelude to the start of the annual fundraising campaign of Newtown’s fire companies, there was a massed display of firefighting equipment in front of the (then) high school on Queen Street. Assembled for view from 10 am until noon was equipment from each of the five companies. The fire equipment review was arranged by the Newtown Combined Fire Companies under the direction of Richard Farkas, chairman. His committee consisted of Paul Carola, Sam Ferraro, Paul Wilson, Sandy Hook Fire Chief Bill Halstead, and Ed Forbell.

December 19, 1969: A fire at the Dyner residence on Walnut Tree Hill Road caused severe damage to the home.

February 15, 1970: A house fire at the Salph resident on Chestnut Hill caused severe damage.

April 14, 1970: Sandy Hook assisted Botsford at a large fire involving two barns at the Nezvesky Farm.

January 1, 1971: A house on Buttonball Drive was damaged severely by a fire set by the owner.

April 18, 1971: Sandy Hook provided assistance to Brookfield for a major fire that involved several barns and houses on Pocono Road. The fire started after burning trash was picked up in high winds.

July 5, 1971: The new substation on Route 34 was officially accepted by the Fire Rating Bureau.

November 1, 1971: The Walker residence on Round Hill Road suffered severe fire damage after being struck by lightning.

February 20, 1972: First Selectman Timothy Treadwell died in a fire at his residence on Zoar Road. The incident occurred during a snowstorm, and the residence was gutted.

March 17, 1972: House fire at the Reilly residence on Oakview Terrace resulted in the loss of one life, and of the house.

March 17, 1972: One occupant and pet dog perished in a house fire on Lakeview Terrace.

October 20, 1972: House fire on Lakeview Terrace spread to a neighboring residence, leaving both homes destroyed.

January 28, 1973: Harrison residence, on Chipmunk Trail in Pootatuck Park, burned.

February 18, 1973: Tuttle’s Glen Lodge totally destroyed by fire, which involved work by all of the town’s fire companies to extinguish. The fire had been intentionally set.

March 21, 1973: Arson destroyed a house on Kitross Lane. Two 12-year-old boys were apprehended by police in connection to the fire. 

April 8, 1973: Sandy Hook assisted Botsford at a major fire that destroyed H&F Livestock barn on Huntingtown Road.

April 14, 1973: Sandy Hook provided mutual assistant to Southbury for a major fire at Cushman Furniture Store.

April 27, 1973: Sandy Hook received a new Maxim Pumper, named 41, which cost the Town of Newtown $45,000.

May 2, 1973: Engine 41 responded to its first call, a washing machine fire.

May 25, 1973: Sandy Hook assisted Hook & Ladder at Log Cabin Restaurant fire on South Main Street. The building was a total loss.

May 31, 1973: House destroyed in Pootatuck Park. Arson suspected.

June 12, 1973: House gutted by fire in Pootatuck Park. Arson suspected.

June 22, 1973: House of G.B. Smith on Old Green Road was heavily damaged. Cause of the fire was gasoline from a motorcycle in the basement.

August 27, 1973: House trailer destroyed by fire on Old Bridge Road.

October 31, 1973: The house of M. Mack, on Gray’s Plain Road, destroyed by fire. Hook & Ladder Assistant Chief S. Sauter died of a heart attack at the scene.

November 21, 1973:  The Board of Fire Commissioners approved the purchase of Sandy Hook Engire 41 by Delta Fire Company in Canada.

December 8, 1973: A fire in the northeast side of Church Hill Road in Sandy Hook Center caused severe damage to three stores.

January 6, 1974: Sandy Hook assisted the Fairfield Hills FD at a major fire at Greenwich House at Fairfield Hills State Hospital.

May 15, 1974: Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Company unveiled formal plans for a new main station on Riverside Road, adjacent to Dickenson Drive. Estimated construction costs: $150,000.

July 5, 1974: A camp trailer on Gelding Hill Road was destroyed by fire.

October 26, 1974: A building owned by E. Ketchell on Route 34 was destroyed by fire.

November 10, 1974: The Powski residence on Chestnut Hill Road was badly burned. A Hawleyville tanker responding to the scene lost its brakes and hit several cars.

January 4, 1975: A barn belonging to J. Metcalf, located on Gelding Hill Road, was destroyed by fire.

February 12, 1975: The Davis house on Underhill Road was destroyed by fire.

March 13, 1975: Dogs knocked over a heater within the house owned by F. Hydu, setting the home ablaze. The dogs died in the fire.

March 13, 1975: A cottage on the Honneger property on Walnut Tree Hill Road was destroyed after children set fire to it.

April 21, 1975: The Mathison residence was seriously damaged by fire caused by burning paint off the siding.

May 20, 1975: A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the start of construction on the new Riverside Road main station.

June 20, 1975: Sandy Hook assisted Botsford at a stubborn fire of aluminum scrap piles at Batchelder Company.

August 1975: Chief Herb Lewis retired and moved to Vermont. Michael Lucas Jr was elected to replace Chief Lewis.

October 5, 1975: Sandy Hook was called to wet down the remains of an abandoned house in the woods off Great Quarter Road. The house had apparently burned 24 hours earlier, but neighbors never called the fire department.

October 20, 1975: The laundry room and kitchen area of the Oberg house on Gray’s Plain Road was badly damaged. Sandy Hook was credited with “a good save” based on the heat intensity upon arrival.

December 24, 1975: The R. Dean house on Toddy Hill Road suffered minor damage. This marked the first run for Sandy Hook from its new main station on Riverside Road.

January 16, 1976: The Dean home was again the site of a fire, which this time destroyed the structure. One firefighter was injured when a propane tank exploded.

February 7, 1976: The garage at the M. Foster residence was heavily damaged and a studio above the garage was gutted.

March 2, 1976: The Williams residence in Pootatuck Park suffered major fire damage.

May 16, 1976: Sandy Hook hosted an open house for its recently completed fire station.

May 26, 1976: The Sandy Hook Hotel on Church Hill Road suffered minor damage, but the incident could have been worse: The building had been filled with gasoline in an attempt at arson.

June 26, 1976: The house of R. Chasse was severely gutted by fire. One occupant jumped from a window to escape the flames.

August 3, 1976: Don Lewis elected as fourth chief to lead Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Company.

September 15, 1976: Sandy Hook rescued a number of people who were trapped on the roof of a chicken coop surrounded by swarming bees on Pole Bridge Road.

December 6, 1976: Sandy Hook assisted Hook & Ladder at a major fire at Ricky’s Shopping Center on South Main Street. Five stores and the roof area of three more were heavily damaged.

December 8, 1976: A fire at Southbury Manufacturing (formerly Plastic Molding) on Glen Road caused severe damage to the building’s interior and roof.

March 25, 1977: Sandy Hook assisted Hook & Ladder at a major fire at the old Newtown Country Club building on South Main Street. Arson suspected.

April 20, 1977: Sandy Hook responded to the Vitca residence, where a frightened raccoon had become stuck in the chimney, requiring expert — and careful — rescue efforts.

April 26, 1977: A house fire at the O’Hare residence on Locust Drive resulted in severe damage to the home’s interior. One firefighter was injured.

July 8, 1977: Sandy Hook provided assistance to Hook & Ladder for a serious fire at the A&P Market on Queen Street.

July 10, 1977: A lightning strike damaged the house and garage of T.A. Krause.

July 29, 1977: An oil tanker rolled over on top of another vehicle on Route 34, spilling several gallons of oil but miraculously not injuring the occupants of either vehicle.

September 23, 1977: The old firehouse on Glen Road was sold.

September 25, 1977: A bus rollover on I-84 near the Housatonic Motel, just before Exit 13, resulted in the death of one child. Instructors from Connecticut Fire Academy, who were at our main station leading a rescue course at the time of the call, assisted Sandy Hook in the extrication and rescue of the passengers and drivers from the bus. 

Summer-Autumn 1986 (from The Newtown Bee issue dated October 3, 1986): The Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Company has completed another banner year on the parade circuit, winning 28 trophies, including six of the coveted Best Overall awards, the most such awards ever won in company history. The company took home Best Overall trophies following the parades in Oxford, Prospect, Thomaston, Bridgewater, Canton, and Newtown’s Labor Day Parade.

July 30, 1993: A fire at 43 Spring Trail around 7 am caused an estimated $30,000 in damage. Gasoline which had leaked from a motorcycle parked in the basement trickled under a freezer. When the freezer went on, the fire started. No one in the family of the residence was injured, but the family did have to relocate until repairs could be made. Firefighters rescued two cats from the smoke-filled home. 

December 27, 1993: A furiously-burning fire destroyed a two-story house off Valley Field Road and caused at least $300,000 in damage. Firefighters from all five of the town’s companies responded. No one was home at the time of the fire, but two pet doves were lost in the blaze. Firefighters laid 800 feet of hose to the house in subfreezing conditions. Observers spotted smoke long before the blaze was reported, but said they didn’t report  their observations, thinking the smoke was from a large smokestack at Fairfield Hills or from brush being burned. Two unnamed firefighters were injured. One received a gash on his forehand when equipment slipped, and the other received a thumb injury. 

February 1994: Firefighters battled stubborn subsurface fires during a week-long stretch at JF Walsh Wood Service, a Toddy Hill Road storage yard where huge mounds of wood chips are stockpiled for use as mulch. Firefighters made several trips to quell the persistent blaze that kept rekindling in various locations below the surface. Recent heavy snowfalls capped the mulch piles and cut ventilation, which resulted in a buildup of heat, and eventually the subsurface fires. 

April 14, 1994: About 250 gallons of fuel leaked from a home heating oil tank on Queen Street and made its way into the Pootatuck River before it was discovered about three miles away at the bridge in Sandy Hook Center. a 275-gallon tank at 66 Queen Street had been filled the previous day by a home heating oil company, and the bottom of the old tank had rotted. The spill was discovered when Fire Marshal George Lockwood Sr stopped at his son’s deli in Sandy Hook Center around 6:40 am. He could smell fuel, but could not see it, so he had Sandy Hook Fire dispatched. About 15 firefighters worked their way upstream to locate the source of the leak. Firefighters put booms into the river to stop the oil from traveling downstream. CT DEP was notified, and sent a field inspector to oversee the cleanup. 

July 22, 1994: Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue and others responded to a chemical problem at Treadwell Park swimming pool, which saw more than 20 children transported to Danbury Hospital to be checked as precaution. Hydrochloride gas was released after a Parks & Rec staff member inadvertently mixed two incompatible chemicals into the wading pool’s chlorinator. Due to weather conditions at the time, there were no children in the pool when the incident occurred. Most children at the part were evacuated to different locations. 

July 30, 2005: Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue had its first block party in part to celebrate the construction of a new pavilion in the department’s rear parking lot. Karin Halstead, one of the organizers, told The Newtown Bee that the firehouse was trying out the idea of a block party to see what type of response they received. The LobsterFest is always jam-packed in June and while the turnout for the party did not reach the epic proportions of the LobsterFest, the crowd that did show up had a wonderful time. Tickets were $20 for adults and $10 for children, which included all-you-can-eat of traditional picnic fixings such as hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, corn on the cob, and watermelon. Coffee and soda were included and the evening was advertised as a bring-your-own-bottle event to help keep costs down. The party ran from 7 to 11 pm and the crowd was entertained by Keltic Kick, which played classic hits and Irish favorites. More than 100 people attended the function and everyone loved the band, who ended up playing an additional 20 minutes due to the crowd’s enthusiasm.

September 4, 2017 (above): President Bradley Richardson, left, and Chief Bill Halstead, right, lead the company in Newtown’s Labor Day Parade. (Newtown Bee photo, used with permission) 

May 15-15, 2018: A macroburst moved through the region, reportedly carrying winds of up to 100 mph just before Tuesday, May 15. Sandy Hook VFR began responding to related calls — trees on houses; trees across roads; trees and/or wires on roads, homes, vehicles and water craft; motor vehicle accidents, possible structure fires, etc — as soon as the weather event cleared enough for safe response. By Thursday, May 17, Sandy Hook VFR had responded to more than 80 storm related calls. The highest percentage came in during the 12 hours following the storm. 

June 23, 2018: SHVFR celebrated its 80th anniversary with a formal event at Michael’s at the Grove in Bethel. Members and guests enjoyed cocktails, dinner and awards, and dancing.

July 7, 2018: Fourteen Sandy Hook firefighters responded to I-84 West, just east of the Exit 10 offramp, shortly after 7 pm, after a 2011 Chevrolet Equinox collided with a black bear. The male driver and one passenger of the SUV were transported to the hospital; another passenger was checked for injuries but did not require transport. The collection killed the 80-pound bear. The crash also damaged the vehicle and led to leaking fluids.

July 19, 2018: An equipment failure on a 2003 Gulf Stream Sun Voyager traveling on Interstate 84 East between the Exit 11 ramps around 5:45 pm resulted in a swift-moving fire that destroyed the recreational vehicle. Sandy Hook and Newtown Hook & Ladder sent about 15 volunteer firefighters to the scene, which closed the highway. The male driver was able to safely exit the vehicle without injury. One Sandy Hook firefighter received a minor injury when his ankle was struck by a flying piece of metal thrust across the highway by a venting propane tank inside the RV.

August 8, 2018: A lightning strike during a thunderstorm about 6:30 pm caused a fire at the home at 29 Chestnut Hill Road, triggering an emergency response by all five local volunteer fire companies, plus mutual aid from other towns. There were no injuries. Lightning struck a tree near the circa 1947 single-family Cape-style house and apparently followed the tree’s roots until coming into contact with a buried copper water pipe. The high voltage then followed the pipe until it entered the basement, where the fire started. Overall damage was likely less than $10,000.

September, 23, 2018: SHVFR celebrated its 80th anniversary year with an Open House & Public Safety Day. Events and displays were set up within the main station and parking lots, and included photos and equipment from training sessions, information about smoke and CO detectors, visits with Smokey the Bear, and demonstrations of a tanker pumping into a portable pond, a pumper filling from that temporary water source, and a staged extrication among the day’s offerings. CT DEEP, Newtown’s CERT, Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps, NUSAR, and other agencies also participated in the event. 

September 2, 2019: SHVFR Chief Bill Halstead served as Grand Marshal for the 59th Annual Newtown Labor Day Parade. Chief Halstead was joined in the parade’s lead vehicle by his wife Deb and two of their grandchildren. He was then joined on the judging grandstand by six parade judges including SHVFR Secretary Shannon Will.

October 1, 2019: Nearly 75 golf enthusiasts participated in the 31st Annual Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Golf Tournament — another 80th anniversary year event — raising funds for the fire company while enjoying a day at The Golf Club at Oxford Greens. Chris Doyle, Mike D’Angelis, Dave D’Ambre and Tony Bruno was the day’s winning foursome. The team finished with an impressive 61 on the par 72 course.

June 7, 2021: SHVFR conducted its annual meeting, during which officer elections were held and Bruce S. Clark was named the 2021 Outstanding Member of the Year.

October 31, 2021: A Halloween evening fire damaged a Dayton Street home and displaced its two residents. Firefighters from all five of Newtown’s companies responded to the two-story Colonial; the fire was contained to one room on the second floor, and was knocked down in less than 30 minutes. Approximately 35 firefighters responded to the scene.