Meet the ten past Fire Chiefs of the Stamford Fire Department.
George Bowman (1887 – 1903)
Chief George Bowman, the first Fire Chief of the Stamford Fire Department, served as Fire Chief for sixteen years.
Chief Bowman, who had shown talent for effectively managing the Fire Department, was then also chosen as the first Chief of Police. He was appointed Police Chief on May 7, 1894 as he retained the two offices – Chief of Police Department and Chief of Fire Department – until his death, September 14, 1903.
Events & Accomplishments During Chief Bowman’s Tenure:
- Appointed as Stamford first Fire “Call” Chief (1887).
- Borough streets get paved (1889).
- St Johns Episcopal Church burned to the ground due to water problems.
- Stamford’s second American LaFrance Steam Pumper acquired (1892).
- Stamford officially becomes a “City” (1893).
- Firefighter Owen McMahon, driver of one of the hose carriages, killed after being thrown from the apparatus and being struck by a car (1896).
- Established a new South End Fire Station (1899).
- Captain Z R Horton killed while responding to an alarm by falling from Truck #1 and being run over by its wheels (1900).
- Assistant Chief M J Mullen died due to an illness contracted after fighting a fire in freezing temperatures.
Harry Parker (1903 – 1920)
Chief Harry W Parker submitted his resignation on May 24, asking to be placed on the retired list. The request was granted by the Stamford Board of Alderman on June 1. Chief Parker left the Fire Department after 38 years of service. He was retired on half pay ($1,500 annually). Chief Parker served 10 years longer than was required by the rules governing retirement at that time.
Events & Accomplishments During Chief Parker’s Tenure:
- Stamford’s first permanent Fire Chief.
- Opera House Fire (December 1904).
- Purchased the Department’s first combination hose and chemical wagon (1905).
- The Gamewell Fire Alarm System was significantly updated (1906-1916).
- Purchase of an Amoskeag Steam Engine (1906).
- The first motorized Locomotive Engine was purchased (1910).
- The first motorized American LaFrance Ariel Ladder Trick was acquired.
- Opened the new Central Fire Station on Main Street, next door to the present day Central Fire Station (1915).
- Established the “two platoon” work schedule (1919).
- Firefighter Oscar Sphar died of a massive heart attack at the scene of a fire.
Victor H Veit (1920 – 1954)
Fire Chief Victor H. Veit, Chief of the department for 33 years, got his start in 1896, just around the corner from his job at Yale & Towne. “It was a little old barn,” recalled the Chief. George Walton was Captain, and nobody was on duty. The station had a “hose carriage which firemen pulled by hand, and 500 ft. of 2-1/2″ hose. It listed about 10 men.”
“When I started, call men received the vast sum of $12.00 per year. If one of these men didn’t show up for a blaze he was fined $1.00,” said Chief Veit.
Events & Accomplishments During Chief Veit’s Tenure:
- Purchased Engine 4, an American LaFrance triple combination hose, pumper and chemical Engine (1922).
- Construction of a modern drill tower, directly in back of Central Fire Station.
- A machine shop was built in Station #1.
- Firefighter Thomas Meehan died after being thrown from the apparatus when it collided with another vehicle (1945).
- A new 600-gallon triple combination engine was purchased for Station #2 (1937).
- A new 1000 GPM Ahrens-Fox paper was purchased for Station #2, but it was too wide for the doors, so it was assigned to Central (1938).
- The 56 hour “Short Work Week” was started (1950).
- A new two-way radio system was established (1954).
Thomas F Richardson (1954-1966)
Chief Thomas Richardson submitted his request for retirement after 43 years of service.
Events & Accomplishments During Chief Richardson’s Tenure:
- Station #2’s front was changed from three doors to two doors to accommodate modern day apparatus (1954).
- Started using the old incinerator grounds as a “drill field” (1954).
- Stamford first Maxim Engine was assigned to Station #2 (1955)
- The Fire Prevention Division was officially established (1955).
- Station #4 at 364 Shippan Avenue and Station #5 on Washington Blvd. were opened (1955).
- Captain George Daily died of a head injury sustained while performing rescue operations during hurricane (1956).
- Members begin 42-hour work week
Charles R McRedmond (1966 – 1974)
Events & Accomplishments During Chief McRedmond’s Tenure:
- Firefighter Henry Wozniak died of a heart attack while on duty (1973).
- Submits a request for retirement in 1968, but rescinds it just 30 days later
- Four children die in fire at 85 Pressprich Street (1969).
- Ground was broken for a new “Central Fire Station next door to the current Central Fire Station (1971).
- Ground was broken for a new Fire Training Facility on Magee Avenue (1972).
Joseph Vitti (1974-1991)
- Stamford’s first tele-squirt was put into service.
- The Magee Avenue Fire Training Facility was re-dedicated as the “Charles R McRedmond Fire Training Facility”
- The new West Side Fire Station was built and dedicated (1981)
- United Organics Fire / Explosion seriously injuries three Stamford firefighters (1983).
Ron E Graner (1993 – 1998)
Chief Graner was the first Chief to be chosen as the Fire Chief from outside of the SFDS
Chief Graner’s Accomplishments and Highlights
- Improved safety for firefighters and officers due to TEAM review of and changes in Standard Operating Guidelines
- First Safety Officer appointed
- Increased safety training for all recruits and department members
- Conducted safety inspections of all stations
- Improved station wear for all personnel to NFPA standards
- Improved fire safety inspections by fully staffing Fire Marshal Division
- Worked with city personnel department to assure continued high standards in recruitment that provided equal opportunity for all prospects.
- Increased number of weeks for recruit training in labor management agreement
- State passed improved automatic sprinkler regulations after our departments input following tragic death in a senior housing/nursing facility that was not fully protected.
- Automatic Cardiac Defibrillators purchased and put on engine companies.
- First patient was a city board of representative’s member in city hall who had gone into full arrest and was revived by fire department crew in the board meeting hall after being declared dead by a Dr.
- Yes, this representative did vote in favor of funding the purchase of the AEDs.
- Revamped Fire Training grounds with new tower and multiple realistic burn props utilizing modern environmentally friendly gas fueled burn props
- Upgraded SFR Information Network by TEAM members
- First department website built by TEAM member
- No funding – Just dedication to the department and the mission
- At request of City leaders managed 2 studies to investigate the delivery of fire rescue services in the areas covered by the 5 volunteer departments
- Assigned SFR units to operate from “volunteer” stations due to shortage of volunteers at those stations.
- Drafted proposed changes for City Charter for citywide fire protection services which reflected the values of both volunteer and career staffs.
- Most of proposed changes finally passed in a City Charter change election by all city residents 20 years later in 2013.
- Purchased Tower Ladder to increase master stream water flow.
- Began search for new south end fire station by meeting with property owners and companies in the area to seek donation of site for a new station.
- Encouraged TEAM members to seek additional training outside of the department including at the National Fire Academy.
- Involved TEAM members in budget preparation and in development of specifications for apparatus and equipment.
- Team members began testing a variety of equipment to determine which would best suit the needs of SFR.
- Brought the professionalism within SFR to the attention of city hall by having SFR members rewire entire city hall building for modern computer network and by having SFR TEAM members serve on city committees studying Geographic Information Systems and other IT issues
Anthony J Milone (1998-2000)
Events & Accomplishments During Chief Milone’s Tenure:
- Acquired the property for the new Station #2 from Pitney Bowes for no cost to the City.
- Acquired the Department’s first Thermal Imaging Camera through donations made to a Safety Foundation.
- Upgraded facilities at the Fire Training Center
- Assigned the Haz Mat and Rescue Companies to Stations 2 and 5, respectively.
- Developed several public safety programs, including “Are Your Numbers Up”, “Fire Victims Help” and the first ever “Carbon Monoxide Safety Seminar”.
- Certified CPR Instructors / Firefighters provided CPR training to corporations and organizations.
Robert McGrath (2000 – 2011)
Events & Accomplishments During Chief McGrath’s Tenure:
- Firefighter William Miller of Engine Company #4 died of illness he contracted during the performance of his duties.
Tony Conte (2012 – 2013)
Events & Accomplishments During Chief Conte’s Tenure:
- Former fashion executive loses three daughters and her parents in a tragic Christmas Day 2011 fire.