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June 17, 2024
IAFF Local Newswire
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Updated: Jun. 17 (05:00)

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A Brief History of the Fire Service in Danbury
Updated On: Sep 258, 2021

1684 - Danbury is Settled.

1687 - The Town of Danbury is established.

1777 - In the first recorded instance of a fire of any consequence, the British Army burns over 40 structures in Danbury as a raid on Danbury's stores of military supplies for the Continental Army.

1824 - First Fire Inspectors appointed

1829 - The first fire companies, Fire Co#1, and #2 are organized, and two fire engines are ordered.  These two companies have evolved into the current Eng. Co. 21 and Eng. Co. 22

1850 - The Ladder company organized, using a horse drawn Hook and Ladder.  This company became what is still the City's only Truck Company.

1860 - First fire hydrants are installed in the City.

1884 - Ives St. Fire Headquarters opens it's doors.  This building still stands today, and is the current home of the Two Steps Downtown Grill.

1884 - Danbury hosts the first Connecticut State Firemans' Convention

1888 - Danbury rents it's first steam powered pumper. It is a horse drawn unit capable of pumping 600 gallons per minute.

1890 - Danbury hires it's first paid professional firefighters.  Captains earned $200, Lt's $150, Bunkers $150, and Callmen $75.  These were annual salaries.

1910 - Danbury's first motorized fire engine is delivered, and placed in service with Co #1, on Boughton St.  This building was later used by the Danbury Police Department until 2010, when it was demolished by City. 

1944 - Paid members of the Fire Department, unhappy over long hours (84 hour work week), low pay ($42.30 per week), extra duties and a curtailment of their movements when not working (off duty firefighters could not leave the City) decided to unionize in hopes of improving their working conditions.  As a result, Local 801, International Association of Fire Fighters was organized on the night of October 9, 1944.  The union has acted as the sole bargaining agent for professional fire fighters in the City of Danbury since 1944.

1946 - The work week was reduced from 84 hours per week to 78 hours per week.

1946 - Local 801 joins five other Locals in the state to form the Uniformed Professional Fire Fighters Association of Connecticut.

1948 - The work week was reduced from 78 hours to 70 hours per week.

1967 - 1970 - Work week gradually reduced from 56 hours per week to the current 42 hours worked by line firefighters now.

1973 - Station 24 is opened up at 36 Eagle Rd. in Commerce Park.

1974 - Station 25 is opened up at 171 South King St.  The career station is located within an annex in the King St. Volunteer Station.

1982 - On the night of February 23, the Danbury Fire Department and Local 801, IAFF suffered their greatest tragedy in the Line of Duty Deaths of Lieutenant Martin “Butch” Melody and Fire Fighter Joseph Halas.

1983 - Minimum manpower was negotiated, with 23 per shift.  Three on the engines, four on the truck, and two on the ambulance, one dispatcher.  In exchange for this, the union gave up time and one half pay for overtime.

1987 - With the introduction of 911 service to Ct, the Danbury Fire Department becomes the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for the City of Danbury.  As a result, one additional dispatcher is added to the manning, making the shift minimum 24.

1993 - The City takes the ambulance service out of the fire department, and gives the contract to Danbury Hospital.  Minimum manning drops to 22 per shift.

1994 - Local 801 moves into rented office space, located in the basement of 240 Main St.

1995 - Station 23 at 107 Osborne St. is rebuilt.  The previous building, an old gas station, is demolished and a new, modern station is opened and named the "Melody-Halas Fire Station".  Dedication of the new station took place on 10/13/95.

2006 - Station 25 at 171 South King St. is refurbished and expanded with an addition.  

2007 - Station 26 opens on the City's westside, adjacent to the Danbury Airport on Kenosia Ave. Ext.  It is the first new engine company added to the department since 1972.  In addition to housing Engine 26 ,the station houses unmanned Haz Mat truck and SQ2 vehicles, as well as a foam trailer.  Minimum staffing moves to 25 per shift.

2010 - Local 801 attempts to purchase & restore Boughton St. firehouse in order to use as firefighting museum and union hall.  City opts to sell & demolish building in place of a bank drive-thru.

2011 - Local 801 moves it's offices out of the basement of 240 Main St, to Suite 2F, in the same building.

2012 - Engine 21 is closed by the Fire Administration, in favor of a combination of Squad 1 (rescue truck) and a SRV (special response vehicle).  Minimum manning remains at 25 per shift.

2015 - In March, 911 Dispatch moves to the Danbury Police Department building at 375 Main St. and becomes civilian run.  DFD minimum manning drops to 23 per shift.

2020 - As a result of the global COVID19 pandemic, the line members of the Fire Department move to a 24/72 work schedule on a temporary basis.  Maximum consecutive work hours increases from 36 hours to 48 hours.  These changes become permanent in Dec. 2020 with the signing of a contract extension.

2021 - The DFD take delivery of a 34' twin engine boat & put in service as Marine 1.  This asset will serve for fire protection and search & rescues on Candlewood Lake. 

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