Hartford Firehouse, Engine Co. 4, Ladder Co. 1, has served the city of Hartford for over a century. Monday was its final day in operation.
While firefighters were at the ready Monday morning, most activity at 275 Pearl St. involved those moving heavy equipment. Clearing out the 64,000-square-foot building was easier than clearing the memories built there.
Retired Hartford Fire Chief Charles Teale began his career in the building during the early 1980s. He served as chief there from 2000 to 2010.
“Very sad experience for me, personally but I understand from a professional experience, how it’s necessary,” said Teale.
Teale provided a tour of the building, walking to his former third-floor office. The stairs alone told a story, worn down, with noticeable indentation on every step. Evidence of millions of footsteps taken on this truly well-worn path.
Inside the century-old building are antique fixtures including a stove, safe and elevator. It’s switchboard where the cities alarms are wired, is massive.
The Fire House, built in 1918 and expanded in 1926, is included in the National Register of Historic Places and is part of Hartford’s historical legacy.
“This is not just the closing of a firehouse,” added Teale, “It’s the end of the Pearl Street presence of the Hartford Fire Department.”
Teale’s memories there are many but none more so than when the city’s firefighters collected donations to help the families of firefighters lost on 9/11.
“After they collected as much as they thought they could, I remember them coming in here and taking the money and pouring it out on the table. It was full, added Teale.
As Teale walked the halls one final time, he reminisced while reacquainting with former colleagues. He said his feelings are divided, spilt between sadness and understanding what is right for the department and the community.
“You have to make an assessment of the trajectory of the area. Where’s it going in terms of its need for fire protection,” he said.
The 16 firefighters who serve in the department’s tactical unit will be relocated to Sisson Avenue firehouse, a decision that has been in the works since 2013 when Hartford opened a new public safety complex, housing both police and fire headquarters.