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.
Below is a transcribed version of Chief Parker’s obituary, as published in the Stamford Advocate in March 1938.
Former Fire Chief, H W Parker, dies in Bridgeport
Passes suddenly this afternoon of a heart attack– 78 years old
Harry W Parker, retired Chief of the Stamford Fire Department, died suddenly at his home, 1235 Lindley St., Bridgeport, this morning, at the age of 78. Apparently in good health he had talked with his neighbors at 11 AM. His wife returned to the house at 11:30 and found him dead, the victim of a heart attack.
Chief Parker is survived by his widow, a daughter, Doris, both of the Lindley street address; and a son, Lester, of Hartford, born of his first marriage.
Funeral arrangements are not complete.
Chief Parker was appointed a call or volunteer fireman, May 25, 1885, and was appointed Assistant Call Chief, May 1, 1887, in which capacity he served for 16 years until being named call Chief September 28, 1903. Mayor Homer Cummings named Chief Parker as head of the paid department of the city July 10, 1905, and he served until his retirement July 1, 11920, when he was succeeded by the present Chief, Victor H Veit. When Chief Parker retired he had completed 35 years of continuous service in the department.
The apparatus of Chief Parker’s early days consisted of hand pumping engines. The first steam-pumping engine was purchased after the Presbyterian Church fire of 1882.
Following the resignation of M J McIntyre as chief of the volunteer company, Parker was named Assistant Chief under Chief George Bowman. Upon the death of chief Bowman in 1903, Parker was named head of the department which consisted of six full-time members. The apparatus consisted of two horse-drawn engines, two hose reel carts and a horse drawn ladder truck. In 1904, the first horse-drawn chemical was purchased, and in 1910 the first motor driven apparatus, a combination chemical was added to the department.
Chief Parker during his service in the department saw the building of three present firehouses and the abandonment of the Luther Street station. The Central Fire House, built in 1915, was erected after several conferences between Chied Parker and city administration leaders of that time, and represented the last word in fire station construction at the time.
To 60 Paid Men
When Chief Parker retired from the service in 1920, the department had grown to 60 paid fireman and several improvements have been made in the firefighting apparatus. Installation of fire alarm boxes, replacing the sounding of the Town Hall Bell, was carried out during the latter years of Chief Parkers regime and since then has been expanded to take in all sections of the city.