Raymond Knowles Spencer joined Co. 5 in August 1925,
just as plans were being made to build the present firehouse. One of Ray’s first roles as a new member of
Co. 5 was as a member of the committee to plan for the official opening of the
station in 1926.
In 1930, Ray was instrumental in building Co. 5’s
“Fire Patrol Wagon” on a 1921 Packard Twin-6 chassis. In a time when few people had their own automobiles, the patrol
wagon transported volunteers to the fire scene after the paid driver had left
the station on Engine 5.
For the next several decades, serving in various
capacities, Ray was among the most active members of Co. 5.
On October 22, 1957, Ray was elected the Company’s
tenth president, an office he would hold with the company’s respect and
affection well into the 1980s.
In 1963, Ray received the Jacob Ruppert award for
“Outstanding Volunteer Firemen” for his efforts in rescuing an injured
firefighter during the Mt. Carmel Railroad Station fire on November 7, 1962.
By the early 1970s, with the ever-increasing size of
fire apparatus, the Mt. Carmel fire station was only large enough to house the
department’s oldest apparatus. In the
summer of 1974, President Ray Spencer spearheaded plans to build an addition to
Station 5 that would be capable of housing apparatus much larger than anything
Hamden had at the time.
Through President Ray Spencer’s guidance and leadership, what became
known as “the Station 5 Annex” was designed, financed entirely by the company,
and constructed within the following year.
September 4, 1975 – Ray was emcee to a large crowd that attended the dedication ceremony for the new Annex (See the video on www.mtcarmelvolunteers.org)
A groundbreaking ceremony was conducted on March 16,
1975, and the new Annex was officially dedicated later that year on September 4th. In the 35 years since, the Annex has ensured
that state-of-the-art fire apparatus could continue to be housed at Station 5.
Ray remained active in Company 5 affairs for many
more years, officially retiring on June 23, 1992. He died on March 14, 1995.
His spirit of volunteerism and dedication lives on in an amazing legacy
of accomplishments, as well as in the inspiration he imparted to his fellow
volunteer firefighters during more than six decades of devoted service to his
In our centennial year of 2011, the members of the
Mt. Carmel Volunteer Fire Company are very pleased to honor the one person
whose dedication, vision and leadership were clearly dominant in the first 100
years of this fire company. Henceforth,
the Station 5 Annex shall be known as the Raymond K. Spencer Memorial Annex.
Ray’s fire service legacy extends well beyond his affiliation with Co.
5. His son, Gilbert, a nearly 60-year
member of this company, went on to spend 35 years as a member of the Hamden
Fire Department, retiring in 1992 as a Battalion Chief. Ray’s grandson, John Spencer, son of
Gilbert, is presently a Hamden Fire Department Battalion Chief in his 25th
year of service.