I am pleased to present the Annual Report of the Wakefield Fire Department for calendar year 2003.
EMERGENCY INCIDENT RESPONSE
During 2003, the Wakefield Fire Department responded to 2,620 emergency incidents. There were six (6) serious fires during 2003 that required transmission of a multiple alarm and the response of mutual aid from our neighboring communities, which is double the average number of multiple alarm fires per year.
The Town of Wakefield was shocked and saddened by the tragic death of Peter A. Sokol, age 16, in a fire at his home at 28 Old Nahant Road on the afternoon of Wednesday, December 17. The fire, which required two alarms to contain, extensively damaged the home, and apparently started when the victim entered the home with his clothing on fire. This tragic pre-holiday fire triggered a tremendous outpouring of support for the large and well-known Sokol family, a response for which the Wakefield community should be very proud.
Two alarms were required to control and extinguish house fires that occurred at 747 Main Street on February 19, 17 Millbrook Lane on March 10, 2 Dell Avenue on December 12, and 69 Green Street on December 29. A large apartment building at 41 Richardson Avenue was the scene of a two-alarm fire on Sunday, November 2.
Other incidents that challenged the fire department during 2003 included a house fire at 97 Pleasant Street on March 4, and a spectacular fire at a New Salem Street construction repair garage on December 5th. The department also responded to a hazardous materials incident involving the illegal and improper storage of ammunition and chemicals at a vacant Cedar Street home on June 16.
Although it was a busy and challenging year for the department, we have determined that all of these fires were of an accidental cause. Furthermore, we are fortunate that we did not experience any serious injuries to our firefighters during firefighting operations.
As usually is the case, weather played a major role in fire department operations during 2003. A heavy snowstorm hit the town during the President's Day weekend holiday of February 16-17, and another "early" snowstorm on December 6-7 dumped 27 inches of snow. Both storms kept the department busy in responding to emergency calls and in shoveling out the many hydrants throughout the community.
Several severe lightning storms passed through the town on August 3, 13, and 22, all keeping the department busy with emergency incidents. Fortunately several lightning strikes did not result in any serious fires.
As of December 31, 2003, the Wakefield Fire Department comprised forty-six (46) uniformed personnel, including the Fire Chief; five (5) Captains, including the Fire Prevention Officer; four (4) Lieutenants; (36) Firefighters; and a civilian Administrative Secretary. There are four (4) firefighter positions vacant in the department, due to town fiscal constraints. Presently, these vacancies are being covered by firefighters working overtime shifts to ensure coverage at both of our fire stations.
Captain David J. Lowry retired from the Wakefield Fire Department on January 16, after serving the town and department for thirty years. Firefighter Thomas S. Labriola retired from the department on December 22, after 27 years of dedicated service. We thank them for their service to the town, and wish them both a happy and healthy retirement.
To fill the vacancy created by Captain Lowry's retirement, Fire Lieutenant Richard P. Smith was promoted to Fire Captain, and Firefighter Kevin P. Carney promoted to Fire Lieutenant, both promotions effective April 24, 2003.
APPARATUS & EQUIPMENT
This past May, the fire department obtained a new, 14-foot Car Mate storage trailer that has been equipped with absorbent materials, booms, and other equipment that can be used to control and contain a large-scale spill of petroleum products. (gasoline, oil, diesel fuel). In September, the department received 22 new Scott Air Pac Fifty self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), purchased using a $123,000 FIRE Act Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This purchase represents a significant step towards acquiring all new breathing apparatus and related accessories, which are the most important safety equipment used by our firefighters.
The Wakefield Fire Department received several generous donations during the year, including two gifts from the Smurfit-Stone Paper Corporation of Audubon Road. Smurfit-Stone donated $5,000 to continue funding of our SAFE (Student Awareness of Fire Education) School Education Program after the state funding for this important program was eliminated, and $10,000 which was used to purchase five new, state-of-the-art semi-automatic cardiac defibrillators for the department. The owners of the Edgewater Office Park donated $5,000 towards the continued training of our Dive Rescue Team, and the Hartshorne Insurance Agency sponsored the distribution of updated street and fire alarm pocket directories to firefighters, police officers and Action Ambulance Paramedics. We are very grateful for this support from the community.
Training is a vital component of the operation of any fire department. In addition to our ongoing review of basic firefighting and rescue skills, the department trained with the department's rescue boats and rescue tools. We also continued our successful program of pre-planning the layout and hazards of newly constructed or renovated buildings. Firefighters conducted training at the new Woodville School on Farm Street and at the new Water Treatment facility on Broadway, a facility which presents several hazardous-materials challenges to emergency service responders.
The department also participated in several specialized training programs: our bi-annual Emergency Medical Technician/First Responder re-certification training; the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy "Flashover Simulator" training class held in conjunction with the Reading Fire Department; and specialized training in administering an "Epi-Pen." The "Epi-Pen" training allows a Firefighter/EMT to administer a dose of the drug epinephrine to a victim experiencing an adverse allergic reaction to a bee sting, shellfish, peanut butter, etc.
In August the department was allowed to train in the Metalcrafters building on Lowell Street just prior to the building's demolition. The building provided a great venue for training using our inventory of power tools for ventilation and forcible entry under controlled circumstances. The department is grateful to the Tucker family for making this training possible.
Although the department expected to complete the move from our temporary facilities to the new, $10.3 million dollar Public Safety Building during 2003, several construction delays have pushed the move into 2004. We anxiously await the transition to the new facilities, which will be the department's major project for 2004.
FIRE PREVENTION - FIRE SAFETY EDUCATION
In addition to his responsibility for fire prevention code enforcement, Fire Prevention Officer Captain Michael J. Sullivan continues to present an excellent fire prevention and fire safety education program in Wakefield. The SAFE Program, funded by a state grant and a donation from the Smurfit-Stone Paper Company of Wakefield, allows firefighters to reach every elementary-level student in the town's public and private schools. In addition to a classroom presentation on fire prevention and fire safety, students also visit the METROFIRE Fire Safety Trailer, a fire safety educational tool that allows students to practice what they learn in the classroom.
All commercial and industrial properties in town were inspected at least once during the year, and all schools, nursing homes, and hotels/lodging houses were inspected quarterly, all by the firefighting shift on-duty, ready to respond basis. Several fire emergency evacuation drills were also conducted at each school facility.
Captain Sullivan applied for and received a special state grant that provides the department with a supply of smoke detectors equipped with special 10-year duration Lithium batteries. These smoke detectors are targeted for installation in residences where the occupant(s) cannot routinely and regularly test their smoke detectors, including the residences of the elderly and special-needs population. Many of the installations made in 2003 were in homes where there had been no smoke detectors previously installed. This has become a very popular and valuable program, which the department looks forward continuing in 2004.
We continue to be concerned with the fiscal crisis that has hit the state and the town. The fire department experienced a 4.8% cut in the FY 2004 budget. We will continue to work diligently with town officials to provide emergency services from the Central and Greenwood Fire Stations into 2004, and we hope that we will see an improved fiscal climate as we prepare for FY 2005.
In conclusion, I would like to thank all of the members of the Wakefield Fire Department, the Wakefield Auxiliary Fire Department, the Wakefield Police Department, all other town boards, committees, departments and the citizens of Wakefield for their continued support and assistance.
Chief David L. Parr
Wakefield Fire Department
BOX ALARMS = 464
Medical emergency / motor vehicle accident responses = 1,546
Alarm malfunctions / accidental alarms investigations = 333
Public assistance / public service responses = 141
Investigations of hazards, gas & smoke odors = 119
Mutual aid responses to other communities = 68
Water hazard emergency responses = 72
Appliance fires / emergencies / food on stove = 67
Heating system emergency responses = 36
Electrical fires / emergency responses = 62
Hazardous materials incident responses = 46
Carbon Monoxide detector investigations = 28
Structure / Building fires = 25
Brush & grass fires = 30
Motor vehicle fires = 18
Rubbish & dumpster fires = 13
Malicious false alarms = 9
Rescue responses (water rescue, elevator rescue) = 7
Mutual aid assistance received by Wakefield during 2001 = 50 times
SECOND ALARM FIRES
… Box 14 - 747 Main Street - 4:13 PM - February 19, 2003
… Box 3211 - 17 Millbrook Lane - 10:38 AM- March 10, 2003
… Box 3533 - 41 Richardson Avenue - 10:39 AM - November 2, 2003
… Box 245 - 2 Dell Avenue - 7:50 PM - December 12, 2003
… Box 317 - 28 Old Nahant Road - 3:51 PM - December 17, 2003
… Box 112 - 69 Green Street - 10:04 AM - December 29, 2003
|1 ‡" Hose||2,000 feet|
|1 æ" Hose||6,400 feet|
|4" Hose||2,750 feet|
|Air Masks Used||117 times|
|Salvage Covers Used||8 times|
|Smoke Ejectors Used||24 times|
|Fire Extinguishers Used||11 times|
APPARATUS RESPONSES FOR 2003
|Engine 1 - 1996 Seagrave Pumper||370||1,390||1,760|
|Engine 2 - 2000 Seagrave Pumper||411||434||845|
|Engine 4 - 1986 Mack/Pirsch Pumper (Reserve)||8||5||13|
|Ladder 1 - 1995 Seagrave 100í Aerial||347||358||705|
|Car 6 - 1998 Chevrolet Utility Truck||52||180||232|
Car 1 - 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD Utility Vehicle - Assigned to the Fire Chief
Car 2 - 1994 Chevrolet Blazer 4WD Utility Vehicle - Assigned to Fire Prevention
Dive Rescue - 1994 Ford E-350 Van
Marine Unit(s) - 1980 13í Boston Whaler & 1995 10í Avon Rubber Rescue Boat
Technical Rescue Trailer - 2000 Car Mate 18í Cargo Trailer
Haz Mat Trailer - 2003 Car Mate 14' Cargo Trailer
FIRE PREVENTION REPORT FOR 2003
Smoke Detector Certificates Issued = 430
Oil Burner Permits Issued = 160
Oil Storage Permitted (Gallons) = 45,100
Propane Gas Storage Permits Issued = 25
Flammable Liquid Storage Permits Issued = 4
Sprinkler System Inspection,Test, Service Permits Issued = 85
Fire Alarm System Inspection, Test, Service Permits Issued = 200
Blasting Permits Issue = 14
Underground Fuel Tank Removal Permits Issued = 32
Cutting / Welding / Torch Permits Issued = 12
New Fire Protection System Installation Permits Issued = 103
Open Air Burning Permits Issued (Jan. - May) = 188
In Service Fire Prevention Inspections Conducted = 523
Quarterly Inspections Conducted
= 98 (Schools, Hotels/Lodging Houses, Nursing Homes)
REPORT OF THE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT DIRECTOR - 2003
The Emergency Management Agency prepares for natural and manmade disasters, serving as the local branch of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) met regularly during the year 2003. The committee, comprising most public safety/public service department heads as well as school officials, reviews our preparedness for emergencies. As Emergency Management Director, I attended many meetings and seminars on various topics, including an excellent two-day conference on emergency preparedness held in May.
The agency devoted considerable time to many surveys providing state and federal officials with information towards a domestic preparedness strategy or plan. We continue to upgrade and revise our local Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan.
Wakefield continues to subscribe to the Community Alert Network, a "reverse 9-1-1" telephone system that allows town officials to immediately notify residents and businesses via telephone of emergency situations and important community/school information. The system was utilized on several occasions during 2003 and is considered by town officials to be very successful and a worthwhile investment in emergency preparedness.
The Wakefield Auxiliary Fire Department operates under the auspices of Emergency Management. During 2003, Auxiliary Captain Russell Barr, Auxiliary Lieutenant Richard Harrington, and Auxiliary Firefighters Al Catanzaro, Lori Cole, Matthew Harrington, Melissa Howard, Michael Parr and Robert Sartori donated over 1,200 hours of volunteer service to the community. This total includes weekly training sessions, response to multiple alarm fires and other emergencies and stand-by at various public events throughout the year.
The Auxiliary Fire Department Squad Truck is a 1971 Mack chassis with a 1956 rescue-style body, which we use primarily as our lighting/emergency power unit. This vehicle is in poor condition and in need of replacement, which we hope can be accomplished during 2004.
My sincere thanks to all department heads and their supervisors for their continued cooperation and assistance in serving on the Local Emergency Planning Committee, and to the volunteer members of the Auxiliary Fire Department for their service during 2003.
Chief David L. Parr
Emergency Management Director