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Wakefield Fire Department - 2007 Annual Report

I am pleased to present the Annual Report of the Wakefield Fire Department for calendar year 2007.

The biggest challenge to the department in 2007 was trying to maintain the same level of fire and life safety services to the community with a continued level funded budget. The fire department budget has essentially been level funded for several years, despite the cost of fuel, equipment repairs and in general, the cost of doing business increasing constantly. The department has been relying on grants and private donations to continue to operate on a day-to-day basis.

The Wakefield Fire Department was the recipient of several gifts from local businesses / organizations during 2007, including an $ 8,000 gift from Alcoa-Reynolds Food Packaging that was used to fund our school fire safety education program; $ 1,500 from the Rotary Club of Wakefield that was used to purchase water rescue equipment; and a $ 7,000 donation from Smurfit-Stone Packaging Co. which we used to purchase a new and improved Thermal Imaging Camera.

The fire and police departments are grateful to Hartshorne Insurance Co. for once again sponsoring the printing of an updated pocket size Wakefield street and information guide book that has been distributed to all firefighters, police officers and Action Ambulance personnel.

Emergency Incident Response

During 2007 the Wakefield Fire Department responded to 2,531 emergency incidents, including 2070 Still Alarms and 461 Box Alarms.

On Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 1:24 PM the Wakefield Fire Department responded to a 2 alarm fire at 246 Salem Street. This fire, which was started accidentally by a candle, heavily damaged a first floor apartment in a 4-unit apartment building. An aggressive attack by firefighters under the direction of Captain John F. Brown, Jr. kept the fire in the apartment of origin, stopping it before it could spread throughout the building. Although there were no injuries, 12 residents of the building were displaced by this fire.

On Saturday, June 2, 2007 at 4:27 PM the department responded to a serious house fire at 39 Hopkins Street. The fire, which started in an outside rubbish container, spread up the exterior of the house and into the attic via an attic vent opening. The fire was spreading across the attic of the colonial style home when it was stopped by firefighters. This was an excellent fire-ground operation supervised by Captain Richard Smith and Lieutenant Joseph Riley. The actions of the firefighters prevented much more serious damage / destruction to this home.

There were several notable emergency incidents during August, including a strong wind squall that hit the town on the evening of August 8th felling trees, branches and power lines and the rescue of an elderly resident of a local nursing home who fell down a dumbwaiter shaft on August 4th. At this incident, under the direction of Lieut. Steven Kessel, Firefighter Brian Purcell lowered Firefighter Thomas Curran down the shaft where he secured the victim, and then, joined by Firefighters Gary Hill and Chris Crogan, lifted her to safety after suffering only minor injuries. An excellent job was done by all involved!

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 54 mutual aid requests during 2007, including a response to a 4-alarm building fire in Stoneham Square that occurred on the evening of October 23rd, where Wakefield Lieut. Kevin Carney, and Firefighters Philip Rogers and Chris Crogan played a pivotal role in preventing the fire from spreading to the Stoneham Theatre building, just 2 feet away from the original-main fire building. The department responded to Gloucester on December 15th when Wakefield Engine 2 responded to assist the Gloucester Fire Department in battling a major fatal fire involving an apartment building and Temple in the congested downtown area of the city. Wakefield Firefighters pumped water to the fire from a hydrant on Rogers Street. This was only the second response to Gloucester in our department’s history, the other occurring on February 4th, 1961 when Wakefield Engine 1 responded to a major department store fire in downtown Gloucester, just 2-blocks from the 2007 fire.

Personnel

As of December 31, 2007, the Wakefield Fire Department consisted of forty-six (46) uniformed personnel: the Fire Chief; five (5) captains, including the Fire Prevention Officer; four (4) lieutenants; thirty-six firefighters; and a civilian Administrative Secretary.

Firefighter Russell C. Berube retired from the Wakefield Fire Department on October 29, 2007. Firefighter Berube was appointed a Permanent Firefighter on October 28, 1976 and also served as the Superintendent of Fire Alarm and Traffic Signals as well as the department’s Fire Investigator. We thank Russ for his 31 years of service to the Wakefield Fire Department and we wish him a happy and healthy retirement.

Mr. Jonathan O’Brien was appointed a Permanent Firefighter effective on January 1, 2007. Firefighter O’Brien, a Wakefield resident and son of retired Wakefield Police Detective John O’Brien, actually comes to Wakefield through a civil service lateral transfer from the Winchester Fire Department, where he served as a Firefighter – Paramedic for 2 years. During his service with the Winchester Fire Department, Firefighter O’Brien completed the Mass. Firefighting Academy Recruit Training Program.

Firefighter Shawn Hudson resigned from the Wakefield Fire Department on July 5, 2007 for personal reasons. Firefighter Hudson was appointed to the Wakefield Fire department on July 1, 1999 and was an excellent member of the department. We wish Shawn good health and good luck in his future endeavors. To fill Firefighter Hudson’s vacancy, Ms. Marnie E. Sheeran was re-instated as a Permanent Firefighter effective on October 1, 2007.

Firefighter Daniel P. Sullivan received a commendation for his quick actions on October 18, 2007. Firefighter Sullivan, off-duty at the time, was the first to arrive at a working kitchen fire at a home on Auburn Street, where he quickly notified the fire department via cell phone, removed an occupant from the home, and then using a garden hose controlled the fire until the arrival of firefighters.

Apparatus and Equipment

The fire department’s new Seagrave Maruader II pumper - Engine 1 - was placed into service on Thursday, April 26, 2007. The former Engine 1, a 1996 Seagrave pumper was designated as Engine 4 and re-assigned to the Greenwood Station as our ready-reserve pumper. The new pumper is constructed of stainless steel, is powered by a Detroit Diesel engine, and has a 1,250 Gallon-Per-Minute Watrous pump, a 750-gallon water tank and a 30-gallon foam tank.

The former Engine 4, a 1986 Mack Pumper was transferred to the Reading Fire Department to be used as a spare-reserve pumper that both Wakefield and Reading will share in the event of a major breakdown, etc.

On Saturday, April 21st, a ceremony was held at the Greenwood Fire Station officially dedicating the new pumper in memory of L. Murray Young, who passed away suddenly on November 30, 2006. Mr. Young was a life-long resident of Wakefield, a widely known fire buff, Wakefield Fire Department historian and avid supporter. Mr. Young contributed so much to the town and the fire department; it was only fitting that the new pumper that he aided in designing be dedicated in his memory.

On April 17th, 2007, each member of the Wakefield Fire Department was issued his/her own portable fire radio, and additional battery hand lights were purchased and distributed throughout the department. A $ 7,800 Massachusetts State Equipment Grant funded both of these firefighter safety improvements.

All of the department’s equipment, apparatus, hose, ladders, breathing apparatus, etc. were inspected, tested and certified during 2007.

Training

During 2007 the Wakefield Fire Department conducted training sessions covering the following topics:

Firefighters Roberta Taggart and Marnie E. Sheeran graduated from the Mass. Firefighting Academy Recruit Training Program during 2007.

Regretfully, due to a lack of funding to support the necessary ongoing specialized training, the Technical Rescue and Dive Rescue Teams remained on “inactive” status during 2007.

Fire Prevention - Fire Safety Education

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 inspections were conducted by the firefighting shift on-duty, on a ready-to respond basis. Several fire emergency evacuation drills were also conducted at each school facility, and the department assisted in the full-scale evacuation – relocation drills practiced by each school during 2007.

October is traditionally Fire Prevention Month, and firefighters, coordinated by Fire Prevention Officer Captain Paul J. Pronco and Captain Michael Sullivan and utilizing a gift from Alcoa-Reynolds Food Packaging Co., once again visited all of the public and private elementary schools with the Fire Safety House, an excellent hands-on fire safety education tool that has been very popular and effective in presenting vital fire safety and burn prevention information to our school children.

The fire department actively participated in another very successful “Common Ground” event held on the Wakefield Common on August 18th. This event, sponsored annually by the Wakefield-Lynnfield Elks Club, features the police, fire, public works and the gas-light departments displaying their equipment and meeting the community. The department also worked closely monitoring the annual Fourth of July fireworks, several blasting projects around the town and the construction – completion of the massive Wakefield Crossing Condominium complex off Albion and Ballister Streets.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I am grateful to the community and especially our Selectmen, Finance Committee and our Town Administrator Thomas P. Butler for their ongoing support. As I look forward to 2008 and beyond, my goals are to keep the department fully staffed and both fire stations operational and to continue our apparatus replacement program.

I would like to thank all the members of the Wakefield Fire Department, the Wakefield Auxiliary Fire Department, the Wakefield Police Department, all other town boards, committees and departments and the citizens of Wakefield for their continued support and assistance.

Respectfully submitted,

Chief David L. Parr
Wakefield Fire Department

Further reading:

Reports from previous years:

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