The Emergency Management Department 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).
Wakefield continues as an active member of the 16 community Mystic Regional Emergency Planning Committee (REPC). The Mystic REPC meets 10 times during the year and works to conduct and coordinate emergency exercises and procedures throughout the area encompassed by its members.
Wakefield subscribes to Swiftreach Networks, an emergency notification telephone system that allows town officials to immediately notify residents and businesses via telephone of emergency situations and important community and school information.
During 2011 no local emergency shelters were opened.
The Wakefield Auxiliary Fire Department operates under the auspices of Emergency Management. During 2011, Auxiliary Captain Richard Harrington, Auxiliary Lieutenant Robert Sartori, and Auxiliary Firefighters Kevin Boyle, Al Catanzaro, Matthew Harrington, Michael Parr, and Matthew Nichols attended weekly training sessions and responded to emergencies as necessary. These men also volunteered their time at many civic events and activities. Their commitment to the community is commendable and worthy of recognition.
The Town of Wakefield experienced several significant weather-related emergencies during 2011.
A severe winter storm struck the community on January 11-12, depositing more than 16 inches of snow on top of the already significant snow accumulations from several storms in December of 2010. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick declared a State of Emergency due to blizzard conditions resulting from this storm. Firefighters as well as members of the Department of Public Works and Municipal Light Departments worked continually to keep fire hydrants and streets cleared and power on throughout town. FEMA allowed many cities and towns to apply for federal assistance since in many cases their snow removal budgets had been exhausted.
Hurricane Irene came up the east coast of the United States and struck New England during the weekend of August 27-28. The Town implemented its emergency plan for the storm and responded to many reports of downed trees and power lines caused by the high winds. Fortunately, Wakefield did not experience the severe flooding which occurred in portions of western Massachusetts and Vermont. Blocked roads were quickly cleared by public works crews and all power outages were efficiently dealt with by the Municipal Gas and Light Department. The most serious storm-related incident occurred when a large pine tree fell onto and crushed a home on Minot Street. Fortunately there were no injuries as a result of the storm.
Several months later the town was hit by an early winter storm during the weekend of October 29-30. This storm deposited four inches of heavy wet snow in the Wakefield area, accumulating on trees still filled with leaves, bringing dozens of them down. Approximately 3,300 households and businesses in Wakefield lost power at some point during the weekend. Police, Fire, Public Works and Municipal Light Department crews responded to incidents involving downed wires, fallen trees and damaged electrical services in an efficient and timely manner. Their prompt response and cooperation ensured that citizens were safeguarded at all times until repairs could be made and power restored.
These three storms continue to demonstrate the value to the town in having its own municipal power supply company staffed with dedicated employees serving the Town of Wakefield. All town departments, particularly the Police, Fire, Health, Public Works and School Departments cooperated to make emergency planning run as smoothly as possible under the circumstances. Wakefield should be extremely proud of how its emergency management team pulled together during these emergency incidents.
The town received a total of $129,910.00 in FEMA reimbursements for costs associated with the winter storm of January 11-12. Reimbursements for Hurricane Irene and the snow storm of October 29-30 are stilling pending and will hopefully be received in the next few months. Wakefield received an emergency equipment distribution grant from the Northeast Homeland Security Regional Advisory Council (NERAC) in the amount of $16,380 in October. The grant allowed Wakefield to purchase equipment including trash pumps, emergency generators, A-frame barricades, traffic cones, portable shelters and a mobile equipment trailer. A $9,000 Emergency Management Performance Grant was awarded to Wakefield in 2011. This grant allowed the town to purchase a projector, a smart board and two large LCD television monitors that were subsequently installed in the community room at the Public Safety Building, which serves as the Emergency Operations Center in Wakefield. A matching grant totaling another $24,000 was just awarded to the town in December. Funds from this grant will improve the uninterrupted power supply (UPS) protection for equipment inside the Emergency Operations Center.
Additional grant awards are anticipated during 2012.
I wish to express 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 Wakefield Auxiliary Fire Department for their service during 2011.
Fire Chief Michael J. Sullivan
Emergency Management Director