Wakefield Fire Department News

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December 2005

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 240 emergency incidents during the month of December 2005 including 42 Box Alarms and 198 Still Alarms. The department was kept quite busy during the late afternoon – early evening hours of December 6, when a malfunction in the natural gas delivery system created gas odors in many homes in town, particularly in the East Side – Montrose area. Although no dangerous levels of gas were found, Firefighters and Municipal Gas & Light Department employees checked each property that reported an odor of gas.

We are very pleased to report that Fire Lieutenant Paul J. Pronco was promoted to Fire Captain, and Firefighter Francis R. Hudson was promoted to Fire Lieutenant, both promotions effective on December 1, 2005. Captain Pronco replaces Fire Captain Peter E. Hubbard, Jr. who retired in July of 2005, and will be assigned as the department’s Fire Prevention Officer, a position that has been vacant for 5 months. Fire Lieutenant Hudson replaced newly promoted Captain Pronco on Group# 4 at the Greenwood Station, and Marnie E. Sheeran of 27 Spruce Street, Wakefield, was appointed a Permanent Firefighter effective on December 8, 2005. Firefighter Sheeran fills the firefighter vacancy created by Lieutenant Hudson’s promotion.

Wakefield Firefighters John Walsh, Joseph Nee, and Kenneth Lyons graduated from the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy – Recruit Firefighter Training Program. This is an 11-week program conducted at the Fire Academy facility in Stow that is provided at no cost to the community, and affords our newest firefighters with excellent BASIC firefighting training.

During December the department conducted training on LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) tanker trucks, their hazards and safety features, and hosted a Massachusetts Firefighting Academy training program entitled “Structural Hazards.” This excellent 3-hour program instructed firefighters on the many hazards in building construction that could lead to an early collapse / structural failure of a building involved in a fire.

We are grateful for the filling of the Fire Prevention Officer’s position, as during December we were kept quite busy conducting the final occupancy inspections of over twenty new condominiums at the Wakefield Crossing complex on Albion Street. In addition to inspecting the overall building, each condo unit had to inspected and approved individually, an important and time-consuming project.

November 2005

We responded to 227 emergency incidents during the month of November 2005 including 28 Box Alarms and 199 Still Alarms.

During November the department’s SCBA (self contained breathing apparatus) were inspected, tested and repaired as necessary, and the department’s UHF radio system also received its annual testing and “tune-up” during the month.

Firefighters took a pre-fire planning tour of the two massive, new condominium buildings at the Wakefield Crossing development off Albion and Ballister Streets. This project is nearing completion and being of lightweight wood truss construction represents a target hazard for the fire department. Firefighters familiarized themselves with the general building layout, the fire sprinkler system and fire alarm system.

The department continues to monitor two significant blasting projects ongoing in town; one at Druid Hill Avenue in the Greenwood section and another at the build out / expansion of the Heron Pond Condominiums off Salem Street in Montrose.

We are pleased to report that the Firefighters Ball - Retirement Reception that was held on Friday, November 11, 2005 was a great success. In addition to bringing both past and present members of the department together, the evening served as a great venue to honor the six Wakefield Firefighters and Officers that have retired this year (2005), representing nearly 200 years of service to the Town of Wakefield.

October 2005

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 242 emergency incidents during the month of October 2005 including 39 Box Alarms and 203 Still Alarms.

The fire department and the municipal gas & light department were kept busy during the afternoon and early evening hours of October 29th, when a early season snowstorm dumped several inches of snow on Wakefield. Although the heavy, wet snow did not last long, it did last long enough to bring down branches and power lines, keeping both departments busy!!

There were two special training programs presented to the department during October. First, all members of the department participated in our annual vehicle extrication training program involving training with our hydraulic and air powered rescue tools including the “Jaws of Life”. We thank Howe’s Towing of Wakefield for again making their tow yard and wrecked cars available for this important training. The department also participated in a combined drill with the Reading and North Reading Fire Departments reviewing the set-up and operation of the Mobile De-Contamination Unit (MDU). The MDU is a trailer-mounted apparatus that are strategically located throughout the state, and are used to de-contaminate a large number of victims that have been exposed to a hazardous materials, biological agents, etc.

During October, the department conducted fire / emergency evacuation drills at each public and private school facility, and participated in the annual Haz-Mat Collection Day, sponsored by the DPW and held on October 29th at the High School on Farm Street.

The Wakefield Fire Department welcomed three new firefighters to the department on October 3rd, replacing firefighters that had retired from the department earlier this year. Robert J. Brown of 8 Putnam Avenue, John J. Hurley of 21 Armory Street, and Richard B. Cardavelli of 17 Lawrence Street all received two weeks of intensive training and will attend the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Recruit Firefighter Training Program as soon as space permits.

Late in October, the department received authorization to fill the position of Fire Prevention Officer, which has been vacant since Captain Peter E. Hubbard retired on July 5, 2005. We are grateful that this position will be filled and that we will again be giving full attention to the many fire prevention code enforcement and emergency management issues facing the department.

September 2005

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 23 emergency incidents during the month of September 2005 including 47 Box Alarms and 186 Still Alarms.

During September all of the department’s vehicles received their annual motor vehicle inspection with a new “sticker” issued to each vehicle. This project is completed in conjunction with the Department of Public Works Fleet Maintenance Division.

Members of the department received two specialized training programs during September. The first program was the National Incident Management System (NIMS) training program that was presented to all department members by the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy. The second program was an excellent presentation made by Mr. Joe Grassa of the MBTA concerning the dangers of alternative fueled vehicles; specifically the new compressed natural gas fueled buses being utilized by the MBTA.

With the start of the 2005-2006 school year, firefighters conducted school fire drills during the first week of school, as required by state law. However, the department continues to struggle without a full-time Fire Prevention Officer. This is a very important position to the department, and we are finding that critical inspection and follow-up fire prevention work is not being completed in a timely fashion. We hope that the position can be filled as soon as possible.

In the area of emergency management, we continue to work closely with the Mystic Regional Emergency Planning Committee, as time permits. The regional committee is looking to hold several full-scale disaster exercises in 2006, and we continue to work with the Northeast Homeland Security Council to obtain supplies to stock Wakefield’s emergency shelter at the Wakefield High School.

August 2005

We responded to 243 emergency incidents during the month of August 2005 including 44 Box Alarms and 199 Still Alarms. The busiest day for the department during August was Sunday the fourteenth, when a severe thunderstorm passed through Wakefield. This storm resulted in five direct lightning strikes that required fire department response, but although there was damage, fortunately there were not any fires as a result.

During August the fire department’s 100-foot aerial ladder and all of our portable ladders were inspected and tested. As a result of this inspection, Ladder One received itrsquo;s annual preventive maintenance servicing, where all problems noted during the inspection were repaired / serviced.

The department had the opportunity to conduct training on a vacant house located at 414 Salem Street (Heron Pond) just prior to its demolition, and the department conducted review training on our dispatching operations / procedures.

Another feature of August was our participation in the Common Ground event, sponsored again this summer by the Wakefield Lodge of Elks. This is a terrific event that allows the community to see fire, police, public works, and other public safety / public service agencies up close and personal. In addition to having the department equipment on display, firefighters performed a demonstration of our auto extrication tools and equipment for the crowd assembled, which was very well received.

The department continues to struggle without a full-time Fire Prevention Officer. This is a very important position to the department, and we are finding that critical inspection and follow-up fire prevention work is not being completed in a timely fashion. We hope that the position can and will be filled as soon as possible.

July 2005

July was a very busy month for the Wakefield Fire Department, responding to 281 emergency incidents including 29 Box Alarms and 252 Still Alarms. Much of the department’s responses during July were typical of the summer season, including an increase in medical emergencies, motor vehicle / bicycle accidents and brush and grass fires.

The most serious incident that the department responded to in July was a 2-alarm fire involving the dumbwaiter system at the Greenwoods Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Greenwood Street. This fire, which occurred at 8:03 AM on July 26, filled the second floor of this old 2-story wood constructed nursing home with smoke. Quick actions by the nursing home staff coupled with a fast response of Greenwood’s Engine 2 controlled the fire and evacuated the residents without incident.

The department was busy during July handling many different activities, including the annual Fourth of July parade and fireworks display. The department was honored to participate and assist with the funeral of State Police Officer Vincent Cila, a Wakefield resident, who was killed in the performance of his duties on Friday, July 22nd.

Regretfully, the department’s Technical Rescue and Dive Rescue Teams were placed into “inactive” status on July 29, 2005, due to the fiscal crisis that the town and fire department are experiencing. Both of these special operations teams require continuous training to remain proficient, and without the funding to support the needed training, their operations could become a safety and liability factor to the town. The firefighters serving on these teams have devoted a large amount of time to the intensive training involved in these specialties, and they were a valuable resource to the department and the town. I hope that we can somehow find the funding/grants in the near future to restore these teams to “active” status.

Retired Firefighter LockhartRetired FF John LockhartFirefighter John F. Lockhart retired from the Wakefield Fire Department on July 5th, 2005, after serving the fire department for nearly 29 years. Firefighter Lockhart was appointed a Permanent Firefighter on November 2, 1976. Firefighter Lockhart leaves the department with our thanks for his dedicated service and our wishes for a happy and healthy retirement.

Retired Fire Captain Peter HubbardRetired Fire Captain
Peter Hubbard
Wakefield Fire Captain Peter E. Hubbard, Jr. retired from the Wakefield Fire Department on July 5th, 2005 after serving the fire department for 37 years. Hubbard was appointed a Permanent Firefighter on July 1, 1968; promoted to Fire Lieutenant on August 4, 1977; and promoted to Fire Captain on July 19, 1979. At the time of his retirement, Hubbard was both the senior member and senior Captain in the fire department. Captain Hubbard served as the Acting Fire Chief from February of 1992 until August of 1993 after the retirement of Chief Walter V. Maloney. Captain Hubbard also leaves the department with our thanks for his dedicated service and our wishes for a happy and healthy retirement.

With the retirement of Captain Hubbard, Fire Prevention Officer Captain Michael J. Sullivan was transferred to fill Captain Hubbard’s position with Group # 4, leaving the Fire Prevention Officer position vacant. Considering the increased emphasis on fire prevention code compliance as a result of the Station Nightclub fire in West Warwick Rhode Island, coupled with the huge amount of building construction / renovation underway in Wakefield, this has become an extremely important position in the operation of the Wakefield Fire Department. It is hoped that the fiscal situation will allow this position to be filled as soon as possible.

June 2005

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 233 emergency incidents during June 2005, including 33 Box Alarms and 200 Still Alarms.

outside fire at hart's hill apartmentsHart's Hill fire extinguishedThe most serious incident that the department responded to in June was a fire involving plastic outdoor furniture located on an exterior porch of the Housing Authority property at Harts Hill Road on June 17th. This fire, caused by careless disposal of smoking materials, was discovered early and controlled by firefighters before it was able to spread to the interior of this multi-unit residential building.

The department was busy during June handling many different activities, including Firefighters Memorial Sunday Services on June 12th; conducting quarterly fire inspections of schools, nursing homes and lodging houses / hotels; and fire evacuation drills of all school facilities before they dismissed for the year.

The department also participated in the “Stand Down for Firefighter Safety” that was held on June 21st. This was a nationwide effort to emphasize firefighter safety operating at emergency incidents in light of the increasing number of firefighter fatalities and injuries thus far in 2005. In Wakefield we reviewed existing safety operating policies and procedures and introduced several new initiatives in an effort to stress the safety of our firefighters.

Firefighter Kenneth B. Alexander retired from the Wakefield Fire Department on June 30th, 2005, after serving the fire department for nearly 29 years. Firefighter Alexander was appointed a Permanent Firefighter on October 28, 1976. Firefighter Alexander leaves the department with our thanks for his dedicated service and our wishes for a happy and healthy retirement.

The Wakefield Fire Department / Emergency Management Agency also participated in a Tabletop Emergency Exercise sponsored by the local 5 community coalition of health departments on June 28th. This exercise, held at Wakefield’s Public Safety Building / Community Room reviewed operations in a simulated terrorist incident involving a biological agent, and was a very worthwhile exercise.

May 2005

In May, we responded to 243 emergency incidents, including 35 Box Alarms and 208 Still Alarms.

The most spectacular incident that we handled during the month was a huge brush fire that devoured a large area of the Reed Meadow Marsh between Wakefield and Lynnfield at 5:00pm on the afternoon of May 12th. The fire, fanned by high winds, sept in behind the office buildings at 401, 601, and 701 Edgewater Park and also at the very end of Audubon Road before being controlled by firefighters. Although structure were not seriously threatened, firefighters did have difficult in reaching the scene due to heavy rush hour traffic coupled with onlookers attracted to the fire by the huge volumes of black smoke produced by the burning swamp grass.

Other incidents handled by the department included a smoky fire in a processing machine at the 128 Corporate Place facility on Audubon Road on May 20th, many responses to trees and wires down during a wind & rain storm on May 25th, and we assisted the Woburn and Stoneham Fire Departments in dealing with an oil truck rollover on Montvale Avenue on the evening of May 16th. Wakefield sent our Haz Mat Response trailer that was used to help contain the leaking oil from entering storm drains.

Retired Firefighter Al UvaRetired FF Al UvaFirefighter Albert D. Uva retired from the Wakefield Fire Department on May 31st, 2005, after serving the fire department for nearly 33 years. Firefighter Uva was appointed a Permanent Firefighter on August 24, 1972. Firefighter Uva leaves the department with our thanks for his dedicated service and our wishes for a happy and healthy retirement.

Wakefield participated in a large scale Tabletop Emergency Exercise held in Malden on May 24th. This exercise involved the fifteen communities that are members of the Mystic Regional Emergency Planning Committee and involved a terrorist - hazardous materials - multi-casualty incident. The exercise was a very informative and beneficial event to our emergency management team.

Finally, using a Federal Homeland Security Grant, a propane gas fired emergency generator was installed at the Hart’s Hill Water Tank on Sidney Street, that will now provide emergency power to the Fire, Police and Gas & Light Department’s main radio transmitters, located at the water tank.

April 2005

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 217 emergency incidents during the month of April, including 40 Box Alarms and 177 Still Alarms.

We assisted neighboring Stoneham Fire Department on two occasions. One, a 4-alarm house fire on Lincoln Street on April 20th, and the other, a 3-alarm house fire on Dean Street on April 26th.

Five new firefighters joined the Wakefield Fire Department on April 1st, 2005, as follows:

The five newly appointed firefighters replace five members of the department that have retired during the past year. They have undergone two weeks of basic, introductory training at fire headquarters under the direction of Lieutenant Paul Pronco, and will attend the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Recruit Firefighter Program later this year.

In other activities related to training, the department completed our bi-annual Emergency Medical Technician, First Responder and CPR/DEFIB training and conducted pre-fire planning tours of the massive new Wakefield Crossing Condominium Complex under construction on Lake and Ballister Streets.

Group 1 received a special training class on Alternative Fueled Vehicles, presented by the MBTA on April 19th. This was an excellent program that we plan to repeat for our other 3 work groups in September.

Group 4 completed the MFA's Flashover Recognition training program on April 28th. This program was conducted in conjunction with the Reading Fire Department at Camp Curtis Guild. All Wakefield Firefighters have now completed this important training program.

March 2005

We responded to 228 emergency incidents during March 2005, including 41 Box Alarms and 187 Still Alarms. It was a very busy month for the fire department including being called upon to handle three serious fires, including:

The fire department started our bi-annual re-certification training in Emergency Medical Services and Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) during March, training that will continue and be completed in April. Other training activities included review of our self-contained breathing apparatus and a pre-fire planning tour of the large new condominium building located at 974 Main Street in Greenwood.

Fire Prevention Officer Captain Sullivan presented a special Burn Safety program to elementary school level students during March, and closely monitored the very popular school Music Boosters ‘Pops’ Night held at the WHS fieldhouse on March 9th.

February 2005

The Fire Department was busy during February with serious structural fires, including a condominium fire at 98 Cedar Street on the afternoon of February 8th., and two others involving wood frame homes.

Lowell Street fire showing appartusWakefield Fire apparatus at Lowell Street fireA house fire at 283 Lowell Street on the afternoon of February 15th caused heavy fire and smoke damage to a second floor bedroom, and water and smoke damage throughout this cape cod style home. Firefighters made an excellent stop of this fire that was caused by a carelessly discarded cigarette.

A house fire at 25 Andrews Road on the afternoon of February 17th caused extensive damage to an enclosed porch at the rear of the home, and moderate smoke damage to the main house. This fire was attributed to a candle left burning unattended on the rear porch, and a much more serious fire was averted by alert neighbors who discovered and promptly reported this fire.

On February 28th, the Emergency Management Director and DPW Business Manager attended a briefing in Danvers concerning reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for snow removal costs incurred during the blizzard of January 22-23, 2005. Based on this briefing, we hope to recover 75% of the cost of battling this huge storm, and will be working on developing the necessary paperwork into the month of March.

Retired Firefighter Richard GoodwinRetired FF Richard GoodwinVeteran Wakefield Firefighter Richard J. Goodwin retired from the Wakefield Fire Department on February 2, 2005. Firefighter Goodwin was appointed a Call Firefighter on February 1, 1966, appointed a Provisional Firefighter on October 20, 1966 and appointed a Permanent Firefighter on March 9, 1967. Firefighter Goodwin was a very dedicated firefighter who was the senior firefighter in the department at the time of his retirement with badge number 1. We thank Rich for his dedicated service to the town and wish him a happy and healthy retirement.

January 2005

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 256 emergency incidents during January 2005, including 45 Box Alarms and 211 Still Alarms

The most significant incident of January was a working fire at 1259 Main Street, the last house in Wakefield at the Melrose line, on Friday evening, January 21st. A quick response by the crew of Greenwood’s Engine 2 contained this fire to the kitchen-stove area, preventing further damage to this sngle family home.

The blizzard of 2005 on January 22, 23, and 24 presented significant problems for the fire department. The large volume of snow coupled with high winds created “white-out” conditions limiting visibility, burying fire hydrants and clogging streets. Extra firefighters were deployed to both stations during the blizzard and its immediate aftermath but fortunately there were no serious fires during this period. Firefighters have spent most of the month locating and shoveling hydrants out throughout town.

The intense cold in January contributed to many water pipe freeze-ups and burst pipes in both business and residential properties in town. Our firefighters prime mission in responding to these incidents is to shut-off the water, check and protect utilities (gas and electric), and generally help out the occupant(s) in any way possible. One such water problem at a Columbia Road apartment building during the blizzard required the department to temporarily re-locate an elderly female resident to the Kirkwood Nursing Home on Main Street.

Retired Firefighter Bruce WhittemoreRetired FF Bruce WhittemoreVeteran Wakefield Firefighter Bruce W. Whittemore retired from the Wakefield Fire Department on January 27, 2005. Firefighter Whittemore was appointed a Provisional Firefighter on May 17, 1973 and appointed a Permanent Firefighter on June 28, 1973. Bruce Whittemore was a very dedicated firefighter who already is sorely missed in the department. We thank Bruce for his dedicated service to the town and wish him a happy and healthy retirement.

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