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December 2015

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 310 emergency incidents during the month of December including 29 box alarms and 281 still alarms.

The department responded to four requests for mutual aid during December, three times to Stoneham and once to Melrose. It received mutual aid six times during December, three times from Stoneham, twice from reading and once from Lynnfield. A crew from Engine 2 led by Lieutenant Robert Taggart covered the Stoneham fire station during the evening of December 25 while firefighters in that community handled a natural gas leak.

Firefighters under the command of captain randy Hudson responded to a serious motor vehicle accident in the area of 150 Oak Street during the early morning of December 6. There were several serious injuries to vehicle occupants as a result of this accident. Members of the Wakefield Police Department and Action Ambulance worked closely with department members to insure that the injured parties were treated and transported for follow-up care.

Captain Richard Smith led firefighters from Engine 1 and ladder 1 during another serious car accident and subsequent car fire during the early morning of December 16. Firefighters arrived to find three injured occupants outside and adjacent to a fully involved vehicle fire. Once again police and Action Ambulance crews worked quickly to insure that all injured parties were attended to and transported to area hospitals.

Wakefield firefighters under the command of Captain Paul Pronco responded to a reported structure fire at 7 Linden Avenue during the early evening of December 28. The fire started in a basement bedroom quickly filling the residence with smoke. All eight family members were able to exit the residence safely after smoke detectors inside the home activated, alerting them to the danger. The fire was quickly extinguished and was confined to the bedroom where it started. The remainder of the basement and first floor suffered significant smoke damage. The cause of the fire was determined to an electrical short and related arcing in a power strip plugged into an electrical outlet. There were no reported injuries, however, the eight occupants will be displaced for an extended period as a result of the fire.

Earlier that same day, the same crews under captain Pronco responded to an incident on Del Carmine Street in which a tractor trailer truck pulled down some wires, a nearby utility pole and some attached transformers while maneuvering on the street. Wakefield firefighters worked closely with the Wakefield Municipal Gas and light Department crews to control the situation and clean up the spilled transformer oil.

Melrose Firefighter James R. DeMartino transferred over to the Wakefield Fire Department and was sworn in at a ceremony at town hall on December 21. Firefighter DeMartino is a two year veteran of the Melrose Fire Department. He is a graduate of the Massachusetts Fire Academy Recruit training program and is certified to the level of Firefighter I/II. Firefighter DeMartino is a Wakefield resident and is also trained as a paramedic. Firefighter DeMartino will fill the vacancy created in the department by the retirement of veteran Firefighter John Riley, who retired in October of 2016. The department welcomes Firefighter DeMartino and wish him a long and productive career with the Wakefield Fire Department.

November 2015

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 284 emergency incidents during the month of November including 32 box alarms and 252 still alarms.

The department responded to six requests for mutual aid during November, three times to Melrose, twice to Lynnfield and once to Reading. It did not receive any mutual aid during November. Lieutenant Joseph Albert and a crew from Engine 1 covered the Lynnfield South Fire station during an extensive brush fire in that community during the morning of November 7. A crew from Engine 2 under the command of Lieutenant David Shinney assisted the Melrose Fire Department at the scene of a two-alarm fire at 75 Stratford Road during the afternoon of November 24.

Wakefield firefighters under the command of Captain Paul Pronco responded to a reported structure fire in a commercial building at 146 Lowell Street during the early afternoon of November 16. The fire started outside in a mulch bed and extended to the exterior siding of the building. It was quickly extinguished and was confined to the wall area in the vicinity of the mulch bed. The beauty salon on the other side of the wall had some minor smoke damage as well. The cause of the fire was determined to be the improper disposal of smoking materials. There were no reported injuries.

All department groups continue their annual inspections and surveys of businesses located in their assigned districts. All groups conducted a walk through tour of the new Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department substation located on Salem Street opposite Montrose Avenue. All department members received Emergency medical training on handling patients with an altered mental status and on medical procedures when interacting with paramedics. The department’s aerial ladder as well as its ground ladders were tested and inspected on November 27.

Wakefield Town Meeting authorized $650,000 in funding to purchase a new 1250 gallon-per-minute pumper to replace the 1996 Engine 4 pumper it currently operates as a reserve engine. The department looks forward to developing specifications for this engine and placing the it out to bid in the coming months.

October 2015

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 301 emergency incidents during the month of October including 43 box alarms and 258 still alarms.

The department responded to three requests for mutual aid during October, all of them to Lynnfield. It received mutual aid once during October from Stoneham. Lieutenant David Shinney and a crew from Engine 1 covered the Lynnfield South Fire station during an incident in that community during the afternoon of October 10. A crew from Engine 1 led by Acting Lieutenant Robert Ford assisted the Lynnfield Fire Department during a roof fire at the UPS facility on Kimball Avenue during the early morning of October 19. A crew from Engine 1 under the command of Lieutenant Joseph Albert covered the Lynnfield South fire station during the evening of October 24.

Wakefield firefighters under the command of Captain Joseph Riley responded to a reported structure fire in an apartment building at 34 Harts Hill Road during the early afternoon of October 11. The fire was quickly extinguished and was confined to the kitchen area of a second floor apartment. The cause of the fire was determined to be the improper disposal of smoking materials. Fire damage was confined to the kitchen area of the unit although a considerable amount of smoke did extend into the adjoining hallway on the second floor. The unit below the fire suffered some water damage as well. The lone occupant of the unit was displaced as a result of the fire. There were no reported injuries.

Crews led by Captain Randy Hudson responded to the scene of a major water main break on Green Street during the afternoon of October 10. A sixteen inch water main ruptured near the intersection of Green and Dillaway Streets, resulting in thousands of gallons of water rushing down Green Street onto adjoining properties on both Green and Main Streets. The rushing water flooded basements and displaced retaining walls and trees. Considerable damage occurred to Green Street making the road in the affected section impassable to fire apparatus. Firefighters assisted DPW personnel in aiding local residents affected by the flooding. Water department employees were quickly able to isolate the water break and restore water pressure to the town within a short period.

All department groups continue their annual inspections and surveys of businesses located in their assigned districts. The department continued to conduct fire drills in every school building in Wakefield during October. Multi-hazard evacuation drills were conducted in October for the Greenwood School, the Northeast Regional Vocational School, the Woodville School, the Doyle School, the Wakefield Memorial High School and the Walton School. Children from Canterbury Children’s Center visited Wakefield Fire Headquarters during the mornings of October 2 and 3.

The entire department received training in the proper use of Nasal Naloxone (Narcan) during the month of October. The department was granted a license from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to dispense Nasal Naloxone on September 28, 2015. The Wakefield Fire Department officially equipped its fire apparatus with Narcan starting on October 30. The department joins its public safety partners, the Wakefield Police Department and Action Ambulance, as a first responder organization equipped to treat suspected victims of opioid overdoses. It is our hope that the introduction of Narcan into the department’s emergency medical inventory will help save the life of patients suffering from opioid overdoses.

September 2015

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 312 emergency incidents during the month of September including 41 box alarms and 271 still alarms.

The department responded to three requests for mutual aid during September, once each to Lynnfield, Melrose and Saugus. It received mutual aid twice during September, both times from Stoneham. A crew from Engine 2 led by Lieutenant Michael Long assisted the Saugus Fire Department at a fire inside the RESCO plant located at 100 Salem Turnpike during the early morning of September 7. Lieutenant David Shinney and a crew from Engine 2 covered Melrose Fire Headquarters during an extensive brush fire in that community during the afternoon of September 23. A crew from Engine 1 under the command of Lieutenant Joseph Albert covered the Lynnfield South fire station during the afternoon of September 28.

Wakefield firefighters under the command of Captain Randy Hudson responded to a serious motor vehicle accident involving a motorcycle on Route 95 southbound near exit 39 during the morning of September 9. The operator of the motorcycle suffered serious injuries and a Medflight helicopter was requested to transport him to the hospital during heavy rush hour traffic. The helicopter landed at Veteran’s field, where the patient was loaded and transported to a Boston hospital.

Captain Hudson was once again the officer in charge when fire crews were dispatched to 397 Main Street on the morning of September 14 for a strong odor of natural gas within the building. Working closely with employees of the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department, firefighter gained entry into several restaurants in the area, eventually discovering a broken seal on the pipe feeding the gas meter for the Duck Walk restaurant. Gas department employees quickly repaired the leak while firefighters vented the structure of accumulated natural gas.

All fire department apparatus and motor vehicles successfully passed their annual Registry of Motor Vehicle safety inspections during the month of September. The department’s three pumping engines successfully passed their annual pump service tests on September 24. All department groups conducted training evolutions on vehicle extrication and rescue techniques during September. All department groups continue their annual inspections and surveys of businesses located in their assigned districts. The department conducted fire drills in every school building in Wakefield during September. Multi-hazard evacuation drills were conducted in September for the Dolbeare School, the Galvin Middle School and Nazareth Academy.

Veteran Firefighter John M. Riley retired from the Wakefield Fire Department on September 17 after serving more than 32 years. Firefighter Riley was appointed to the department on April 14, 1983 and at the time of his retirement was the senior firefighter assigned to Group 3 under Captain Richard Smith. The department will miss Firefighter Riley’s considerable knowledge and experience. We wish him a long and healthy retirement.

August 2015

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 347 emergency incidents during the month of August including 47 box alarms and 300 still alarms.

The department responded to two requests for mutual aid during August, both to Stoneham. It received mutual aid three times during August, twice from Stoneham and once from Melrose. A crew from Engine 2 led by Lieutenant Robert Taggart assisted the Stoneham Fire Department at a 2-alarm structure fire at 61 Main Street during the afternoon of August 4. Lieutenant Brian Purcell and a crew from Engine 2 covered Stoneham Fire Headquarters during an extensive brush fire in that community during the afternoon of August 10.

Wakefield firefighters under the command of Captain Paul Pronco responded to a reported dryer fire at 61 Spring Street during the morning of August 14. Firefighters arrived to find a heavy smoke condition in the home. The fire was quickly contained to the dryer and the occupants were able to remain in the home. Crews led by Captain Joseph Riley extinguished a stubborn dumpster fire next to the Clarion Inn at 595 North Avenue during the early morning hours of August 16. The fire was confined to the dumpster but a limited amount of smoke did extend into adjacent areas of the hotel. Firefighters under Captain Randy Hudson quickly controlled a potentially serious incident involving a faulty heating system at 52 Lake Street during the afternoon of August 29. The heating system for this 2-family residence malfunctioning creating a high heat condition throughout the structure. Firefighters managed to shut down the system and vent the home of excess heat averting a potentially serious fire from occurring. There were no injuries as a result of any of these incidents.

August was a hot, dry month and the resulting low moisture level in outside brush and vegetation resulted in numerous brush and mulch fires. A crew from Engine 1 under the command of Lieutenant Joseph Albert extinguished a brush fire on Water Street at the Saugus Line during the afternoon of August 3. Crews from the Saugus Fire department also responded and assisted with the extinguishment. A crew from Engine 1 led by Lieutenant John Walsh extinguished a stubborn brush fire in Breakhart Reservation behind Landrigan Field during the afternoon of August 31. The brush fire burned into the root system and had to be monitored for several days to ensure that it was completely extinguished. Firefighters from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Bureau of Forest Fire Control assisted in the extinguishment of this brush fire.

The department received placed into service 23 new sets of breathing apparatus it received as part of a Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Firefighter's Grant (AFG) totaling more than $190,000. The department’s air compressor was tested and passed air quality levels required for the generation of air being used inside self-contained breathing apparatus.

All department groups continue their annual inspections and surveys of businesses located in their assigned districts.

July 2015

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 334 emergency incidents during the month of July including 34 box alarms and 300 still alarms.

The department responded to five requests for mutual aid during July, twice to Stoneham, and once each to Melrose, Reading and Saugus. It received mutual aid four times during July, twice from Lynnfield, and once each from Reading and Stoneham. A crew from Engine 2 led by Lieutenant David Shinney assisted the Saugus Fire Department at a 3-alarm structure fire at 3 Water Wheel Lane during the early morning of July 12. Lieutenant John Walsh and a crew from Engine 1 assisted the Reading Fire Department during a major natural gas leak in that community during the morning of July 14. Firefighters under the command of Lieutenant Brian Purcell covered Stoneham Fire Headquarters during an extensive brush fire in that community during the evening of July 31.

Wakefield firefighters under the command of Captain Paul Pronco responded to a reported house fire at 59 Bennett Street during the morning of July 3. Firefighters arrived to find heavy smoke condition in the home caused when an oil burner in the home, which was undergoing major renovations, accidentally turned on with its flue pipe removed. The situation was quickly controlled with no damage extending beyond the immediate area of the burner. Captain Randy Hudson led an effort by firefighters to assist a family on Houston Street when a large tree came down onto their house. The fallen tree caused considerable damage to the residence, however, the family was able to remain in the home.

The department received training on the 23 new sets of breathing apparatus it received as part of a Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Firefighter's Grant (AFG) totaling more than $190,000. Each department member also had their individual face piece fit-tested to insure it will work properly with the new breathing apparatus. AFG grants are applied for annually with this particular grant funding approximately 90% of the cost of the new breathing apparatus. A new comparator for the department's radio system was installed on July 15. This $21,500 comparator was funded partially from a state emergency management grant with the remainder of the funding being allocated as part of the department's fiscal year 2016 capital outlay budget.

All department groups continue their annual inspections and surveys of businesses located in their assigned districts. The department received excellent training on firefighting foam operations from a representative of Cottrell Associates Inc. and National Foam on July 21. This training involved a classroom presentation during the morning discussing the properties of common flammable liquids the department could expect to encounter as well as the proper application of alcohol resistant firefighting foam. Special emphasis was placed on ethanol, which is commonly transported on Route 95. A short practical evolution was then conducted with foam at the Nahant Street pits. The training was very informative and will be put to good use as the department re-evaluates its foam procedures and updates it equipment. All four duty groups received training on how to handle service dogs while responding to medical emergency calls involving patients equipped with them.

More than 40 children taking part in the Middlesex Youth Public Safety Academy, sponsored by the Middlesex Sheriff's Office, toured both the police and fire stations at the Public Safety Building on July 15. A group of students from the Galvin Middle School summer program visited Wakefield Fire headquarters during the morning of July30.

June 2015

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 312 emergency incidents during the month of June including 41 box alarms and 271 still alarms.

The department responded to six requests for mutual aid during June, three times to Melrose, and once each to Lynnfield, Reading and Weston. It received mutual aid two times during June from Stoneham. A crew from Engine 1 led by Lieutenant Lou Sardella covered Reading Fire Headquarters during a structure fire in that community during the afternoon of June 5. Lieutenant Phil Preston and a crew from Engine 1 covered the Lynnfield south station during a fire in that community on June 24. Firefighters under the command of Lieutenant Brian Purcell responded to a 2-alarm fire on Warren Street in Melrose during the afternoon of June 29. Firefighter Daniel Marsinelli was activated along with other members of the District 2 Hazardous Materials Response Team to an incident at the State Police barracks at 668 South Avenue in Weston. The incident, involving the disposal of some contaminated medical materials, was quickly resolved. Firefighter Marsinelli’s participation in the regional hazardous materials team is completely funded by the State of Massachusetts.

Wakefield firefighters under the command of Captain Randy Hudson responded to a dryer fire at 8 Webster Road during the morning of June 26. The fire was quickly contained to the dryer and was caused by a build-up of lint within the appliance. There were no injuries as a result of this fire.

The department received delivery of 23 new sets of breathing apparatus as part of a Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Firefighter's Grant (AFG) totaling more than $190,000. This equipment will be unpacked and will be placed into service after the department has been trained in its use. AFG grants are applied for annually with this particular grant funding approximately 90% of the cost of the new breathing apparatus.

All department groups continue their annual inspections and surveys of businesses located in their assigned districts. The department conducted fire drills in the Wakefield school system during the month of June. All groups conducted received excellent training on pumping operations from representatives of Fire Department Support Services LLC during the month of June. This training utilized a towed self-contained unit capable of duplicating different pumping scenarios in an individual hands-on series of evolutions designed to hone their skills as fire department pump operators. The department continued to conduct drills with its two rescue boats. The department’s inventory of fire hose was pressure tested during the month of June. All four duty groups received emergency medical training in protocols involving DNR and MOLST orders for certain patients they may encounter and on procedures involving hemorrhage control.

Wakefield firefighters brought fire trucks to the Woodville School on June 3, the Dolbeare School on June 9, and the Doyle School on June 11 to wash them with the Kindergarten and pre-school children at those respective schools. Ladder 1 visited the Kindercare Children’s Center at 607 North Avenue on June 15 much to the delight of the children at that facility.

May 2015

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 380 emergency incidents during the month of May including 31 box alarms and 349 still alarms.

The department responded to seven requests for mutual aid during May, four times to Lynnfield and three times to Saugus. It received mutual aid eight times during May, twice from Stoneham and once each from Reading, Melrose, North Reading, Lynnfield, Saugus and Woburn. A crew from Engine 2 led by lieutenant David Shinney assisted the Saugus Fire department at the scene of a working fire at 169 Broadway (Route 1) during the morning of May 2. Lieutenant John Mercurio and a crew from Engine 1 responded to a 5-alarm brush fire in Lynnfield on May 6 that burned more than sixty acres of Ready Meadow. Engine 1 and a crew led by Acting lieutenant Gary Hill responded to Lynnfield to assist that community with another round of extensive brush fires on May 15. Firefighters assigned to Engine 2 under the command of Lieutenant Michael Long assisted the Saugus fire department at a fire at the RESCO Plant on the Salem Turnpike during the morning of May 25. Lieutenant Robert Taggart along with a crew from Engine 2 assisted the Saugus Fire department again at a structure fire at 47 Fairmount Avenue during the afternoon of May 29.

The month of May has experienced drought conditions causing vegetation to become very dry and susceptible to ignition. The department responded to 21 outside fires during the month of May including many mulch fires most likely caused by the careless disposal of smoking materials. These conditions will worsen as the spring progresses into summer if the region does not get more rainfall.

Wakefield firefighters under the command of Captain Randy Hudson responded to Wakefield's first multiple alarm fire of 2015 during the evening of May 25. Firefighters responded to a reported house fire at this location, arriving to find heavy fire in the area of the front porch extending into the two family home. A second alarm was struck bringing help from Melrose, Reading, North Reading and Stoneham to the fire. The fire was quickly knocked down by responding crews and its extension into the house was slowed down by the presence of blown in cellulose insulation in the exterior walls of the residence. The cause of the fire was determined to be the careless disposal of smoking materials in the mulch adjacent to the front porch area. Heat and smoke damage was extensive throughout the home and three residents were displaced as a result of the fire. One firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion and transported to a local hospital where he was later released.

Crews working under Captain Paul Pronco responded to a serious motor vehicle accident on Route 128 Northbound near exit 42 that claimed the life of a young woman during the morning of May 25. The same crews under Captain Pronco responded to a two car head-on accident at 96 Main Street during the afternoon of May 26 that caused serious injuries to both drivers. Firefighters under the command of Captain Richard Smith responded to a third serious accident when a vehicle lost control and slammed into a residence at 459 Lowell Street during the early morning of May 30. The driver was seriously injured and the collision caused significant damage to the home.

The department was notified in May that it had been awarded a Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Firefighter's Grant (AFG) totaling more than $190,000 for the replacement of the department's breathing apparatus. AFG grants are applied for annually and frequently will pay for up to 90% of the cost of proposed projects for the nation's fire departments.

All department groups continue their annual inspections and surveys of businesses located in their assigned districts. The department conducted fire drills in the Wakefield school system and will continue to conduct drills in June. All groups conducted training on the department's two boats during the month of May.

A group from Parents of Tots visited Wakefield Fire Headquarters during the morning of May 8. The Greenwood Fire Station received a visit from a Wakefield Brownie troop during the afternoon of May 13. A crew from Ladder 1 visited the Tall Spire Nursery School at the First Baptist Church on May 28 and 29.

April 2015

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 313 emergency incidents during the month of April including 48 box alarms and 265 still alarms.

The department responded to two requests for mutual aid during April, once to Lynnfield and once to Beverly. It received mutual aid twice during April, three times from Reading and twice from Stoneham. Firefighter Daniel Marsinelli responded as part of the District 2 Hazardous Materials Response Team to an incident at 86 Preston Street in Beverly during the morning of April 5. The incident involved an unknown white powder at that location. Firefighter Marsinelli’s participation in this team is completely funded by the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services.

Firefighters under the command of Captain Richard Smith responded to a fire a 35 Lakeview Avenue during the early evening of April 5. The fire started when a pillow lying against an electric baseboard heating unit ignited. The fire was quickly extinguished with minor damage to some outside decking and adjacent brush in the area where the pillow was placed after it was removed from the house by the homeowner.

Crews working under Captain Joseph Riley extinguished a smoky dryer fire during the morning of April 12 at 7 Kingmont Street. The fire started after the dryer malfunctioned igniting an accumulation of built up lint within the unit. The fire was quickly extinguished by responding firefighters, however, the entire home suffered significant smoke damage. The family of four will be displace from the residence until repairs can be made to the residence.

An elderly man was quickly rescued when his vehicle rolled back onto his leg at a service station at 570 Main Street during the afternoon of April 13. Crews under Captain Richard Smith responded to the station and quickly lifted the vehicle off of the man within a minute of their arrival utilizing the department’s airbags. The man was quickly treated and, due to the nature of his injuries, a Medflight helicopter was requested to transport him to the hospital. The helicopter landed at Veteran’s Field and quickly transported him to Tufts Medical Center. The man’s injuries were not life threatening thanks to the quick work of responding Wakefield firefighters, police officers and Action Ambulance paramedics.

Firefighters under the command of Captain Randy Hudson responded to 83 Cedar Street after an outside trash fire spread to a nearby rear porch during the evening of April 15. The fire was quickly contained to the area of origin with no extension inside the building. The cause of the fire was determined to be the careless disposal of a cigarette. There were no injuries during and no one was displaced as a result of the fire.

All department groups commenced their annual inspections and surveys of businesses located in their assigned districts during the month of April. All groups reviewed Standard Operating Guidelines on the use of thermal imaging cameras, fireground evacuation signals, motor vehicle accidents and the use of Rapid Intervention Crews for firefighter rescue during the month of April.

March 2015

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 290 emergency incidents during the month of March including 34 box alarms and 256 still alarms.

The department responded to three requests for mutual aid during March, twice to Lynnfield and once to Melrose. It received mutual aid twice during March, both times from Reading.

The department responded to a total of four structure fires during the month of March.

Firefighters under the command of Captain Randy Hudson responded to a kitchen fire at the Sir Edward Apartment Building located at 534 Salem Street during the early evening of March 7. The fire started when oil being heated in an open pan ignited and then extended to the wooden cabinets and exhaust hood located above the stove. The fire was quickly contained to this area and there were no injuries as a result of this fire.

A malfunctioning wood pellet stove resulted in a small but smoky fire at an apartment building at 18 Salem Street during the morning of March 20. The fire was quickly contained to the area of the stove by firefighters working under Captain Joseph Riley with some smoke damage sustained to the second and third floors of the building.

Crews under Captain Randy Hudson responded to 95 Audubon Road during the evening of March 24 after receiving reports of a trapped occupant inside one of the elevator at the Colonial Point Apartments. Firefighters quickly located and removed the trapped citizen, however, in the course of their duties they discovered a smoke condition inside the elevator machine room. Further investigation discovered an elevator motor had overheated and burned out, creating the smoke condition. The equipment was extinguished and shut down until repairs could be made.

The final structure fire for the month occurred during the afternoon of March 26 when firefighters under the command of Captain Richard Smith responded to 40 Lake Street after a plumber’s torch ignited a fire in a concealed wall space. The fire was quickly contained to the area of the second floor bathroom and the adjoining pipe chase. There were no injuries during and no one was displaced as a result of the fire.

Firefighters under Captain Randy Hudson responded to the Galvin Middle School after a faculty member smelled an odor of natural gas on the third floor and activated the fire alarm system. Firefighters working with employees of Bond Brothers Construction were quickly able to identify the source of the odor to be coming from a roof-top heater that was being repaired at the time. A downdraft of fumes caused by the wind resulted in the gas odor being introduced to the third floor area nearby. The situation was quickly dealt with and at no time did natural gas levels ever reach a dangerous level. During their investigation, firefighter checked the remainder of the school and discovered a second minor natural gas leak inside a heater in the new gymnasium area under construction. This problem was also quickly resolved. The students and faculty were relocated for a period to the nearby Americal Civic Center during this incident, proving the value of practicing the school evacuation plan annually. Employees from the Fire, Police, Municipal Gas and Light and School departments all worked together along with representatives from Bond Brothers to bring this matter to a quick and safe resolution.

All of the department’s self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) as well as all SCBA face pieces for this equipment was successfully flow-tested by representatives from Industrial Protection Services. All department members who are Emergency Medical Technicians and due for recertification by April 1 successfully completed their requirements for renewal. Department members received training on Natural Gas Emergencies on March 13 and 14. Another group of department member received additional training on the Sensit multi-gas detector on March 26. All groups reviewed Standard Operating Guidelines on Natural Gas Emergencies, Carbon Monoxide Emergencies and several radio protocols during the month of March. The department received delivery of another cold water survival suit as well as four new intake valves for the department’s pumpers as part of the Fiscal Year 2015 Capital Outlay Budget.

February 2015

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 369 emergency incidents during the month of February including 51 box alarms and 318 still alarms.

The department responded to eight requests for mutual aid during February, three times to Stoneham and once to Melrose, Reading, Revere, Lynnfield and Stoneham. It received mutual aid ten times during February, five times from Stoneham, two times from Reading, two times from Melrose and once from Lynnfield. Lieutenant Robert Taggart and a crew from Engine 2 assisted the Revere Fire department at the scene of a three-alarm fire at 400 Broadway in that city on the morning of February 6. Another crew from Engine 2 led by Lieutenant Taggart covered the Stoneham Fire Headquarters during a fire on the evening of February 14. Captain Paul Pronco and Lieutenant Michael Long responded along with other members of the Essex County Technical Rescue Team to the Town of Andover after a barn collapsed and trapped several horses. The team worked quickly to free three horses trapped inside the building. Wakefield Engine 2 covered Stoneham Fire headquarters during the afternoon of February 26 and the evening of February 28.

February proved to be an extremely stormy month, with three additional winter storms hitting the area on February 2-3, 8-9 and 14-16, depositing several feet of additional snow on the town. The storm of February 14-16 was particularly severe, with high winds and heavy snowfall creating at times nearly white-out conditions. Wakefield’s streets became progressively narrower as the snow piled up and the department fought a losing battle to locate and keep fire hydrants clear and accessible. February saw an increase in responses for water problems as ice dams formed on roofs. Falling snow and ice damaged several gas meters causing responses for gas leaks. A motor vehicle struck a buried gas meter behind 18 Albion Street on the morning of February 12, causing gas to accumulate under buried snow and enter several properties on Albion and Foster Streets. Crews from the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department responded quickly, isolating the leak and shutting it down while firefighters ventilated several buildings in the area. High snow banks and narrow streets contributed to the 33 motor vehicle accidents that the department responded to during February.

The department responded to a total of eight structure fires during the month of February.

Firefighters under the command of Captain Randy Hudson responded to a fire in a 14,000 volt transformer located at the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department (WMGLD) substation located at 5 Wakefield Avenue during the afternoon of February 4. The fire started when the transformer malfunctioned and exploded igniting its transformer oil. Firefighters contained the fire until foam supplied by Lynnfield Fire could be deployed to extinguish the blaze. The fire was contained to the transformer and a nearby tree, however, some transformer oil was released onto the property and an adjoining residence. An environmental contract was hired by the WMGLD to supervise the clean-up operations. There were no injuries and minimal power outages as a result of the fire. The same group of firefighters under Captain Hudson were called to a structure fire at 403 Vernon Street on the morning of February 11. The homeowner returned home to find the residence full of smoke and called 911. The fire was eventually traced to a basement area where it was quickly extinguished. The cause of this fire was an electrical malfunction in the basement room where the fire was discovered. There were no injuries and the family was able to remain in the residence.

An individual thawing frozen pipes with a torch at 124 Greenwood Street during the afternoon of February 16 ignited a fire in the flooring underneath a porch at that residence. The fire was quickly controlled by firefighters working under Captain Richard Smith with no further damage to the property.

The same group of firefighters under Captain Smith responded to two structure fires on February 16. The first fire occurred during the afternoon of February 18 when a homeowner thawing pipes with a torch or heat gun ignited a fire inside a concealed wall space. Firefighters opened up the basement ceiling and wall spaces inside a first floor apartment to make sure that the fire was completely extinguished. There were no injuries as a result of this fire and none of the residents in the four family apartment building were displaced. The second fire on February 16 occurred on the roof of brother’s restaurant at 404 Main Street when the gas line to a roof-top heating unit fractured and ignited natural gas. The fire was quickly contained to the heating unit and extinguished. The restaurant was closed for the remainder of the evening but was open for business for breakfast customers early the next day.

Firefighters under Captain Smith were again called upon during the early morning of February 23 when a fire of electrical origin started in a construction office at 94 Renwick Road. The fire was quickly contained to the room of origin and no one was injured during the incident.

Crews under Captain Randy Hudson battled a stubborn chimney fire at 30 Park Avenue during the afternoon of February 26. Firefighters used dry chemical “bombs”, chimney chains and a specialized chimney fire nozzle to extinguish the flames. Fortunately, the fire never extended outside of the chimney. There were no injuries and the homeowners were able to remain in the residence.

The final structure fire for the month occurred during the evening of February 27 when firefighters under the command of Captain Paul Pronco responded to 234 Lowell Street to extinguish another chimney fire. This fire proved to be as stubborn as the fire the previous day requiring crews to deploy more dry chemical bags and the chimney chains to extinguish it. This fire was contained to the chimney area. There were no injuries as a result of the fire however the homeowner was displaced for a period while repairs were made to the wood stove, which was serving as the primary means of heating this residence.

A group of Wakefield cub scouts visited Wakefield Fire Headquarters during the evening of February 24. All department members were recertified in CPR as well as the use of semi-automatic defibrillators during the month of February.

January 2015

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 355 emergency incidents during the month of January including 48 box alarms and 307 still alarms.

The department responded to five requests for mutual aid during January, twice to Lynnfield, twice to Melrose and once to Stoneham. It received mutual aid three times during January from Stoneham. Lieutenant David Shinney and a crew from Engine 2 assisted the Stoneham Fire department at the scene of a second-alarm fire at 612 Main Street on the morning of January 8. A crew under Lieutenant Robert Taggart cover Melrose Fire headquarters during the morning of January 19.

Wakefield firefighter Arthur Fennelly graduated from Class 222 of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Recruit Training Program on January 16. Firefighter Fennelly completed a nine-week training program which included live fire training evolutions. This training, offered to the Commonwealth’s firefighters free of charge to the communities, is something that can’t be duplicated on a local level. The department wishes to Firefighter Fennelly a long and productive career in the fire service.

A winter storm struck the area on January 26-27, depositing at least 29 inches of snow on the town. The storm quickly turned into a blizzard, with high winds and heavy snowfall exceeding several inches an hour creating near white-out conditions. Governor Charles Baker declared a State of Emergency as well as a ban on all non-essential traffic on roadways throughout the state. The town instituted a parking ban on all streets until the morning of the 29th. Wakefield implemented its emergency plan as the DPW struggled to keep the streets passable. Employees from the Fire, Police, DPW, Light and School Departments worked closely together to help ensure the safety of Wakefield’s citizens. There were very few power outages during the storm. Fire hydrants were dug out by Fire and DPW crews. There was no reported damage to any public facility and no one was injured as a result of the storm.

All four duty groups received training in electrical safety sponsored by the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department and NEPPA. Department members reviewed safety procedures for incidents involving downed wires, utility manholes and transformer equipment. The department is grateful to the WMGLD for sponsoring this training. All groups reviewed Standard Operating Guidelines for cold water rescue, cold weather precautions, and chimney fires during the month of January.

The department received delivery of three new cold water survival suits. The suits were placed on apparatus and replaced three older suits that were worn out. A new 2015 Ford Explorer all-wheel drive vehicle was placed into service as the new Chief’s car. The 1999 Chevy Tahoe was turned in and the 2002 Chevy Tahoe formerly used by the Fire Chief is now being used by the Fire Prevention Officer.

The Wakefield Auxiliary Fire Department will officially disband after many decades of service to the community as of January 1, 2015. Sadly, the role and mission of this group has diminished to the point over the last several years that it makes sense to discontinue its operation. I am personally grateful to each member of the Auxiliary for their hard work and dedication to the town during its long and distinguished existence.

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