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April 2017

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 269 emergency incidents during the month of April including 26 box alarms and 243 still alarms.

The department responded to three requests for mutual aid during April, once each to Melrose, Saugus and Stoneham. It received mutual aid five times during the month of April, three times from Reading and twice from Stoneham. A crew from Engine 2 led by Lieutenant Joseph Albert assisted the Stoneham Fire Department at the DPW yard on Pine Street in that community during the afternoon of April 16. A nearby brush fire that had extended within close proximity to several buildings in this facility was quickly extinguished. Firefighters under Lieutenant Sean Curran assisted the Saugus Fire department at the scene of a 2-alarm fire at 24 Hurd Avenue in Saugus during the morning of April 21.

Firefighters under the command of Acting Captain Robert Taggart responded to a reported house fire at 90 Myrtle Avenue during the evening of April 7. Firefighters were initially dispatched to the Renwick Road area before police redirected them to Myrtle Avenue. First arriving firefighters encountered a fire on the rear wall of the residence rapidly extending into a three season porch. The fire was quickly contained to this area but caused considerable smoke damage throughout the residence. The three occupants of the home were displaced until repairs could be made. The cause of the fire appeared to be an arcing electrical cord that was damaged when it was caught between a bulkhead door and its framing. There were no injuries to any of the responding firefighters or residents. The Stoneham Fire Department assisted at the fire scene while a Reading fire engine covered fire headquarters.

All department duty shifts reviewed standard operating procedures on pressure testing of fire hose. The department’s entire inventory of fire hose was tested during the month of April. All Lieutenants in the department were trained to the Incident Command System ICS 300 level during April. All department Captains will be certified to the ICS 400 level by the end of June. The department participated along with Action Ambulance in an active shooter drill at the Northeast Regional Vocational School on Hemlock Road during the afternoon of April 19 and 20. This drill, organized by the Wakefield Police Department, was designed to allow police, fire and Action Ambulance personnel to coordinate their duties and responsibilities should an incident of this type occur in Wakefield. The drill was informative and will provide the basis for a future standard operating guideline to be used by the department for this type of incident. All department members are in the process of completing on-line Crowd Manager training sponsored by the Department of Fire Services (DFS) designed to increase fire safety at events involving large audiences. Department members are also taking another on-line class in April offered by DFS regarding working on fire details involve the use of blasting agents.

March 2017

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 299 emergency incidents during the month of March including 32 box alarms and 267 still alarms.

The department responded to three requests for mutual aid during March, twice to Melrose and once to Saugus. It received mutual aid twelve times during the month of March, three times from Stoneham, three times from Lynnfield, twice from Reading, and once each from Massport, Melrose, North Reading and Woburn. A crew from Engine 2 led by Lieutenant Sean Curran assisted the Melrose Fire Department during a 2-alarm fire at 156 Main Street in that community during the evening of March 4.

Wakefield firefighters under the command of Captain Paul Pronco responded to a reported multiple car accident involving a tanker truck on Route 95 Southbound just before the North Avenue Exit 39 shortly after midnight on March 11. Wakefield and Reading firefighters arrived within minutes to find an 11,500-gallon gasoline tanker that had collided with two other vehicles before striking the Jersey barrier. The tanker then partially separated from the tractor before it rolled over the Jersey barrier, landing in the high-speed lane on the northbound side of the highway. Incredibly, there were only minor injuries to all of the vehicle occupants and the tanker did not explode.

Captain Pronco and Reading Fire Captain Mark Dywer quickly set up a unified command post, combining their resources. A water supply line was secured going all the way to a hydrant on Walker’s Brook Drive in Reading, a distance of more than 950 feet. An absorbent material was applied underneath each manhole on the tanker as all five were actively leaking gasoline. Any nearby storm drains were also diked to keep gasoline from entering the drainage system and nearby Lake Quannapowitt.

Additional aid was requested from the Massachusetts District 2 Hazardous Materials Response Team, the Massport Fire Department for additional firefighting foam resources, the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Chief Sullivan responded and assumed overall command for the incident. The Massachusetts State Police, assisted by Wakefield and Reading Police personnel, shut down Route 95 completely in both directions. Northbound traffic was rerouted to Quannapowitt Parkway and the Route 129 rotary and southbound traffic was diverted onto the exit and on ramps for North Avenue. Employees from Coady’s Tow Service secured the wrecked truck and tanker with straps to keep it from moving during the long process to mitigate the incident. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation sent a dump truck full of sand to construct a dike around the tanker to contain the gasoline in case one of the upside down manholes on the tanker failed and leaked several thousand gallons of gasoline onto the highway. The Department of Fire Services sent a large Incident Command Vehicle and Firefighter Rehabilitation Unit to support the operation. These large heated vehicles provided shelter from the 12 degree ambient temperature and the winds that often gusted to more than 40 mph. Firefighters were able to rotate through the rehabilitation vehicle and get hot drinks and snacks for the duration of the incident.

Emergency personnel immediately made a plan to right the overturned tanker. A second empty tanker was brought to the scene by the owner of the trucking company involved in the accident. More than 11,000 gallons of fuel in the tanker was off-loaded to this tanker after vent holes were very carefully drilled into each of the tanker’s five compartments. Once the holes were drilled each compartment was emptied of as much fuel as possible using special suction devices designed for this purpose. Once the vehicle was off-loaded of as much fuel as possible, each compartment had dry ice placed inside it to help inert the flammable atmosphere. The vehicle was then righted by employees from Coady’s Tow Service. The highway was then reopened after the area was cleaned up of sand and debris. All together Route 95 was closed for about 9 hours. Hard work by well-trained firefighters and emergency workers resulted in the loss of less than 50 gallons of gasoline out of a total of 11,500. The successful outcome of the entire operation is a testament to the courage and dedication of all those who responded to this incident.

Wakefield firefighters responded to the first multiple alarm fire of 2017 on March 23 when a kitchen fire started in a two-family residence at 17 Stark Avenue at approximately 9:16 P.M. Firefighters arrived two minutes after being dispatched to find fire venting out of one doorway of the residence and starting to vent out of a second doorway on the opposite side of the building. The Incident Commander, Captain Thomas Purcell, struck a second alarm, bringing firefighters from Melrose, Reading, Stoneham and North Reading to the scene and Woburn and Lynnfield to cover fire headquarters. The fire was quickly knocked down, but caused heavy fire damage to the entire first floor unit and severe smoke damage to the second floor. All four occupants of the residence will be displaced for an extended period until repairs can be made to the home. The cause of the fire was eventually determined to be the accidental ignition of clothes placed on top of a stove after one of the burners was inadvertently turned on.

All department duty shifts reviewed standard operating procedures on incidents involving electrical hazards and natural gas emergencies during the month of March. A Girl Scout Daisy troop visited fire headquarters during the afternoon of March 8. Three Wakefield Memorial High School Juniors spent their school day on March 22 with Chief Sullivan as part of their participation in the school’s annual Career Shadow Day. The three boys toured both stations and the 911 center and gained first-hand experience on the proper use of protective gear as well as some equipment utilized by firefighters.

February 2017

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 260 emergency incidents during the month of February including 35 box alarms and 225 still alarms.

The department responded to six requests for mutual aid during February, four times to Lynnfield and twice to Melrose. It received mutual aid eight times during the month of February, three times from Lynnfield and once each from Melrose, North Reading, Reading and Saugus. A crew from Engine 1 led by Acting Lieutenant Daniel Sullivan assisted the Lynnfield Fire Department during a structure fire in that community during the evening of February 23. Firefighters under the command of Lieutenant Michael Long assisted the Melrose fire department at the scene of a house fire at 75 Howard Street during the early morning of February 24.

Wakefield firefighters under the command of Captain Randy Hudson responded to a reported multiple car accident with trapped occupants during the morning of February 8. Icy conditions on route 95 resulted in the collision of approximately 55 vehicles including tanker trucks, flat tops and other commercial vehicles mixed in with passenger cars. Crews worked quickly to triage the injured while additional firefighters and ambulances were called to the scene. Firefighters from Lynnfield, North Reading, Reading, and Melrose assisted at the scene while Saugus firefighters covered headquarters. Ambulances and tow trucks from all over the area responded to assist at the scene. Incredibly, only eight people were injured and none of them seriously. Equally amazing was the fact that none of the trapped occupants required the use of any hydraulic rescue tools (Jaws of Life) to free them. The wrecked vehicles were towed to the Comverse Parking lot on Quannapowitt Parkway in order for the highway to be cleared as quickly as possible. Quick and efficient cooperation between firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians and tow truck operators prevented a very serious accident from turning into a potential tragedy. A Melrose fire engine was involved in an accident operating at a separate accident scene further north on Route 95 that occurred during this incident. Fortunately the Melrose firefighters on board the engine were not seriously injured.

Crews led by Captain Thomas Purcell responded to reports of smoke in the sixth floor hallway at the Colonial Point apartment building at 95 Audubon Road during the evening of February 27. Firefighters eventually traced the heavy smoke condition to burnt food in a unit in the east wing. The fire did not extend beyond the cooking materials but created a significant smoke condition throughout the sixth floor east wing corridor that firefighters quickly vented.

All department duty shifts reviewed standard operating procedures on incidents involving the rescue of downed firefighters. They also reviewed procedures for conducting firefighting operations in high-rise building and the use of fire department standpipes. All department members were recertified in Cardio-pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) during the month of February. The department accepted delivery in February of four new smoke ejectors partially funded by a 2016 grant for $6,460 from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. The fans were purchased with these funds combined with a local match from the town.

January 2017

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 282 emergency incidents during the month of January including 24 box alarms and 258 still alarms.

The department responded to four requests for mutual aid during January, twice to Lynnfield and once each to Saugus and Stoneham. It received mutual aid four times during the month of January, once each from Lynnfield, Melrose, Reading and Stoneham. A crew from Engine 2 led by Acting Lieutenant Erik Cole assisted the Stoneham Fire Department during a 2-alarm fire at 10 Colonial Court in that community during the afternoon of January 27.

Wakefield firefighters under the command of Captain Paul Pronco responded to a reported structure fire at 9 Carriage Lane during the evening of January 31. Firefighters arrived to find a heavy smoke condition venting from a second floor window. Further investigation resulted in the discovery of a dryer fire which was quickly extinguished. The fire damage was confined to the dryer with significant smoke damage throughout the second floor area. There were no injuries as a result of the fire, however, the family occupying the home was displaced for several days.

Crews led by Captain Christopher Smith responded to a report of a vehicle that had driven into Lake Quannapowitt during the early morning of January 28. The fire boat was launched and the shore at the north end of the lake was searched. The operator of the motor vehicle was located by Reading Police on Haverhill Street and it was quickly determined that the vehicle had in fact been driven into the Saugus River between the Route 129 rotary and Bay State Road. The vehicle was then located and searched for any trapped occupants. The driver was not injured and the vehicle was pulled from the river without incident.

All department duty shifts reviewed standard operating procedures on ice and water rescues, cold weather precautions for fire apparatus, weekly SCBA inspections and the proper use of the SCBA air filling station compressor. The department’s inventory twenty-three sets of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) successfully passed their flow-tests and inspections during the month of January. All department members also had their SCBA face pieces fit tested. The air compressor for the department’s SCBA equipment was also tested for air quality and serviced.

Word was received during January that a 2016 EMPG grant for $6,460 had been awarded to the department. This grant, combined with a 100% local match from the town, will be used to replace its inventory of worn out smoke exhaust fans.

A group of seventh and eighth graders from the Odyssey Day School visited the Wakefield Fire Department Headquarters during the morning of January 13. Chief Sullivan made a safety presentation to the Wakefield Boys and Girls Club at the Americal Civic Center during the afternoon of January 23.

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