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December 2020

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 358 emergency incidents during the month of December including 34 box alarms and 324 still alarms. The department responded to six requests for mutual aid during December, three times to Stoneham, twice to Melrose and once to Lynnfield. The department received mutual aid eight times during the month of December, twice from Lynnfield, and once each from Melrose, North Reading, Reading, Saugus, Stoneham and Woburn.

A crew from Engine 2 under Lieutenant Erik Cole covered Stoneham Fire Headquarters while their firefighters were tied up dealing with a vehicle submerged in a pond during the morning of December 2. A crew from Engine 1 led by Lieutenant Dan Hancock assisted the Lynnfield Fire Department at the scene of a chimney fire at 1 Freeman Street during the early evening of December 16. A crew from Engine 2 under Lt. Robert Taggart covered Stoneham fire Headquarters while their crews were tied up at a structure fire during the afternoon of December 21. Firefighters from Engine 2 under the command of Lieutenant Michael Long assisted the Stoneham Fire Department at the scene of a 2-alarm fire at 13 Bow Street during the afternoon of December 31.

Firefighters under the command of Captain Randy Hudson responded to a reported house fire at 12 Chestnut Street during the early evening of December 18. Upon their arrival, firefighters found a fire in the kitchen of a third-floor apartment and quickly stretched a hose line via the front stairwell of the eight-unit apartment building. The visible fire was quickly knocked down but the resulting zero-visibility conditions from banked down heat and smoke as well as the heavy smoke emitting from the roof resulted in Captain Hudson calling for a second alarm to bring additional personnel to the scene. Engines from Melrose, Reading and Stoneham and a North Reading Ladder responded to the scene to assist with checking the building for fire extension. None was found and the fire was confined to the third-floor apartment. The cause of the fire is still under investigation but is strongly suspected to be accidental via unattended food in the oven. The occupant of the third- floor apartment was transported to Melrose-Wakefield Hospital where he was treated for smoke inhalation and released. The third-floor apartment received heavy fire and smoke damage from the fire with the remainder of the structure sustaining a significant amount of water damage. The Building Inspector deemed the property unfit for habitation and eight building occupants will be displaced until repairs can be made. Wakefield Emergency Manager Thomas Walsh responded to the scene and assisted the displaced residents obtain emergency shelter at the Four-Points Sheraton in Wakefield for the night. Wakefield Police Officers led by Sergeant John Burnham evacuated building occupants just prior to the arrival of the department. Sergeant Burnham himself was responsible for the rescue of the third-floor occupant where the fire started. He forced the door to the apartment open and led the male occupant out of the building, likely saving him from serious or potentially fatal injuries. A Saugus and Woburn engine and a Lynnfield ladder truck covered Wakefield Fire Headquarters during this incident.

The Wakefield Fire Department continues to respond a significant number of emergency medical responses involving citizens sick with or suspected of having the Covid-19 virus. The nation is in the midst of a second surge in Covid-19 infections during the year-end holiday season. This surge started shortly after Thanksgiving with an additional spike showing up after Christmas and has proven to be more severe than the first surge back in April. Wakefield sustained an increase of 317 new Covid-19 positive individuals during the last half of December alone. The department responded, along with Cataldo Ambulance, to 196 incidents in December where the presence of Covid-19 was either confirmed or suspected. Department personnel equipped with medical masks, gowns, shields and gloves respond to all requests for medical aid providing the highest level of protection for both the firefighters and the citizens of Wakefield. Citizens are reminded of the importance of calling 911 for injuries and illnesses that are not Covid-19 related. Citizens with signs and symptoms involving heart attacks, stroke, severe hemorrhaging, allergic reactions and other life-threatening conditions still require prompt treatment and transport to the hospital; it is imperative that these citizens still call 911 for help. Hospitals and emergency rooms have taken extensive precautions to minimize the risk to patients not infected by Covid-19.

All department members participated in both on-line training and instructor led programs related to their continuing education requirements for Emergency Medical Technician. All duty shifts conducted in service walk-throughs of the new 81 Unit apartment building located at 69 Foundry Street during December.

November 2020

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 325 emergency incidents during the month of November including 39 box alarms and 286 still alarms. The department responded to eleven requests for mutual aid during November, six times to Lynnfield, twice to Stoneham and once each Melrose, North Reading and Reading. The department received mutual aid six times during the month of November, twice each from Lynnfield, Reading and Stoneham.

A crew from Engine 2 under Lieutenant Robert Taggart covered Stoneham Fire Headquarters while their firefighters were tied up with a truck fire during the afternoon of November 1. Lt. Taggart responded with another crew from Engine 2 to cover Stoneham Fire Headquarters while they were tied up at an incident during the late morning of November 2. A crew from Engine 1 led by Lieutenant Dan Hancock assisted the Lynnfield Fire Department at the scene of an extensive brush fire on Alexandra Road during the afternoon of November 6. The same crew from Engine 1 under Lieutenant Hancock assisted the Lynnfield fire Department at the scene of a 2-alarm fire at 2 North way during the early evening of November 6. Lt. Hancock returned to Lynnfield with firefighters from Engine 1 to cover their south station during another extensive brush fire on the afternoon of November 8. Lt. Hurley and a crew from Engine 1 covered the Lynnfield Fire Department south station again during the early evening of November 10 while Lynnfield crews were tied up at a serious motor vehicle accident. A crew from Engine 1 under the command of Lieutenant Joseph Albert assisted the North Reading Fire Department at the scene of a 2-alarm house fire at 16 Sunset Avenue during the early afternoon of November 14. A crew from Engine 1 led by Lieutenant Dan Hancock covered the Lynnfield Fire south station during the early afternoon of November 16 while crews were tied up in that community. Lt. John Mercurio led a crew from Engine 1 with assisting the Lynnfield Fire Department at the scene of a 2-alarm fire at 6 Bishop Lane during the early morning of November 26.

Firefighters under the command of Captain John Walsh responded to a reported house fire at 68 Chestnut Street during the early evening of November 4. Upon their arrival, firefighters found the rear deck of the home burning and quickly knocked the fire down with a hose line. The exterior siding of the home was removed in the area of the deck to check for fire extension, which was fortunately not encountered. The fire was confined to the flooring on the rear deck and was determined to be caused by the careless disposal of smoking materials in a make-shift ashtray on the rear deck. There were no injuries to anyone during the fire and the occupants were able to remain in the home.

The Wakefield Fire Department is experiencing a significant increase in emergency medical responses involving citizens sick with or suspected of having the Covid-19 virus. The nation is in the midst of a second surge at least as strong as the original one back in April. Wakefield received an influx of at least 136 new Covid-19 positives individuals during the last half of November. It responded, along with Cataldo Ambulance, to 136 incidents where the presence of Covid-19 was either confirmed or suspected. Department personnel equipped with medical masks, gowns, shields and gloves respond to all requests for medical aid providing the highest level of protection for both the firefighters and the citizens of Wakefield. Citizens are reminded of the importance of calling 911 for injuries and illnesses that are not Covid-19 related. Citizens with signs and symptoms involving heart attacks, stroke, severe hemorrhaging, allergic reactions and other life-threatening conditions still require prompt treatment and transport to the hospital; it is imperative that these citizens still call 9111 for help. Hospitals and emergency rooms have taken extensive precautions to minimize the risk to patients not infected by Covid-19.

All department members participated in both on-line training and instructor led programs related to their continuing education requirements for Emergency Medical Technician. Several groups participated in training evolutions at two single family homes on Salem Street scheduled to be demolished in the near future. All duty groups conducted quarterly fire inspection of all schools, hotels, and boarding houses during the month of November.

October 2020

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 326 emergency incidents during the month of October including 33 box alarms and 294 still alarms. The department responded to six requests for mutual aid during October, three times to Lynnfield, twice to Stoneham and once to Peabody. The department received mutual aid twenty times during the month of October, four times from Lynnfield, twice each from Malden, Reading and Stoneham and once each from Burlington, Lynn, Melrose, North Reading, Peabody, Reading, Revere, Saugus, Winchester and Woburn. A crew from Engine 2 under Lieutenant Robert Taggart covered Stoneham Fire Headquarters during an extensive brush fire in that community during the afternoon of October 10. Wakefield Firefighter Steven Bivens responded as a member of the Northeast Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team to 5 Allens Lane in the City of Peabody during the afternoon of October 17 to assist the Peabody Fire Department with a confined space rescue. Peabody Firefighters managed to remove the injured party before the rescue team was fully assembled. Members of the Northeast Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team have their training compensated for by the State of Massachusetts. A crew from Engine 2 led by Lieutenant Sean Curran covered Stoneham Fire headquarters during a structure fire in that community at 144 Marble Street in that community on October 20.

Firefighters under the command of Captain John Walsh responded to a report of a structure fire at 1 New Salem Street at approximately 2:45 A.M. on the morning of October 2. Firefighters arrived to find the front section of the building fully involved in flames and Captain Walsh ordered a second alarm. Firefighters were hampered in their attempts to extinguish the fire as the building was constructed with a corrugated steel exterior with very few doors or windows. The water supply available in the area was not sufficient to extinguish a fire of this magnitude on the property so subsequent third, fourth and fifth alarms were struck by Chief Sullivan to bring additional engines to the scene to set up a relay pumping system to bring in additional water from hydrants on Water, Vernon and Pleasant Streets. Heavy equipment was also called to the scene in the form of a front-end loader to tear down some of the corrugated metal siding so that firefighters could gain access to the seat of the fire. The fire was brought under control at approximately 5:10 AM. The communities of Lynn, Lynnfield, Malden, Melrose, North Reading, Reading, Saugus, Stoneham, Winchester and Woburn sent apparatus to the fire while Burlington, Revere and Peabody covered the vacant Wakefield stations. A team of fire investigators from the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal’s office as well as Wakefield Police and Fire investigators conducted an extensive investigation of the property. The official cause of the fire remains undetermined. The entire front section of the building along with its contents was completely destroyed while the remainder of the building suffered heavy smoke and water damage. Property loss from the fire is expected to be well in excess of $1 million.

All department members participated in both on-line training and instructor led programs related to their continuing education requirements for Emergency Medical Technician. The final two duty groups participated in a practical training evolution at Howe’s tow yard involving vehicle extrication techniques. Several groups participated in training evolutions at two single family homes on Salem Street scheduled to be demolished in the near future. All duty groups continue to conduct in-service fire prevention inspections of local businesses. These inspections are necessary to keep citizens working in these businesses safe and help to keep emergency contacts for these businesses accurate. The Fire Prevention Bureau conducted an inspection of the suppression systems for the gasoline self-service stations at 493 Salem Street and 950 Main Street during the month of October. A new fire sprinkler system installed at the Doyle School, 11 Paul Avenue, successfully passed its final inspection on October 29. This sprinkler system is an important fire protection project advocated by the Wakefield Fire Department to provide an increased level of protection to the preschool-aged children attending the Doyle School.

The department continues to receive federal aid in the form of grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The department secured a 2019 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant in the amount of $1.1 Million to fully fund the salary and fringe benefits for four additional full-time firefighters for the Town of Wakefield for a period of three years. This SAFER grant is in addition to a 2018 SAFER grant already awarded to the town to staff one full-time firefighter for salary and benefits at a 75% level for two years and a 35% level for the third and final year for a total of $195,229 in federal aid. A third federal grant in the form of a 2019 Covid-19 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) in the amount of $4,500 will reimburse the department for some of the costs it incurred for medial equipment supplies related to the Covid-19 Pandemic. A 2019 AFG grant for $10, 910 will fund 90% of the training costs for an instructor led program regarding the use of the Firefighter Personal Escape Systems (bail-out kits) that would permit them to quickly exit a fire building via an exterior window. The department has utilized these kits for almost a decade and department members are due for refresher training in their proper use.

September 2020

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 294 emergency incidents during the month of September including 26 box alarms and 268 still alarms. The department responded to two requests for mutual aid during September, once each to Melrose and Reading. The department received mutual aid three times during the month of September, two times from Reading and once from Stoneham. A crew from Engine 1 under Lieutenant Joseph Albert assisted the Reading Fire Department at the scene of a 2-alarm fire at 27 Virginia Road during the afternoon of September 19.

Firefighters under the command of Captain John Walsh responded to a report of a structure fire at 134 Salem Street during the morning of September 6. Firefighters arrived to find that a plumbing contractor had hit a nail while cutting a drain hole for a shower drain and the resulting sparks had ignited nearby wood construction. He was able to dump a bucket of water on the fire slowing its spread until firefighters could complete extinguishment. The fire was contained to the area of origin and there were no injuries as a result of the fire.

Crews under the direction of Captain Paul Pronco responded to the West Rock Company at 365 Audubon Road during the evening of September 10 to assist a worker who had injured his hand in an industrial roller. The worker had been freed by co-workers prior to the department’s arrival. He was treated by Cataldo Ambulance paramedics and transported to Massachusetts General Hospital for follow-up care.

A crew from Engine 1 led by Lieutenant Daniel Hancock responded to 14 Audubon Road during the early morning of September 22 to assist the Wakefield Police and Cataldo Ambulance with the treatment of a young woman with a gunshot wound to the neck and shoulder area. The woman was treated at the scene and transported to Lahey Clinic in Burlington for follow-up care.

A shortage of rain coupled with a mild winter has resulted in significant drought conditions throughout the state. As ground moisture levels drop vegetation including mulch and brush has dried out to the point where they are very susceptible to ignition. The department has responded to numerous incidents where mulched landscaping has ignited from the careless disposal of smoking materials. Residents are reminded to make sure that they safely dispose of cigarettes in an ashtray and not discard them on the ground. Several campfires triggered brush fires in the wooded areas off Hemlock Road and Castle Clare Circle during September. The large pile of leaves and yard waste at the town pit off of Nahant Street heated up and spontaneously ignited on September 22 requiring firefighters to open up the pile with the assistance from DPW employees so that it could be wet down and extinguished. The pit area had to be wet down for several days following this fire to ensure that the fire remained extinguished. The vegetation will remain susceptible to fires until the region receives some significant rainfall.

All department members continue to participate in on-line training programs related to their continuing education requirements for Emergency Medical Technician. Several groups participated in a practical training evolution at Howe’s tow yard involving vehicle extrication techniques. The department’s aerial ladder as well as all ground ladders were tested and passed their annual performance tests. All duty groups continue to conduct in-service fire prevention inspections of local businesses. These inspections are necessary to keep citizens working in these businesses safe and help to keep emergency contacts for these businesses accurate. The Fire Prevention Bureau conducted an inspection of the new fire alarm system installed at 27 Water Street during the morning of September 28.

August 2020

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 409 emergency incidents during the month of August including 45 box alarms and 364 still alarms. The department responded to six requests for mutual aid during August, three times to Melrose, twice to Lynnfield and once to Saugus. The department received mutual aid seven times during the month of August, twice from Stoneham, twice from Reading and once each from Lynnfield, North Reading and Woburn. A crew from Engine 1 under Lieutenant Daniel Hancock covered a vacant Lynnfield fire station while that department was tied up with an emergency during the evening of August 4. Another crew from Engine 1 led by Lieutenant John Mercurio covered a Lynnfield fire station during the morning of August 5. A crew from Engine 2 led by Lieutenant Christopher Crogan assisted the Saugus Fire Department at the scene of a structure fire at 30 Spencer Avenue during the evening of August 8. Firefighters from Engine 2 under the direction of Lieutenant Phil Preston assisted the Melrose Fire Department at the scene of a 2-alarm fire at 27 Penny Hill Road during the evening of August 21.

Wakefield was rocked by what appeared to be a microburst as a weather front moved through the area during the afternoon of August 23. The department was immediately inundated with emergency calls, responding to a variety of calls, including fallen trees and utility poles, downed and burning electrical lines and blocked roads. The department responded to approximately 53 storm-related calls within the first hour of the storm, the most serious being a 2-alarm structure fire on Elm Street. A total of 65 storm related responses were eventually made, many of them including multiple problems at the same location. Approximately 130 large trees fell across town, blocking streets and bringing down power lines. Several dozen homes were struck by large trees, causing significant damage to them and in several instances, displacing the occupants until repairs could be made. Many streets including Houston Street, Grafton Street and multiple sections of Main Street in Greenwood were completely blocked by fallen trees. The Wakefield Fire and Police Departments worked closely with members of the Department of Public Works and Municipal Light and Gas Department to safeguard the public as well as clear streets of fallen trees and downed wires. Clean-up and repair operations are still underway and will likely be for several weeks to come. I’m extremely proud of the efforts of the Wakefield Fire Department during this storm and grateful to have the cooperation and expertise of the other departments in Town already credited.

Firefighters aboard Ladder 1, under the command of Lieutenant Erik Cole responded to a report of wires burning in the street in the vicinity of 83-88 Elm Street just after 5 P.M. on August 23 during the height of the microburst moving through Wakefield. Upon their arrival, firefighters were alerted to the fact that a fire had ignited inside the basement of 88 Elm Street. Lieutenant Cole immediately struck a second as he was aware that all apparatus was committed and responding to many incidents around town. Engine 1 and 5 were able to break free and respond to the fire as well as several off-duty firefighters, Chief Sullivan and Deputy Chief Purcell. A second alarm brought a Reading engine and a North Reading ladder truck to the scene as well. The home was completely filled with dense smoke resulting in very poor visibility. The fire was quickly contained to the basement area of origin despite the fact that it was fought with approximately half the number of firefighters that would have been normally dispatched to the scene. The department responded to dozens of other storm related calls that were handled by Deputy Chief Purcell, Wakefield Engine 4, the department’s pick-up truck Car 6, a Stoneham engine, a Woburn engine and a Lynnfield ladder truck once the second alarm fire started. The home suffered damage to its electrical and gas systems as well as significant smoke and water damage. The fire was primarily confined to the basement area and areas immediately above it on the first and second floors. An investigation of the fire eventually determined the fire to be caused by an electrical surge passing into the residence through the basement water service. Wind and Lightning from the storm caused power lines to fail and fall into the street while still energized. The resulting electrical current burned a hole through the pavement and energized the underground area beneath the hole. Electricity then passed through the water pipe and into the basement of the residence. An electrical outlet blew out and started arcing setting fire to nearby combustibles and melting the gas meter. The homeowners will be displaced until proper repairs can be made to the residence. There were no injuries to any firefighters or civilians as a result of this fire. Cataldo Ambulance provided medical support to crews during the fire and Rehab Five supplied water and snacks.

Firefighters under the command of Captain Paul Pronco responded to a report of a ruptured underground natural gas main on Montrose Avenue near Whittier Road at approximately 9:30 A.M. on August 31. Firefighters arrived to find that construction crews working on the National Grid underground power line project had inadvertently struck the natural gas line resulting in a significant leak from the four-inch high pressure line. Firefighters immediately deployed several large caliber hose streams in a fog pattern in an effort to divert the leaking gas fumes away from nearby residences. Firefighters entered approximately six residences on Montrose Avenue, evacuating them and checking them for any accumulations of natural gas. No readings of natural gas were found inside any of the homes. The Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department (WMGLD) responded and immediately began operations to shut down the flow of natural gas through the punctured line. WMGLD crews were eventually able to stop the flow of natural gas about 45 minutes later. All evacuated homes were checked for natural gas accumulations again before their occupants were allowed to return to them. The scene was then left in the hands of WMGLD crews to make the necessary repairs to the gas line.

Quick and efficient communications between the Wakefield Fire and Police Departments as well as members of the WMGLD prevented a serious incident from becoming a potentially catastrophic one.

Wakefield Fire Department responses continued to increase significantly in August, almost 22% over the month of July. This noticeable increase is primarily due to the microburst that ripped through Wakefield during the afternoon of August 23. It appears that emergency responses have returned to close to normal levels as Massachusetts slowly goes through its re-opening process.

All department members continue to participate in on-line training programs related to their continuing education requirements for Emergency Medical Technician. All duty groups have resumed their in-service fire prevention inspections of local businesses. These inspections are necessary to keep citizens working in these businesses safe and help to keep emergency contacts for these businesses accurate. All four of the department’s fire engines passed their annual pumper performance tests on August 21. The Fire Prevention Bureau conducted a construction final fire protection inspection of the new apartment building located at 598 North Avenue on August 31.

July 2020

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 336 emergency incidents during the month of July including 31 box alarms and 305 still alarms. The department responded to two requests for mutual aid during July, once each to Melrose and Saugus. The department received mutual aid four times during the month of July, twice from Lynnfield and once each from Reading and Stoneham. A crew from Engine 2 under Lieutenant Michael Long assisted the Saugus Fire Department at the scene of a structure fire at 1831 Broadway during the early morning of July 13.

Firefighters under the command of Captain Randy Hudson responded to numerous calls on Audubon Road following a transformer fire and power outage in that area. Firefighters found the electrical transformer on the pole across from 2 Audubon Road actively burning with wires down. The burning transformer set off numerous fire alarm systems to buildings in the area keeping firefighters busy. The Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department responded and made thee necessary repairs to the transformer. The DPW made repairs to the asphalt sidewalk, which had melted due to the burning and arcing high voltage electrical lines that had fallen on it. Later that day, the same crews under Captain Hudson rescued two boaters in distress on Lake Quannapowitt whose sailboat had taken on water. Firefighters picked up the two boaters and towed the boat back to shore.

Lieutenant Joseph Albert led a crew from Engine 1 that assisted Cataldo Ambulance and the Wakefield Police Department rescue a missing and injured hiker from Breakheart Reservation during the afternoon of July 22.

Wakefield Fire Department responses increased significantly in July, almost 24% over the month of June. This noticeable increase is perhaps a sign that citizens are more willing to contact the department for services now that the Covid-19 pandemic has quieted down in our area. The department continues to work closely with Cataldo Ambulance to provide the best possible emergency medical care and reminds members of the public not to hesitate to call for assistance for any type of medical emergency, not just those related to Covid-19.

All department members continue to participate in on-line training programs related to their continuing education requirements in order to maintain their certificates for Emergency medical Technician. All duty groups have resumed their in-service fire prevention inspections of local businesses. These inspections are necessary to keep citizens working in these businesses safe and help to keep emergency contacts for these businesses accurate.

The Wakefield Fire Department held a brief swearing in ceremony for newly appointed Deputy Fire Chief Thomas Purcell, Captain David Shinney and Lieutenant Gary Hill at the Public Safety Building on July 21 that was presided over by Town Clerk Betsy Sheeran. Deputy Chief Purcell will be s working in Fire Administration Monday thru Friday assisting Chief Sullivan. Captain David Shinney has been assigned as the department’s new Fire Prevention Officer, taking the place of Captain John Walsh, who will now serve as the Shift supervisor for Group 3. Lieutenant Gary Hill will remain on Group 3 as the Ladder 1 Lieutenant under Captain Walsh. All members wish Deputy Chief Purcell, Captain Shinney and Lieutenant Hill success in their new positions within the Wakefield Fire Department.

June 2020

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 271 emergency incidents during the month of June including 34 box alarms and 237 still alarms. The department responded to nine requests for mutual aid during June, seven times to Melrose and once each to Reading and Saugus. The department received mutual aid five times during the month of June, twice from Reading and Stoneham and once from Melrose. A crew from Engine 1 led by Lieutenant Cliff Silva covered the vacant Reading Fire Headquarters during a structure fire in that town on the morning of June 1. Firefighters from Engine 2 under the command of Lieutenant Sean Curran assisted the Melrose Fire Department at the scene of s structure fire at 34 South High Street during the afternoon of June 24. A crew from Engine 2 under Lieutenant Michael Long assisted the Saugus Fire Department at the scene of a structure fire at 10 Kent Street during the evening of June 27. A crew from Engine 2 led by Lieutenant Joseph Albert assisted the Melrose Fire Department at the scene of a structure fire at 56 West Wyoming Avenue during the morning of June 29.

Wakefield, like many other area communities, has experienced a significant increase in incidents involving the use of illegal fireworks. These fireworks, if used improperly, can result in serious injury and significant property loss. Wakefield’s wooded areas have dried out during the hot summer temperatures that arrived with June, resulting in very low moisture levels in brush and other potential ground fuels. These conditions contributed to the ignition of a brush fire on the southwest shore of Crystal Lake during the evening of Jun 20 that was ignited by the careless use of fireworks. Firefighters under the command of Captain John Walsh responded to this brush fire just as darkness fell on the evening of June 20. The area could only be accessed through a steeply graded area off of Crystal Street in Stoneham. Firefighters dragged almost a thousand feet of fire hose through the steep terrain and deployed a fire boat with additional hose to extinguish the fire. An engine from Stoneham fire assisted the department at the scene while a Reading engine covered Wakefield Fire Headquarters. The fire took approximately 90 minutes to extinguish and has to be wet down again the next morning. One Wakefield firefighter became seriously dehydrated during this fire and had to be transported to Melrose-Wakefield Hospital for follow-up care where he was treated and released.

Wakefield Fire Department responses to Covid-19 related calls have dropped off significantly as Massachusetts continues with its multi-phased reopening plans. The department continues to work closely along with Cataldo Ambulance to provide the emergency medical care that potential Covid-19 patients require. The Department reminds members of the public not to hesitate to call for assistance for any type of medical emergency, not just those related to Covid-19. Citizens with symptoms of heart attack or stroke, severe hemorrhaging, allergic reactions and other life-threatening conditions still require prompt treatment and transport to the hospital; it is imperative that these citizens still call 911 for help. Hospitals and emergency rooms have taken extensive precautions to minimize the risk to patients not affected by Covid-19. Civid-19 admissions to area hospitals have decreased dramatically.

All scheduled instructor-led emergency medical training in June was cancelled due to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, however; department members are able to participate in on-line training programs. The department was able to conduct training classes on Electrical Safety for the remaining two of its four duty shifts on June 5 and 12. This training was conducted by retired Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department employee Dan Flynn, who has moved into a new position as a safety trainer for the Northeast Public Power Association. Dan’s presentations were both informative and well received by department members. The department received additional training on June 16 to 19 from representatives of Fire Department Support Services (FDSS), who conducted in depth, individual training to department members on proper pump operator procedures. All groups also conducted boat training and conducted the department’s annual testing of its fire hose during the month of June.

The department also conducted drive byes of the various elementary schools in town during June to celebrate the moving on festivities for the fourth graders at those schools and participated in a town-wide parade acknowledging the Wakefield High School graduating Class of 2020.

Wakefield Fire Captain Thomas Purcell was appointed to the new department rank of Deputy Fire Chief by the Town Council on June 22. His appointment will become effective and his swearing in ceremony will take place in July at a date to be announced. The department wishes Deputy Chief Purcell success in his new position with the Wakefield Fire Department.

May 2020

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 275 emergency incidents during the month of May including 28 box alarms and 247 still alarms. The department responded to six requests for mutual aid during May, twice to Stoneham and once each to Lynnfield, Melrose, Reading and Woburn. The department received mutual aid once during the month of May from Lynnfield. A crew from Engine 1 led by Lieutenant Cliff Silva covered a vacant Lynnfield fire station during the morning of May 5. Another crew from Engine 1 under Lieutenant Phil Preston covered a vacant Woburn fire station during a 2-alarm fire in that city also on the morning of May 5. Lt. Daniel Hancock and a crew from Engine 1 covered Stoneham Fire Headquarters while that department was tied up with a serious motor vehicle accident during the morning of May 14. A crew from Engine 2 under Lieutenant Joseph Albert covered Stoneham Fire headquarters while that department was tied up at an incident during the evening of May 18. Lieutenant Cliff Silva and a crew from Engine 1 covered Reading Fire Headquarters during a fire in that community on the morning of May 29.

Firefighters under the command of Captain Thomas Purcell responded to a reported kitchen fire at 76 Pleasant Street during the evening of May 28. Crews arrived to find the fire had been knocked down by the homeowner using a portable fire extinguisher. Apparently the homeowner had stepped away from the kitchen while melting a stick of butter and returned to find the butter had ignited. The fire spread to adjoining cabinetry and an overhead microwave oven before being extinguished. Firefighters checked for any fire extension in the kitchen and found no extension beyond what had already been damaged. The home sustained significant smoke damage throughout the first floor and firefighters used several smoke ejectors to clear the smoke from the apartment. There were no injuries as a result of the fire and the occupants were displaced until repairs could be made.

The Wakefield Fire Department continues to respond to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic affecting the country. The department responded to 117 calls where Covid-19 was either present or suspected during the month of May. Department personnel equipped with medical masks, gowns, shields and gloves respond to all requests for medical aid in an attempt to protect both themselves, their families and members of the public from contracting Covid-19. The department continues to work closely along with our EMS partners with Cataldo Ambulance to provide all emergency medical care that potential Covid-19 patients require.

The Department continues to experience a decrease in the number of non-Covid-19 medical calls that it responds to and reminds members of the public not to hesitate to call for assistance for any type of medical emergency, not just those related to Covid-19. Citizens with symptoms of heart attack or stroke, severe hemorrhaging, allergic reactions and other life-threatening conditions still require prompt treatment and transport to the hospital; it is imperative that these citizens still call 911 for help. Hospitals and emergency rooms have taken extensive precautions to minimize the risk to patients not affected by Covid-19.

All scheduled emergency medical training in May was cancelled due to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic. The department was able to conduct training classes on Electrical Safety for two of its four duty shifts during the month of May. This training was conducted by retired Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department employee Dan Flynn, who has moved into a new position as a safety trainer for the Northeast Public Power Association. Dan will be back to conduct this training for the remaining two duty groups during the month of June.

Several department members assisted in a town-wide door to door distribution of medical masks to the citizens of Wakefield during the period of May 4 to May 6. Department members distributed masks in residential neighborhoods and also to almost two dozen apartment and condominiums complexes. Wakefield was one of only a few communities to complete a door to door distribution of masks and I am proud of the department’s contribution towards the completion of this important event.

April 2020

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 253 emergency incidents during the month of April including 18 box alarms and 235 still alarms. The department responded to five requests for mutual aid during April, three times to Melrose and once each to Reading and Saugus. The department did not receive any mutual aid during the month of April. Lieutenant Michael Long along with a crew from Engine 2 assisted the Saugus Fire Department at the scene of a building fire at 10 Laurel Street during the early morning of April 5. Another crew from Engine 2 under Lieutenant Long covered Melrose Fire Headquarters during an extensive brush fire in that city during the afternoon of April 12. A crew from Engine 1 under the command of Lieutenant Phil Preston assisted the Reading Fire Department at the scene of a 3-alarm fire in a golf club at 292 Grove Street during the early morning of April 17. A crew from Engine 2 led by Lieutenant Sean Curran assisted the Melrose Fire Department at a 2-alarm fire at 62 Willow Street during the early afternoon of April 21.

The Wakefield Fire Department continues to respond to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic affecting the country. Its responses to virus related calls comprise a significant percentage of its emergency medical responses. The department responded to 87 calls where Covid-19 was either present or suspected in a twelve day period alone between April 15 and 27. Department personnel equipped with medical masks, gown, shields and gloves respond to all requests for medical aid in an attempt to protect both themselves, their families and members of the public. Firefighters look different but remain just as committed to work with our partners in Cataldo Ambulance to provide the emergency medical care that potential Covid-19 patients require.

The Department has experienced a decline in the number of medical calls that it responds to and would caution members of the public not to hesitate to call for assistance for any type of medical emergency, not just those related to Covid-19. Citizens with symptoms of heart attack or stroke, severe hemorrhaging, allergic reactions and other life-threatening conditions still require prompt treatment and transport to the hospital; it is imperative that these citizens still call 911 for help. Hospitals and emergency rooms have taken extensive precautions to minimize the risk to patients not affected by Covid-19.

Firefighters under the command of Captain Brian Purcell responded to a serious accident involving several workers operating at 17 Richardson Avenue that occurred around noon on April 15. The workers, operating from scaffolding that they had erected on the side of the building, suffered significant injuries after the structure suddenly gave way and collapsed, dropping them fifteen feet to the ground. The workers were treated at the scene by first responders and transported to area hospitals by Cataldo Ambulance personnel. The Building Inspector and personnel from the regional office for OSHA were both notified to perform a follow-up investigation into the cause of this work-related accident.

All schedule emergency medical training as well as several classes on electrical safety and pump operator training were cancelled due to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic. Several department members assisted the town distribute medical masks to the elderly during a mask giveaway in the parking lot of the Galvin Middle School on April 20.

March 2020

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 267 emergency incidents during the month of February including 33 box alarms and 234 still alarms. The department responded to one request for mutual aid during March to Lynn. It received mutual aid three times in March, twice from Reading and once from Stoneham. Lieutenant Joseph Albert responded with a crew from Engine 2 to cover a vacant Lynn Fire Headquarters during a multiple alarm fire in that city during the evening of March 11.

Firefighters under the command of Captain Randy Hudson responded to reports of smoke coming from the building at the Lakeside Office Park, 607 North Avenue, during the afternoon of March 5. Upon their arrival, they encountered heavy black smoke coming from the chimney and banking down into the parking lot. A quick investigation soon revealed that creosote and other combustible debris inside the chimney had ignited. The fire was quickly contained to the chimney and the furnace was shut down for cleaning. There was no other fire damage to the property and no injuries as a result of this fire. Occupants were allowed to return to the building as soon as the smoke was cleared. The cause of the fire was determined to be a failure to clean out the chimney after the furnace to the building had been replaced.

Captain Thomas Purcell led a group of firefighters responding to a reported building fire at 16 Juniper Avenue during the evening of March 23. The homeowner noticed a strong smell of burning wood after operating the fireplace all day as he was preparing to retire for the night. Shortly after that the fire alarms in the residence activated. Firefighters arrived within several minutes and found that the homeowner had already made numerous opening in the walls located behind the chimney in an attempt to control a smoldering fire that had ignited inside the wall. They were quickly able to wet down the affected areas preventing any further fire extension within the residence. The homeowner suffered a serious cut to his hand during his extinguishment efforts during the fire. The family residing at the residence was displaced for several days while the damage was repaired. The cause of the fire was determined to be a defective lining inside the chimney flue which allowed adjoining wall sections to heat up and ignite.

Firefighters under Captain Brian Purcell responded to a fire at 478 Main Street during the morning of March 24. The crew from Engine 2 spotted heavy smoke and fire coming from the top of the chimney at the site of the former business known as Stylecraft while driving up from the Greenwood fire station. They immediately stopped and began extinguishing the fire while additional firefighters responded from Headquarters. Firefighters forced entry into the building and began checking the wall spaces adjacent to the chimney for fire extension. Finding no extension, they were able to access the cleanout for the chimney and empty it of burning debris. The fire was contained to the chimney area and the building was vented of smoke. There were no occupants in the vacant building at the time of the fire and no injuries reported. The cause of the fire was determined to be lack of maintenance to the chimney and heating system.

Firefighters under the command of Captain Randy Hudson responded to a reported house fire at 19 Lakeview Avenue during the evening of March 29 after a violent thunder and lightning storm moved through the area. Firefighters quickly determined from a neighbor that lightning had in fact struck the home igniting its siding and some underlying insulation. Neighbors had the fire under control upon the arrival of the department. Firefighters checked the home and did not find any signs of fire extension. The Wakefield Municipal gas and light Department responded as well to check the home’s electrical service. No issues were found and the occupants were able to stay in the home.

Wakefield Firefighters Michael Scheri and Michael Marroquin successfully graduated with the other members of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Recruit Training Class 281 on March 20, 2020. The recruits completed 11 weeks of intensive training that began on January 13. Firefighters Scheri and Marroquin will receive several additional weeks of training with the department before being assigned to their new respective groups in mid-April. The department wishes them long and productive careers in the fire service.

All schedule emergency medical training as well as an awareness class on the risks of occupational cancer in the fire service were cancelled or rescheduled due to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.

The Coronavirus continues to work its way through the community and the country. The department responded to more than 200 emergency medical calls during the month of March, some of them involving residents sick with COVID-19 and some sick with the flu and other illnesses. The department continues to serve the public and respond to calls involving COVID-19, equipped with N95 masks, gloves, medical aprons and goggles. We look a bit different and may ask some additional questions but we stand ready to assist the public in any way we can no matter what the circumstances may be.

February 2020

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 285 emergency incidents during the month of February including 57 box alarms and 228 still alarms. The department responded to five requests for mutual aid during February, twice to Lynnfield and once each to Reading, Stoneham and Woburn. It did not receive any mutual aid in February. A crew from Engine 1 led by Lieutenant Cliff Silva assisted the Lynnfield Fire department and members of the Northeast Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team extricate an injured patient from the wooded area behind the Lynnfield Commons complex at 375 Broadway during the afternoon of February 8. Lieutenant Daniel Hancock responded with a crew from Engine 1 to cover a vacant Woburn fire station during a 2-alarm fire in that city during the morning of February 18. Another crew from Engine 1 led by Lieutenant Christopher Crogan assisted the Lynnfield Fire Department at the scene of a 2-alarm fire inside a car dealership at 385 Broadway during the early morning of February 20. Firefighters from Engine 1 under the command of Lieutenant Cliff Silva responded to a 4-alarm fire at 1 High Street in Reading during the early morning of February 24. The fire occurred in a 12-unit apartment building, trapping two occupants in the unit where the fire started. Lieutenant Silva’s crew assisted Reading Firefighters removed these victims from the building and assisted in performing CPR on both of them. Sadly, one of the fire victims died from their injuries and the other remains in critical condition. A crew from Engine 2 led by Lieutenant Sean Curran covered Stoneham Fire Headquarters during a fire in that community during the evening of February 25.

Firefighters led by Captain Paul Pronco responded to 316 Main Street during the afternoon of February 9 after occupants reported a strong burning odor in the building. Investigation sound revealed that a large coffee pot in the basement had accidentally been turned on causing the odor. Nothing was damaged except the coffee pot and the occupants were soon allowed to re-enter the building.

Firefighters under the direction of Captain Brian Purcell responded to a fire alarm activation at the Dockside restaurant at 1099 Main Street during the evening of February 27. Upon their arrival, they encountered a smoke condition in the bar area located at the rear of the restaurant. A quick investigation soon revealed that a cooler located under the bar had malfunctioned, creating the smoke condition. The cooler was disconnected and removed from the building and smoke was vented from the bar area. The fire was contained to the cooler and some paneling immediately adjacent to it. No one was injured and the restaurant was able to remain open.

Wakefield Firefighters under the command of Captain Brian Purcell responded to a residence at 14 Jackson Lane after residents reported a smoke condition in the building during the morning of February 29. The source of the smoke was quickly determined to be from a trash barrel that had caught on fire in a basement bedroom. The homeowner had removed the barrel outdoors just before the arrival of the department. There was no fire extension beyond the trash barrel and the smoke was vented from the residence. The cause of the fire was determined to be the careless disposal of smoking materials inside the waste basket. There were no injuries as a result of the fire and the residents were able to remain in the home.

All groups received refresher training in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) as well the proper use of the department’s semi-automatic defibrillators during the month of February. Several groups conducted search and rescue drills at the former Hurd School during February as well.

January 2020

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 334 emergency incidents during the month of January including 38 box alarms and 296 still alarms. The department responded to five requests for mutual aid during January, twice each to Lynnfield and Saugus and once to Melrose. It received mutual aid four times in January, twice from Stoneham and once each from Melrose and Reading. A crew from Engine 2 under Lieutenant Michael Long responded to Melrose during the early evening of January 17 to assist that City while it was tied up with multiple emergency calls. A crew from Engine 1 led by Lieutenant John Mercurio covered the Lynnfield south station during the early morning of January 19 while that department was tied up with multiple calls. Lieutenant Joseph Albert led a crew from Engine 2 that covered Saugus Fire headquarters during a 2-alarm fire in the community at 42 Mt. Vernon Street during the early evening of January 29. A crew from Engine 2 under the command of Lieutenant Sean Curran assisted the Saugus Fire Department at the scene of a working structure fire at 24 Main Street during the evening of January 31.

The department welcomed two new recruit firefighters in January. Firefighter Michael Scheri and Michael Marroquin were sworn in on January 2 during a brief ceremony held at the Public Safety Building. Michael Scheri is a veteran of the United States Navy, serving as an aviation electronics specialist from 2009 to 2012. Michael is a graduate of Wakefield Memorial High School and holds an Associate’s degree in Business from North Shore Community College. Michael Marroquin is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps serving from 200 to 2004 as a communications specialist operating radio and satellite equipment. Michael is originally from the City of Los Angeles and moved to Wakefield after completing his duties with the Marine Corps. He has served as a public safety dispatcher for the Town of Arlington for the past twelve years and speaks fluent Spanish. Recruits Scheri and Marroquin entered the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy as part of Recruit Class 281, a ten-week program, on January 9, 2020 with an anticipated graduation date of March 20, 2020. The department welcomes both recruits and wished them a long and productive career with the fire service.

The department implemented a new fire incident reporting system on January 30. The system, developed by Emergency Reporting, will allow the department create their incident reports in a format that complies with the requirements of the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) as well as the Massachusetts Fire Incident Reporting System (MFIRS). The department will now be able to report all of their emergency incidents electronically to both the state and federal governments. All groups trained on the use of cold water survival suits and ice rescue procedures during the month of January.

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