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August 2022

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 369 emergency incidents during the month of August including 26 box alarms and 343 still alarms. The hot humid weather during the month of August created miserable and dangerous conditions for firefighting as the department responded to numerous incidents involving structure and outside fires. The department responded to eleven requests for mutual aid during August, six times to Saugus and once each to Chelsea, Lynnfield, Melrose, Malden and Reading. The department received mutual aid twenty-three times during the month of August, three times from Malden, twice each from Lynnfield, Melrose, North Reading, Reading, Saugus, Stoneham and Woburn and once each from Burlington, Danvers, Lynn, Middleton, Wilmington and Winchester.

Firefighters from Engine 2 under Lieutenant John Mercurio covered a vacant Malden fire station during a multiple alarm fire in that city during the afternoon of August 3. Lt. Mercurio led another crew from Engine 2 that assisted the Melrose Fire Department at the scene of a working fire at 71 School Street during the early morning of August 6. A crew from Engine 2 under Lieutenant Erik Cole assisted the Saugus Fire Department at their structure fire at 251 Essex Street during the afternoon of August 8. A crew from Engine 1 under the direction of Lieutenant Cliff Silva assisted the Reading Fire Department at a three-alarm fire at 8 Sanborn Street during the afternoon of August 15. Deputy Chief Thomas Purcell also responded to this incident to assist the Incident Commander at the scene. Crews from Engines 1 and 2 assisted the Saugus Fire Department while they battled extensive brush fires inside Breakheart Reservation on August 16, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25. A crew from Engine 2 under the command of Lieutenant Michael Long covered a vacant Chelsea fire station during a 5-alarm fire in that city during the early morning of August 17. This same crew from Engine 2 under Lieutenant Long had previously assisted the Saugus Fire Department during the first night of the Breakheart brush fires earlier that same duty shift.

Firefighters under the command of Captain Brian Purcell responded to multiple calls for a house fire at 26 Eastern Avenue at 11:35 A.M. on August 5, 2022. Firefighters arrived within two minutes to find the home evacuated and heavy smoke and heat conditions on the second floor. Several attempts were made to advance hose lines into the second floor before zero visibility and heavy fire and heat conditions forced firefighters to withdraw from the residence. Captain Purcell ordered a second alarm at 11:50 A.M. due to the heavy fire conditions and the hot, humid weather, bringing engine companies from Reading, Stoneham and Melrose as well as a North Reading Ladder truck to the fire. Deputy Fire Chief Thomas Purcell assumed command of the incident and designated Captain Brian Purcell as the Operations Officer. A third alarm was requested at 12:06 P.M. followed by a fourth alarm at 12:56 P.M. to bring additional firefighters to the scene due to the high ambient heat conditions and the need to rotate crews and rehabilitate them. This brought engine companies from Malden, Middleton, Saugus, Wilmington, Winchester, and Woburn as well as Ladder companies from Lynnfield and Malden to the fire scene. The fire extended inside concealed spaces in the second-floor knee walls before burning through a significant portion of the roof. The heavy fire conditions were extinguished by approximately 1:30 P.M. The entire second floor suffered heavy fire damage with the remainder of the home sustaining smoke and water damage. The residence was a total loss displacing a family of five until the residence can be rebuilt. Troopers from the State Fire Marshal’s Office were requested to respond to the scene to assist local police and fire investigators determine the cause of the fire. Extensive investigation did determine the probable cause to be an undetermined electrical failure on the second-floor area where the occupants first reported seeing the fire. The exact appliance causing the fire could not be determined due to the extent of the damage in the suspected area of origin. One Wakefield Firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation and was transported to Lahey Burlington for follow-up care. He was released from the hospital later that day. A Danvers and Lynn engine company and a Burlington Tower Ladder covered Wakefield Fire Headquarters during the fire.

The department responded to a second structure fire requiring a multiple-alarm response during the morning of August 30 when the department received multiple calls for a house fire on Jackson Lane. Fire crews under the command of Captain John Walsh responded at 11:17 A.M. to find a single-family residence at 22 Jackson Lane with heavy smoke pouring from it and fire showing from the rear of the structure. Crews stretched several hose lines into and around the residence encountering high heat and heavy smoke conditions. Captain Walsh requested a second-alarm at 11:24 A.M as the fire extended into the attic area of the home. Deputy Fire Chief Thomas Purcell responded to the scene and assumed command of the fire. Engine companies from Reading, Stoneham and Melrose responded to the fire as well as a North Reading ladder truck. A Lynnfield ladder truck and a Woburn Engine also responded to the scene as the hot humid temperatures required rapid crew change-outs and rehabilitation. A Saugus engine and a Malden Ladder covered Wakefield Fire Headquarters during the fire. A Wakefield Firefighter suffered from heat exhaustion during this fire and was transported to Lahey Burlington for follow-up medical care before being released later that day. Troopers from the State Fire Marshal’s office were requested to the scene to assist local police and fire investigators in determining the cause of the fire. Investigators eventually determined that the probable cause for the fire was the accidental disposal of candles into a trash container that had not sufficiently cooled down. A family of four will be displaced from the home for an extended period until the home can be repaired.

The severe drought conditions existing throughout large sections of Massachusetts this summer finally took its toll on Breakheart Reservation as a large brush fire broke out near the Saugus entrance on the evening of August 16. Wakefield assisted the Saugus Fire Department at what eventually developed into a 2-alarm brush fire involving the response of many neighboring communities that night. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation assumed responsibility for what ended up being five separate brush fires inside Breakheart. A state-wide mobilization of various brush fire task forces was then put into place as part of the state’s fire mobilization plan. These task forces consisted of communities that had small brush fire trucks with water tanks and water tankers that responded to Saugus on a rotating basis from dozens of communities throughout Massachusetts. This substantial mutual aid did not prove to be sufficient and additional municipal departments using structural fire apparatus were sent to Breakheart Reservation including Wakefield starting on Sunday August 21. The Massachusetts National Guard was activated and utilized Blackhawk helicopters equipped with aerial water buckets capable of holding 660 gallons of water each drop. The Blackhawk made 29 separate drops on Sunday and an additional 74 drops on Wednesday August 24. Wakefield firefighters assisted the Saugus Fire Department on from August 21 through August 25 either assisting with helicopter operations at Walsh Field or with operating thousands of feet of fire hose into Breakheart Reservation along a stretch of Farm Street/Main Street near the Saugus DPW facility and solar panel fields. Both departments worked closely together to protect millions of dollars-worth of this solar equipment, which was the most significant property threatened by the brush fires. A total of five separate brush fires burned through Breakheart Reservation burning a total of 79 acres or more than 10% of the total area of the park. The brush fires burned into the ground destroying the shallow roots systems of many of the park’s trees, rendering them very unstable and susceptible to collapse. The department was proud to be a part of such a unified effort to combat these fires, the largest that I have ever seen in the reservation. The cause of the fires is under investigation by the Massachusetts State Police and are considered to be suspicious in origin. Recent heavy rains have helped to extinguish hundreds of hot spots that have burned into the ground as much as 18 inches deep.

Wakefield Firefighter John Carano graduated from the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Recruit Training Class 303 on August 5, ironically the same day and start-time as the 4-alarm fire at 26 Eastern Avenue. He was assigned to Group 4 under Captain Paul Pronco. Recruit Firefighter Benjamin Tomsyck was sworn in as a Wakefield Firefighter on August 3 and immediately began his 10-week training program with Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Recruit Training Class 305 on August 4 with an anticipated graduation date of October 21, 2022.

All groups attended medical classes as part of their Emergency Medical Technician certificates. Department members continued their annual in-service business inspections of commercial properties. Training by several groups was also conducted during August at Crystal Lake at the Wakefield DPW water department pumping station. The training involved various pumping evolutions including drafting water from Crystal Lake. The groups also trained on the proper use of and handling of ground ladders during August. A crew from ladder 1 visited the Kindercare facility at 607 North Avenue on August 2 where the assisted the children wash their fire truck. Chief Sullivan gave a safety talk to the residents of the Harts Hill Heights assisted Living facility at 50 harts Hill Road on August 4. The Wakefield Cooperative bank generously donated ice cream to first responders at the Public Safety Building via an ice cream truck on August 10.

July 2022

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 376 emergency incidents during the month of July including 26 box alarms and 350 still alarms. The department responded to seven requests for mutual aid during July, five times to Stoneham and once each to Lynnfield and Reading. The department received mutual aid seven times during the month of July, four times from Reading and three times from Lynnfield. Firefighters from Engine 1 covered a vacant Lynnfield fire station on the evening of July 3 while that department was tied up at an incident. A crew from Engine 1 under the command of Lieutenant Erik Cole assisted the Reading Fire Department at the scene of a 3-alarm fire at 35 Colonial Drive during the evening of July 5. Crews from Wakefield Engine 2 covered Stoneham Fire Headquarters on July 8, 22, 24 and 26 as firefighters in that community battled extensive brush fires.

Quick work by firefighters kept an outside trash fire from extending into a single-family residence at 10 Baldwin Road during the early morning of July 6. Fire crews led by Captain John Walsh arrived shortly before 4 A.M. to find a fire in a trash barrel extending to a fence and the exterior vinyl siding of the home. The fire was quickly knocked down and contained to the area of origin. There was no damage to the interior of the residence and the occupants were able to remain in the home. The cause of the fire was investigated and determined to be the careless disposal of charcoal briquettes that had not been given sufficient time to cool before being disposed of. There were no injuries to either firefighters or building occupants as a result of this fire.

The department responded to several serious motor vehicle accidents during the month of July.

Firefighters under the command of Captain John Walsh responded to a report of a serious accident at 131 Vernon Street during the afternoon of July 5. Firefighters arrived to find four teenagers with serious injuries after their vehicle collided with a tree at that location. Two of the occupants managed to exit the vehicle but the driver and the passenger behind him were trapped inside the vehicle. Firefighters used hydraulic rescue tools to remove the roof and two driver side doors from the vehicle. The dashboard was also pushed back away from the driver to free him. The driver was transported by Medflight helicopter to Massachusetts General Hospital. Two of the passengers were transported by ambulance to Lahey Burlington while the third passenger was transported by ambulance to Massachusetts General Hospital. Paramedic crews from the Lynnfield and Reading Fire Departments assisted Wakefield firefighters and Cataldo paramedics in the treatment and transport of the occupants.

The same crew of firefighters led by Captain Walsh responded to a second motor vehicle accident less than five hours later at 61 Hopkins Street. Crews arrived at 7:24 P.M. to find a single vehicle on its roof leaking gasoline. The sole occupant of the vehicle was trapped and had to be freed with a hydraulic rescue tool. The 60-year old female was then transported to Lahey Burlington for follow-up treatment. The Reading Fire Department’s ladder truck assisted department members at the scene of the accident.

A third serious accident occurred just before midnight on July 19. Firefighters, again led by Captain John Walsh, responded to a single car crash at 377 Vernon Street involving two teenage occupants. The vehicle struck a tree at a high rate of speed causing serious injuries to both occupants. A Reading Fire Department paramedic unit responded to the scene to assist Cataldo paramedics. Both occupants were removed from the vehicle without the need for hydraulic rescue tools and were transported to Lahey Hospital in Burlington.

The final serious car accident in July occurred just after 3 P.M. on July 26 on North Avenue in the vicinity of the Galvin Middle School. Firefighters under the command of Captain Brian Purcell found a single passenger vehicle that had lost control and struck a telephone pole. The resulting collision started a fire in the engine compartment of the vehicle, which was quickly extinguished. The lone occupant of the vehicle, a 51-year old woman, became unresponsive shortly after being removed from the vehicle. Firefighters initiated CPR on the woman and she was transported to Lahey Burlington. Sadly, the woman died as a result of her injuries.

All groups attended medical classes as part of their Emergency Medical Technician certificates. Department members continued their annual in-service business inspections of commercial properties. Training by several groups was also conducted during July at Crystal Lake at the Wakefield DPW water department pumping station. The training involved the proper procedures to be used while drafting water from a lake or pond. This evolution was combined with a pumping drill utilizing heavy stream appliances including deck guns and an aerial ladder pipe. The department air compressor providing air for its self-contained breathing apparatus was serviced and calibrated during July.

June 2022

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 367 emergency incidents during the month of June including 28 box alarms and 339 still alarms. The department responded to five requests for mutual aid during June, twice to Melrose and Stoneham and once to Lowell. The department received mutual aid six times during the month of June, three times from Reading and once each from Lynnfield Melrose and Stoneham. Firefighters from Engine 2 covered a vacant Malden fire station during a 3-alarm fire in that city on the evening of June 6. A crew from Engine 2 covered Stoneham Fire Headquarters while that department was tied up during the afternoon of June 8. Firefighters from Engine 2 covered Melrose Fire Headquarters during a structure fire in that city on the morning of June 14. A crew from Engine 2 covered Stoneham Fire headquarters during an incident in that community during the afternoon of June 16.

Captain Paul Pronco responded along with other members of the Northeast Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team to assist in the search for a missing 3-year old boy in Lowell. Sadly, the young boy was found deceased the next day.

Crews working under Captain Brian Purcell responded to a single-family residence at 35 Parker Road during the early evening of June 5 after the resident reported an electrical outlet on fire. Firefighters found the fire starting to extend to the kitchen cabinets upon their arrival and were able to quickly extinguish it before it could extend any further. Fire damage was contained to the immediate area of the electrical outlet and the residents were able to remain in the home.

Captain Purcell led another group of firefighters responding to a reported kitchen fire during the afternoon of June 14. Firefighters encountered a heavy smoke condition inside the two-family residence upon their arrival. Fortunately, the fire was quickly contained to the area of the first-floor kitchen stove. The area immediately surrounding the stove was scorched and the oven was destroyed. The remainder of the first floor suffered considerable smoke damage during the fire. The family was able to remain in the home after they relocated to the second-floor unit. There were no injuries to either residents or firefighters during this incident. The cause of the fire was determined to be the accidental ignition of groceries placed on top of the kitchen stove that were inadvertently ignited by the homeowner when she bumped into a stove burner control. A 14-year old occupant of the residence was credited with her calm and rapid notification of the Wakefield Fire Department via a 911 call.

Firefighters under the command of Captain Randy Hudson responded to a report of a truck transporting hazardous materials on fire on Route 95 Southbound in the area of Exit 58 on the morning of June 15. Firefighters arrived to find a tractor-trailer truck transporting propane tanks with a brake fire burning in the rear tire area of the vehicle. Water was applied to the rear axle and tires to extinguish and cool down this area. A shuttle system was set up utilizing a fire hydrant on Bay State Road with the three fire engines on scene including a Lynnfield Engine to provide adequate water to ensure the fire was completely extinguished. Approximately 400 (20) lb. propane tanks were removed from the truck before being reloaded onto another transport vehicle that responded to the scene. Quick and efficient work by both the Wakefield and Lynnfield Fire Departments prevented this potentially dangerous incident from extending to the truck’s explosive cargo. All apparatus cleared the scene after approximately 90 minutes. There were no injuries to either the truck driver or responding firefighters.

All groups conducted boat training evolutions at Lake Quannapowitt during June and attended medical classes as part of their Emergency Medical Technician certificates. Department members continued their annual in-service business inspections of commercial properties. All groups received training at Wakefield Fire Headquarters in the proper use of its new fire dispatch and notification equipment recently installed at the Public Safety Building. Training was also conducted during June by all groups at Crystal Lake at the Wakefield DPW water department pumping station. The training involved the proper procedures to be used while drafting water from a lake or pond. This evolution was combined with a pumping drill utilizing heavy stream appliances including deck guns and an aerial ladder pipe.

The department visited several elementary schools including the Dolbeare, Doyle and Woodville, where they enjoyed a nice visit with the kindergarten and preschool children who then helped them wash their trucks. The department held a brief but emotional ceremony on June 12 acknowledging Firefighter Memorial Sunday, an annual service which had been canceled for the past two years due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

May 2022

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 360 emergency incidents during the month of May including 37 box alarms and 323 still alarms. The department responded to one request for mutual aid during May to Saugus. The department received mutual aid once during the month of May from Lynnfield. A crew from Engine 2 led by Lieutenant John Mercurio assisted the Saugus Fire Department at the scene of a structure fire at 40 Collins Avenue during the evening of May 17.

All groups conducted boat training evolutions at Lake Quannapowitt. All groups continued to conduct training to maintain their Emergency Medical Technician certificates. Department members continued their annual in-service business inspections of commercial properties. The department completed its annual testing of all its fire hose during the month of May. Fire drills in several of the town’s schools were completed during the month of May. All groups participated in an instructor-led training program involving Engine & Truck Company Emergency Vehicle Operations conducted by On-Scene Training Associates LLC during the week of May 9. The training centers around the proper operation of emergency apparatus as well as the proper placement and operation of fire apparatus during residential and commercial fire incidents. The department participated in the annual meeting of the Mystic Regional Emergency Planning Committee held at the Four Points Sheraton in Wakefield on May 24. The committee is made up of 26 area communities and their local emergency planning communities that meet regularly to discuss items of mutual interest in the emergency management field. The department, with the assistance of the Melrose Fire Department, hung an American flag between two ladder trucks in front of the Most Blessed Sacrament Church on May 22 to help commemorate the Boston Wounded Warrior bike ride. Department members also participated in a Memorial Day Services held by the Wakefield Memorial High School on May 27 as well as the Town’s Memorial Day service held on May 30.

Wakefield Recruit Firefighter John Carano was sworn in during a brief ceremony at Town Hall presided over by Town Clerk Betsy Sheeran on the morning of May 20. Firefighter Carano began his 10-week training program with the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Recruit Training Class 303 on May 23 with an anticipated graduation date of August 5.

The Fire Prevention Bureau, under Captain David Shinney, continues to monitor the many ongoing construction projects around Wakefield, including those at 62 Foundry Street, Hopkins Street, 581 Salem Street and 259 Water Street. Construction at the Public Safety Building is ongoing and proceeding as scheduled.

April 2022

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 350 emergency incidents during the month of April including 37 box alarms and 313 still alarms. The department responded to three requests for mutual aid during April, once each to Lynn, Stoneham and Woburn. The department received mutual aid fourteen times during the month of April, three times from Reading, twice each from Lynnfield, Malden and Melrose and once each from Saugus, Stoneham, North Reading, Wilmington and Woburn. A crew from Engine 5 led by Lieutenant Michael Long covered a vacant Lynn fire station during a 5-alarm fire in that city on the afternoon of April 2. Acting Lieutenant Gerald Sancinito and a crew from Engine 1 covered a vacant Woburn fire station during a 2-alarm fire in that city during the early morning of April 16.

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to what would be its first multiple alarm fire of 2022 during the evening of April 18. Firefighters under the command of Captain Randy Hudson responded at 9:48 P.M. to a report of smoke coming from the Pizza Express Restaurant, located at 191 Albion Street. Firefighters arrived to find heavy dark smoke pouring from the building. The fire was extending out of a rear window as well as above the dropped ceiling of the restaurant, coming from the direction of the kitchen. Visibility was reduced to zero inside the restaurant as the ceiling started to collapse. Captain Hudson ordered a second alarm at 9:58 P.M. bringing engine companies from Melrose, Reading and Stoneham as well as a North Reading Ladder truck to the scene. Firefighters entered the Seven-Eleven convenient store, part of the same building, to check on the fire wall separating the two businesses. They found that the fire wall operated as designed, keeping the fire from extending into that section of the building. The heavy fire was quickly knocked down inside the restaurant as crews worked to pull down dropped ceilings. Deputy Chief Thomas Purcell arrived and took charge of fire operations with Chief Sullivan assuming overall command of the incident. Chief Sullivan ordered a third alarm at 10:18 P.M. for additional personnel, bringing engine companies from Saugus and Woburn as well as a Lynnfield tower ladder to the scene. The remaining fire was extinguished by approximately 11 P.M. The fire gutted the restaurant, causing well over $300,000 in damage. Troopers from the State Fire Marshal’s Office were summoned to the scene to assist local investigators in determining the cause and origin of the fire. The exact cause of the fire remains under investigation but appears to have started inside a work area near the kitchen. Three firefighters were injured as a result of the fire. A Malden engine and ladder company and a Wilmington Engine covered Wakefield Fire Headquarters during this incident. Captain Hudson and his crews were instrumental in keeping the fire from extending to adjoining properties, preventing a significantly larger fire.

All groups conducted training evolutions at the Hurd School during April including the proper operation of ground ladders. All groups continued to conduct training to maintain their Emergency Medical Technician certificates. Department members continued their annual in-service business inspections of commercial properties. All schools, nursing homes, boarding houses and hotels received quarterly inspections as well. The department’s semi-automatic defibrillators were inspected and serviced during April. The department participated in a training class on proper procedures related to utilizing the Medflight helicopter on April 27. A Medflight helicopter landed at Veteran’s Field during this class, giving firefighters from several communities the opportunity to examine the aircraft up close. The department started its annual testing of all its fire hoses on April 30. The return of warm weather to the region allowed the department to start conducting its Spring fire drills, which will be completed during the month of May.

Department members participated in an Honor Guard during the wake and funeral for retired Wakefield Firefighter Thomas A. Crusco on April 25 and 26. Firefighter Crusco was a respected firefighter in the department, serving more than 37 years before his retirement in 1993.

The Fire Prevention Bureau, under Captain David Shinney, continues to monitor the many ongoing construction projects around Wakefield, including those at 62 Foundry Street, Hopkins Street, 581 Salem Street and 259 Water Street. The most challenging construction project has proven to be the renovation of the Public Safety Building, which commenced on April 6. Operating a fully functional fire station during heavy renovations has provided many problems and challenges for the department, including elevated noise levels and dust containment. The department is committed to working thru these construction issues and looks forward to its completion in the Spring of 2023.

The department kept a close eye on a very large baby shower, held at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel on Audubon Road on April 8-9. This event involved the erection of a large outside structure in the hotel’s parking lot that was big enough to house the 560 shower participants. The Wakefield Independence Day Committee also sponsored the return of its annual carnival at the Galvin Middle School during school vacation week, April 20-24. The carnival is an important fundraiser for the committee and appeared to have benefitted by the relatively good weather that prevailed that week.

March 2022

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 340 emergency incidents during the month of March 2022 including 38 box alarms and 302 still alarms. The department responded to eight requests for mutual aid during March, three times to Lynnfield, twice each to Reading and Stoneham and once to Malden. The department received mutual aid twice during the month of March, both times from Reading.

A crew from Engine 2 led by Lieutenant Michael Long covered Stoneham Fire Headquarters during a fire in that community on the early morning of March 4. A crew from Engine 2 under the command of Lieutenant John Mercurio assisted the Malden Fire Department at the scene of a 3-alarm fire at 63 Lowell Street on the evening of March 14. A crew from Engine 1 led by Lieutenant Dan Hancock covered a Reading Fire Headquarters during an incident in that community on March 19. The same crew from Engine 1 covered a vacant Lynnfield fire station during the afternoon of March 19 while that department was tied up at multiple calls. Lieutenant John Mercurio responded with a crew from Engine 2 to cover Stoneham Fire Headquarters while that department was tied up at an incident on the afternoon of March 22. A crew under Lieutenant Cliff Silva covered a vacant Lynnfield Fire Station during a fire in that community on the early morning of March 25. A crew from Engine 1 under the command of Lieutenant Dan Hancock assisted the Reading Fire Department at the scene of a 3-alarm fire at 86 Walnut Street during the evening of March 25.

The department received a grant award for $2,500 from the Automated External Defibrillator Equipment Program offered by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s Office of Grants and Research on March 30. This grant will be used to purchase a new defibrillator for Engine 1, stationed at Wakefield Fire Headquarters in the Public Safety Building.

All groups trained at the Hurd School on proper procedures for operating the aerial ladder and throwing ground ladders. The department also performed search and rescue drills at the Hurd School as well. All of the department self-contained breathing apparatus was successfully flow-tested during the month of March. All groups continued to conduct training to maintain their Emergency Medical Technician certificates during March. All groups started their annual in-service business inspections of commercial properties on March 1, 2022. A group of cub scouts from Wakefield Cub Scout Pack 712 visited Wakefield Fire Headquarters during the afternoon of March 13.

February 2022

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 319 emergency incidents during the month of February 2022 including 31 box alarms and 288 still alarms. The department responded to four requests for mutual aid during February, three times to Stoneham and once to Melrose. The department received mutual aid four times during the month of February, all four times from Lynnfield. A crew from Engine 2 led by Lieutenant Michael Long covered a vacant Stoneham fire station while that department answered multiple calls in that community during the morning of February 7. Lieutenant Sean Curran led another crew from Engine 2 that covered Stoneham Fire Headquarters during a fire in that community on February 12. A third crew from Engine 2 led by Lieutenant Sean Curran covered Stoneham Fire Headquarters during multiple calls in that town during the afternoon of February 20.

Wakefield Firefighter William A. Carr retired from the Wakefield Fire Department on February 8, 2022 after serving the department for more than 28 years. Carr, a well-respected and knowledgeable firefighter, was a certified Emergency Medical Technician. He was the senior firefighter in the department, assigned to Group 2, under Captain Brian Purcell, at the time of his retirement. Carr received a commendation, along with the other members of his group, for his actions in extricating two badly injured drivers during a serious car accident on Route 128 on the evening of February 9, 2001. The accident involved a head-on collision between a wrong-way driver and another vehicle in the high-speed lane. Both drivers had to be extricated from their vehicles using the “Jaws of Life” hydraulic rescue tool. The rescue took 45 minutes with both drivers successfully removed from their vehicles, stabilized at the scene and transported to area hospitals. Retired Wakefield Fire Chief David Parr credited the victims successful rescue to the department members technical skills and professional demeanor exhibited during the rescue operation. The department wishes Firefighter Carr a long and healthy retirement with his wife June and their family.

The department responded to approximately 40 calls in February where patients with Covid-19 were either confirmed or suspected to be present. Covid-19 involved responses have declined significantly, indicating that the most recent surge may be subsiding. The department is ready with skilled Emergency Medical Technicians, equipped with personal protective equipment, to assist anyone in need of medical attention. Members of the public afflicted by non-Covid-19 emergencies should not hesitate to call for emergency medical services as local hospitals are prepared to keep them safe from contracting the virus.

All department members participated in CPR recertification training classes during February, provided free to the department by Cataldo Ambulance. Several groups continued to practice ice and water rescue procedures in February. The department purchased a new ice rescue sled in January to replace a 20-year old unit that was worn out. All groups reviewed procedures involved in working with Medflight helicopters during medical emergencies as well as incidents involving exposure to high-voltage electrical equipment.

January 2022

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 355 emergency incidents during the month of January 2022 including 33 box alarms and 322 still alarms. The department responded to seven requests for mutual aid during January, five times to Melrose and once each to Danvers and Stoneham. The department received mutual aid five times during the month of January, four times from Reading and once from Stoneham. A crew from Engine 2 led by Lieutenant Joseph Albert covered a vacant Malden fir station during a three-alarm fire in that city during the evening of January 10. Lieutenant Michael Long led another crew from Engine 2 that covered Stoneham fire headquarters during a fire in that community during the early evening of January 28.

Captain Paul Pronco and Lieutenant Steven Bivens responded as part of the Northeast Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team to assist the Danvers Fire Department with the recovery of a deceased male from a confined space on the grounds of the former Danvers State Hospital. The man had gone missing and was found by Danvers firefighters at the bottom of a smoke stack in the hospital’s former power plant. Members of the team assembled and removed the man from the property via an access door at the bottom of the smoke stack.

The department responded to two serious motor vehicle accidents during January. The first accident occurred on January 8. Fire crews from Reading and Wakefield worked together to free an 18-year old occupant of a vehicle who was involved in a two-car crash on Route 95 southbound between exits 57 and 58. Crews used the Jaws of Life to remove a door and free the operator’s legs. The patient was transported to Lahey Burlington with serious injuries. The second accident occurred on January 19 and involved a pedestrian struck by a motor vehicle in front of 188 Main Street. A crew from Engine 2 was dispatched to the accident while returning from a previous call. They arrived within two minutes to find an elderly woman with serious injuries laying in the road being attended to by police and bystanders. Paramedics arrived shortly after firefighters and a joint decision was made to request a helicopter from Medflight. Engine 1 was dispatched to the landing zone at Veteran’s Field to meet the helicopter while the patient was treated and loaded into an ambulance for transport to the landing zone. The patient was then flown to Brigham and Women’s Hospital with life-threatening injuries. Sadly, the patient did not survive her serious injuries.

Wakefield was struck by a serious snow storm including blizzard conditions on January 29 that started during the early morning hours and extended well into the night. The storm dropped more than 22 inches of snow during a 16-hour period with drifts piling up considerably higher in spots. The department added additional staffing during the storm and responded to approximately a dozen calls, many of them medical emergencies, during the storm. There were no major power outages despite the high winds and the DPW did a terrific job keeping the roads passable for emergency vehicles. All departments including Police, Fire, DPW and Light Department personnel worked together to respond to emergencies and keep the citizens of Wakefield safe.

Wakefield Firefighter Daniel P. Sullivan retired from the Wakefield Fire Department on January 5, 2022 after serving the department for almost 35 years. Sullivan, a well-respected and knowledgeable firefighter, received several department commendations during his career with the Wakefield Fire Department. He was credited with saving one resident and knocking down a kitchen fire on Auburn Street in Wakefield on October 8, 2007. Sullivan received a second commendation on August 23, 2009 for his actions in assisting a choking male patron at the Chili’s Restaurant in Dedham. He was credited by the Dedham Fire Department with saving the life of this man. Sullivan was appointed a permanent firefighter to the Wakefield Fire Department on January 27, 1987. He was a certified Emergency Medical Technician and was the senior firefighter in the department, assigned to Group 3 under Captain John Walsh, at the time of his retirement. The department wishes Danny a long and healthy retirement with his wife Jennifer and his three children, Stephanie, Jessica and Joseph.

The department continues to be impacted by the recent surge in Covid-19 infections, responding to approximately 77 calls in January where patients with Covid-19 were either confirmed or suspected to be present. Covid-19 involved responses started to decline during the last two weeks of the month, possibly indicating that the most recent surge is slowing down. The department is well equipped with skilled Emergency Medical Technicians equipped with personal protective equipment to assist anyone in need of medical attention. Members of the public afflicted by non-Covid-19 emergencies should not hesitate to call for emergency medical services as local hospitals are well equipped to keep them safe from contracting the virus.

All department members participated in Emergency Medical Technician training classes during January provided free to the department by Cataldo Ambulance. Several groups continued to practice ice and water rescue procedures in January. All duty shifts conducted walk-throughs of the new development at 168 Albion Street in January. All department members had their self-contained breathing apparatus face pieces fit-tested during January. The department took delivery of a set of clothes washers and dryers for each station to be used to clean uniforms and clothing separate from firefighting gear, which are cleaned regularly in specialized equipment. This equipment was purchased thru funding from Wakefield’s Emergency Management Department. The department was awarded more than $13,000 from a Fiscal Year 2022 Firefighter Safety Equipment Grant. This money will be used to purchase protective gear for new firefighters and a battery-operated hydraulic rescue tool. This grant is part of a five-year funding plan to purchase equipment for local fire departments.

December 2021

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 371 emergency incidents during the month of December 2021 including 31 box alarms and 340 still alarms. The department responded to four requests for mutual aid during December, twice to Melrose and once each to Lynnfield and Reading. The department received mutual aid sixteen times during the month of December, four times from Reading, two times each Lynnfield, Malden, North Reading and Stoneham, and once each from Melrose, Middleton, Woburn and Saugus.

Wakefield firefighters under the command of Captain Randy Hudson responded to a report of a structure fire at the Colonial Point Apartments, 95 Audubon Road, at 11:25 A.M. on the morning of December 5. The fire was reported by an occupant of Unit 302, who discovered the fire after returning home from doing errands. The building’s fire alarm system activated at approximately the same time, alerting the department to the fire via the municipal master box as well as a private alarm monitoring company. Upon their arrival, firefighters found a fire in the unit’s kitchen area that created zero-visibility smoke conditions. The building’s sprinkler system had activated inside the unit, slowing the fire from spreading but not extinguishing it due to its location during cabinetry. First alarm companies hooked up to the building’s standpipe system and extended a hose line into the apartment, quickly knocking down the fire in approximately 20 minutes. Smoke poured from the burning apartment into the common hallway on that wing of the third floor and made its way up the stairwell via the partially open stairwell doors where the hose line extended into the hallway. Realizing that all of his personnel were tied up actively fighting the fire, Captain Hudson immediately requested a second alarm at 11:41 A.M., bringing apparatus from Stoneham, Reading, Melrose and North Reading to the fire. These companies were used to relieve the spent Wakefield crews. Chief Michael Sullivan and Deputy Chief Tom Purcell arrived at the scene and initiated an expanded Incident Command System, with Deputy Purcell assigned with controlling and extinguishing the apartment fire on the third floor while Chief Sullivan oversaw the deployment of additional crews on the other floors of the 12-story apartment building to vent theses areas of any smoke and carbon monoxide accumulations. This was accomplished by ordering a third alarm at 12:18 P.M., bringing in companies from Saugus, Woburn, and Lynnfield as well as a mix of first and second alarm companies as they became available. The incident was completely controlled by 3:13 P.M., when the all-out was sounded. The fire was confined to the kitchen of apartment 302, which suffered extensive fire, smoke and water damage. The other six apartments in that wing on the third floor as well as several units on lower floors under apartment 302 received various degrees of water and smoke damage. Approximately a dozen building occupants were displaced as a result of this fire. Building Management initially found shelter for them in the nearby Four Points Sheraton Hotel at 1 Audubon Road. The American Red Cross and local Emergency Manager Thomas Walsh also assisted the displaced occupants. There were no injuries to building occupants as a result of the fire, however, one Wakefield firefighter suffered a serious laceration to his left hand requiring a number of stitches to close. The remainder of the building’s occupants were able to remain in their apartments. The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental in the vicinity of the kitchen stove area. A Malden engine and ladder company and a Middleton engine covered Wakefield Fire Headquarters during this incident.

Captain Randy Hudson led fire crews responding to an extensive fuel spill near the intersection of Water and Farm Streets during the early evening of December 14. Firefighters soon discovered that a nearby business refueling its vehicles accidentally released a quantity of diesel fuel that subsequently ran into the street and down to the nearby intersection. A small quantity of diesel fuel extended into several nearby catch basins before they were diked by responding firefighters using an absorbent material. More than 50 bags of absorbent material were spread by firefighters across the intersection as the streets were slick due to the spilled fuel. The Wakefield Department of Public Works dispatched a sander to the area as well to assist with this effort. The responsible company retained an environmental clean-up consultant to remediate the spill under the supervision of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Captain Randy Hudson again led firefighters at the scene of a reported house fire at 185 Oak Street during the morning of December 21 after an occupant reported a basement fire at that location. Arriving firefighters found an upholstered chair in the basement burning. The chair was extinguished with a hose line and then removed from the dwelling. There was no extension of the fire beyond the basement chair, however, the remainder of the home suffered some degree of smoke damage. Emergency Manager Thomas Walsh responded to the scene to assist the home’s three occupants. No one was displaced as a result of this fire and there were no injuries. The cause of the fire was determined to be hot cigarette ashes that had fallen inside the upholstered chair.

Wakefield Firefighter Arthur Fennelly was sworn in as the department’s newest Fire Lieutenant on December 15. Fennelly, a 7-year member of the department, was sworn in during a brief ceremony held in the community room of the Public Safety Building officiated by Wakefield Town Clerk Betsy Sheeran. Fennelly is a registered Emergency Medical Technician and is serving with the United States Army Reserve as a Captain and the Company Commander of a logistics unit consisting of approximately 170 soldiers. Lieutenant Fennelly’s service includes a deployment with a transportation unit to Kuwait and Iraq as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. He also holds an Associate’s Degree in Fire Protection and Safety Technology from North Shore Community College as well as a Bachelor of Science in Fire Science Administration from Salem State University. The department wishes Lieutenant Fennelly well in his newly appointed position.

The department has been significantly impacted by the recent surge in Covid-19 infections, responding to approximately 83 calls where patients with Covid-19 were either confirmed or suspected to be present. Area hospitals are once again filling to capacity again. Emergency rooms are overflowing with patients infected with Covid-19 as well as other ailments. The department is well equipped with skilled Emergency Medical Technicians equipped with personal protective equipment and stands ready to meet the challenges created by this surge. Members of the public afflicted by non-Covid-19 emergencies should not hesitate to call for emergency medical services as local hospitals are well equipped to deal with both concurrently.

All department members participated in Emergency Medical Technician training classes during December provided free to the department by Cataldo Ambulance. The remaining quarterly fire inspections of schools, nursing homes, hotels and lodging houses that were pending were completed in December. All groups continued to conduct drills on the vacant homes on Tarrant Lane that are now being razed for an upcoming development. Several groups practiced ice and water rescue procedures in December. The department’s aerial ladder truck and ground ladders were all tested in December and repairs were made as necessary.

November 2021

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 319 emergency incidents during the month of November 2021 including 34 box alarms and 285 still alarms. The department responded to one request for mutual aid during November to the town of Saugus. The department received mutual aid six times during the month of November, three times from Lynnfield, two times from Reading and once from Stoneham. A crew from Engine 2 under Lt. Christopher Crogan assisted the Saugus Fire Department at the scene of a structure fire during the early morning of November 3.

Wakefield firefighters under the command of Captain Paul Pronco responded to a report of a structure fire at the Crystal Community Club, 77 Preston Street, during the evening of November 10. Upon their arrival, firefighters found smoke pouring from a rear storage area of the building. They forced entry and found that a fire had started in the combustible flooring just inside the doorway. The fire had burned through a small section of the floor igniting the structural framing below. The fire was quickly extinguished, having been slowed by a fire extinguisher used by building occupants prior to the department’s arrival. Fire damage was confined to the area of origin with some minimal smoke and water damage occurring immediately underneath the storage area. There were no injuries as a result of the fire and the club was able to remain open. The cause of the fire was determined to be the careless disposal of smoking materials in the area of the storage room doorway.

Captain John Walsh led fire crews responding to Brothers Restaurant, 404 Main Street, during the morning of November 23 after the business owner called to report a fire under the food warming unit at the main service counter for the restaurant. Employees knocked the fire down with a fire extinguisher prior to the department’s arrival. Firefighters opened up the counter area and discovered that a grease accumulation under the gas-fired steamers had ignited. The fire did not extend beyond the section of the counter that ignited and there was no smoke damage to the restaurant. The restaurant closed for a short period while the area was cleaned and the affected equipment repaired. There were no injuries as a result of this fire.

Captain Brian Purcell led fire crews to a reported fire at 46 Chestnut Street at noon on November 30. Arriving firefighters found a resident outside who informed them that flames were coming out of a first-floor electric heater just inside the front entrance. Firefighters quickly shut down power to the building and extinguished the fire burning inside an electric heater. The fire was contained to the heater but caused a smoke condition throughout the building. All occupants were able to remain in the building and there were no injuries as a result of this fire. The fire was caused by an electrical malfunction of the wall heating unit.

All groups continued their annual in-service business inspections during November. All department members participated in Emergency Medical Technician training classes during November provided free to the department by Cataldo Ambulance. The department conducted quarterly fire inspections in all schools, nursing homes, lodging houses and hotels during the month of November. Several shifts conducted vehicle extrication training and took part in reviewing the proper use of its multi-gas detectors. All department members reviewed ice water rescue procedures as well as proper precautions to be taken operating fire apparatus during cold weather months during November. All groups conducted drills on the vacant homes on Tarrant Lane scheduled to be razed for an upcoming development. This was an excellent opportunity to allow firefighters to practice search and rescue drills using simulated smoke as well as cutting ventilation holes in roofs using the department’s compliment of chain saws.

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