Home

Wakefield Fire Department

2021 Annual Report

I am pleased to present the Annual Report of the Wakefield Fire Department for calendar year 2021. The department had a very busy year dealing with both emergencies and the construction boom taking place around town. The department responded to 3,999 emergency calls during 2021, an increase of just over 7% from the previous year.

The Covid-19 Pandemic continued to make an enormous impact on the department during 2021 on both a financial and personal level. The shortage of personal protective gear such as N95 masks and medical gloves experienced in 2020 were not nearly as problematic for the department in 2021. The staffing level for the department was increased by one firefighter per shift during each surge of Covid-19 to provide sufficient personnel due to safety concerns associated with these calls. Covid-19 vaccinations first became available to first responders in January of 2021. Within a month a majority of the department had received two doses of the Moderna vaccine. The vaccine was made available to the general public during the spring of 2021 and Covid-19 cases started to drop dramatically. Mask restrictions were relaxed with the arrival of warmer weather. A Delta variant of Covid-19 emerged during the late summer and fall and cases began to rise again. Breakthrough cases, where people became infected with Covid-19 who had already been immunized, deprived the public of any sense of security that they may have had about being vaccinated. Booster shots were made available to first responders and the general public, and many department members took advantage of them. The weather turned cold just as a new extremely contagious Omicron variant emerged. Covid-19 cases grew exponentially, spreading rapidly through families and any event where people gathered. The Omicron surge extended through the end of 2021 and did not subside until February of 2022.

Approximately one third of the department’s members either contracted Covid-19 or were quarantined because they had close family members who were infected. This dramatically increased overtime expenditures as quarantined members had to be replaced by others on an overtime basis. The increases in shift staffing levels during the Covid-19 surges also increased overtime expenditures significantly, as the staffing increases were filled by members working overtime. Department members assisted the Wakefield Board of Health and Emergency Management Departments at numerous Covid-19 vaccination clinics conducted in Wakefield during 2021. The department received a federal reimbursement from FEMA of almost $400,000 for overtime expenditures made during Fiscal Year 2021. The department responded to 915 emergency calls where patients infected with Covid-19 were either confirmed or strongly suspected. Federal and state resources continue to play a vital role in defraying some of the financial costs of the virus to the department, including overtime expenditures. There is no question that the pandemic will continue to financially affect the department in 2022.

The department did not experience any significant decrease in non-Covid-19 emergency medical responses, as it did in 2020, once the vaccines became readily available. As a result, department emergency medical responses increased 7% over those made in 2020. The department made an increase in the minimum staffing level of the department, which became effective on October 18,2021, raising the minimum staffing level from 10 to 11 members per shift. This increase has been a subject of negotiation for many months with the local firefighter’s union. The department’s award of the 2019 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) staffing grant for four additional firefighters was designed to increase the staffing on Ladder 1 to three members in order to increase firefighter safety on the fireground as well as address a long-term staffing deficiency on Ladder 1, which frequently operated with a crew of two members. The ongoing development in town, especially the construction of several large apartment complexes, has resulted in an increased demand in emergency responses for Ladder 1. A crew of three for Ladder 1 increases the safety of its crew and the efficiency of the department in terms of its capability to respond to simultaneous calls for service.

The Wakefield Fire Department continued to receive significant financial aid in the form of grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security during 2021. The department secured a (SAFER) grant in the amount of $1.1 million to fully fund the salary and benefits for four additional full-time firefighters for the Town of Wakefield for a period of three years. Four firefighters were hired and sworn in on May 19 as a result of this SAFER grant. This SAFER grant is in addition to a 2018 SAFER grant already awarded to the department to staff one full-time firefighter for salary and benefits at a 75% level for two years and a 35% level for the third year (2022) for a total award of $195,229. The department is currently in the third year of this 2018 SAFER grant. A third federal grant in the form of a Covid-19 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) in the amount of $4,300 was awarded and expended on medical equipment and supplies related to the Covid-19 Pandemic. An additional AFG grant for $10,910 funded 90% of the training costs for an instructor led program regarding the use of Firefighter Personal Escape Systems (bail-out kits) that would permit them to quickly exit a burning building via an exterior window. This training was held in May of 2021. A state Fiscal Year 2022 Firefighter Safety Equipment Grant for $13,735 was awarded to the department to fund a new battery-operated hydraulic rescue tool for the department. An additional state grant worth $2,500 will fund the purchase of an Automated External Defibrillator for the department. These grants are in addition to any federal and state assistance that is pending to provide reimbursement for personnel and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supply costs related to the Covid-19 Pandemic that is being coordinated through the Department of Emergency Management. State funding also pays for the training and response costs associated with the department’s participation in the regional hazardous materials and technical rescue response teams. Funding from federal and state agencies continues to serve a vital role in providing the necessary resources that the department needs to carry out its public-safety mission.

Emergency Incident Response

During 2021 the Wakefield Fire Department responded to 3,999 emergency incidents, including 3,598 Still Alarms and 401 Box Alarms. Wakefield had no civilian fire deaths in 2021. The department responded to three incidents in 2021 requiring a multiple-alarm response.

Firefighters led by Captain Brian Purcell responded to a reported house fire at 360 Water Street during the early morning of January 31. Upon their arrival, firefighters encountered a fire in the front bedroom of the single-family residence, which was set back from the street atop a steep driveway. Two hose lines were deployed into the home, quickly knocking down the fire. A second alarm was struck for extra manpower due to the zero-visibility conditions inside the home as well as the sub-freezing temperatures (approximately 5 degrees Fahrenheit). The second alarm brought engines from Stoneham, Melrose and Reading to the scene along with a North Reading Ladder truck. The residence was vented of smoke and heat with no further fire extension encountered beyond the front bedroom and hallway. The cause of the fire was determined to be due to a transfer of heat through a clean-out door located at the rear of the fireplace, which opened directly into a bedroom closet. Combustible storage in the closet was ignited by this heat conducted through this clean-out door. The two occupants of the home and their pet dog escaped the fire unharmed. Two firefighters were injured in falls due to the icy conditions present outside the home. The occupants of the home were displaced for an extended period as a result of the fire. A Saugus and Woburn engine company as well as a Lynnfield ladder company covered Wakefield Fire Headquarters during the fire.

Wakefield’s second-multiple alarm fire of 2021 occurred at 26 Crystal Street during the afternoon of February 23. Firefighters, led by Captain John Walsh, responded to a report of a house fire at 3:40 P.M. They arrived to find a fire in the rear of the basement extending into the first floor. A second alarm was struck at 3:50 P.M. for extra manpower, bringing companies from Reading, Stoneham, Melrose and North Reading to the scene. Several hose lines were deployed bringing the fire under control in approximately 60 minutes. The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental, most likely due to the electrical failure of a household appliance in the rear of the basement. An occupant of the home at the time of the fire was able to exit the residence without injury. The couple living in this home was displaced for an extended period of time. No firefighters were injured during this fire. A Saugus and Woburn engine company and a Malden ladder truck covered Wakefield Fire Headquarters during the fire.

The third and final multiple-alarm fire of 2021 occurred on December 5. 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. The fire was reported by an occupant of Apartment 302, who discovered the fire after returning home from doing errands. The building’s fire alarm system activated at about the same time, alerting the department to the fire via the municipal fire alarm master box and central station. Firefighters responded to the third floor and encountered a heavy smoke condition inside Apartment 302 caused by a kitchen fire. The building’s sprinkler system had activated inside the unit, keeping the fire from spreading but not completely extinguishing it due to its location underneath overhead cabinets. First alarm companies connected to the building standpipe system in the stairwells and advanced two hose lines down the corridor and into the apartment. There was zero-visibility inside the apartment due to the heavy smoke. Captain Hudson struck a second alarm as smoke poured into the third-floor hallway and entered the nearby stairwell, bringing engines from Melrose, Stoneham and Reading and a North Reading ladder truck to the fire. The main fire inside the apartment was knocked down in about 20 minutes. Second alarm companies relieved the Wakefield firefighters and evacuated building occupants exposed to the smoke. Chief Michael Sullivan and Deputy Chief Thomas Purcell responded to the fire, initiating an expanded Incident Command System to address both the fire and the safe evacuation of building occupants. Chief Sullivan struck a third alarm at 12:18 P.M, bringing additional engine companies from Saugus and Woburn and a Lynnfield ladder truck to the fire. These resources were used to vent the hallways and stairwells of smoke and check for the presence of carbon monoxide in the building. The incident was finally brought under control by 3:13 P.M. The fire was confined to the kitchen of Apartment 302 with the remaining apartments on that wing as well as several directly under the fire suffering various degrees of smoke and water damage. Approximately 12 building occupants were displaced as a result of this fire. Building management found temporary shelter for these people at the nearby Four Points by Sheraton Hotel on Audubon Road with the assistance of the American Red Cross and Wakefield’s Emergency Management Director, Thomas Walsh. There were no injuries to any building occupants during the fire. One firefighter received a cut in his hand that required follow-up care at an area hospital. The remainder of the occupants of the 178-unit apartment building were able to remain in their apartments. The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental in the vicinity of the Apartment 302’s kitchen stove. A Malden engine and ladder company as well as a Middleton engine company covered Wakefield Fire Headquarters during the fire.

There were additional emergency responses occurring in 2021 that were noteworthy.

Firefighters under the command of Captain Randy Hudson responded to a reported electrical fire and explosion inside a utility building located at 599 North Avenue, which is on the grounds of the Lakeside Office Park. The fire was discovered during the early morning of March 7 as a private electrical contractor was investigating a power problem within the park. A large explosion occurred within the utility building completely destroying its contents. Crews from the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department were in the area and immediately cut power to the building, allowing firefighters to enter and extinguish the remaining fire. The cause of the fire was an electrical fault originating from inside the utility building. Power was knocked out to a large portion of the Lakeside Office Park until repairs could be made. There were no injuries as a result of this incident.

Firefighters led by Captain Paul Pronco responded to a reported building fire at 1 Nablus Road during the afternoon of March 15. They arrived to find smoke pouring from the building and quickly discovered a fire inside the facility’s dust collection system. A spark from a welding operation had been drawn up into the ductwork igniting the fire. Firefighters gained access to the system’s ductwork and collection bags, quickly extinguishing the fire. There was no fire extension beyond the dust collection system and no injuries as a result of the fire. The metal fabrication company was able to remain open and operational after the damage was cleaned up.

Firefighters under the command of Captain John Walsh responded to a reported truck fire at 96 Audubon Road during the early morning of June 7. Arriving firefighters discovered a refrigerated produce truck fully involved in fire starting to spread to an adjoining truck of the same design. The fire was quickly extinguished with no reported injuries. The original box truck was completely destroyed while the second vehicle was heavily damaged. Fire damage to the two trucks was determined to be in excess of $100,000. Troopers from the State Fire Marshal’s Office were called to the scene to assist local investigators. They were able to determine that the fire was accidental in origin, most likely caused by an electrical malfunction in the original truck’s refrigeration system. The fire did not extend to any other property and the business remained in operation.

Firefighters under the command of Captain Randy Hudson responded to a gas leak at the Northeast Regional Vocational School during the morning of September 9. Upon their arrival, firefighters quickly discovered a strong odor of propane inside the school in the vicinity of the metal fabrication shop. The school was evacuated as firefighters shut down the fuel lines to all of the propane tanks supplying the building. The school was vented of all propane fumes but the source of the leak could not be quickly identified. The faculty and students were evacuated down Hemlock Road to the Beasley Oval at the Wakefield High School. School administrators then made the decision to send students home due to the fact that the cafeteria could not open and hot water was not available at the school. A leak in the propane fuel line was eventually found by utility workers, and the school was reopened on the following Monday morning. There were no injuries and no damage to the school as a result of this incident.

Wakefield firefighters led by Captain Randy Hudson responded to a work-related accident involving an employee who had fallen at the construction site at 168 Albion Street during the afternoon of October 8. Firefighters learned the worker had fallen off a ladder into a basement crawl space, injuring his left arm and shoulder. The only way to get him out was through the same hole that the worker had fallen into. Cataldo paramedics and Wakefield firefighters entered the space, stabilized his injuries and removed him from the space by tying him into a rescue litter and hauling him up a 14-foot ladder. He was then transported to Lahey Burlington for follow-up care. Careful coordination between Wakefield firefighters and Cataldo paramedics resulted in a smooth rescue operation that prevented any further injury to the patient.

Fire crews led by Captain John Walsh responded to the Wakefield House of Pizza, 43 Tuttle Street, after workers at that location reported a basement fire during the afternoon of October 11. The business owner discovered the fire inside the basement freezer and was able to knock it down using a fire extinguisher. The fire was contained to the freezer unit but smoke from the fire quickly filled the restaurant. Firefighters confirmed that the fire in the freezer was extinguished and vented the building of smoke. The cause was determined to be the ignition of cardboard food packaging that had come into contact with a hot freezer coil. There were no injuries as a result of this fire and the restaurant was able to reopen after a thorough cleaning.

Wakefield firefighters under the command of Captain Paul Pronco responded to a reported fire at the Crystal Community Club, 77 Preston Street, during the evening of November 10. Firefighters found smoke pouring from a storage room at the rear of the building. They forced the door and found a fire burning inside and under the flooring of the storage room. The fire was quickly extinguished, having been partially put out by a fire extinguisher used by one of the club’s occupants. Fire damage was confined to the storage room with minimal smoke damage to adjoining areas. 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 Brother’s Restaurant, 404 Main Street, during the morning of November 23 after the business owner called to report a fire in the food serving area at the front of the business. The fire was located underneath the warming unit to the main serving counter for the restaurant. Employees used a fire extinguisher to knock down the fire just prior to the department’s arrival. Firefighters opened up the area and found that a grease accumulation under the food-warming equipment had ignited. The fire did not extend beyond the equipment where it started and there was no smoke damage to the restaurant. The restaurant was closed for a brief period while it was cleaned and the affected equipment repaired. There were no injuries as a result of this fire.

Captain Randy Hudson directed crews at the scene of a diesel fuel spill at the intersection of Farm and Water Streets during the evening of December 14. The fuel leak was the result of a refueling spill that had occurred at a nearby business. The diesel spill had run down the street into the intersection, entering several catch basins in the process. Firefighters diked the catch basins to prevent further contamination and spread an absorbent material to soak up the spilled diesel fuel in the street. The Department of Public Works dispatched a sander as well to assist with this operation. The responsible company retained an environmental clean-up consultant to remediate the spill under the supervision of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Firefighters under the command of Captain Randy Hudson led firefighters at the scene of a reported basement fire at 185 Oak Street during the morning of December 21. Arriving firefighters found a burning upholstered chair in the basement. The chair was extinguished with a hose line and removed from the residence. There was no extension of the fire beyond the chair; however, the remainder of the home suffered considerable smoke damage. Wakefield Emergency Manager, Thomas Walsh, responded to the scene to assist the home’s three occupants. No one was displaced as a result of the fire and there were no injuries. The cause of the fire was determined to be the careless disposal of smoking materials.

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 52 requests for mutual aid during 2021.

Mutual aid responses included fires in Lynnfield, Malden, Melrose, Reading, Revere, Saugus, Stoneham and Woburn. A crew from Engine 1, led by Lieutenant Erik Cole, aided the Reading Fire Department at the scene of a 3-alarm fire at 123 Dragon Court during the afternoon of March 18. Firefighters from Engine 1 led by Lieutenant Daniel Hancock helped the Reading Fire Department at the scene of a 3-alarm fire at 292 Grove Street during the early morning of April 13. Firefighters under the command of Acting Lieutenant Arthur Fennelly responded to the scene of a 5-alarm fire on Endicott Street in Revere during the afternoon of May 20 that destroyed multiple buildings. Another crew from Engine 2 under the direction of Lieutenant Sean Curran responded to a 7-alarm fire at 25 Hyde Street in Revere that destroyed several large buildings on an extremely hot and humid night in June. A crew led by Lieutenant John Mercurio responded to a 3-alarm fire in Saugus at 18 Richards Street on July 10 that sadly took the lives of two elderly citizens. Lieutenant Erik Cole and a crew from Engine 2 aided the Lynn Fire Department at a 3-alarm fire at 260 Essex Street on July 18.

Lieutenant Michael Long is a member of the Massachusetts District 2 Hazardous Materials Response Team. This regional hazardous materials response team is funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which pays for all the associated training and incident response costs to support the team’s activities. Lieutenant Long was called out on August 27 to 3850 Mystic Valley Parkway in Medford, the scene of a motor vehicle accident involving a tractor-trailer truck and a motorcycle. The team assisted the Medford Fire Department in containing a significant diesel fuel leak from the truck involved in the accident. Sadly, the motorcycle operator lost his life as a result of this accident.

Captain Paul Pronco and Lieutenant Steven Bivens are members of the Northeast Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team. The team trains and prepares for incidents that could require a technical rescue such as building and trench collapses, high-angle rope and rapid-water rescues. The Northeast Technical Rescue Team is partially subsidized by funding provided by The Northeast Homeland Security Regional Advisory Council, which reimburses the department for a portion of the training and incident response expenses associated with this team. Captain Paul Pronco responded as part of this technical rescue team to 372 Shattuck Way in Newington, New Hampshire on August 23 to assist firefighters in that community rescue a construction worker who had fallen 30 feet into a salt mound. Fortunately, the trapped worker was rescued by the local fire department before the team arrived on scene.

Personnel

As of December 31, 2021, the Wakefield Fire Department consisted of 56 personnel: The Fire Chief, a Deputy Fire Chief, five Captains, including a Captain assigned as a Fire Prevention Officer, 12 Lieutenants, 36 Firefighters, and one civilian Administrative Assistant. The Wakefield Fire Department applied for and received a 2019 SAFER staffing grant worth $1.1 million, fully funding the salary and benefits of four new firefighters for the department for a period of three years. These four new SAFER positions were filled on May 19 and were enrolled in the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Recruit Training Program on July 26.

The year 2021 brought many personnel changes to the Wakefield Fire Department. Lieutenant Louis Sardella retired from the department on January 7 after serving the department for 27 years. Firefighter Erik Cole was appointed to Lieutenant on February 4 to fill Lieutenant Sardella’ s position. Lieutenant Robert Taggart retired from the department on June 28 after serving for more than 32 years. Firefighter Steve Bivens was promoted to Lieutenant on August 5, 2021 to fill Lieutenant Taggart’s post. Five new Wakefield Firefighters, Richard Bruno, Samuel Carr, Charles Curran III, John Panzini and Jarrod Fitzpatrick were appointed permanent firefighters on May 19, 2021. They were subsequently enrolled in a ten-week training program with the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy (MFA) Recruit Class 295 on July 26, 2021, graduating as fully-trained firefighters on October 8. Lieutenant Robert Ford passed away on October 24. Wakefield Firefighter Arthur Fennelly was appointed as a Lieutenant on December 15 to fill Lieutenant Ford’s vacancy.

The department was devastated by the loss of Wakefield Fire Lieutenant Robert Ford, who died in the line of duty on October 24. Lieutenant Ford died after fighting a courageous 14-month battle with colon cancer, which has been classified as an occupational cancer for firefighters. Lieutenant Ford was 48 years old and a 16-year member of the department. He leaves behind his loving wife Michelle and their three children; Robert, Caroline and Michael. He was laid to rest on October 29 after a full fire department wake and funeral befitting his service with the Wakefield Fire Department. He was a dedicated firefighter who showed up for every shift with a positive attitude and ready to serve his community. We will all miss Rob, his warm smile and his enthusiasm for the job that he truly loved. Rest in Peace Rob. We will carry on from here remembering your strength and courage as a worthy example to follow.

The Wakefield Fire Department officially increased its minimum staffing level per shift from ten to eleven firefighters on October 18. This is the first staffing increase in the Wakefield Fire Department in more than 50 years, increasing the department’s total staffing to 56. The new staffing level allows the department to staff its aerial ladder truck with three department members at all times. This staffing level is being significantly funded for the first three years via a federal Department of Homeland Security SAFER staffing grant worth $1.1 million that was awarded to the department in December of 2020. A steady increase in emergency responses annually combined with the recent construction boom, with many large-scale residential developments planned or underway, have placed a strain on available department resources. This increased staffing will help the department meet its mission of providing the citizens of Wakefield with the best and most efficient fire protection possible.

Apparatus and Equipment

Annual Town Meeting in May of 2019 authorized $700,000 for the purchase of a new 1250-gallon-per-minute pumper for the department. The specifications for the new pumper were completed and the bid was awarded to Seagrave Fire Apparatus of Clintonville, Wisconsin, with an expected delivery date near the end of 2020. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 Pandemic resulted in plant closures and significant production delays. The anticipated completion date was subsequently pushed to May of 2021. A final inspection of the pumper was conducted in Clintonville, Wisconsin on May 10-12. The engine was delivered in late June and was placed into service on August 25 at the Greenwood Fire Station as the new Engine 2. The former Engine 2, a 2000 Seagrave pumper, was renumbered as Engine 4 and remains at the Greenwood Fire Station as a reserve pumper.

A federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) for $10,910 was used in May of 2021 to bring in a training consultant, Northeast Rescue Systems, to review the proper use of the department’s self-rescue firefighter rope repelling system (bail-out kits). These kits are designed to be used during a fire when a firefighter is trapped and can’t escape a building via the stairs. The kit allows department members to exit the building from an upper floor window.

A capital budget expenditure of $125,000 was authorized to replace the department’s compliment of portable radios, which were worn out and obsolete. This expenditure was reduced to $62,500 in 2020 due to financial concerns brought on by the Covid-19 Pandemic. The Department requested and received the remaining funding of $62,500 for the portable radios that weren’t authorized as part of the Fiscal Year 2021 Capital Budget Requests. Funding from these two capital funding requests were used to replace 56 new portable radios during the summer and fall of 2021. These portable radios have been programmed and delivered to all department members. A capital request for an additional $57,500 in upgrades to fire alarm notification and communications equipment at Wakefield Fire Headquarters was also granted, which is currently being installed.

All the department’s pumper engines, fire hose, ground ladders, air compressor and breathing apparatus were inspected, tested and certified during 2021. The aerial ladder for Ladder 1 was also inspected and certified. All breathing apparatus face pieces were also fit-tested during the year to ensure their proper operation.

Training

The department participated in many training programs this year, including programs offered by the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy and outside vendors. Some of these training programs are still virtual but classroom presentations are becoming more available. Department members also completed on-going continuing education requirements for their Emergency Medical Technician certificates. The department conducted training activities on the following topics as weather and Covid-19 precautions permitted:

Wakefield Firefighters Richard Bruno, Samuel Carr, Charles Curran III, John Panzini and Jarrod Fitzpatrick were enrolled in Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Recruit Training Class #295 on July 26. They successfully completed the ten-week program and graduated on October 8, 2021.

Captain Paul Pronco and Firefighter Steven Bivens continue to be active members of the Northeast Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team, and Lieutenant Michael Long continues to be an active member of the District 2 Hazardous Materials Response Team.

Fire Prevention

The Department conducted in-service inspections of commercial and industrial properties in town during 2021. As a result, 416 business fire inspections were conducted in the community between July and December of 2021 by on-duty firefighters operating on a ready-to-respond basis. These in-service inspections also help familiarize department members with the floor plans and hazards associated within these buildings prior to an emergency situation. An additional 79 quarterly inspections of school buildings, nursing homes, hotels and boarding homes were also conducted by on-duty firefighters.

Captain David Shinney, the department’s fire prevention officer, conducted 61 inspections related to local and state licensing of restaurants, liquor stores, assembly halls, group homes, day care centers and after-school programs. He completed 221 compliance inspections during 2021 to ensure that any potential violations or hazards previously discovered were corrected. The compliance checks also allow emergency business contacts for these properties to be updated.

Wakefield continued to experience a construction boom in 2021. Many buildings were demolished in preparation for new construction including locations on Foundry Street, Main Street, Salem Street, Tarrant Lane and Water Street. The Fire Prevention Bureau closely monitored and completed final inspections for an 81-unit apartment building located at 69 Foundry Street, a 184-unit apartment building at 168 Albion Street, a 12-unit apartment building at 301 North Avenue and a 34-unit apartment conversion at 27 Water Street. Construction is presently under way on a new 19-unit apartment building at 581 Salem Street and a 16-unit apartment building at 259 Water Street. The department conducted approximately 54 on-site inspections of construction sites during 2021.

The coming year promises to be another busy year for the Fire Prevention Bureau as more construction projects have been proposed. Plans have been working their way through the approval process for large apartment buildings on Crescent Street, Foundry Street, Hopkins Street, Quannapowitt Parkway, North Avenue, Salem Street and Water Street. The Fire Prevention Bureau will closely monitor these developments during calendar year 2022. The department conducted reviews for approximately 142 sets of plans during 2021 including dozens of residential additions, new homes and commercial tenant fit-ups in many locations around Wakefield.

Fire Prevention Officer Captain David Shinney, as well as Deputy Fire Chief Thomas Purcell, fill a vital role in the Wakefield Fire Department. The department can’t function properly without these two administrative positions. The Deputy Fire Chief also serves as the department’s executive officer, assuming command of the department in the absence of the Fire Chief. The Deputy coordinates training, develops new policies and procedures and helps to prepare the operating budget. The Deputy also coordinates the maintenance of the department’s fire stations, equipment and vehicles.

The department was not able to conduct any fire station tours or participate in any classroom visits or guest reader days this year due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Fire drills were conducted at each school facility whenever possible. Multi-hazard evacuation drills were postponed until the spring of 2022 out of concerns that social distancing could not be maintained.

Conclusion

I am grateful to the community and especially the Town Council, Finance Committee and Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio for their ongoing support during the year. As Wakefield enters 2022, my goals are to closely monitor the town’s ongoing major construction projects, provide quality training programs for department members and identify funding resources such as additional grants to assist in the department’s equipment and training needs. I would like to thank all the members of the Wakefield Fire Department, the Wakefield Police Department, all other town boards, committees and departments and the citizens of Wakefield for their continued support and assistance.

Respectfully submitted,

Chief Michael J. Sullivan
Wakefield Fire Department

Further reading:

Reports from previous years:

Home