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October 2021

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 382 emergency incidents during the month of October 2021 including 32 box alarms and 350 still alarms. The department did not respond to any requests for mutual aid during October. The department received mutual aid twenty times during the month of October, six times from Reading, three times each from Melrose and Stoneham, twice each from Lynnfield, Malden and Saugus and once each from Lynn and North Reading.

Wakefield firefighters led by Captain Randy Hudson responded to a report of a worker who had fallen at the construction site at 168 Albion Street during the afternoon of October 8. Firefighters found that the worker had fallen off of a ladder into the 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 crawl space, stabilized his injuries and removed him 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 Ambulance personnel resulted in a smooth rescue operation that prevented any further injury to the patient.

Firefighters under the command of 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 a fire in the basement freezer and was able to extinguish the fire using a fire extinguisher. The fire was contained to the freezer unit but smoke from it quickly filled the restaurant. Firefighters confirmed that the fire had not extended beyond the freezer and vented the building of smoke. The cause was determined to be cardboard food packaging that had come into contact with a hot freezer coil igniting the fire. There were no injuries as a result of the fire and the restaurant was able to re-open after a thorough cleaning.

Five new Wakefield firefighters, Samuel Carr, Richard Bruno, Charles Curran, John Panzini and Jarrod Fitzpatrick, graduated from Recruit Class #295 of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy on October 8. This graduation marked the completion of an intensive ten-week training regimen. The recruits were assigned to their respective groups during the week following their graduation. The department welcomes these firefighters and wishes them a long productive career in the fire service.

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. 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 SAFER staffing grant worth $1.2 million that was awarded to the department in 2020. A steady increase in emergency responses annually coupled with the construction boom and the corresponding increase in large-scale residential developments being built in Wakefield have placed a strain on available department resources. The increased staffing level will help the department meet its mission of providing the citizens of Wakefield with the best and most efficient fire protection possible.

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. Lt. 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, ready to work for and serve his community. We will all deeply 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.

All groups continued their annual in-service business inspections during October. All department members participated in Emergency Medical Technician training classes during October provided free to the department by Cataldo Ambulance. The department conducted fire drills in all public and private schools during the month of October. The department participated along with the Wakefield Police and School department in an active shooter drill conducted at the Wakefield Memorial High School on October 23. Several shifts conducted vehicle extrication training and all four shifts took part in reviewing the proper use of its multi-gas detectors.

September 2021

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 340 emergency incidents during the month of September 2021 including 31 box alarms and 309 still alarms. The department responded to eight requests for mutual aid during September, six times to Melrose and twice to Lynnfield. The department received mutual aid three times during the month of September, twice from Reading and once from Stoneham.

Firefighters under the command of Lieutenant Joseph Albert assisted the Melrose Fire Department at the scene of a structure fire at 122 West Emerson Street during the early morning of September 3. A crew from Engine 1 led by Acting Lieutenant Christopher Sullivan covered a vacant Lynnfield Fire station while that department was tied up at multiple calls on September 18.

Wakefield firefighters led by Captain David Shinney responded to a report of a person struck by a train near the Broadway intersection during the early evening of September 1. Sadly a 63-year old woman was killed as a result of that accident. Firefighters under the direction of Captain John Walsh responded to a reported motor vehicle accident at the intersection of Main and Lowell Streets during the early morning of September 3. Firefighters found a single vehicle that had left the road and landed upright in the Saugus River next to the Cumberland Farms property. The only occupant of the vehicle had self-extricated and appeared to suffer only minor injuries. She was transported to Lahey Burlington as a precaution. The fuel tank for the vehicle remained intact and there was no fuel contamination occurred in the Saugus River.

Captain Randy Hudson led Wakefield Firefighters responding to a reported 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 building 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 thoroughly vented of all propane vapors but the source of the propane leak could not be quickly identified. The faculty and students were evacuated down to Beasley Oval at the Wakefield Memorial High School until a determination was made by the school administration to send them home due to the fact that the cafeteria could not open and hot water was not available. A leak in a supply line was eventually found by utility contractors 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.

Firefighters under the command of Captain John Walsh responded to a reported basement fire at 3 Andrews Road during the early afternoon of September 28. Firefighters arrived to find a fire in a basement wall had been extinguished by a contractor making renovations on the home. The cause of the fire was determined to be a malfunctioning lithium battery in a construction shop light. The battery overheated and ignited wood construction in the exterior wall and overhead ceiling. Fire damage was limited to the basement area in the vicinity of the fire. The fire created a smoke condition inside the basement which was quickly vented outside by firefighters. There were no injuries and no occupants were displaced as a result of the fire.

Five new recruit firefighters, Samuel Carr, Richard Bruno, Charles Curran, John Panzini and Jarrod Fitzpatrick, are presently attending Recruit Class #295 of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy. This recruit program is a ten-week training regimen with an anticipated graduation date of October 8, 2021. All groups continued their annual in-service business inspections during September. All department members participated in Emergency Medical Technician training classes during September provided free to the department by Cataldo Ambulance.

All department fire apparatus passed the annual Registry of Motor Vehicles safety inspections during the month of September. The department conducted fire drills in all public and private schools during the month of September. Wakefield Ladder 1 proudly hung an American flag along with a Melrose ladder truck near the Most Blessed Sacrament Church to acknowledge the Boston Wounded Veterans annual motorcycle ride that passed through Wakefield on Sunday, September 19. The department also participated in a memorial service to acknowledge the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 held during the evening of September 11 on the Wakefield Upper Common.

August 2021

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 338 emergency incidents during the month of August 2021 including 35 box alarms and 303 still alarms. The department responded to six requests for mutual aid during August, once each to Lynnfield, Medford, Melrose, Reading, Saugus and Newington, New Hampshire. The department received mutual aid seven times during the month of August, three times from Reading, twice from Lynnfield and once each from Lynnfield and Stoneham.

A crew from Engine 1 led by Lieutenant Cliff Silva joined several other area departments assisting the Lynnfield Fire Department during an electrical failure at the Market Street retail development during the morning of August 4. The crew assisted Lynnfield Firefighters with shutting down electrical power in a large portion of the complex until repairs were completed by the utility company. Firefighters under the command of Lieutenant Joseph Albert assisted the Saugus Fire Department at the scene of a structure fire at 30 Athens Drive during the early morning of August 18. A crew from Engine 1 led by Lieutenant John Mercurio covered a vacant Melrose Fire station while that department was tied up at a structure fire. A crew from Engine 1 under Lieutenant Philip Preston covered a vacant Reading Fire station while that department was tied up at a natural gas leak during the evening of August 29.

The department participated in the activation of two special operations teams during August. Captain Paul Pronco responded with other members of the Northeast Technical Rescue Team during the afternoon of August 23 to assist a worker in Newington, New Hampshire worker who had fallen approximately 30 feet into a salt mound at 372 Shattuck Way and was buried up to his waist. Fortunately, the trapped worker was rescued by the local fire department before the team arrived on scene. Lieutenant Michael Long responded along with other members of the District 2 Hazardous Materials Response Team to the scene of a motor vehicle accident at 3850 Mystic Valley Parkway in Medford 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.

Firefighters under the command of Captain Paul Pronco responded to a reported stove fire at 536 North Avenue during the early morning of August 19. Firefighters arrived to find a fire in the home’s gas stove had been extinguished by the homeowner. The gas line to the basement stove had developed a leak that was subsequently ignited by a nearby electrical outlet, causing the fuel in the gas line to flare up. The quick-thinking homeowner went outside and shut down the gas to the residence at the meter, quickly extinguishing the fire. Fire damage was limited to the basement area in the vicinity of the fire. There were no injuries and no occupants were displaced as a result of the fire.

Wakefield firefighters led by Captain Randy Hudson responded to the Produce Connection, located at 96 Audubon Road, on the morning of August 23 after several workers fell ill at that location. Firefighters soon learned that earlier in the morning a piece of processing equipment had failed and leaked out a form of Peracetic Acid, an anti-microbial agent used to clean and prepare the fruit sold by the company. Several employees had been exposed to the leaking agent and were experiencing dizziness and fainting episodes. The department requested additional ambulances from Cataldo Ambulance to evaluate and treat any employees experiencing symptoms. A limited response of the District 2 Hazardous Materials Response Team was requested to investigate and mitigate any potential leak of the above-mentioned cleaning agent. The team entered, found the source of the leak, made sure the leak was secured and drained the remaining product from the pipeline. Three employees were treated and transported to area hospitals. The remainder of the approximately 100 employees including at least six more experiencing symptoms recovered quickly in the fresh air and were eventually sent home after being checked by Wakefield Firefighters and Cataldo Ambulance personnel. Personnel from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection were on scene to follow up with management regarding any additional clean-up actions made necessary by the spill. There were no serious injuries to any employees as a result of this incident. Wakefield Firefighters and Cataldo Ambulance personnel worked well together, along with members of the regional hazardous materials team, to bring the incident to a successful conclusion with the fewest possible injuries.

Wakefield Firefighter Steven Bivens was sworn in as a new Permanent Lieutenant on August 5, 2021 during a brief ceremony at the Public Safety Building Community Room presided over by Wakefield Town Clerk Betsy Sheeran. Lieutenant Biven’s promotion fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Lieutenant Robert Taggart. Lieutenant Bivens spent seven years with the Marblehead Fire Department before transferring over to Wakefield Fire in 2016. Steve is a registered Emergency Medical Technician and holds an Associate’s Degree in Fire Science from North Shore Community College. He is also a veteran of the United States Coast Guard. The department congratulates Lieutenant Bivens on his promotion and wishes him well as he continues his career with the Wakefield Fire Department.

Five new recruit firefighters, Samuel Carr, Richard Bruno, Charles Curran, John Panzini and Jarrod Fitzpatrick, are presently attending Recruit Class # 295 of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy. This recruit program is a ten-week training regimen with an anticipated graduation date of October 8, 2021. The department participated in a training regarding elevator entrapments and the proper procedures necessary to rescue occupants of stalled elevators on August 11. This class, taught by well-respected fire service instructor Mike Dragonetti, was well attended by firefighters from many area fire departments.

The department’s new 2021 Seagrave pumper was placed into service at the Greenwood Fire Station on August 25, serving as the new Engine 2. The former Engine 2, a 2000 Seagrave pumper, was renumbered as Engine 4 and assigned to the Greenwood Fire Station as a reserve pumper. The windows at the Greenwood Fire Station were all replaced on August 26 as a capitol improvement project approved by Town Meeting last May as part of the Capital Outlay Budget.

All groups continued their annual in-service business inspections during August. All department members participated in Emergency Medical Technician training classes during August provided free to the department by Cataldo Ambulance. A crew from Engine 1 visited a group of children participating in a soccer clinic at Walton Field at the Galvin Middle School on August 12.

July 2021

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 382 emergency incidents during the month of July 2021 including 34 box alarms and 348 still alarms. The department responded to nine requests for mutual aid during July, three times to Lynnfield, three times to Melrose, twice to Reading and once to Saugus. The department received mutual aid three times during the month of July, twice from Stoneham and once from Lynnfield.

A crew from Engine 2 led by Lieutenant Joseph Albert assisted the Melrose Fire Department at the scene of a structure fire at 62 Reading Hill Avenue during the early morning of July 9. Firefighters from Engine 5 under the direction of Lieutenant John Mercurio assisted the Saugus Fire Department at the scene of a 3-alarm fire at 18 Richards Street during the morning of July 10. Sadly, this fire claimed the lives of two elderly citizens. A crew from Engine 1 led by Lieutenant Cliff Silva covered a vacant Lynnfield Fire station while that department dealt with a ruptured gas main. Firefighters under the command of Lieutenant Erik Cole assisted the Lynnfield Fire Department at the scene of a 3-alarm fire at 260 Essex Street during the morning of July 18. Firefighters from Ladder 1 led by Lieutenant Gary Hill assisted the Reading Fire Department at the scene of a structure fire at 60 Willow Street during the afternoon of July 18. A crew from Engine under Lieutenant Steve Bivens covered a vacant Lynnfield Fire station while that department was tied up at an emergency during the evening of July 23. A crew from Engine 1 covered Reading Fire headquarters during the early morning of July 25 while that department was tied up at an emergency.

Five new recruit firefighters, Samuel Carr, Richard Bruno, Charles Curran, John Panzini and Jarrod Fitzpatrick, continued to conduct in-house training exercises during the month of July. The five new recruits started their training with Class # 295 of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Recruit Training Program on July 26. The recruit program is a ten-week training regimen with an anticipated graduation date of October 8, 2021.

All groups continued their annual in-service business inspections during July. All department members participated in Emergency Medical Technician training classes during July provided free to the department by Cataldo Ambulance. All groups continued to train on various firefighting operations with the new recruits during July including practicing pumping evolutions with the department’s new Seagrave pumper.

June 2021

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 348 emergency incidents during the month of June 2021 including 34 box alarms and 314 still alarms. The department responded to three requests for mutual aid during June, once each to Lynnfield, Revere and Saugus. The department received mutual aid three times during the month of June, twice from Reading and once from Lynnfield.

A crew from Engine 2 led by Lieutenant Christopher Crogan assisted the Saugus Fire Department at the scene of a structure fire at 57 Fairmount Avenue during the afternoon of June 19. Firefighters from Engine 2 under the direction of Lieutenant Sean Curran assisted the Revere Fire Department at the scene of a 7-alarm fire at 25 Hyde Street. This fire destroyed several large residential buildings before finally being contained and extinguished by firefighters from over a dozen communities on an extremely hot and humid night.

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 encountered a fully involved refrigerated produce truck that was quickly extending to a second refrigerated truck of the same design parked adjacent to it. The fire was quickly knocked down but not before the original box truck was completely destroyed and the second vehicle was heavily damaged. Troopers from the State Fire Marshal’s Office were called to the scene to help local investigators as the loss of the two trucks exceeded $100,000 in property damage. Fire investigators were able to determine that the fire was accidental in origin, most likely caused by an electrical malfunction in the original truck’s refrigeration unit. The fire did not extend to any other property and there were no injuries to firefighters during this incident. A Reading fire engine covered Wakefield Fire Headquarters during the fire.

Five new recruit firefighters, Samuel Carr, Richard Bruno, Charles Curran, John Panzini and Jarrod Fitzpatrick, started training exercises during the month of June. Three of the five new recruits, Charles Curran, John Panzini and Jarrod Fitzpatrick, started an intensive 30-day training class to become Emergency Medical Technicians sponsored by Cataldo Ambulance Service at no cost to the town. The remaining two recruits, Richard Bruno and Samuel Carr, reported to fire headquarters for specialized training in dispatch and radio communications as well as other specialized topics. The five recruits will be reunited after the July 4th holiday weekend to participate in additional training before being enrolled in Class # 295 of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Recruit Training Program. The recruit program is a ten-week training regimen starting on July 26 with an anticipated graduation date of October 8, 2021.

Veteran Fire Lieutenant Robert Taggart retired from the Wakefield Fire Department on June 28, 2021 after serving more than 32 years with the department. Lieutenant Taggart was appointed to the department on February 16, 1989. He was promoted to Lieutenant on February 1, 2008 and at the time of his retirement was the Senior Lieutenant in the department, assigned as the Lieutenant on Engine 2 in Greenwood under Captain Brian Purcell. Lieutenant Taggart served with the United States Army prior to his career in the Wakefield Fire Department. Lieutenant Taggart received a department commendation for his actions on August 24, 2008 assisting a man who had collapsed and become unresponsive. Lieutenant Taggart, off-duty at the time, administered CPR and performed rescue breathing on this individual, restoring a regular heart rhythm to him before the arrival of first responders. We wish Lieutenant Taggart a long, healthy and happy retirement with his wife Roberta, also a Wakefield Firefighter, and their children.

All groups continued their annual in-service business inspections during June. Quarterly fire inspection of the town’s schools, nursing homes, boarding houses and hotels were also conducted by the department during June. All department members participated in Emergency Medical Technician training classes during June provided free to the department by Cataldo Ambulance.

The Fire Chief, Deputy Chief, five Captains and the department’s EMS Coordinator participated in an active-shooter table-top exercise with other town departments and area police agencies held at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel on Audubon Road on June 8. This training was organized by Wakefield Emergency Manager Thomas Walsh with the assistance of a federal grant. The exercise simulates an active-shooter scenario at the Wakefield Memorial High School. All participants found the exercise to be enlightening and informative. The Deputy Chief and Fire Prevention Officer participated in an evacuation drill conducted by Brightview assisted living on June 16. All groups continued to train on various firefighting operations during June.

May 2021

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 324 emergency incidents during the month of May including 32 box alarms and 292 still alarms. The department responded to four requests for mutual aid during May, twice to Melrose and once each to Lynnfield and Revere. The department received mutual aid six times during the month of May, three times from Lynnfield, twice from Reading and once from Saugus.

A crew from Engine 1 under Lieutenant Erik Cole covered a vacant Lynnfield Fire Station while crews in that community were tied up at a structure fire on Carpenter Road during the evening of May 15. Firefighters from Engine 2 under the command of Acting Lieutenant Arthur Fennelly assisted the Revere Fire Department at the scene of a 5-alarm fire at 139 Endicott Street during the afternoon of May 20.

Firefighters under the command of Acting Lieutenant Arthur Fennelly responded to a report of an injured bird on Crystal Lake during the afternoon of May 20. Firefighters responded to the Broadway pumping station and met up with wildlife rescue and water department personnel to arrange for the rescue of a swan with a fishing lure stuck in its beak. Firefighters Rich Cardavelli and Nolan Curran donned life jackets and operated the water department boat docked at Crystal Lake to a remote cove in the rear of the lake. The firefighters were able to isolate the swan using a fishing net and bring it over to the wildlife rescue personnel, who were able to remove the fishing lure with a multi-purpose utility tool. The swan was then released to rejoin its babies and swim away unharmed.

Five new recruit firefighters, Samuel Carr, Richard Bruno, Charles Curran, John Panzini and Jarrod Fitzpatrick, were sworn in during a brief ceremony held in the community room of the Public Safety Building presided over by Wakefield’s Town Clerk Betsy Sheeran. Four of the five recruits were funded by a federal staffing grant worth more than $1.2 million that fully funds the salary and benefits of the four firefighters for three years. The fifth position will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Wakefield Fire Lieutenant Louis Sardella. The new firefighters will raise the staffing level of the department to 55 members, including four duty groups of 13 members, a Fire Prevention Officer, a Deputy Fire Chief and the Fire Chief. The five new members will be enrolled in Class # 295 of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Recruit Training Program, a ten-week training program starting on July 26 with an anticipated graduation date of October 8, 2021. The recruits will participate in training activities and be enrolled into an Emergency Medical Technician training program until they begin their Fire Academy Class in July. The department welcomes these new recruits and wishes them a long and productive career in the fire service.

All Groups participated in a training program conducted by Northeast Rescue Systems involving the use of their self-rescue rope repelling systems (bail-out kits) on May 18-21. All groups continued their annual in-service business inspections during the month of May. All groups conducted training on Lake Quannapowitt with the department’s two rescue boats, the Boston Whaler and Avon rubber rescue boat, during the month of May. All of the department’s fire hose was inspected and pressure-tested during May. All of the department’s small hand tools were inventoried, cleaned and serviced during the month of May. All duty groups drilled on various multi-company hose evolutions during the month of May.

April 2021

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 282 emergency incidents during the month of April including 31 box alarms and 251 still alarms. The department responded to three requests for mutual aid during April, twice to Reading and once to Melrose. The department received mutual aid five times during the month of April, three times from Stoneham and once each from Reading and Lynnfield.

A crew from Engine 1 under Lieutenant John Mercurio covered Reading Fire Headquarters while crews in that community were tied up at a structure fire during the afternoon of April 4. Firefighters from Engine 1 under the command of Lieutenant Daniel Hancock assisted the Reading Fire Department at the scene of a 3-alarm fire at 292 Grove Street during the early morning of April 13. Firefighters from Engine 2 led by Lieutenant Christopher Crogan assisted the Melrose Fire Department at the scene of a structure fire at 5 Ledge Street during the morning of April 14.

Firefighters under the command of Captain John Walsh responded to a fire alarm activation at 20 Woodbury Road during the morning of April 5. Firefighters quickly determined the cause of the alarm to be an outside fire along the rear wall of the building in a pile of leaves and pine needles that had accumulated along the wall and inside a basement window well. Smoke from the fire entered into the boiler room and the first-floor corridors. The fire was quickly knocked down and extinguished. The residual smoke was vented from the building. There was no damage to the interior of the building except to some fiberglass insulation on some boiler room plumbing. The cause of the fire was accidental most likely due to the careless disposal of smoking materials. There were no injuries to either citizens or firefighters during this fire.

Another group of firefighters led by Captain John Walsh extinguished a fast-moving brush fire in the woods off of Sylvan Avenue during the late evening of April 10. The fire was contained to a 100-foot square area but had burned into the ground making it difficult to extinguish. The entire on-duty shift worked for more than two hours to completely extinguish the fire. The cause of the fire was an unattended campfire that extended into the surrounding brush. A Reading engine company covered Wakefield Fire Headquarters during the fire. There were no injuries as a result of this incident.

All Groups continued their annual in-service business inspections during the month of April. All groups conducted a walk-through of the new renovated apartment building located at 301 North Avenue as well as the ongoing construction project at 168 Albion Street during April. All groups also did a walk-though of the Rockledge Apartment at 11 Bartley Street. All duty groups drilled on various hose evolutions and practiced setting up and flowing water through the aerial ladder truck’s waterway.

March 2021

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 303 emergency incidents during the month of March including 44 box alarms and 259 still alarms. The department responded to five requests for mutual aid during March, once each to Lynnfield, Melrose, Reading, Stoneham and Woburn. The department received mutual aid seven times during the month of March, three times from Stoneham and twice each from Lynnfield and Reading.

A crew from Engine 2 under the command of Lieutenant Michael Long assisted the Stoneham Fire department at the scene of a 3-alarm fire at 34 Hersam Street during the morning of March 6. A crew under Lieutenant Daniel Hancock covered a vacant Lynnfield fire station while crews were tied up in that community during the evening of March 16. A crew from Engine 1 led by Lieutenant Erik Cole assisted 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 under the command of Acting Lieutenant John Hurley covered a vacant Woburn fire station during a 2-alarm fire in that community the early morning of March 23.

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 on the grounds of the Lakeside Office Park during the early morning of March 7. The fire was discovered by the Park Manager as an electrical contracting company was investigating a power problem within the park. A large explosion occurred inside the small building setting fire to the contents. The Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department was already on scene and shut down the electrical power to the building. Firefighters entered the building once the power was shut down and quickly extinguished the fire. The cause of the fire was determined to be an electrical malfunction in the high-voltage equipped housed inside the small utility building. The equipment inside the structure was completely destroyed, knocking out power to a majority of the office park. Lakeside Office Park management had to bring in large electrical generators to restore power to the park until repairs could be made. There were no injuries to either citizens or firefighters during this fire.

Firefighters led by Captain Paul Pronco responded to a reported building fire at 1 Nablus Road during the afternoon of March 15. They arrived in approximately one minute to find considerable amount of smoke venting from open doors. Firefighters quickly determined the source of the fire to be welding work being conducted in a manufacturing area. Apparently, a spark had been drawn up into the facility’s duct collection system starting a fire in some metal dust lining the system. Firefighters eventually gained access to the ductwork and collections bin, 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.

All duty shifts conducted in service walk-throughs of the ongoing construction projects at 69 Foundry Street and 168 Albion Street during March. All groups utilized the vacant building at 500 Main Street for training including commercial roof cutting, advancing charged hose lines, breaching commercial garage doors and search and rescue drills. All Groups toured the water treatment facility on Broadway including the underground sand filter beds in March while the facility was down for routine maintenance. All department members reviewed the new exit numbering system for the Route 95 exits that serve Wakefield as they were recently reconfigured to coincide with the highway mile markers.

All Groups resumed their annual in-service fire safety inspection of businesses on March 1. All Groups resumed their quarterly fire inspections of nursing home, schools, hotels and lodging houses in March. All department personnel completed their annual Conflict of Interest training required of all public employees by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts during March. Fire Chief Michael Sullivan and Deputy Fire Chief Thomas Purcell participated in a documentary video for the Wakefield Alliance Against Violence. This video involved the White Ribbon Campaign, which focuses on community awareness and prevention measures regarding domestic violence against women.

February 2021

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 300 emergency incidents during the month of February including 29 box alarms and 271 still alarms. The department responded to six requests for mutual aid during February, twice to Melrose, and once each to Malden, Stoneham, Saugus and Woburn. The department received mutual aid eight times during the month of February, twice from Reading and once each from Malden, Melrose, North Reading, Saugus, Stoneham and Woburn.

A crew from Engine 2 under the command of Lieutenant Joseph Albert assisted the Saugus Fire department at the scene of a 2-alarm fire at 5 Beckett Street during the early morning of February 10. A crew from Engine 2 led by Lieutenant Michael Long assisted the Stoneham Fire Department at a 2-alarm fire at 34 Country Club Road during the morning of February 10. A crew under Acting Lieutenant John Hurley covered a vacant Woburn Fire station during a multiple alarm fire in that community during the evening of February 16. A crew from Engine 2 led by Lieutenant Christopher Crogan covered a vacant Malden fire station during a 3-alarm at 5 Overlook Ridge Drive during the early morning of February 28.

Firefighters under the command of Captain John Walsh responded to a reported house fire at 26 Crystal Street at approximately 3:40 P.M. on February 23. Upon their arrival, firefighters found a fire in the rear of the basement extending into the first floor. Multiple hose lines were stretched into the home knocking down the fire in about 20 minutes. A second alarm was stuck for extra manpower at 3:50 P.M. bringing engines from Stoneham, Melrose and Reading to the scene along with a North Reading Ladder truck. An engine from Saugus and Woburn as well as a Malden ladder truck covered the town during the fire. The fire was extinguished within 60 minutes after the first alarm. The rear of the basement and first floor sustained heavy fire damage with significant smoke and heat damage extending throughout the home. The sole occupant of the home at the time of the fire was able to exit the residence without injury. The couple living in the home will be displaced for an extended time until the extensive repairs can be made. A trooper from the State Fire Marshal’s Office was called in to assist the local Fire investigation team. The cause of the fire remains undermined but accidental, most likely an electrical failure of a household appliance in the basement. No firefighters were injured during this fire.

The Wakefield Fire Department experienced a significant decrease in Covid-19 responses in February as the second surge of Covid-19 infections that started in November appears to be winding down. Citizens are reminded of the importance of calling 911 for injuries and illnesses that are not Covid-19 related.

All duty shifts conducted in service walk-throughs of the ongoing construction project at 27 Water Street during February. All groups practiced search and rescue drills and roof opening procedures at residences that were vacant and awaiting demolition at 102 New Salem Street and10 Otis Street. Several groups also conducted training evolutions inside the former Hurd School. Several groups continued to practice ice rescue procedures on Lake Quannapowitt. All of the department’s self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) was flow-tested and its compressed air tanks were hydrostatically tested during February. The air compressor that supplies breathing air to the department’s SCBA was also tested and passed inspection.

January 2021

The Wakefield Fire Department responded to 306 emergency incidents during the month of January including 35 box alarms and 271 still alarms. The department responded to three requests for mutual aid during January, once each to Melrose, Saugus and Woburn. The department received mutual aid seven times during the month of January, once each from Lynnfield, Melrose, North Reading, Saugus, Stoneham and Woburn.

A crew from Engine 2 under Lieutenant Christopher Crogan covered Saugus Fire Headquarters while their firefighters were tied up dealing with an extensive brush fire during the afternoon of January 24. A crew from Engine 5 led by Lieutenant Daniel Hancock covered a vacant Woburn Fire station during a 2-alarm fire in that community during the evening of January 24.

Firefighters under the command of Captain Brian Purcell responded to a reported house fire at 360 Water Street during the early morning of January 31. Upon their arrival, firefighters found a fire in the front bedroom of the single-family residence set up a steep hill set off of the street. Two hose lines were stretched into the home quickly knocking down the fire. A second alarm was stuck for extra manpower due to the zero visibility conditions present within the home and the very cold ambient temperature (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 and no further fire extension was found beyond the front bedroom and hallway. The cause of the fire was determined to be cause by the transfer of heat through a chimney cleanout found in the rear of the bedroom closet where the fire started. The owners had used the wood stove and fireplace during the previous evening, heating the access door to the clean-out to the point where it ignited combustibles stored against it. The two occupants of the home and their dog escaped the residence without injury and there were no injuries to responding firefighters. The occupants of the home will be displaced for an extended period until repairs can be made. 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 department responded, along with Cataldo Ambulance, to 193 incidents in January 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. Hospitals and emergency rooms have taken extensive precautions to minimize the risk to patients not infected by Covid-19.

Wakefield Fire Lieutenant Louis Sardella officially retired from the Wakefield Fire Department on January 7, 2021. Lou was appointed to the Wakefield Fire Department on October 4, 1993 and was appointed a Permanent Fire Lieutenant on October 3, 2013. Lou was the senior member of group 1 at the time of his retirement, assigned as the Lieutenant for Ladder 1. He is a well-respected and competent fire officer and his extensive experience with the fire service will be missed. We wish Lieutenant Sardella a long, happy and healthy retirement along with his wife Lynne in their new home in Maine.

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 ongoing construction project at 178 Albion Street during January. All groups practiced procedures involving cold water and ice rescues. All groups reviewed operating procedures involving carbon monoxide, electrical and natural gas emergencies. The department participated in the funeral services for retired Wakefield Fire Captain Peter E. Hubbard, a respected officer with the department for many years, on January 30.

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