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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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