Kenneth R. Willette
During 2006 the Concord Fire Department responded to medical emergencies, structure fires, water rescues commercial and institutional fire alarms, motor vehicle accidents and special service incidents. Major fire incidents included structure fires at a Westford Road residence, the Best Western Inn and the Thoreau Club. Several pieces of construction equipment stored outside were destroyed in an arson fire at Concord Farms on Virginia Road. Department Fire Investigators and the Concord Police Department were called upon to investigate several incidents involving bottles containing a flammable liquid, and several teenagers were referred to the Juvenile Fire Setter Program. The Department also responded to several very serious motor vehicle accidents.
The Concord Fire Department responded to the major explosion in Danvers prior to Thanksgiving and the hazardous materials incident in South Hadley. cfd personnel who belong to State and regional teams responded in specialist roles such as Haz-Mat technicians, incident communications technicians staffing a field communications unit, and operations technicians assigned to the Incident Support Unit. Locally, the Department responded to a hazardous materials incident involving a spill of a chemical used in a photo developing process on Bradford St., which was contained and kept to a small incident through firefighters' intervention.
Community Service Activities
Throughout the year, the Concord Fire Department provides staffing and expertise at such events as the Nashawtuc Golf Tournament, the Youth Triathlon, West Concord Family Festival, and Citizen Emergency Response Team training (cert), by assisting cert trainees with cpr training, home fire safety awareness, and fire extinguisher training. The Department continues to assist senior citizens in the installation of smoke detectors in cooperation with the Council on Aging. The Student Awareness of Fire Education (safe) program was presented to all second grade students in the public schools, and many fire safety visits to pre-school and private schools were provided. The Department assisted with the installation of booms to herd rubber ducks as they raced down the Concord River in a duck race sponsored by the Milldam Nursery School. During the summer heat, personnel assisted with the opening of a cooling shelter at Harvey Wheeler. In November, the Department participated in an emergency shelter exercise at the Concord Carlisle High School, providing emergency medical and logistical support to the Community Shelter Team as they simulated sheltering 60 evacuees during a serious "Northeaster." Command staff participated in an Emergency Operations Center exercise at the Police/Fire Headquarters building. Concord achieved "Heart Safe Community" status, meeting standards relative to the number of citizens who are cpr certified and having a plan to make Automatic External Defibrillators available in public buildings. The Department was honored to participate in the deployment ceremony for an Army National Guard unit at the North Bridge prior to their deployment to the Middle East.
The Fire Department trains throughout the year on fire related topics, emergency medical situations, ice and water rescue techniques, and any other fire/rescue problems that we might come in contact with. Other training involved a Weapons of Mass Destruction course taught by Texas A&M University in the Walden Street Public Safety Training Room. New techniques to improve water rescue skills and firefighter safety were taught by members who achieved certification as trainers in this specialized rescue skill. A mass decontamination drill was held at Emerson Hospital in early November. Department personnel participated in extensive training the past year in the National Incident Management System, in accordance with Town and Federal guidelines.
The Concord Fire Department put a new brush truck, Engine 6, into service. This custom-built truck is a 4-wheel drive brush firefighting vehicle that is able to go off road if the need arises. It is a smaller vehicle than our class-A structural trucks. It is stationed at the West Concord Fire Station and can be used to tow a boat as well as perform other functions. A new class-A fire engine has been ordered and delivery is expected August, 2007. This will be a custom-built piece of fire apparatus, with firefighting as well as rescue capability and will replace Engine 3 at the Headquarters station.
As part of the new water rescue course that the Fre Department took this past year, new personal flotation devices as well as dry suits were purchased to supplement our existing equipment, supplementing the two boats available for water rescue. These supplement the Rescue Alive rescue sled used for ice and cold water rescues.
Firefighter of the Year Recognitions
Concord Firefighters Brian Whitney, Kevin Fagerquist, and William Haugh were honored at Faneuil Hall as part of the 17th annual Massachusetts Firefighter of the Year awards. They received medals and certificates for their efforts in saving an elderly couple from the Concord River in 2005. This elderly brother and sister capsized their canoe on the Concord River near the Old North Bridge and had no personal flotation device to aid them. The three firefighters were able to get into the river and remove the couple before hypothermia set in, as they were at the point of not being able to help themselves.
safer Grant for New Firefighter Positions
The Concord Fire Department has been awarded a safer grant from the Federal government to support the hiring of four new full time firefighter/emts. The grant will provide $464,000 over four years, with the Town funding the balance. Efforts are underway to have these positions filled by late March, bringing each of the four groups that staff the Fire Department up to nine members per shift from the present eight.