As administrators of public safety, fire personnel must handle
fires, motor vehicle accidents, collapses, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes,
and medical emergencies. These events remain, as always, unscheduled
and unpredictable. These incidents are time sensitive, life threatening,
and labor intensive. You never know when they will occur, but when
they do, you need lots of trained people immediately.
Gerald F. LaFlamme
The Shrewsbury Fire Department is made up of the Chief,
secretary, thirty two firefighters and four Captains. There are
three stations in town. Headquarters is located at Church Road.
Station 2 is located at Harrington Avenue and Station 3 is located
on Rt-20, Hartford Pike.
At full strength, three firefighters and the duty officer are assigned
to Headquarters, three firefighters are assigned to Station 2 and
two fire fighters are assigned to Station 3. One firefighter at
Headquarters primarily works as dispatcher but is available to
respond when needed in certain situations and one person is usually
off duty with no replacement.
The fire department strategic plan calls for four more new employees,
a new Headquarters building, and establishing eight direct supervisory
positions within the department. The supervisory positions will
lead to reorganizing the response patterns to calls so as to relieve
the Captain from being the sole supervisor of activities of the
Three new firefighters are currently undergoing training at the
Massachusetts Fire Academy in Stow, Massachusetts. Harold "Jamie"
Colby III, Brendon Palumbo, and William Ryzewski are undergoing
eleven weeks of intensive training, combining classroom and fire
ground activities. The fourth new firefighter, Kevin Weigold, recently
graduated from the academy.
Safety and accountability of our firefighters is paramount in
all that we do. Improving our safety is an ongoing function. The
department continues to move forward with the implementation of
an Incident Management System. All members of the department are
now trained in the application of this system. The result is increased
safety, professionalism, increased proficiency, and most importantly,
increased accountability of each other. It has been a costly program
but the results are worth far more than the cost.
The department will assume responsibility of housing the new District
14 Command Vehicle. This vehicle is a 2004 Ford Excursion. It is
set up as a communication command post. It has multi radio capability
and is capable of communicating with all fire departments in our
fire district. We will deliver this vehicle to a Mutual aid fire
or other incident where needed. We are also hosting from District
14 an All Hazards Unit usable for decontamination of civilians or
The Strategic Plan is now in the fourth year of implementation.
Items being worked on include design of a new fire headquarters,
purchase of an aerial platform truck to replace the 1962 ladder
truck, creation of four lieutenant positions, and further reorganization
of the department.
The replacement of the 1962 ladder truck with an aerial platform
is a necessity. The new platform will be equipped to do the work
of an engine company and have the added capacity to be a ladder.
(Currently, every apparatus is an engine; one has added rescue capability,
while the ladder has no engine or rescue capability.) This allows
for far greater utilization of the ladder which, according to national
guidelines is expected to respond to every public building. The
current ladder has no pump and is 75 feet tall. The proposed aerial
has a pump, water tank, hose, ladder, and work platform, reaching
102 feet. With today's houses set far back on lots, typically three
stories tall, this truck is a must. Additional apartment complexes
are being and have been built that require the 100 foot reach, including
the housing for the elderly on North Quinsigamond Ave and the Southgate
senior complex. (We have owned the Ladder since before construction
of 36 North Quinsigamond Ave.)
Current statistics of activity indicate the department is again
busier than ever. Our call volume continues to increase. So also
increases the number of recurring and required inspections. The
fire department inspects every alteration to an Oil-fired heating
system, every home engaged in any mortgage transaction, every new
home, most remodeling projects, every commercial garage, every restaurant
and every other building used for public gathering within the town.
Our computer system is almost complete. This allows accumulation
of dynamic information in a manner that can be re-printed at will
and carried on vehicles. The fire-fighters are surveying every commercial
building in town and electronically accumulating data about the
properties. The need for such data was clearly expressed in the
NIOSH report about the tragic fire in Worcester that claimed six
The fire department has teamed up with the Building Inspector's
office to inspect together when appropriate, thus saving duplication
of efforts. Many issues have been identified and solved using this
dual inspector system. In light of the tragic nightclub fire in
Rhode Island and other note-worthy tragedies across the states,
we have stepped up our inspection services and have steadily improved
conditions at these venues. The global information system established
within the engineering department is being utilized in the fire
service to produce maps and reports about town properties that the
firefighters overlay with information garnered during surveys. Books
are being created containing pictorials of complexes, complete with
numbers of buildings, utility locations, hydrant locations, and
other special interest information. The NIOSH report on the tragic
Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse fire pointed to these types of
information as vital to firefighter safety and challenged every
fire department to accumulate this information immediately. New
construction has slowed but the countering rise in building permits
for renovating, remodeling, and adding on has increased the need
for inspection services here in the fire department as well.
The department goal to train twenty hours per month is on track.
This training includes inspections, classroom sessions, practical
applications and actual calls for service. Our officers have attended
instructor methodology classes preparing them to present training
materials and drills
from within the shifts. Courses have been hosted internally, bringing
in Fire Academy professionals as instructors. New defibrillators
have been purchased to upgrade our service delivery to include pediatric
applications. Training was delivered by company representatives
to all embers of the department as well as from our Medical Control
Officer, Linda Gosselin
Project Alarm continues to be a great success. Nearly 500 homes
in Shrewsbury have had smoke detectors installed free of charge
by the firefighters. During 2004 our firefighters visited 150 homes
to install detectors, change batteries, or check systems for our
seniors. Semi-annual signup takes place in cooperation with the
Council on Aging at the Senior Center. Seniors are encouraged to
contact the fire department if they have no smoke detector protection
or if they require battery change-outs. The program is free, due
to the generous contribution of detectors by the State Department
of Fire Services, batteries direct from the Energizer Bunny, and
the cooperation of the firefighters.
Fire Prevention Education is an important function within the
Fire Department. The Safety Awareness and Fire Education (S.A.F.E.)
Program has been delivered by specially trained firefighters and
officers, through the school system, to every pre-high-school student.
Shrewsbury has seen juvenile fire-setting reduced nearly to zero
and this program is what is responsible for that fact. The SAFE
team also delivers age-appropriate safety classes to our seniors.
Annually, the firefighters sponsor a cook-out at the Senior Center
and serve up burgers, dogs, and safety lessons. The Commonwealth
advanced grants totaling $3,600 to Shrewsbury to allow us to fund
the materials needed to meet the demands of the SAFE Program. The
Firefighters Association is to be commended for their monetary generosity
toward the SAFE Program as well, having contributed over $2,000
to the program last year.
In 2005 the Fire Department expects to receive a $5,000 state
grant toward our SAFE Program and a $41,000 state grant toward Firefighter
Weapons of Mass Destruction in the post 9-11 era has been the
2004 topic that we are increasing our awareness of and educating
ourselves about. To this end we are working on interoperability
both inside and outside the town and developing agreements with
our neighboring towns as well. Shrewsbury has an active and dynamic
Local Emergency Planning Committee including town directors, most
department heads, business associates, experts in respective fields,
and interested citizenry. In this area of the state, no one jurisdiction
can handle a catastrophic event alone. This fundamental fact is
driving neighboring towns to look toward regionalizing some asset
inventories as well as training district/regional teams to respond
with and operate the regional assets being assembled. Shrewsbury
will be in the mix of these regional teams and in cases where our
safety is particularly threatened will take the lead to see that
the teams become operational.