Massachusetts News

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Framingham Deputy Fire Chief Dies After Battle With Cancer

The Framingham Fire Department lost a longtime member on Wednesday when Deputy Chief Brad Smith died after a battle with cancer. Smith, a 32-year member of the department, was diagnosed in January with advanced bone and stomach cancer, according to the Local 1652 firefighters union. Smith entered hospice care in late March. The union said that Smith recently got engaged, was a father of two children, and "one of the most well liked members of the department." Smith also traveled to New York City after the Sept. 11 attacks as part of a Federal Emergency Management Agency team. "Deputy Smith has continually sought to improve his knowledge of the fire service, the many accreditations and certifications he has attained show his dedication, and ultimately serving the citizens of Framingham," the union wrote on a GoFundMe fundraiser page on March 22.
Framingham Patch

Eight Western Massachusetts fire departments enter mutual aid agreement

Eight Western Mass fire departments have entered into a mutual aid agreement in the event more help is needed in combating the coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the region. The coalition consists of fire departments in Agawam, East Longmeadow, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Southwick, West Springfield, Westfield, and Wilbraham. Westfield Fire Chief Patrick M. Egloff said Wednesday the mutual aid agreement has been put into place to keep departments properly staffed in the event fire personnel become infected with COVID-19. “This allows us to use each other’s resources,” he said. “The most important thing we have is our people. The agreement is in place in case the fire department is decimated (by COVID-19).” So far, the Westfield Fire Department has five confirmed cases among its ranks. All have either been quarantined or recovered, Egloff said.
The Republican -

Attleboro police, fire chiefs say red tape in getting personnel tested at Sturdy threatens critical public safety services

After city firefighters were exposed to a coronavirus patient they took to Sturdy Memorial Hospital last week, bureaucratic red tape prevented them from getting tested quickly by the hospital. In response to the incident, the hospital will change its procedure so first-responders exposed to the virus can get tested faster, Dr. Brian Patel, chief of Sturdy’s emergency services, said Wednesday. The problem arose last Saturday when Sturdy notified the fire department that a patient firefighters took to the hospital six days earlier tested positive for the virus, Fire Chief Scott Lachance said. Lachance said an elderly woman broke her leg in a fall and did not have symptoms of the virus, so the five firefighters did not wear their extra-protective suits. When the firefighters sought testing at Sturdy after being notified, Lachance said the hospital told him they had to seek their own physicians or one affiliated with Sturdy.
Attleboro Sun Chronicle

National Guard delivers safety gear to Amesbury first responders

The second of two National Guard trucks delivered personal protective equipment to the Fire Department, fulfilling an order of 250 Tyvek suits, 250 N95 protective masks and 250 surgical masks. The first shipment took place last week with the second Wednesday morning at Amesbury fire headquarters on School Street. “This is our lifeline. The worst thing we can do here is have sick firefighters and paramedics,” said Fire Chief Ken Berkenbush, who also serves as the city’s emergency management director. Berkenbush said the equipment came courtesy of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency after he placed an order with the Framingham-based agency about three weeks ago. As of Wednesday afternoon, no Amesbury firefighters or paramedics have contracted COVID-19. Berkenbush added that one first responder was recently sent home as a precaution after a family member was tested for the potentially deadly virus.
Newburyport Daily News

Student Firefighters from UMass Amherst Help Boost Staffing at the Amherst Fire Department

Five student firefighters from the University of Massachusetts Amherst Student Force have been promoted to full-time at the Amherst Fire Department, boosting the department back up to full staffing through June. They will assist with staffing during this period of responding to COVID-19. The five, who begin full-time duties next week, have been part of the student firefighter program based at the North Amherst Fire Station on East Pleasant Street, a collaboration between the university and town that dates back to 1953. The station is adjacent to the UMass Amherst campus. Maryanne Steele, assistant director of Campus Safety and Fire Prevention for the UMass Amherst Department of Environmental Health and Safety, says, “We have had a long history of UMass students volunteering to serve on the Amherst Fire Department Student Force and now five of those students have been hired as full firefighters to assist with staffing during this period of responding to COVID-19."
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Norton police, fire departments employ new weapon against spread of coronavirus

The police and fire departments have gone full Star Wars on battling the coronavirus. Cops and firefighters are using electrostatic guns to disinfect cruisers, cells, fire apparatus and equipment. “It looks like something out of Star Wars,” Police Chief Brian Clark said Tuesday, adding that the gun quickly and evenly coats a surface with a chlorine solution. The applicator gives a negative charge to the disinfecting solution as it exits the nozzle. It allows the sanitizer to wrap around and evenly coat all types of surfaces for a better cleaning job, Clark said. In addition, the surfaces that are already covered repel the spray, making the method extremely efficient. “It cleans more. It’s more efficient and you don’t have to touch the surface,” Clark said. The school department lent one gun each to the police department and the fire department.
Attleboro Sun Chronicle

Town of Winchester, firefighters collaborate on Memorandum of Understanding

The Town of Winchester has a shortage of firefighters and that poses a risk to public safety. To remedy that situation, the Town Manager and her staff worked collaboratively with the fire department on a Memorandum of Understanding that if approved would see an increases in wages and benefits. Town Manager Lisa Wong said the town isn’t getting enough applicants, because the town doesn’t compensate them well enough and also because there aren’t enough people interested in the job. When she looked at comparable communities, she found that Winchester just didn’t stack up well enough. It’s just not the Town Manager, as Fire Chief Rick Tustin agreed with her assessment. He called wage increases a “long time coming.” With these changes, Winchester would no longer be at the bottom of the pack, the chief acknowledged. He added, when it comes to paramedics, they shop around and look for the best package.
Woburn Daily Times Chronicle

Attleboro buys masks for first responders as number of infected people rises

Mayor Paul Heroux had good news for the fire and police departments Tuesday, especially with one firefighter already testing positive for coronavirus and two others in quarantine. He said the city bought 4,000 protective masks for its first responders and they are expected to arrive in two to three weeks from companies in New Jersey and California. Heroux said the supply includes the much sought after N95 and surgical masks. The news came as the city reported 39 confirmed coronavirus cases, up from 37 on Monday. One person in the city died Sunday after contracting the virus. Meanwhile, Sturdy Memorial Hospital reported that it had 12 patients with confirmed cases of coronavirus with one of those 12 in the intensive care unit. Another 27 admitted patients are “under investigation,” according to numbers supplied by the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association on Tuesday.
Attleboro Sun Chronicle

Andover firefighter tests positive for COVID-19

An Andover firefighter has tested positive for coronavirus, COVID-19, and is in self-quarantine at his home, according to a union official. Eric Teichert, fire union president, said he was notified Monday night that a firefighter in his union had tested positive. Teichert did not identify the firefighter. Other firefighters who worked with the victim last week were notified, Teichert said. COVID-19, which is at a pandemic level across the globe, can cause intense respiratory system problems and possibly even death. Teichert noted all Andover firefighters are "uneasy with the situation" surrounding COVID-19. He said, however, firefighters "are taking precautions to protect ourselves and the public. ... We will not hesitate to do our job." "I do not want people to be fearful. We are going to do our job. We are going to do what we are trained to do," Teichert said.
Lawrence Eagle Tribune - Metered Site

Follow-up: Massive Weymouth Fire Ruled Arson, $5,000 Reward Offered

The fire that destroyed several buildings at the old Naval Air Station in Weymouth last week was intentionally set, the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services announced Tuesday. A $5,000 reward is being offered for information that helps solve the arson. The March 26 fire started in the old officers’ barracks, which have been abandoned for years. The Arson Watch Reward Program is “funded by the property and casualty insurance companies of Massachusetts,” according to the Department of Fire Services. Anyone with information is asked to call the Arson Hotline at 1-800-682-9229.
WBZ-TV CBS 4 Boston

Fire at Westport scrap company causes $200K in damage

Water wasn’t going to do the job. A Tuesday afternoon fire that damaged a building at a State Road scrap business took 90 minutes to extinguish due to its location and the materials involved. Firefighters responded to Mid-City Scrap Iron & Salvage Co., 548 State Road, around 3:40 p.m. after employees reported smoke coming from a bail of metal in a processing building, the Westport Fire Department said in a news release. The metal turned out to be titanium, which required specific extinguishing agents or must burn itself out, according to the fire department. “Adding water to these fires will only make them burn hotter,” Capt. Brian Beaulieu, public information officer for the department, said in the release. Firefighters had the blaze under control in an hour-and-a-half and remained on scene for an additional hour for overhaul on the structure, which sustained an estimated $200,000 in damage.
Herald News

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