Town of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts
Town of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts
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Fire Department

Message from the Chief

Gerald F. LaFlamme
Fire Chief
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.

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.

Shrewsbury Fire Department Seal 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

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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 department.

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 firefighters.

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 firefighter's lives.

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 Safety initiatives.

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.

Mission Statement
  • Caring for the Town of Shrewsbury residents, guests, and property through promoting public education
  • Providing inspecting for the prevention of fires
  • And mitigating any emergency situation presented to us

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   For more inquiries or information contact us at 508-841-8522. 

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