From Old Home Day 2009 - Photo By Christopher ParkerThe Wendell Fire Department had 74 calls from January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2008, including: 3 smoke/fumes investigations, 12 EMS calls, 7 downed power lines, 12 cellar pump outs, 2 search/rescue calls, 1 chimney fire, 2 vehicle accidents w/injuries, 4 mutual aid calls, 1 structure fire, 3 vehicle accidents w/o injuries, 2 illegal burns, 1 lightning strike transformer fire, 3 brush fires, 1 false alarm, 1 detector sounding call, 1 vehicle fire, and 1 flammable liquid spill response call.

The Wendell Fire Department is proud to have received, yet again, the 2007 Life Safety Achievement Award, in recognition of its work to keep its community free of deaths from fire, from the Residential Fire Safety Institute, awarded by its director, Roy L. Marshal, Dan F. Agnew, President and CEO of Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Co., and Stephen D. Coan, the Massachusetts State Fire Marshall.

The Department has received its pagers with the new frequencies, and they seem to be working well, especially with its versatility of numerous channels and regional towers to keep the main channel open for other incoming transmissions.

All of Franklin County is now transmitting and receiving on simulcast; if a firefighter somehow misses a call, they are alerted by a flashing red light, and they can retrieve that message by pushing a button on their pager, which will repeat the transmission.

When on the scene or requesting mutual aid, once all vehicles and personnel are on the incident or fire ground scene, we have the ability on our portable and/or mobile radios to change to any of our tactical channels and manage the scene, and all towers and main channels are free.

We received a grant this year; unfortunately, we never know what we will receive until late in the year, leaving little time to search for prices on equipment and vendors to get the most you can for the money.  It seems every year or every incident we find something we could have used, but didn’t have.  With budgets like ours, which are very small, grants are godsends.  We can’t get everything, but little by little, we add to what we have.

Ice Storm, December 13 2008 - Photo by Angela DugaThe ice storm we had in December also gave us, and the town as a whole, different ideas for equipment and possibilities to think about if it happens again.  The Emergency Management Director will be setting up meetings to make plans on this very issue—not just an ice storm, but any type of emergency that could impact the whole town in the future.

The Fire Department, if it gets a grant next year, will also brainstorm and figure out what and how, depending upon the situation, we can provide to expedite at least a temporary solution to whatever comes up.

We have recently lost one of our Firefighter/EMTs to the Orange Fire Department, as they had an opening.  We wish Chris Goshea all the best in his new permanent profession. He was an excellent employee and will be greatly missed, but we are sure to see him from time to time on the ambulance responding to one of our EMS calls or mutual aid to one of our fire calls.

I have attended numerous MEMA meetings in Agawam, MA for the latest MEMA updates and what to do to access them in case of any type of emergency.  They have also updated our MEMA radios with more sites and the ability to utilize this radio to include not only Fire, but Police, Highway, Boards of Health, etc. with special IDs so MEMA can identify who is transmitting and the reasons.  MEMA is still making changes to the antennas and forms to make this job easier.

Also, I have been attending monthly meetings of the Pandemic Committee as assistant EMD and LEPC member.  After years in the planning stage, we had our first 4 town free flu clinic at the Turners Falls High School. The planning and dry runs proved to pay off, as everything went smoothly, and we are very proud of the experience and personnel that went into this venture.

We are still meeting and hope there will be some communication with our town population on what to expect if and when there is some kind of medical emergency which would impact the 4 town area.

The various permits issued by the Fire Department for the fiscal year 2007/2008 generated approximately $385.00 for the town.

To the responding fire fighters, I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to you, for your dedication, dependability, and responsibility during the year of 2008.  I know words are not enough, but I believe you know where I am coming from.

Respectfully submitted,

 Everett L. Ricketts, Sr.

Fire Chief