Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Firefighting is a dangerous job

From time to time, we are reminded how dangerous it is to be a firefighter.

We remember Kevin Kelley, who was killed in January 2009 when the ladder truck he was riding on in Boston crashed into a building. Faulty brakes were the result of lax maintenance. It’s dangerous enough to be a firefighter without unnecessarily adding to the risks.

The worst loss of life in many years in Massachusetts was in December 1999 when two Worcester firefighters entered an abandoned warehouse, knowing that homeless people often took up residence there and built fires inside the windowless building to keep warm.

Some time later, a call of Mayday was sounding on the radios. The firefighters were running out of oxygen and were unable to exit the building. Four of their fellow firefighters entered the building in a rescue attempt. None emerged.

The fallen heroes were Paul Brotherton, Timothy Jackson, Jeremiah Lucey, James Lyons III, Joseph McGuirk, and Thomas Spencer.

But for the grace of God, we might have been the next Massachusetts town to lose firefighters in the line of duty. Yesterday’s house fire in the Ridge Club area of Sandwich was the scene of an explosion that blew Lee Burrill and Daniel Keane 30 to 40 feet from the doorway where they had been standing.

Other firefighters at the scene pulled the two out of the fall zone of a chimney that collapsed within a minute after the injured men were relocated. Dan and Lee’s injuries are significant and we pray for their full recoveries.


  1. Thank goodness these men survived. As a town, we should be grateful that our firefighters risk their lives every day for us. Let's also take a moment to remember that these men and woman have also stood up for two consecutive years and accepted a 0% pay increase for our town. So they risk their lives and take a hit in their own wallets for us and our town. Hmmm, but our teacher's union sits idly by on their thumbs hurling mud at anyone who questions their wily ways. Has their contract been settled, I think not. No, they are still standing by with their hands out, hiding behind their bully brigade (union leadership). Meanwhile, two heroes are lying in the hospital hoping to make a full recovery. Both of these men deserve our prayers and gratitude. Maybe this will jolt our "sleep-walking" masses into reality. Maybe not.

  2. Nice blog entry Randy; it is important to recognize bravery and to remember these names. Worcester firefighter James Lyons III and I grew up together and were classmates. His father was one of my Worcester public school teachers. These good and decent men, the firefighter and the teacher, are both heroes.

  3. Very nice blog entries. Bob Guerin, you are on target when you say that the Lyons' were heroes, they were, but may I add that all those who are either firefighters or policemen who go out every day, kiss their loved ones good bye and may not ever return, these men are also heroes. We must recognize what they do. I hope that the town will do something for our heroes.

  4. I saw 6 people "working" at the dump this morning --protecting $23.00 worth of scrap metal.

    I believe there were also 6 firefighters on duty this morning.

    So much for priorities.

  5. Did you ever see the School Superintendent's office? REAL NICE. Where is the priority? Did you see that the School rented tables it did not need? WASTE. Where are the priorities? Did you see the drapes for the talk at the beginning of the year to teachers. WHY DRAPES? Where are the priorities?

    If you add up all the school waste, then you will see where we could get more money.

    Dump Rat

  6. Might I suggest that people post their school department comments on a school department post? Just askin'...

  7. OK, next time I will. I am sorry I posted to the wrong post. I was confused because that would mean that would allow us to compare firefighters to dumps, but not to schools. I won't do it again. Promise.

  8. Good Afternoon Mr. Hunt it is unfortuned that Sandwich has now two less valient members of our Fire department to protect our town during the busy part of our year. It has not been posted , but three other members fighting that fire were also lifted and blown back from the back draft explosion and fortunitly did not sustain any visiable injuries as of yet

    The town should put in place forthwith a emergancy hiring of at least two more perminent fire fighters to replace the two injured valient fire fighters who may not be able to come back to work for some time. The budget should reflect the hiring of new men and if prayers get answered when the injured men return to service that the numbers include the additions going forward.

    Mr. Hunt is is to bad that some folks get to make negative comments in the above posting to make another point that has no place in the contect of your dialog as presented to prove a point that has no basis on facts. The name Dump Rat is very appropriate as it would appear that is what many are doing Dumping on a person whom has placed the children of Sandwich above all else.

    Carl Johansen

    A concerned Citizen in the great town of Sandwich

  9. My previous comment had nothing to do with the schools -- just the fact that we will pay to have 6 people work at the dump and at the same time have 6 people working to cover 2 fire stations.

    What's more important - making sure nobody takes a bike off the scrap metal pile ... or making sure an ambulance shows up when you need it. These firefighters had to wait 15 minutes for an ambulance. THAT is a disgrace.

    Make people pay the full cost of trash removal and that would free up property tax dollars to properly staff the Fire Department.

    I was amazed at how quickly the BOS folded and ran on THAT issue!

  10. The Chief is quoted in yesterdays Sandwich Enterprise that he ordered a second and third alarm not for the trucks but for the manpower. So which is it? Do you need more people or not?

  11. To the above Anonymous poster: You may not be aware of what's called "mutual aid." It's a system where all of the Cape Cod fire departments rely on each other for extra equipment and manpower to 1) fight a large fire, and 2) cover 911 calls when a town's equipment and firefighters are tied up.

    Generally, the town's off duty firefighters are called in to cover for crews that are out on calls, but when that isn't enough, surrounding departments provide people and equipment to aid their fellow firefighters.

    With a full complement of firefighters, which we generally never have onsite at the onset of a fire, there would be someone available to vent the roof, allowing gases to escape and lessening the possibility of a back draft.

    In this case, the fire appeared to be somewhat routine (if that's ever a possibility in this business). When the back draft occurred, the two seriously injured firefighters along with three others were inside the structure.

    With two firefighters down, several others were required to move them from the fall zone of the chimney and to attend to their injuries.

    So, in one minute there were sufficient firefighters to deal with the blaze. The next minute, they were short manpower (not equipment) and required mutual aid and additional off duty firefighters.

    Anonymous, I hope that clarifies things for you.

    And if I'm off base in any way, I welcome a professional firefighter's viewpoint.

  12. There are seven at the dump today 6/5/10. How many are on duty at the fire department today?


  13. Can someone confirm whether its true that a part of each unions’ “deal” for taking “0” this year was a promise of no job cuts? If this is true it would certainly put the prior posters’ comments about fire station and dump staffing in an even more interesting light.
    At some point, someday, somebody is going to have to make cuts OR pass a massive override.
    Eventually, somebody in town hall will have to grow some “cojones” and actually prioritize staffing and take resources from one department and give it to another.

  14. OK , so I did a little research on "mutual aid" that fire departments rely on as a manpower supplement. I went to the towns website and looked at the town reports a the report from the fire chief. In 2006 Sandwich gave Mutual Aid (M.A.) to other communities 48 times and received M.A. 75 times. 2007, gave M.A. 78 times, received M.A. 97 times. 2008 gave M.A. 56 times and received M.A. 91 times and in 2009 gave Mutual Aid 60 times and received Mutual Aid 104 times. These staggering numbers speak for themselves.


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