Mar 25

A Message from Your Fire Chief “The Importance of Working Smoke Detectors”

Having spent the past 37 years providing fire and EMS services to communities in urban, suburban, and rural environments I have personally witnessed the tragedy and suffering that comes to families, communities, and first responders following fatal fire incidents as both a firefighter and Fire Chief. From a firefighters standpoint carrying the lifeless body of a person out of a building is something that will be indelibly etched into an individual’s identity for the rest of their lives. Yes, many people will say that’s what the job entails and the firefighters knew exactly what the hazards and potential related afflictions were when they signed up. However, while there is some validity to that opinion I can personally articulate the fact that it does not make it any easier when an event of this nature occurs. It is affixed to your character forever and it is not pleasant.

From another more global view as your Fire Chief in Brewster I can attest to the fact that myself, my peers in Barnstable County, and Fire Chiefs across the country are trained to proactively evaluate their individual Towns fire risk and develop and implement programs designed to reduce fire occurrences and losses in their communities. Typically this is accomplished through partnership based community programs that encompass and focus on the core fire service deliverables of life safety and property conservation. One major problem that arises is that no matter how well these programs are designed and communicated to the community a huge responsibility to ensuring their success falls on the individual occupants of each dwelling and their attitude toward preserving their own life safety.

An extremely popular and accurate fire service term used in many applications in our business is “complacency kills” Firefighters know this to be true because many of the approximately one hundred annual firefighter fatalities that occur in the United States when investigated involve some type of complacency and lack of situational awareness on the individual member. Sadly, in my experience I have also found this term to be one of the more predominant reasons community fire risk reduction efforts fall short of their intended goals. Occupants of dwellings become complacent to the potential fire hazards that exist within the very spaces they occupy and then fail to implement simple proactive measures such as ensuring working smoke detectors are present on each level of their home. In essence the theory of “it won’t happen to me” becomes the norm until such time a tragedy occurs and the community becomes immediately stimulated to the issue until time passes and residents once again bury their heads in the sand.

Since January 1, fifteen Massachusetts residents have been killed in residential fires including one resident of Chatham. In total, 779 individuals across the United States have been killed during the same time period including 226 deaths that occurred during 89 multiple fatality fires including last week’s fire in Brooklyn, NY that claimed the lives of seven children and critically injured another sibling and the children’s mother who jumped from second floor windows prior to the arrival of fire department units. This tragic fire, like several others across the country where working smoke detectors were not present in the effected occupancies have taken the lives of 38 individuals including a large number of innocent children who assumed when they were brought into this world that their parents would safeguard them from the many uncontrollable dangers they face on a daily basis including those involving fire.

After many years of service and witnessing numerous tragedies of this nature the fire in Brooklyn in which seven helpless children were killed and numerous lives changed forever prompted me to write this opinion. There is a simple, yet powerful message for each reader to take away from this piece and it is a phrase that your local fire department has delivered time and time again, “Smoke Detectors Save Lives”. The real question is, are you listening? If so, take action. Do whatever it takes to make your family and home safe. Don’t become a statistic.

Our organization understands that it is our responsibility to provide you, our stakeholders with partnership based programs and inspection services designed to reduce our community’s overall fire risk. While we do believe we successfully accomplish this goal our members also acknowledge that nothing is perfect so we are continually reviewing methods to improve our efforts in this area.  However, in reality no matter how successful we are it is also incumbent that each resident assume a certain level of responsibility of becoming more aware of the available programs, the risks associated with fire, and their own individual need to take proactive action toward ensuring their home and family remain fire safe.

If you are a Brewster resident and your home is not protected by a working smoke detector or you would like our members to conduct a fire safety inspection of your residence visit or contact the Brewster Fire Department at 1657 Main St. (508-896-7018). Our members and my office look forward to the opportunity to work in partnership with our residents to improve the level of fire and life safety within this great community.


Mar 23


Beautify Brewster

Mar 16

Town of Brewster 2015 Hazardous Waste Collection Schedule

HHW_2015_8.5 X11_BCH

Mar 11

Ice Safety Tips


What should you do if you fall through the ice?

First, try not to panic. This may be easier said than done, unless you have worked out a survival plan in advance. Read through these steps so that you can be prepared.


1.Don’t remove your winter clothing. Heavy clothes won’t drag you down, but instead can trap air to provide warmth and flotation. This is especially true with a snowmobile suit.

2.Turn toward the direction you came. That’s probably the strongest ice.

3.Place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface. This is where a pair of nails, sharpened screwdrivers or ice picks come in handy in providing the extra traction you need to pull yourself up onto the ice.

4.Kick your feet and dig in your ice picks to work your way back onto the solid ice. If your clothes have trapped a lot of water, you may have to lift yourself partially out of the water on your elbows to let the water drain before starting forward.

5.Lie flat on the ice once you are out and roll away from the hole to keep your weight spread out. This may help prevent you from breaking through again.

6.Get to a warm, dry, sheltered area and re-warm yourself immediately. In moderate to severe cases of cold water hypothermia, you must seek medical attention. Cold blood trapped in your extremities can come rushing back to your heart after you begin to re-warm. The shock of the chilled blood may cause ventricular fibrillation leading to a heart attack and death!


General Ice Thickness Guidelines (For New, Clear Ice Only)


2” or less – STAY OFF

4’’ – Ice fishing or other activities on foot

5” – Snowmobile or ATV

8” – 12” – Car or small pickup

12” – 15” – Medium truck


What do you do if someone falls through the ice?


  • Call 911 immediately. Make sure properly trained and equipped rescue personnel are alerted to respond.


  • DO NOT go out onto the ice. Many would-be rescuers have become victims themselves.


  • Reach, throw or row. Extend a branch, pole or ladder to the victim. Throw them a buoyant object such as a life ring or float tied to a rope. If a boat is nearby, row out to the victim or push it towards them.

Mar 11

Brewster Firefighters Train on Ice Rescue Operations

The real life training conducted by Brewster firefighters on a daily basis is an important component of being able to safely and effectively respond to and mitigate the various all hazard emergencies that occur within our community. On any given day your Brewster firefighters can respond to a variety of incidents ranging from hazardous material spills, structure fires, emergency medical calls, motor vehicle accidents, and ice rescues to name a few. We fully understand that it is our duty for us to be properly trained and prepared for the next time you call 911with an emergency.

With the winter season coming to a close over the next several weeks and our frozen ponds beginning to thaw the potential for ice rescue responses will increase dramatically. In an effort to proactively prepare for a response of this type the members of Group 4 recently conducted a hands-on ice rescue refresher program on the department’s ice rescue equipment, standard operating guidelines, and victim rescue techniques at Fisherman’s Landing on Sheep’s Pond. Group members pictured here at the drill site are Captain/Paramedic Kevin Varley, Firefighter/Paramedic Joseph Cox, Firefighter/Paramedic Thomas Osborn, and Firefighter/EMT Gary Stobbart.

The Brewster Fire Department would like to take this opportunity to issue a safety warning to our residents concerning the use of our ponds over the next several weeks. While the ice may support your weight and that of any equipment at this time the spring thawing process will result in dangerously thin ice conditions and increase the potential for an individual or pet to be thrown into the water. If enjoying outside activities in the area of a body of water please keep this in mind.



Mar 09

Brewster Fire Department Responds to Eastham Structure Fire

On Sunday March 8, 2015 at approximately 7:55 a.m. multiple Brewster Fire Department units responded on a mutual aid request to assist the Eastham Fire Department at a structure fire located at 105 Townsend Road. On the initial working fire assignment Engine 234 under the direction of Captain Anthony Dalmau and Car 231 (Chief Moran) responded with the engine assigned as the drafting engine at Great Pond and Chief Moran assigned as the Operations Chief at the fire scene. On their arrival Eastham firefighters initiated an aggressive interior attack on the large 2 ½ story wood frame dwelling. These efforts were supported by additional mutual aid units until such time the lack of fire hydrants in the area caused significant water supply and safety issues for crews working on the interior of the building. These hazardous conditions required the withdrawal of those companies and the switch to a defensive exterior attack. With the fire moving swiftly through the building the incident commander (Orleans Chief Anthony Pike) requested a second alarm assignment which brought Brewster Engine 239 under the direction of Captain Christopher Flavell to the scene. Due to the lack of hydrants a tanker task force was also requested which brought additional Barnstable County units to the incident to assist in establishing a continuous water supply. In addition to the tanker shuttle firefighters had to stretch approximately 1000 feet of 4” supply hose down the only access road to the incident which was narrow and ice covered from recent storms. Working without a reliable water source for a considerable amount of time impeded operations and allowed the fire to burn through the roof of the structure causing several localized collapses of the floors and roof. Due to the large fire loss the State Fire Marshal’s Office was requested to respond to the scene to conduct an investigation. Fire departments operating at the incident or providing station coverage included Eastham, Brewster, Orleans, Harwich, Chatham, Dennis, Yarmouth, Sandwich, West Barnstable Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown. All Brewster units returned to service at 4:46 p.m.

Mar 07

Brewster Fire Department Supports “Change Your Clocks, Change Your Batteries”

The Brewster Fire Department has a simple, yet powerful reminder for all residents of our Town and the surrounding communities. In the next several days we will be changing our clocks for daylight-savings time. Our department is requesting a very simple solution to improve the life safety of your family and assist us in reducing fire related fatalities, injuries, and property damage from occurring within your homes. We ask you to take this opportunity to change the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors as we move into the colder winter months which is typically a peak period for fire incidents. Statistically, almost 66% of home fire deaths in the United States occur in private homes with no working smoke detectors. In consideration of these known facts we urge you to keep your family safe by changing your smoke detector and carbon monoxide batteries when you change your clocks.




Mar 07

Brewster Fire Department Responds to Dive Rescue in Yarmouth

On Wednesday March 5, 2015 at approximately 3:15 a.m. the Brewster Fire Department was dispatched to Colonial Beach in Yarmouth as a member of the Barnstable County Dive Rescue Team to assist with a search for a missing person. Car 230 and the dive team trailer with two firefighters and Car 231 (Chief Moran) responded on the request. Upon arrival units found the Yarmouth fire department divers completing a preliminary underwater search at the last known location of the missing person. With dangerous currents, darkness, and poor weather conditions hampering the dive team members from conducting a full underwater search of the area a Coast Guard helicopter was requested to respond and conduct an air search using their high powered lighting and infra-red camera equipment. Shortly after arriving on scene the helicopter located a body approximately 600’ off of the beach. Under severe weather conditions and rotor wash from the helicopter Yarmouth Fire and Barnstable County Dive Team members immediately donned cold water ice suits and using an ice sled and safety ropes rapidly moved out to the victim. Other team members donned dive gear and stood by in the event entry into the frigid waters became necessary. Upon reaching the victim members rapidly assessed the situation and verified the operation was now a recovery of a confirmed fatality. Firefighters on shore then initiated an operation to return rescue personnel to shore. Once on the beach fire department personnel turned the body over to the Yarmouth and State Police for further investigation. During the operation Brewster firefighters assisted with logistical support and rope tenders and Chief Moran was assigned as the Liaison for the Dive Operations Chief. All Brewster units returned to fire headquarters at approximately 7:45 a.m.

Mar 07

Brewster Fire Department Responds to Route 6 Motor Vehicle Accident

On Wednesday March 4, 2015 at 1:11 p.m. the Brewster Fire Department was dispatched to Route 6 eastbound at mile marker 86.2 for a reported motor vehicle accident with injury. Ambulance 242 and Heavy Rescue 241 under the command of Captain Christopher Flavell responded from Brewster along with an automatic aid Route 6 line box assignment from the Orleans and Harwich Fire Departments consisting of Orleans Engine 175 and Ambulance 174 and Harwich Ambulance 62 and Car 61 (Chief of Department Norman Clarke).

Chief Clarke was the first unit on scene and reported a two car collision involving a construction vehicle that was parked in the highway rest area and a car that had driven off the highway and contacted the rear of the parked truck at a high rate of speed. The Chief also reported one occupant was injured and trapped in the vehicle. He then assumed command of the incident. Orleans units arrived on scene first and with the assistance of Brewster and Harwich personnel initiated patient care and extrication operations. The victim was rapidly removed from the vehicle and transported by the Orleans ambulance to Cape Cod Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. All units were released from the scene and returned to their respective stations at 1:46 p.m.

Mar 01

Brewster Fire Department Responds to Dryer Fire

On Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 3:53 p.m. the Brewster Fire Department responded to a reported fire involving a clothes dryer at 56 Atwood Circle. The first arriving engine company under the command of Captain Kevin Varley found a two story wood frame residential private dwelling with smoke detectors sounding and all occupants evacuated from the building. Upon entering the building a heavy smoke condition was discovered throughout the second floor of the residence with flames from the area of the dryer. Due to the potential for fire extension into other second floor areas the Captain requested a working fire assignment bringing assistance from the Harwich, Orleans, Chatham, and Eastham fire departments to the scene and Yarmouth and Dennis to fire headquarters for station coverage. Car 231 (Chief Moran) arrived on scene and assumed command of the incident. An 1 ¾ attack line was stretched to the second floor for fire extinguishment which was completed rapidly with minimal damage to the structure. A check for fire extension with thermal imaging cameras proved negative and smoke within the residence was ventilated by fire suppression personnel. Command was terminated and all fire units returned to service at approximately 5:00 p.m.


The Brewster Fire Department would like to take this opportunity to remind all members of the community about the importance of ensuring your residence is protected by properly functioning smoke detectors. This incident also highlights the importance of immediately dialing 911in the event of an emergency situation within your home.

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