Friday, June 4, 2010

Propane training

Platoons 1 and 3 participated in some propane refresher training this morning. After a short class and discussion on the properties, risks, and fire attack procedures, members participated in fire attack evolutions.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Driver Training

Members of Platoon Three received some emergency vehicle operator training today within a simulator owned and operated by the Enfield Fire Department. All four platoons will have an opportunity to participate in the training.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fire at 23/25 Chestnut Street

Willimantic firefighters responded for a reported structure fire on May 6, 2010 at 2246 hrs. Platoon 4 was working, with Alberto Torres as the Acting Captain. At the time of the call, the ambulance (Tower crew) was on a medical call, so Engine 301 responded with four firefighters (Torres, Mott, Swiney, & Walker).

On arrival, A/C Torres reported what appeared to a small fire on the porch. While investigating, Engine driver Mott reported heavy smoke pushing from the Charlie side. Upon entering the top floor, members encountered a heavy smoke and heat condition. A/C Torres elevated the call to a 2nd Alarm, which recalled all off-duty Willimantic firefighters, activated UConn FD for Rapid Intervention (firefighter rescue), Columbia for Rehab, Windham Center for station coverage, Rescue 104 for Air Supply, and moved North and South Windham into their quarters for a possible assignment.

The Acting Chief elevated the call to a 3rd alarm on arrival, which brought North and South Windham to the scene and placed Mansfield and Columbia into their stations.

Firefighters were hampered by a fire with a significant head-start, overhead power lines, wind-fanned flames, and low water pressure. Unable to make headway from the interior, firefighters pulled out and transitioned to an exterior attack. After knocking the bulk of the fire down from the exterior with elevated and ground-based master streams, members re-entered the building and made an aggressive final offensive attack.

Thankfully, no injuries were reported. The fire was declared "under control" at 0051 hrs.

For photos, media coverage, and related items, see below:

Norwich Bulletin



Fox News 61

Another from WFSB

Raw Video

Also, check out

Thursday, May 6, 2010

River Safety for 560 Main Street

Yesterday, May 5, Platoon 4 (Captain Card) used a "Line gun" to fire a rope across the Willimantic River behind 560 Main Street. See the aerial view here. (Google Maps has the address as 490 Main Street). Here's the assessor's card.

As you may or may not know, the building is under renovations into one and two bedroom apartments. The construction crews are working on engineered scaffolding on the South side of the building--over the river. With such an operation, there's a slight chance a worker may fall into the river--if redundant layers of safety fail.

With concerns for worker safety, the contractor contacted the Willimantic FD and asked for help creating a safety plan. We toured the site and made recommendations. After receiving OSHA's blessing, it was time time to implement the plan. One of the components is a floating safety line across the river.

As mentioned previously, the department used an actual gun to send a projectile carrying a line across the river! In the pictures above, firefighters have the floating line across, and are getting ready to secure it.

As another safety measure, the department evaluated "put-in" points for the inflatable zodiac rescue boat, and found few suitable spots. Timeliness is the largest factor, so the contractor decided to purchase a sit-on-top kayak for us to use to rapidly access a floating victim. Our members will carry a retrieval line to a floating victim, tether him/her, and the shore based crews will pull the victim to the shore.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Construction at the Firehouse

You might notice some construction in the rear parking area at the firehouse. The Town is having a 1000 gallon oil/water separator installed to comply with DEP requirements. This oil/water separator will filter the waste water we generate when we wash the fire apparatus.

Administrative Professionals' Day

Wednesday, April 21st was Administrative Professionals' Day. In addition to giving Lise flowers and cards, some of our members decided to help her brighten up her office! Happy Administrative Professionals' Day Lise! We appreciate what you do!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Responded to Assist Hebron April 7, 2010

Crews responded to Hebron yesterday, April 7, 2010, to assist with a fire in their American Legion hall. Here's a link to a short story about the incident.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Good and Welfare March 31, 2010

Today is a bittersweet day for Chief Palmer: it's his last day of work before retirement. Chief, we wish you all the best in your future endeavors. Thank you for your service to our nation (Vietnam) and to our community. You've given more than your share of blood and sweat. After 38 years and 19 days in Willimantic, it's time for you to play golf, go fishing, attend to your health, and--of course--start the honey-do list!

Yesterday, Chief Palmer received a personal call from Congressman Courtney, wishing him the best in his retirement. Wow!

We'll post more about his career accomplishments, in the days to come.


Time to brag about two of our firefighters:

Holly Swiney just returned from a humanitarian trip to Haiti. Rather than spend her vacation at some tropical paradise, she went to Haiti to assist in the relief effort.

Mike Bergeron recently started donating some of his time to the Mystic Aquarium, where he's serving as a diver. He'll be doing everything from cleaning tanks to interacting with tourists through the glass viewing areas (in the tanks).

Many of our members support various causes throughout the year; and, they don't brag about I find out secondhand. We're quite proud of all of them.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Memorial Monument

About a week ago, Captain Card called my attention to the monument in front of the firehouse. Firefighter Mott had just cleaned it with a power-washer and it looked much better with the layer of grime and mold removed (above picture).

If you're not familiar with this monument, take a look at the photo. You'll see "W.F.D. 1886" and "Mongomery." The top relief came from the original Bank Street firehouse, which was located directly across from the current station--approximately where the bank ATM drive-through is currently.

The "Mongomery" relief came from the firehouse that was located on Jackson Street--now the Major Parcel--just about across from where Union Street intersects with Jackson Street.

If you'd like to read a decent history of the Willimantic Fire Department, follow this link:

I don't have any photo links to share with you, but we have some great historical photos on the wall of the firehouse. Ask one of the retirees to share some of their memories with you!

DC Scrivener

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fire at 47 Winter Street

The Willimantic Fire Department responded to 47 Winter Street this afternoon for a reported fire in a dryer. Engine 301 responded with Captain Card as the Officer in Charge and Captain Smat on overtime as the driver. Chief Palmer and Deputy Chief Scrivener also responded. (Both ambulances were on medical calls).

Chief Palmer arrived to find light smoke showing and established Command. Captain Card made a quick reconnaissance entry and found the basement heavily charged with smoke. Additional help was requested while the two Captains attacked the dryer fire with a pressurized water extinguisher. As help was arriving, the Deputy Chief stretched a 1 3/4" line to the basement, and it was charged--although never utilized.

Captain Card reported flames touching the ceiling of the basement as the clothes inside and on top of the dryer were burning. Ultimately, the aggressive actions of Captains Card and Smat kept the fire from extending to the structure. No injuries were incurred for civilians or firefighters; but, the house suffered minor smoke damage.

Fire at 621 Valley Street on 3/5/10

The Willimantic FD responded to an alarm activation at 621 Valley Street, on Friday March 5th, 2010, at 1500 hrs. On arrival, Acting Captain Torres reported water flow from the sprinkler system. Upon investigation, a fire was discovered in an apartment on the second floor. The fire was contained by the sprinkler system (a great testament to sprinklers), but crews needed to work quickly to minimize water and smoke damage.

Evacuated residents and their pets remained outside for an extended period while firefighters worked with Housing personnel to contain the water. Ultimately, two apartments were deemed unsuitable for inhabitation. Representatives from the Town of Windham (Housing Code Enforcement, Human Services, Fire Marshal) worked with the American Red Cross to provide assistance to residents.

Friday, March 5, 2010

U.S. Fire Administrator Recognizes Women Firefighters

The U.S. Fire Administrator issued a press release today honoring Woman's History Month, and in particular, female firefighters. You can read the release here:

The Willimantic Fire Department recognizes the significant contributions of Firefighters Holly Swiney and Natalie Siebecker, and wishes them a long and prosperous career!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Activity for the Weekend of 2/26 to 2/28/10

The Willimantic Fire Department responded to 30 emergency callouts between the end of the business day on Friday (2/26) the beginning of the business day today (Monday, 3/1/10).

On Friday evening, the Department responded to the area below the Thread City Crossing (aka Frog Bridge) and removed an injured 44 year old male. Crew members utilized a stokes basket and ropes to transport the male up a steep embankment.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Fire at 185 Pleasant Street

The Willimantic Fire Department responded to a working structure fire at 185 Pleasant Street this morning, at approximately 1:25 hrs. Greeted with heavy fire conditions, first arriving crews escalated the incident to a Second Alarm. Chief Palmer requested a Third Alarm when he arrived and assumed Incident Command. (Images taken by Laura Beecher). Our members made an aggressive transitional (blitz to interior) attack and knocked the bulk of the fire down in 15 to 20 minutes.

Several residents were taken to the hospital for evaluation. They were treated and released. Mutual aid was received from North Windham (to the scene), Windham Center (station coverage), South Windham (air supply), UConn FD ("Rapid Intervention"), Columbia ambulance ("Rehab"), and Lebanon & Mansfield ambulances (patient transport).

For coverage of the fire:,0,4310330.story,0,4401544.story


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Report for 2009

The Willimantic Fire Department responded to a total of 5,450 emergencies in 2009, which is an increase from 4,872 emergencies in 2008.

For the purposes of this report, emergencies are categorized as either Fire-related or Medical-related (EMS).

Fire-related emergencies totaled 2,001 (5.4 calls per day) in 2009, compared to 1,876 in 2008, representing an increase of 125 calls.

Requests for emergency medical services totaled 3,449 (9.4 emergencies per day) in 2009, compared to 2,996 in 2008, representing an increase of 453 calls.

Willimantic Fire Department apparatus traveled over 19,500 miles within the Town of Windham and neighboring communities.

The Fire Prevention message was presented to over 1,100 children and adults through a formal Public Education outreach program. More then 300 children visited the Willimantic Fire Station and were taught to recognize firefighters during emergencies.

The Department received a $93,933 Assistance to Firefighters FEMA grant, which was used to buy a Washer/Extractor to clean soiled firefighting gear. Also purchased were two medical monitors designed to measure Carbon Monoxide levels in the human body. Members were trained and outfitted for Swift Water Rescue, anticipating the opening of a Whitewater park on the Willimantic River. Special communication equipment was purchased for use in confined spaces (e.g. below-grade rescue). Last, the grant provided a ruggedized, military-spec lap top computer for incident management in challenging conditions.

The grant was received through the direct efforts of a grant committee, which did an outstanding job with the application. This is the fourth grant the Willimantic Fire Department has received from FEMA in the last ten years, for a total exceeding $600,000. The Willimantic firefighters continue to work hard applying for grants to help reduce our cost for operations, and the impact on local taxpayers.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chocolate Festival

This weekend marks the annual celebration of all things related to romance and love with the observance of Valentine's Day. According to local celebrity David Fenn, Willimantic has been dubbed "Romantic Willimantic" by the people who, well...rhyme.

Seriously though, Willimantic is the host of the annual Chocolate Festival each year on the weekend closest to Valentine's Day. The festival is always quite indulgent with many opportunities to sample various chocolate items at participating vendors around town. To see the festival flier, go to

What does this have to do with the fire department? We'll be hosting a bouncy castle tomorrow, from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, during the Downtown Chocolate Chip Stroll. Bring the kids/grandkids by and visit the firefighters!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Looking Forward to 2010

As January draws to a close, we look forward to the remainder of 2010 with cautious optimism. We're cautious, because we are concerned what the poor economy will mean for the services we provide. We optimistic because we have a new form of government and fresh faces in the Town Hall. The Town of Windham has transitioned to a Town Manager/weak Mayor/Town Council form of government--and so far it looks like it's going to work well.

Speaking of change, our department is undergoing significant change as well. Peter Smat was recently promoted to Captain, replacing Captain Jim Jensen (Ret.). Chief Palmer is retiring at the end of March, and the Deputy Chief will be serving as Acting Chief for the foreseeable future. Once the Chief departs, all of our officers will be between 36 and 44 years old. We've become a very young department.

Peter Smat was serving as Training Instructor and Public Education Coordinator prior to his promotion. Bob Golas has assumed the Training Instructor role now, and he's assisted by Natalie Siebecker. Bob also teaches for the Hartford County Fire School as an Adjunct Instructor, so he's well-qualified. Natalie is also assuming the role of Public Education Coordinator.

Our number one goal for 2010 is to go through a seamless transition to an interim Chief and continue to provide quality services to the Service District and the Town of Windham.

Second, and concurrently, we need to look at quality of life issues for our staff. We will ask ourselves, Are there any adjustments we can make--within our budgetary reality--that will make things better for our staff?

Third in this list, but not third in importance, we will need to continue to evaluate safety. What can we do to improve the safety of our firefighters? There may be some opportunities for changes in our operations, which will create a safer work environment. As the nation continues to see infrastructure deterioration from the recession, we need to work even harder to ensure all of our people go home safe and whole at the end of the day.

The remainder of the year looks like it will be a challenge for many reasons, but I think we're up to it--and we certainly must people will need our services more than ever.