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August 20, 2019
Captain's Corner 2008 Volume 3
Posted On: Jan 31, 2009

Welcome to "Captain's Corner" which is a periodic production created by Captain Charlie Breen.  "Captain's Corner" will take a look back into the history of the Somerville Fire Department and spotlight the fires and the firefighters who fought them. 


  We start off this edition with a classic photo of 70's style firefighting in Somerville. (Safety Officers might want to be sitting down when viewing this one). The fire was at 9 Edmands Street on March 19, 1976. Box 32 was struck at 1039 hours followed by the Second Alarm at 1044. A fully involved second floor front porch spread into the second and third floors. Spontaneous combustion was the alleged cause. On the ladder are Ff Joe Mammola being backed up by Lt. Dan Sarno. Are those gloves Italian leather Dan? When is the last time you saw a hose rope used? The house was torn down after the fire and the land used to expand the adjacent parking lot now occupied by Dunkin Donuts. Back in 1976 that spot would have been occupied by either Arby's Roast Beef or Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips. Can anyone help me out as to what was there in 1976? Joe Mammola would eventually leave Engine Two to become a Deputy Chief's Aide. Joe retired in 1988 and passed away on February 8, 2003. Lt. Dan Sarno retired from Ladder Two in 1980. Not a training class goes by without Deputy Chief Bob Lyons telling a "Sarno" story!  (Photo by Jim Swanton)

Firefighter Jim Considine communicating with a fellow firefighter on the ground from the roof of 9 Edmands Street. This was a Group 4 job. Jim was appointed in 1974 and retired in 2003. (Jim Swanton photo)


 Firefighter Jim Wright prepares to tiller Ladder Four home after a job well done. Jim was appointed in 1974 and retired as an Inspector in the Fire Prevention Bureau in 2003. (Jim Swanton photo)

Photo #4 shows Ff Jack McKenzie (E1) and Ff Bob Barletta (E7) making up from the Edmands Street job. Jack was obviously ahead of his time back in 1976 as he is one of the very few wearing a mask. Jack was appointed in 1969 and promoted to Lieutenant in 1977. Jack retired in 2006. Bob Barletta was appointed in 1967 and promoted to Lt. in 1980. Bob retired in 1983. (Jim Swanton photo) 

 Photo #5 for this issue is a Working Fire at 26 Boston Street on February 21, 1976. Box 231 was struck at 1501 hours followed by the Working Fire at 1503. The fire, of undetermined origin, fully involved the rear of the first floor and extended up a rear stairway to the second floor. Group 3 had this one. District Chief Chester Timmons is on the front porch directing operations as a truck company vents the heavily charged second floor and a hoseline is advanced into the front doorway. Chester Timmons was appointed in 1947 and rose to the rank of District Chief in 1967. He retired in 1981 and passed away on May 1, 2004. (Jim Swanton photo)

 Ff George Janus and Lt. Paul Keane grab a breath of fresh air while working the Boston Street fire. George did his entire career on Engine One. George was appointed in 1969 and retired in 2001 and only then because he had reached the mandatory age of 65! He could have easily retired on disability after suffering severe burns in the Arrow Paper fire but battled back to full duty. George, sadly, was not able to enjoy much of his retirement and passed away on March 6, 2003. Paul Keane was appointed in 1965 and reached the rank of Captain. Paul retired in 1996 and passed away on August 2, 2001.

 You have to love the ladder work!  And no saws back in them days! Ladder crews work to open up the roof of 26 Boston Street. Their work was successful and a good stop was made. (Jim Swanton photo)

  The last shot for this issue is of Ff Dave Salvi operating Engine Two's Pirsch pump during a Second Alarm on Marshall Street in 1976. Dave was appointed in 1973 and has been a Deputy Chief since 1986 currently in command of Group 3. Behind Dave is the infamous garage where the Winter Hill Gang operated. Dave, whatever happened to "get the pumps out of the way so other companies can get by" ??????

Another Jim Swanton photo - please visit Jim's website -


Anyone who has any old photos or newspaper clippings and would like to share them for a future posting of "Captain's Corner" can contact Capt. Charlie Breen at Engine 7's quarters or via email at


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