Deputy Chief William Hallinan is responsible for plan review and acceptance testing of all major fire alarm and suppression systems in the jurisdiction. Coordination of all multi jurisdictional inspections is part of this responsibility. (Building dept., Planning, the Board of Health, Environmental Officer, etc.) Any Special Permit that is requested of the Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance is reviewed and comments are submitted by Fire Prevention so that conditions are added to the Permit. This ensures Compliance with all Fire Prevention codes and standards. Office coordination and scheduling is of course part of the Deputy's responsibilities (as well as anything else that falls through the cracks!)
A/Captain Mike An is responsible for following up on all "Red Card" reports. As you know hundreds if not thousands of fire alarm systems have been installed in the city over the years. It is our responsibility to ensure that all systems are properly maintained and tested. Each problem documented by a red card report is pursued until it has been rectified. Capt. Avery also assists the Deputy Chief with acceptance testing of new systems. is responsible for inspections of all residential occupancies that have 5 units or less. These are mandated by MGL 148 Section 26E. This law was accepted by the City of Somerville in the early 1980's. Once the law was accepted, residents of the city were required to have a code compliant series of smoke detectors installed in their homes within 1 year. Before any residential building is sold, the owner is required to have an inspection by Fire Prevention and a Certificate of Compliance issued. A building with six or more units is required to have a low voltage system (fire alarm panel) which generally consists of a series of detection and annunciation devices throughout the common areas and electrically interconnected smoke detectors within the apartments (527 CMR 24).
Firefighter John Mitchell is in charge of all Quarterly inspections mandated by MGL 148 section 4. All institutions licensed by the state (schools, nursing homes, hospitals, clinics, mental health facilities, ect.) have to be inspected by Fire Prevention every three months.
Lt. Bob MacLaughlan is the Hazardous Materials Compliance Officer. Any occupancy in the city that stores flammable or combustible substances is required to be permitted by Fire Prevention. An inspection is conducted each year before the permits are issued. Bob also does the majority of above ground and underground tank installations and removals (527 CMR 9), oil burner installations (527 CMR 4) and all file searches for abandoned tanks, etc. (21E Searches). Lt. MacLaughlan is also the Fire Dept. member on the Mayor's Neighborhood Impact Team, which is a multi-jurisdictional team that tackles major problems throughout the City.
Lt. Brian O'Donovan follows up on all red card violations
Firefighter Tom Brown conducts inspections of residential occupancies.
A/Captain Vince Lampley is the Fire Investigator for the Somerville Fire Department. He investigates all fires, not limited to, but including building and automobile fires, accidental as well as those maliciously set. Capt. Major works in cooperation with the State Fire Marshall's office, ATF, District Attorney's office, juvenile fire setters coalition as well as with other area department's fire investigators. The Fire Investigator position is a sworn Deputy Sheriff with the powers of arrest, as well as licensed to carry a firearm.
Smoke Detectors: Install smoke detectors on every floor in your home and outside every sleeping area. Make sure to keep detectors dust free. Replace the batteries in your detectors when you change your clocks for daylight savings time. Test your smoke detectors at least once a month to make sure they work. Replace any smoke detector that is more than 10 years old.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms: Carbon monoxide (CO), known as the Invisible Killer, is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that results from incomplete burning of fuels such as natural gas, propane, oil, wood, coal, and gasoline. Each year many people die from accidental CO poisoning and thousands more are injured.
Anyone who owns residential property regardless of size (i.e., 1 & 2-family homes, multi-family buildings, apartments, condominiums and townhouses, etc.) that contain fossil burning fuel equipment (i.e., oil, gas, wood, coal, etc.) OR contains enclosed parking (i.e., attached or enclosed garage) in Massachusetts, is required to install CO alarms by March 31, 2006. Owners of residential buildings that notify the local fire department and choose the alternative compliance option and buildings owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (i.e., public housing units) will not be required to install CO alarms until January 1st, 2007.
In most residences, carbon monoxide alarms are required to be located on every level of a home or dwelling unit including habitable portions of basements and attics. On levels with sleeping areas the alarms must be placed within ten feet of the bedroom doors. CO alarms do not go inside garages, but in the adjacent living areas.
Carbon Monoxide mixes evenly in air, so detectors can be mounted at any height, but it is recommended they be mounted between knee and chest height (sleeping height). Make sure they are not blocked by furniture, drapes or other obstructions. If you have a combination smoke/carbon monoxide detector, mount it on the ceiling where smoke will reach it. Always consult the manufacturers instructions regarding proper use, care and installation.
Landlords must install CO alarms in each dwelling unit. Landlords must also inspect, test and maintain the CO alarms at least once a year or at the beginning of any rental period (such as lease renewal). Batteries are required to be replaced once a year. Tenants should report any problems with the alarms to the landlord immediately and learn to recognize the difference between the smoke detector and the carbon monoxide alarm. Anyone who sells their property after March 31, 2006 will be required to have an inspection by the fire department prior to the sale or transfer of their property.
For more info on CO safety, visit the Mass. Department of Fire Services website by clicking here
Fire Extinguishers: Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher. Fire extinguishers should be placed in the bedroom, kitchen, garage and workshop. Purchase an "ABC" type extinguisher for extinguishing all types of fires. Take the time to educate yourself and your older children on how to operate an extinguisher before you actually need to use it in an emergency! Keep fire extinguishers away from small children. If there is a large fire, get out of the house IMMEDIATELY and call 911 from another location...seconds can mean lives...the quicker you can alert the Fire Department, the faster they can do their job.
Prepare an Escape Plan: Post Emergency Numbers close to each phone in your home. Make sure your children know how to dial 911 if there is an emergency. Create a floor plan of your home. There should be a way to get out of each bedroom without opening the door. Conduct fire drills with your family regularly. Pick a meeting place a safe distance from your house where your family can gather for a head count. Make sure hallways, stairways and all escape routes are free of obstructions and combustible materials.
In Case of Fire: Leave your house immediately. Do not stop to collect any items in your house to take with you. Alert other occupants that there is a fire. Before you open a door, test it for heat by placing your hand on it first. If the door is warm or hot do not open it because there may be fire on the other side. Keep the door closed and find another way to exit your house. If there is smoke in the rooms you are trying to exit, stay as low to the ground as possible, even if that mean that you have to crawl on your stomach. Call 911 from another location and NEVER GO BACK INSIDE A BURNING BUILDING!!
Other Hazards: Keep all gas grills and barbeque grills at least 10 feet away from your house when cooking on them. Do not operate these grills on your porch or deck. Propane tanks should not be stored against or inside your house or garage, they should be left outside in an open area. Do not leave candles, fireplaces, space heaters or stoves unattended while they are lit or in operation. Keep combustible materials away from them at all times. Keep the lint screen for your dryer clean and the dryer vent should vent outside your home and no where else. Do not use a frayed or worn extention cord and do not run the extention cord under a rug. Don't overload electrical outlets. Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children and do not leave children unattended in the presence of fire in any form. Flammable liquids should only be stored in approved safety containers and they should not be kept in your house or garage. The best way to avoid smoking hazards is to stop smoking. Never smoke in bed. Use a large, deep ashtray for cigarette butts and do not let them pile up in the ashtray. Before you dispose of a cigarette, run water on the cigarette to make sure that it is properly extinguished.