For Emergency Services, Dial 911.
The Fire Department’s responsibilities include fire prevention and education, emergency medical response, hazardous materials mitigation, water rescue, confined space rescue, trench rescue, health issues such as carbon monoxide detector investigations, investigation of a variety of building systems issues, response to biohazard incidents, and acts of domestic terrorism. The Fire Department is divided into 7 units including, Fire Suppression, the Training Division, Fire Prevention Bureau, Flammable Liquid Compliance Unit, Public Education, Fire Investigation Unit, and Emergency Management, all of which join forces to promote safety in a city with the highest population density in the state of Massachusetts.
The Fire Suppression Division, commonly referred to as the firefighting division, has the awesome responsibility of protecting the public from fire as well as many other types of emergencies. Besides fires, the response to medical aid requests and vehicle accidents constitutes a large portion of the daily response activity.
The Training Division is a very important component of department operations. Properly trained, a fire department can control and contain almost any situation with minimal damage and loss of life. Training in fire tactics is important; however, a firefighter must be trained in many other areas in order to control the situations that are encountered in day-to-day operations. For example, constantly being updated in medical procedures, hazardous materials response and bio terrorism, the list goes on and on. We make every effort to train to meet the needs of the community as the all hazard service.
The Fire Prevention Bureau’s (Now located at 1 Franey Road) primary responsibility is preventing fires from occurring by aggressive enforcement and educating the public on all laws and ordinances relative to fire safety. This is accomplished by conducting inspections, issuing permits, following up on citizen complaints and fire company violation reports. Fire Prevention also reviews plans for new construction, additions, sprinkler and fire alarm system upgrades, and demolition of structures. Inspectors also monitor the installation and removal of underground and aboveground storage tanks. The Fire Prevention Office works closely with many City agencies to insure fire safety, most notably Inspectional Services, the Board of Health, and the Planning Board.
The Flammable Liquid Compliance Unit specifically targets businesses using flammable and combustible liquids. This is an educational and enforcement unit. The primary goal is to locate occupancies using flammable and combustible liquids that are not in compliance with existing legal requirements. The occupancy is then entered into the permitting system and will require periodic inspection. Another goal is to inform and educate the users of flammable products of the many hazards that exist so that they can be used safely in the City. The Fire Prevention Bureau and Flammable Compliance Unit work closely together to create a fire safe environment.
The Public Education Unit works closely with the school age population to increase their knowledge of what to do before an emergency occurs. The goal of the Public Education Unit is to train our young folks in what to do before, during, and after an emergency occurs. Before an incident, they are taught lessons such as checking and testing smoke detector, escape route planning, and behavior that may cause fire.
The Fire Investigation Unit is responsible for determining the cause of fires and assists in the investigation of other related incidents. Strong, aggressive investigations will decrease the number of incendiary fires as well as accidental fires. The identification of the cause and circumstances of how a fire occurred will often prevent a similar incident from happening again. The information that is discovered may be used for a new fire prevention and/or public education program to prevent an incident. The fire investigation unit does prosecute individuals responsible for incendiary fires and threats to burn property.
The Emergency Management Division is responsible for the coordination of all the resources of the City of Somerville to avert or combat the effects of any disaster, either natural or man-made. Emergency Management may be remembered as the Civil Defense Department of a previous era. Emergency Management coordinates resources before, during and after an incident. Several of the primary responsibilities include updating the city’s Comprehensive Emergency Plan as well as overseeing the Local Emergency Planning Committee. Emergency Management ties the city to many state and federal resources that would be immediately available in the event that an incident exceeds our local capabilities.