Selectmen Support Firemen Against Complaint
Specific charges made by a citizen of Stoneham, Mass., against the local fire department, following a fire at 18 Chestnut Street in that city, which cost the lives of two children, resulted in a report and recommendations by the Board of Selectmen in which they clear the department of accusation of delay in responding and inefficiency in rescue and fire fighting operation.
At the same time, the Board recommended the addition of ten paid men to the present force of ten permanent and sixteen call men, thus doubling the permanent force; also they advocated the addition of adequate drilling facilities for the firemen; modernizing the present communications system of the fire and police departments by installing two-way radio in the fire department and in the police ambulance. Further, that instead of waiting until 1949 when it becomes mandatory by State Law to equip the fire department with masks, these be purchased at once, together with an inhalator.
The fatal fire, in a dwelling house, was attributed to a flooded oil burner stove in the kitchen of the dwelling. An observer had blamed the department for lack of apparatus at the fire, shortage of men to operate the equipment, claiming there were no workable ladders, and there was no water for 20 minutes to one half hour, no searchlights, and lack of direction by any one in authority.
The investigation disclosed that there was a critical delay in turning in the alarm, that paid men and apparatus responded promptly, laddered the building, brought out the two children via the aerial ladder and by the time fire forces from neighboring Reading and Wakefield arrived within minutes of the call, on a mutual aid arrangement, the fire was under control.