As workers boarded up the three-family house behind her, Maxine Williams leaned over the open suitcase stuffed with clothing in the driveway.
Shorts, shirts, socks, pants, dresses whatever she could quickly pack into the green case after firefighters left hours earlier.
There were a few other things she salvaged: a laptop, an unopened bottle of cranberry juice, a boom box.
Earlier that day, Williams and nine others at 67 North Warren Ave., alerted by smoke detectors and a resident banging on the door, fled the three-family house after a pan of grease on a second-floor apartment stove caught fire, sending smoke and eventually flames through the upper floors.
Williams shrugged off what she lost in the fire as she looked at her two daughters, Yolanda Parchment, 14, and Alliyah Parchment, 8, standing a few feet away.
I have life, she said. That is what is important.
Firefighters called to the house at 3:55 a.m. Thursday discovered smoke showing from the building when they pulled up, Fire Lt. Edward Williams, no relation to the tenant, said.
Firefighters inside initially thought they had extinguished the blaze but those outside could see it had spread, Williams said.
The people on the second floor had had a water leak and the ceiling was removed for repairs, he said. Rather than the fire stopping at the ceiling, it went into the hidden ceiling section and spread to the third floor.
Williams, a fire investigator, said the blaze extended to the third floor and eves of the house before it was finally put out.
He said the fire started after a second-floor tenant put a pot of water on the stove for a morning beverage and then went into the shower. However, she put the pot on the wrong burner and the burner she had turned on had a pan of grease on it, he said.
When the woman got out of the shower, she heard the smoke alarms and discovered fire in the kitchen, he said.
Yolanda said she had woken a few minutes earlier to get her cell phone and set the alarm for later when she heard the smoke detector sound.
A few seconds later, someone was banging on the door, she said.
She said she pulled the family dog, Suzi, out of its crate in the hallway and fled out the front with her mother, sister and uncle.
Lt. Williams said one firefighter suffered a possible broken finger but there were no other injuries.
He credited the working smoke detectors with preventing additional injuries and saving lives.
We could have had serious consequences otherwise, Williams said.
The Red Cross placed the residents in temporary shelter.
Sidney Cooper was at the store when his home at 228 Spring St. caught fire.
He arrived home to find the firefighters battling a blaze that had spread to the roof from his second-floor kitchen.
It wasnt the best feeling, Cooper said.
Cooper owns the home and lives on the second floor with his wife, Cheryl, and his three children. No one was home at the time of the fire, and the first floor of the two-family home was vacant.
A neighbor called the Fire Department about 11:45 a.m., reporting smoke was coming from the house. The Fire Department did not know which neighbor had made the call, Brockton Deputy Fire Chief Mark Baker said.
The fire started in the kitchen and spread to the attic. Firefighters had to knock a hole in the roof to fight the fire. They extended a ladder from one of the trucks to the roof.
Baker estimated the fire caused $50,000 in damage.
Cooper said he was still processing the event Thursday afternoon.
We just have to wait, he said. I havent got my head around it yet.
Squad A, Engine 4, Engine 7, Ladder 1 and Tower 1 responded to the call.
Kenneth Galligan believed as a youngster that he would spend his entire working life in the Brockton Fire Department.
He was right.
On Friday, Galligan retired from the department after 41 years, the last 16 of them spent as fire chief.
He said he has no regrets.
There was never a day I got up in the morning and said, Geez, I got to go to work today, Galligan, 64, said during an interview this week at his office. I dont know how many people can say that.
On Friday, an estimated 500 people attended a retirement party for Galligan, forming a long line outside department headquarters on West Street.
Along with current and former members of the department, top fire officials from as far as Holyoke, Dracut and Orleans attended, said Brockton fire Lt. Ed Williams.
It was a great way to send him out, Williams said.
Its the people and the firefighters brotherhood that Galligan said he will miss most.
In his early days as a firefighter, Galligan said, he knew he was accepted by the department when fellow firefighters dumped a bucket of water on him on a warm day, a tradition that continues today.
A lifetime Brockton resident, Galligan said hes always had fire service in his blood. His father was a fire chief at the former Naval Air Station in South Weymouth and his brother was a Brockton firefighter.
Galligan quickly rose through the department ranks after becoming a firefighter in 1968.
In 1979, he became the youngest deputy chief in the departments history at age 34. Galligan was appointed chief in September 1993.
His passion for the job was obvious to others, including former Police Chief Paul Studenski.
He really enjoyed doing the job, Studenski said. He was always happy working.
Galligan said he will take with him memories of the fires, such as the Checkerton apartment house blaze of 1983 that killed three people.
What Galligan remembers most about the fire is not the deaths, but the pride he felt that his fire crews were able to save many people.
When we got there, all the escapes from that building were engulfed in fire. There were people in the windows screaming to be rescued, Galligan said.
My guys threw ladders all over that building, and we rescued 16 people. Everybody that could be rescued was rescued, he said. All the things that you talk about and train for it all came together.
Over the years and decades, Galligan said he has seen the department change drastically.
As the departments role in responding to medical emergencies has risen, the staff has shrunk through budget cuts. There are now 185 people on the payroll, compared to 250 when he started, he said.
Galligan said one of his key goals since starting as chief was to boost morale, and he believes hes succeeded.
The president of the Brockton firefighters union, Archie Gormley, agreed.
He improved morale by taking care of the guys, showing them that hes going to work hard to keep them on the job, Gormley said. This chief was excellent for us. Hes going to be missed.
Galligan will be succeeded as chief by Deputy Fire Chief Richard Francis.
For now, Galligan said, he has no immediate plans for his future away from the department where he has spent two-thirds of his life.
Im not looking to do anything full time, he said. I just want to enjoy life.
The number of people killed by fire last year dropped to the lowest level in Massachusetts since
A total of 35 people were killed in 2009 in residential fires, car fires, and, in one instance, an outside fire, said Coan.
That total is a 29 percent reduction from the 49 people killed in 2008 and the lowest since the early 1940s.
We are saving lives because of a combination of factors, Coan said in a telephone interview yesterday. He mentioned installation of smoke detectors, the adoption of fire-safe cigarette laws, public education campaigns, better trained firefighters and paramedics, and the extraordinary medical community with special burn treatment centers in Massachusetts.
I do think that there is a little bit of luck involved with these numbers, Coan said.
Lorraine Carli, spokeswoman for the nonprofit National Fire Protec tion Association headquartered in Quincy, cautioned against concluding that fewer fire deaths also means the number of firefighters can be reduced.
In this day and age, we ask our fire departments to do so much more, Carli said in a telephone interview yesterday. They are really our first line of defense for not only fires but all kinds of circumstances - car accidents, medical calls, to the more extreme of terrorism and other types of disasters.
According to Coans office, 17 men, 13 women, and five children died by fire last year.
The new statistics were released about two weeks after the Globe reported that no one had died in Boston fires last year, the citys best record for at least 37 years.
City and union officials said the way they deployed firefighters, along with some luck, was the reason for the success.
Coan believes that 15 years of fire prevention classes in the states schools is responsible for a 66 percent decline in the number of children dying in fires across Massachusetts each year, and also has played a huge role in stopping fires before they start.
When a young person has taken a lesson learned in a school environment with local firefighters and put that to use at home . . . there are literally thousands of fires that did not occur because of good fire prevention executed by families, Coan said.
During the last decade, Coan said, fire fatalities have been in double digits in Massachusetts, a change from the early 1970s, when nearly 200 people died annually.
We have seen a dramatic decline in deaths over the last several decades, and the primary reason for this was really the invention of smoke alarms, he said.
In New Hampshire, 14 people were killed in fires, putting the state at its average for the last five years, according to state Fire Marshal J. William Degnan.
Like Coan, Degnan said he wants to push his state to embrace sprinkler systems in new residential developments as the best way to reduce the loss of life even further.
But theres a political debate in New Hampshire that centers on the cost to home builders, he said.
So far, I havent figured out a way to stop new homes from being the old homes of tomorrow, he said. So if we start now, we will be helping control future fire problems.
According to the US Fire Safety Administration, Massachusetts is one of the safest places to live based on fire death rates. In 2006, the rate for the Bay State was 5.4 per million residents compared to the most dangerous state, West Virginia and its rate of 38.7 per million.
Everything seems to be clicking in Massachusetts, Carli said.
Brockton police officer Eric Burke was driving down Newbury Street Saturday night when he spotted smoke pouring from a multi-family home.
A woman stood on the front porch.
She was just standing there saying, Help, help, said Burke, who radioed in the fire and then ran to tell the woman to get away from the house.
The two-alarm blaze at 104 Newbury St. tore through the second and third floors of the home Saturday night, sending huge balls of flame through the roof.
Two firefighters suffered minor injuries in the blaze, which fire crews fought for more than an hour.
The tenants who were home at the time were Ana Paula Cardosa, 29, and her daughter, Geny Cardosa, 1, said fire Lt. Edward Williams.
The child was taken to a local hospital as a precaution, said Fire Chief Kenneth Galligan.
Newbury Street is located off Belmont Street near downtown, one street down from Warren Avenue. The fire was reported about 5:50 p.m.
Burke, the officer who was first on scene, said he entered the house and found the first floor clear. He was soon followed by officers Robert Smith and Scott Landry, who had responded to Burkes call.
Its very unusual when were here before the Fire Department, Smith said. We kicked every door open that we could, but the smoke was so intense. It forced us back.
Soon after the officers left the home, they saw the side of it fully engulfed in flames.
The officers feared there may have been more people on the second and third floors but the floors turned out to have been empty, Galligan said.
Seven Brockton engines responded to the fire.
Then, three minutes later, a second fire in the city was reported.
The city was forced to send its last three engines to the fire, located in the chimney of a home at 11 Fern Circle, said Deputy Fire Chief Richard Francis.
There were no injuries in that fire, which was quickly contained, Francis said.
Meanwhile, Stoughton firefighters joined Brockton crews at the Newbury Street blaze. Firefighters from Whitman, East Bridgewater, Avon and West Bridgewater covered fire stations in Brockton, Galligan said.
At the scene, firefighters doused the heavy flames from four directions, with two crews atop truck ladders holding aiming hoses at the fire.
One ladder crew appeared to be just yards from the bright yellow flames shooting from the roof.
Crowds of neighbors stood across the street watching the scene, shocked by the persistence of the fire.
Why isnt it going out? said Cheryl Buckley, 19, who lives on nearby Ellsworth Street.
The fire was largely extinguished by about 7 p.m., although not before doing more than $100,000 in damage and rendering the home uninhabitable, Williams said.
It was not immediately clear where the displaced family would be staying for the night, he said.
One firefighter suffered a cut from glass near his eye, while a second firefighter suffered a knee injury, Galligan said.
The firefighters, whose names were not released, were taken to a local hospital for treatment, the chief said.
Galligan said it was too early to know the cause of the fire.
Neighbors noted that there have been two fires in the neighborhood in the past two years.
A home just across the street, on the corner of Newbury and Ellsworth streets, remains charred and uninhabitable from a fire last September.
A sign posted in front of the house by the Arson Watch Reward Program offers $5,000 for information about the fire.
Also, in January 2008, a single-family home on Ellsworth Street was heavily damaged and left uninhabitable by a fire.
Fire officials did not say at the time whether the fire was suspicious. But neighbor Jennifer Souza said shes on edge.
Its a little scary that there are all these fires going on, said Souza, 26, who lives on Ellsworth Street.
If I find out someone did that, Im moving, said Buckley, a mother of two, staring at the Newbury Street fire.
Brockton investigators trying to learn who set fire at furniture store
The Enterprise/Tim Correira staff photo
City utility workers attend to the front of the Globe Furniture building on Main Street in Brockton. The building was heavily damaged by a two-alarm fire thought to be arson.
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By Maureen Boyle
ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER
Posted Dec 22, 2009 @ 10:50 AM
Last update Dec 23, 2009 @ 01:29 AM
While crews cleaned up after the arson blaze that destroyed his furniture store business, Adriano Miranda sat in the kitchen of a friends apartment across the way, holding his head in his hands.
Im just waiting and waiting for something, he said softly, shaking his head.
Hours earlier, Miranda said, he got a call from the alarm company, saying there was a fire at his 733 Main St. business, Globe Furniture.
Now, he and his partner, Marcia Ramos, were sitting in a first-floor apartment, overlooking the side of the business, as contractors secured the building.
He is so upset, Ramos said.
The two-alarm blaze reported at 1:17 a.m. on Tuesday was fueled by an accelerant found in multiple locations in the building, including the rear stairway, said Fire Lt. Edward Williams, a fire investigator.
Investigators sent samples to a laboratory for analysis, interviewed neighbors and were checking insurance policies, among other things, as part of the probe, Williams said.
That is all part of the normal investigation in cases like this, he said. Not only do we have to look at possible suspects, we also have to eliminate people as suspects.
Williams said investigators interviewed Miranda but the owner told them he had no idea who would set the building on fire or why.
A specially trained state police dog, Damien, handled by Trooper Mike Fagan, identified several spots in the building where an accelerant had been used, Williams said.
When firefighters arrived at the scene early Tuesday, they discovered the blaze was going up the rear staircase and were able to get inside to try to battle the flames, Williams said.
The sprinkler system put out part of the fire and helped it from spreading further in the three-story building, he said.
The sprinklers helped but our guys made a great stop, too, Williams said.
However, because of the amount of furniture inside, smoke and other factors, firefighters were forced out of the building to battle the flames from the street for a while, he said.
They were later able to get back in to fight the flames from the interior of the building, he said.
Ice also was a problem in fighting the blaze, which drew firefighters from four communities to cover city fire stations, he said.
The fire took several hours to extinguish. He estimated the loss of the building contents at a minimum of $500,000. The damage to the building was a couple of hundred thousand, he said.
Deputy Fire Chief Mark Baker was in charge of the scene, assisted by Deputy Richard Francis on the second alarm.
A BAT bus was brought to the scene to allow firefighters to warm up, Williams said.
Williams said anyone with information about who set the fire should call the toll-free arson hotline, 800-682-9229.
A mid-day fire sent flames shooting out the windows of the top floor of an apartment at Pine Grove Drive on Wednesday.
No one was at home when the fire was reported at 12:36 p.m., said Deputy Chief Mark Baker.
A woman on the first floor of the three-story building said she was alerted to the fire by a neighbor in a building across the courtyard. She said she heard an alarm sounding and notified management, but was unaware that the apartment above hers was burning.
Firefighters extinguished the fire but were still working at the scene an hour later. Baker said the cause of the blaze was yet to be determined.
The apartment is one of six in the building, which is part of a large complex off Oak Street.
Tim Correira/ The Enterprise
Brockton firefighters battle a blaze on the third floor of an apartment building on Pine Grove Drive in Brockton on Wednesday.
BROCKTON, Fire officials say a fire the struck two Brockton triple-deckers and left 33 residents homeless was started by children jumping on a bed.
Brockton Fire Lieutenant Edward Williams said Friday that the Thursday night fire was ignited when the children bounced up and down on two mattresses that were against a wall where a cell phone charger was plugged. He said the back-and-forth motion of the mattresses abraded a transformer for a cell phone charger which caused sparks or a short circuit.
Williams said the fire flared up just after 8 p.m. Thursday, causing $150,000 in damages to one building and $50,000 to a nearby apartment building.
Two firefighters suffered puncture wounds and cuts, but neither was hospitalized.
For the second time in a week, a space heater is being blamed for a fire in the city as cold weather sets in. The most recent fire, reported at 11:32 a.m. Friday at 798 Oak St., heavily damaged a second-floor bedroom and caused smoke and water damage to the rest of the house.
Fire officials are advising residents to be careful with space heaters after one of them damaged an Auburn Street home.
An electric space heater overheated wires and caused a fire at 93 Auburn St. late Tuesday night. It was the citys first reported space-heater fire of the cold-weather season.
The lone occupant, who was asleep on the second floor, escaped after being awakened by smoke detectors, said Lt. Edward Williams of fire prevention.
The fire was reported at 11:58 p.m. at a house owned by Mayra Box, who was not home at the time, Williams reported.
Responding firefighters found fire showing from the front of the building when they arrived.
The fire started when an electric heater caused old wiring inside a wall to overheat, he said in a prepared release. The wires had cellulose insulation, which is not recommended, according to Williams.
He said gas to the house had been shut off, leading the occupants to use portable electric heaters.
Electric heaters pull a large amount of electricity and cause wires to become very hot, he said. Older wiring in houses has a very hard time supporting electric heaters.
Damage to the house was estimated at $10,000.
As cold weather arrives, the Fire Department advised caution in using space heaters, which are not designed to heat whole houses. According to the state fire marshals office:
61 space heater fires were reported between 2003 and 2007 in Massachusetts.
The 61 fires caused six civilian deaths, 10 civilian injuries, 14 fire service injuries and $3 million in losses.
Thirty percent of the fires were caused when combustible materials bedding, magazines, newspapers, clothing or furniture were too close to the heater.
Another 8 percent were caused when rugs, carpets or mats were under or too close to the heater.
Brockton firefighter honored for lending aid at Route 24 accident while off-duty
Posted Jun 25, 2009 @ 11:56 PM
Last update Jun 26, 2009 @ 07:50 AM
Brockton Firefighter Jeffrey Morrison was commended Thursday by Fire Chief Kenneth F. Galligan for stopping at a motor vehicle crash on Route 24 in April while off-duty and assisting two injured occupants, saving one of their lives.
Ester Martinez, 19, of East Bridgewater, suffered two spinal fractures, a fractured skull and other injuries, while her sister, 21-year-old Cristina Martinez, broke her wrist and elbow. Morrison was commended for his professional and unselfish actions in acting without hesitation to assist at a serious motor vehicle accident.
Mark Lopes beamed as Mayor James E. Harrington announced Tuesday that 15 firefighters were saved by the bell.
I get to keep my house, said Lopes, a firefighter for 2 1/2 years who was to be laid off next week.
Harrington joined Archie Gormley, president of Local 144 of the International Association of Firefighters, and Fire Chief Kenneth Galligan to tell the 15 men that their jobs were safe for another year.
Its my life, said Eli Eleyi, a firefighter for four years who also faced a layoff.
The same men were in a group of firefighters set to be laid off in April, as the city faced a midyear crisis. Their jobs were saved when the Fire Department made concessions in overtime, diverting pay to cover the jobs until June 30. But, with a shortfall in the budget beginning July 1, layoffs loomed again.
Talks between the union and the mayor, supported by number crunching by John Condon, the citys chief financial officer, ended with $1.2 million being put toward the salaries for the next year.
Harrington said the money came when severance money was diverted because of delayed retirements and more from the unemployment costs of the layoffs.
This could have been devastating, said Galligan. He had planned to take a ladder truck out of service because of the layoffs. Now that truck will remain active.
This is a start, said Gormley. Well continue to work from here.
Brockton firefighters listen to Mayor James Harrington, Brockton Fire Chief Kenneth Galligan and Brockton Firefighter Archie Gormley, union president, speak about the deal struck to avert the layoff of 15 firefighters.
Brockton firefighter John Razza gets his hair cut by Kristina Lane and Justine LeSage, both of Abington, at Ailano School of Cosmetology in Brockton on Tuesday.
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By Elaine Allegrini
ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER
Posted Apr 29, 2009 @ 02:32 AM
Last update Apr 29, 2009 @ 02:49 AM
After growing his hair for 14 months, John Razza had his long locks shaved off on Tuesday.
It was for charity, the Pink Heart Funds and for Razzas grandmother, Josephine Razza, who was 67 when she died of breast cancer in 1990.
I wanted to help, Razza, 34, said. When I ran into a kid who didnt have hair, I found a way.
A Brockton firefighter, husband, father of four and youth sports coach, Razza met the challenge. And his boss helped.
Firefighters must keep their hair short, but Chief Kenneth Galligan gave his blessing in this case.
Razzas hair grew long enough to cut 6-inch ponytails that Mississippi-based Pink Heart Funds uses to make wigs for children and adults. Each wig costs $465.
The wigs help with the emotional scars of cancer treatment.
He has kept his hair healthy: no blow drying. And, on Tuesday he sought the help of students at Ailano School of Cosmetology, across from the fire station where Razza works.
Justine LeSage and Kristina Lane, both of Abington and heading toward completion of their schooling, stepped up to the plate. They parted Razzas locks into 15 sections, then with the swift blade of an electric razor, shaved off the ponytails and deposited them in a plastic shower cap.
Razza will package the locks and ship them to the Pink Heart Funds in Long Beach, Miss.
Razza also has planned a comedy night to raise money for the same fund, at 7 p.m. June 28 at Hanabi on Route 139 in Marshfield. The restaurant is waiving costs for the event. There will be five comedians, whose gigs were donated for the fundraiser. Ticket information is not yet available.
More than 75 city workers, including police and firefighters, are being laid off next week to meet a $2.5 million reduction in funding from the state.
Mayor James E. Harrington announced the layoffs to surprised union leaders Thursday afternoon.
The unions had met with the mayors staff last week and went away thinking it would be April before firm numbers were available.
Its a sad day, said City Council President Tim Cruise.
There has been a disconnect with a lot of people who really didnt think it was going to come to this, he said. My heart goes out to the people and their families.
Notices are set to go out Tuesday to affected employees, who include 20 firefighters, 10 police officers (including the six recruits laid off earlier this month), 10 civilians in the Police Department, 32 in the Laborers International Union of North America that includes clerical workers and laborers, and four to five non-union employees.
Incentives will be offered to those who are eligible for retirement. That could reduce layoffs.
There are no public library cuts and no School Department cuts at this time.
Our contract does not allow for layoffs mid-year, said Tim Sullivan, president of the Brockton Teachers Association.
With even more cuts anticipated for fiscal 2010, which begins July 1, councilors are warning things could get worse.
There have to be concessions come May or June or theres going to be more layoffs, said Councilor-at-large Linda Balzotti, a mayoral candidate.
In other belt-tightening moves, non-union City Hall workers will be paying 40 percent of their health insurance costs and have accepted a wage freeze as of this month.
Councilor-at-large Thomas Brophy said layoffs in 1991 shut down two fire companies.
One was reinstated in 1998, the other never reinstated.
Now, he expects more fire companies to be shut down.
The loss of any police officers and firefighters is going to have devastating effects, he said.
The layoffs did not go as deep as expected, said Ward 3 Councilor Dennis Eaniri, but more could come.
Were still a far cry from the 300 layoffs projected in January, but we dont know how next years budget will line up, he said. Im concerned.
Two home rule petitions are headed to the state Legislature to help the city with a fiscal crisis, but one of them is watered down and city councilors arent sure if either will pass.
The City Council supported a move to change school spending, shifting the citys costs, like busing and other noneducational expenses, to the school budget.
THE VOTE Voting for the home rule petition to bypass unions, employees contribute 40 percent to health insurance:
Councilor-at-Large Thomas Brophy
Councilor-at-Large Robert Sullivan
Ward 1 Councilor Tim Cruise
Ward 3 Councilor Dennis Eaniri
Ward 5 Councilor Dennis DeNapoli
Ward 7 Councilor Christopher MacMillan
Councilor-at-Large Linda Balzotti
Councilor-at-Large Todd Petti
Ward 2 Councilor Michael Brady
Ward 4 Councilor Paul Studenski
Ward 6 Councilor Michelle DuBois
A move to bypass labor unions in order to have employees and retirees contribute more toward health insurance met resistance. Councilors voted for the higher contribution, 40 percent, from employees, but not retirees.
If approved by the Legislature, both petitions would be effective on the date of passage.
Mayor James E. Harrington asked for the measures to ease layoffs.
He anticipates a $28 million shortfall and 300 layoffs, including 180 in the police and fire departments.
This is an extraordinary time, said Councilor-at-Large Thomas Brophy. We have to take drastic measures.
He made three amendments, allowing the city to continue to negotiate with the unions, even if the home rule petition passes; creating a sunset clause, meaning the current rate of contribution will resume on July 1, 2012; and making the legislation effective upon passage.
At this point, we needed to get something to Boston, said Ward 3 Councilor Dennis Eaniri, one of the six councilors who voted for the legislation. At least well be heard.
But, there is no guarantee the legislation will pass both the state Senate and House of Representatives.
We must work on alternative measures, he said. We cant sit back. I hope the mayor has an alternative plan.
Eaniri said even if the legislation passes and employees pay 40 percent of their health insurance, there will be layoffs. The only thing the bill would do is reduce the number of layoffs.
We cant possibly keep the level of service, added Brophy. We hope to preserve as many jobs as possible.
Funding for Fire Service in Stimulus Bill Key Provisions Provide Aid to Struggling Communities February 13, 2009 Congressional leaders and the Obama administration have agreed on a compromise economic stimulus package that will provide more than $200 billion to states and localities facing budget shortfalls. This critically needed funding will help alleviate the pressure on fire department budgets in communities across the nation. The legislation is expected to pass Congress this week, and be quickly signed into law by President Obama.
Several items championed by the IAFF are included in the final compromise agreement. Most notably, nearly $8.8 billion was provided to states to address high priority needs, such as public safety and other critical services . Other items benefiting the fire service include $210 million for fire station construction and a waiver of the matching requirements for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants.
We applaud Congress and the Obama administration for their swift response to the economic crisis facing fire departments across America, says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. This funding will provide immediate aid to struggling communities, but even more importantly, it will be critical to helping jumpstart our ailing economy.
The $8.8 billion available to public safety agencies is part of a $54 billion State Fiscal Stabilization Fund that was originally created to support local school systems. The IAFF led the effort to expand the funding to assist local public safety services. The funding will be distributed to states based a population formula, and governors will then be empowered allocate the dollars to local communities.
The IAFF developed the proposal for fire station construction with two purposes in mind. By improving fire stations, the fund will protect the health and safety of fire fighters and enhance emergency response capabilities. And it will create thousands of good paying construction jobs that will help boost the local economy.
The SAFER waiver language was added to help communities that need to hire additional fire fighters but are unable to do so because of the current economic downturn. Under the provision, communities will not have to provide matching funds for grants issued in the next two years.
In addition to fire fighter-specific programs, the IAFF also supported a number of provisions that will aid all middle-income Americans. An immediate tax cut of $800 for families earning less than $200,000, an expansion of the child tax credit, relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and college tuition assistance are some of the dozens of provisions that will also benefit the nations professional fire fighters.
IAFF members who have been laid off will also be eligible for expanded health care coverage and extended unemployment insurance.
The Obama administration and congressional leadership fully understand the dire situation our members and all working Americans are facing, Schaitberger notes. This is an ambitious and comprehensive approach to an unprecedented crisis.
Mayor James E. Harrington said the city faces a $28 million deficit next year and 300 city workers will be laid off unless drastic steps are taken.
The message came in the state of the city address during which Harrington called for a freeze on wages, higher contributions to health insurance along with new revenue sources from the state Legislature.
Financing a deficit of $28 million dollars will greatly compromise our city functions and impact our quality of life, Harrington said. But, without the changes, this will happen, he said.
He called on all Brockton stakeholders to support him.
THE FACTS Mayors budget plan
Savings from health insurance for retirees: $2.7 million
Savings from health insurance of city employees: $2.25 million
Savings from wage freeze: $1 million
Savings from eliminating non-mandated school busing: $2 million
Savings from new initiatives to reduce the city contribution to new school spending: $7.5 million
Estimate of new revenue sources from meal and hotel taxes: $4 million
School employee health insurance increase: $5 million
School employee wage freeze: $2.5 million
A standing-room-only crowd sat silent as Harrington put forth his plan to meet the deficit head on. School and city workers listened as he told of the 40 percent budget cuts he has instructed his department heads to make next year.
He gave an accurate description of our bleak financial picture, said Councilor-at-Large Linda Balzotti. People are going to have to realize, a job is better than no job.
Time will tell, said Ward 5 Councilor Dennis DeNapoli. The clock is ticking.
It was a tough pill to swallow, and most left the room wondering what all of this meant.
Bad times, said Bill Hill, treasurer of the firefighters union.
James Young, vice president of the Brockton Firefighters Local 144, said the union is open to talking, but they want guarantees of safety.
The mayor said 180 of the 300 layoffs would come in public safety. Young said if that was split evenly between police and fire, that would mean half the department.
He said the plan was both devastating and criminal.
It cant be done on the back of city employees, said Young.
There will be lots of talking in the coming weeks as unions try to unravel just what is in the plan.
Besides contributing 40 percent as opposed to most city employees who now pay 25 percent, Harrington wants them to accept a different insurance plan. He plans to ask the state legislature to make the health insurance changes.
The legislature will also be asked to approve hotel and meals tax increases of 1 percent and a property tax for telephone utility equipment.
And, the mayor will be proposing changes in school spending, seeking to transfer the busing costs to the schools and limiting busing to those for which it is required.
State Sen. Thomas Kennedy, D-Brockton, was in the audience.
He complimented the mayor for a painting a clear and factual picture of what needs to be done.
It is a lot to digest and we will have to bring his proposals to the body, Kennedy said. Its tough. Well do our best to save as many jobs as possible.
Pat Hill, business agent for Local 1162, representing some 400 city workers, was on hand for the speech, but said, It all requires conversation.
Brockton, suburbs brace for layoffs from local aid cuts; view town by town chart inside More painful budget reductions expected next fiscal year -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- By Jessica Scarpati ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER Posted Jan 29, 2009 @ 01:50 AM Last update Jan 29, 2009 @ 08:05 AM -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- No one was expecting good news out of Beacon Hill on Wednesday. But when Gov. Deval Patrick released the details of his anticipated $128 million cuts to local aid and Lottery money, city and town officials across southeastern Massachusetts still reacted with shock, anger and pessimism. Its going to be bodies, said Brockton Mayor James E. Harrington, who is bracing for more city layoffs after the governors mid-year cuts, which Patrick has the authority to make without legislative approval. The reductions amount to every community losing 9.74 percent of what they were scheduled to receive in state aid for the year. But for many local officials, the worst is yet to come. The next fiscal year, which starts July 1, is expected to bring even less state money to cities and towns. Patrick is proposing a $220 million reduction, or 4.2 percent, for fiscal 2010 if the Legislature adopts an increase in the statewide meals and hotel taxes. Without those measures, the recommended cut would be $375 million, or 7 percent. That figure is far from final, however, as the fiscal 2010 budget will require the Legislatures approval. State Sen. Brian A. Joyce a Milton Democrat who represents Avon, East Bridgewater, Easton, Randolph, Stoughton and West Bridgewater said the cuts will not be easy for anyone, but harder on some. Randolph, for example, is quite significant in that its a town that is making some very positive progress, he said. The crime rate is down, and that is frankly a result of spending. Joyce said he hoped the next year would motivate lawmakers to find new ways to save and raise money. Here is how some cities and towns reacted to the news. BROCKTON I dont know what the governor is expecting us to do, said City Council President Timothy Cruise. People are going to see huge cuts in the police and fire departments to dangerous levels. Also restricting local communities is the governors refusal to cut state money for schools, known as Chapter 70 funding. They took away any flexibility, Harrington said, suggesting the city may ax school transportation entirely as a possible way to recoup the difference. The service is funded by the city, he said. Harrington expects $8 million to $10 million less in state aid in the next fiscal year, he said, which he predicted could turn into an overall budget deficit between $15 million and $19 million. The proposed meals and hotel taxes could help somewhat, Harrington acknowledged, but said the citys largest expense, health insurance, overshadows any minor revenue boost. BRIDGEWATER Everything is on the table, said selectmen Chairman Herbert J. Lemon Jr., whose budget lost $388,360 in current local aid. Lemon would not say what services or departments would absorb that loss, but said he would try to ensure it wouldnt be police or fire. EASTON Selectmen Chairman Colleen A. Corona said the governors budget numbers mean the town will lose $266,000 in state aid for the current spending year and $522,000 in the year beginning July 1. The most disappointing thing to me is that in 2006, we worked hard to get an override passed to give us money for several years, and now the money we expected to get from the state isnt coming through, Corona said. To save money, Town Administrator David A. Colton has already announced the layoff of Marc R. Rousseau, the towns director of planning and community development, to save $45,000 through June. It was the number we were expecting when they started talking (about local aid cuts), so we started saving our pennies this fall, Colton said. Next year there will be layoffs. WEST BRIDGEWATER Although the loss for West Bridgewater seems comparatively smaller $79,309 Town Administrator Beth D. Faricy said it will be no less painful. It just looks pretty dire, said Faricy, who had expected a $65,000 loss and fretted about next year. RAYNHAM Selectmen said a $137,911 cut this year will be tough, but the net loss will be even tougher in the coming years, once the local greyhound racetrack closes and stops contributing about $400,000 annually to town coffers. Selectman Don McKinnon was hopeful the state would compensate the town for the loss of the track money, which came from a percentage of its handle. Staff writer Vicki-Ann Downing contributed to this report. Jessica Scarpati can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nearly every community is "going to see blood," said Mayor John Barrett III of North Adams, who expects to "limp through" June but anticipates having to close one or more schools and lay off a significant number of city workers after that.
The massive cutbacks come as state and local governments respond to the rapidly worsening economy.
Last Friday, Governor Deval Patrick announced that he was cutting local aid to cities and towns by $128 million for the current fiscal year, and he proposed an additional $375 million cut for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The cuts are part of Patrick's larger plan to close the widening state budget gap and craft a balanced budget for next year.
Roughly $1 of every $5 spent by Massachusetts state government goes to cities and towns to help their local budgets, paying for everything from classroom teachers to trash collection. Recognizing the importance of that aid, Patrick said he plans to cut more steeply from other sections of the state budget.
But local spending will still take a beating. With construction and renovation projects grinding to a halt, auto sales tanking, and tourism and business travel in a slump, the money communities generate on their own - from excise and hotel taxes, building permits, and tax on new property - is being hit hard.
"The picture was not rosy," said Roy E. Belson, Medford's school superintendent, and one of hundreds of officials who listened to a stark keynote panel at a conference last week of state school administrators entitled "Preparing for Tough Fiscal Times." Afterward, nearly every school superintendent raised a hand when asked if they expected to lay off teachers. "If you weren't depressed going in, you'd be depressed going out."
Recent history shows what could be in store.
About 14,500 teachers, firefighters, librarians, and other local employees lost their jobs as a result of the state's last economic downturn and a cycle of cuts imposed by then-governor Mitt Romney that reduced local aid by more than $500 million between 2002 and 2004.
In the ensuing recovery, lawmakers reinstated some but not all of the aid, and many cities and towns were unable to fully restore staffing and service levels. They were also constrained by government costs, such as health insurance and utilities, that rose faster than inflation and faster than they could raise money under Proposition 2 1/2, which caps the additional property tax revenue a community can raise yearly at 2.5 percent, not counting taxes raised from new real estate development.
Brace yourself: Cities and towns across the state expect to lay off thousands of employees. The impact will be widespread and highly visible - shorter hours and longer waits at town halls, larger class sizes, more potholes.
"This is not a pleasant time to be a municipal leader," said Revere Mayor Thomas G. Ambrosino, in office for a decade.
Some cities and towns will make dramatic, immediate cuts to balance budgets for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, several local officials said. Other communities will be able to endure this year by spending reserve funds, or by not filling vacancies, before taking much larger action for the new fiscal year starting July 1.
Even Nantucket, with its surfeit of tax-generating summer homes, is worried.
"We have not had the layoff discussion in as serious a manner as were having it now, in my tenure," said C. Elizabeth Gibson, Nantucket town manager since 1995. "It's looming right now."
"Factors beyond our control are hurting us all," said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "From North Adams to Plymouth, Lowell to Chicopee, the numbers surely aren't pretty." Menino made his remarks in an address to hundreds of mayors, selectmen, and administrators Friday at the annual conference of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, the statewide organization of town and city officials.
Aside from the impact on local services, layoffs will take a severe toll on employees, their families, and local economies.
"Whether you like it or not, and whether you think government spends too much, that's an awful lot of money taken out of the economy, and that has a spin-off in every local community," said Chicopee Mayor Michael D. Bissonnette.
Revere, like many communities, already has imposed a hiring freeze as employees leave through retirement or other departures. The city also cut overtime, so public-works tasks like tree removal and pothole repair take longer to be addressed, Revere's mayor said.
"We were trying to squirrel away money for this midyear cut," Ambrosino said. But that won't offset the more than $1.2 million lost this year from local aid. The mayor said the mix of layoffs and other measures could include the possible closure of City Hall on Fridays.
After avoiding layoffs for several years, Medford last summer eliminated nearly 50 school positions, about half of them teachers. Mayor Michael J. McGlynn initially prepared for more education layoffs and proposed public-safety reductions, but avoided them through one-shot measures, like soliciting private donations and redirecting some money associated with the sale of a school building.
Now, bracing for an immediate local aid cut of more than $1 million, and a larger cut next year, McGlynn anticipates multiple rounds of layoffs. "We just don't have 2 million bucks that's sitting around," he said.
McGlynn said laying off the newest employees, according to union contracts, will hurt young families and new homeowners, potentially exacerbating mortgage problems that contributed to the recession.
Still, local officials said they consider Patrick an ally. They overwhelmingly favor the governor's new proposals to allow them to raise money through means other than the property tax, and to rein in fast-growing fixed costs.
Those proposals, which stalled in the Legislature last session, including additional room and meals taxes and curbing health insurance costs.
The measures - coupled with potential aid from a federal economic stimulus package - are unlikely to be enacted in time to avoid the immediate cuts.
In Franklin, staffing is already about 85 percent of what it was six years ago, which means fewer police officers and a library open six days a week instead of seven.
Recently, the town stopped salting side roads during winter storms, preserving salt for the busiest thoroughfares.
That choice was easy compared with what lies ahead, said Jeffrey D. Nutting, Franklin's town administrator and the new president of the Massachusetts Municipal Association.
"We're going to have all kinds of decisions that were never even talked about or thought about," he said.
Eliminating Collective Bargaining will not Solve Municipal Health Insurance Crisis
BOSTON Responding to Speaker Sal DiMasis announcement this week that he plans to file a bill that would amend the recently passed Group Insurance Commission (GIC) law, Robert B. McCarthy, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts (PFFM), reiterated the unions strong opposition of taking health insurance out of collecting bargaining and allowing municipalities to unilaterally join the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Group Health Insurance Plan.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to healthcare and stripping employees of their collective bargaining rights would roll the clock back 50 years in progress made in labor-management relations in Massachusetts, McCarthy said. Quality healthcare is of vital importance to not only firefighters, but teachers, police officers and other municipal leaders, and each city and town should be able to decide their best option.
Chapter 67, known as the GIC option, was approved by the Legislature last year and allows municipalities to enter the GIC on October 1st of each year after negotiating the change and with at least 70% approval by public employee unions and retirees. Speaker DiMasis bill would unilaterally require employees to receive their health insurance through the GIC without union approval.
The PFFM released a white paper, Municipal EmployeeHealth Insurance: The GIC Option, in October which examined the differences between the GIC and municipal plan. Health care benefits are often a key component of an employees benefit package. A survey of PFFM Locals found that nearly 70% pay more than 20% of the premium cost. In fact almost 20% of the Locals pay 50% of the premium. The white paper suggests alternative cost-saving preventable measures for cities and towns, such as implementing aggressive wellness and disease management programs, joining purchasing groups to pool their expenses, and managing their health claims trust funds.
Considering our hazardous occupation - with the increase of co-pays, deductibles, utilization fees, outpatient surgery, prescription drugs and mental health cost - a member could see their out-of-pocket cost reach several thousand dollars a year in the unfortunate event that they become sick or injured, McCarthy continued. As firefighters, we have a moral obligation not to allow this to happen to one of our brothers or sisters. We risk enough from daily exposures to sickness, toxins and hazards; we should not have to risk our financial security!
As Chapter 67 enters year two, the current law should be maintained so that all municipal employees have a say in their health benefits. Firefighters were proud to work alongside municipal and state leaders to pass a law that gives communities options and still gives employees a seat at the table. We must have faith in our municipal leaders, their employees, and the local unions, to have the foresight to see the options and ultimately make the decision that is best for them, McCarthy concluded.
The Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts represent more than 12,000 professional fire fighters from across the Commonwealth. More information can be found at www.pffm.org. Website members may find the White Paper titled PFFM Position Paper on Health Care Bargaining in the Downloads area under Member Resources.
When firefighters arrived at 15 Elm Circle at noon Tuesday, flames were shooting from the upper floor.
The occupants, including a child who had been playing with a cigarette lighter in a second-floor bedroom where the fire started, were out of the building, Deputy Fire Chief George Phillips said.
But, because the woman called 911 on a cell phone, it took longer for firefighters to respond, Phillips said. Unlike traditional telephones that directly connect to local emergency dispatchers, a cell call goes to a state police dispatch center and has to be routed to local agencies.
A few minutes make a difference, Phillips said. Even in five minutes, a fire can get a good head start.
The fire destroyed a bedroom in the single-family bungalow located at the end of the short street off West Elm Street. The remainder of the house suffered smoke, water and heat damage, according to Lt. Edward Williams of fire prevention.
Phillips estimated damage at $80,000. No injuries were reported.
The Red Cross assisted the family in finding shelter because the building was uninhabitable.
Authorities are trying to determine the owner of the property, believed to be a relative of the occupant, who was not identified.
The woman, they said, was caring for three children, two of her own and one she was babysitting, when the fire started. Authorities did not identify which child set the fire, but said all children were 6 years old or younger.
Williams said authorities suggest that parents get counseling for a child who plays with matches or lighters.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, hundreds die and thousands are injured each year in fires started by children. Preschoolers are the most likely to start fires, typically with matches or lighters and are most likely to die in the fires, the NFPA reports on its Web site, www.nfpa.org.
A dozen firefighters battling a four-alarm blaze escaped unharmed when the roof of a burning office building on West Elm Street collapsed this morning. The firefighters were on the third floor of the four-story 47 West Elm St. building, less than a block from Main Street, when the roof collapsed, Fire Chief Kenneth Galligan said. Witnesses said they could see flames shooting from the top of the building and heavy smoke blanketed part of the street early in the fire, first reported at 6:30 a.m.. The office building is next to the Elmcourt Hotel and across the way from Brockton District Court . Residents of the hotel escaped safely. The fire did not spread to the hotel. City Councilor Michael Brady said efforts were underway this morning to find a new office for one of the building tenants, Self Help. He said two downtown locations are already being examined. No injuries were reported as of 9 a.m., but firefighters remained in defensive mode battling the fire. Much of the citys apparatus was sent to fight the blaze, and several neighboring communities assisted, including West Bridgewater. The building is next to the Elmcourt Hotel, formerly the Bryant Hotel, at 33 West Elm Street.
More than 60 years ago the Scranton Fire Department presented the Brockton Fire Department with this monument in honor of 13 firefighters killed in the line of duty.
The pipers and drummers leading the procession to remember Captain James Robeson could never have walked to the streets of west Scranton. They came from more than 300 miles away, eight devoted firefighters from Brockton, Massachusetts.
They said they would never have missed this day.
"It was very important to come down and show support to the members of Scranton for what they've done for us, and what it's meant to us over the last 60 odd years," explained Peter Reardon of the Brockton Fire Department.
They brought with them a newspaper article commemorating a fateful day in 1941 when fire burned through the Strand Theatre in Brockton. Thirteen firefighters were killed trying to put out the flames.
Soon after a monument, sculpted from anthracite coal and engraved with the names of the 13, was commissioned as a gift for Brockton by the Scranton Fire Department.
"It's a beautiful piece of coal, anthracite coal. It's polished. It has the names inscribed on it," said Lieutenant Donald Bissett of the Brockton Fire Department.
"We still have it today. It's in city hall and we use it every year at our annual memorial. It stands right in front of the mayor's office and all the members of the local come out to observe that anniversary, and that's where we have the ceremony," said Brockton firefighter William Hill.
In a sad touch of reverence, Brockton has been waiting more than 65 years to return the favor. When they heard about Captain Robeson's tragic death they knew at once they were coming to Scranton.
How the monument made its way to Brockton from northeastern Pennsylvania is another story, relayed over the years to firefighters today.
"We had one of the firefighters that was on his honeymoon in the area stop down, got the memorial, put it in his trunk, and drove it back to Brockton," Lieutenant Bissett explained with a laugh.
The Brockton firefighters said they never actually hoped to have come here for something like this. They had planned to invite the Scranton department to Massachusetts this coming May for the dedication of a permanent firefighters memorial to the victims of the Strand Theatre fire.
BROCKTON Six people were rescued by firefighters this morning after smoke from a kitchen fire filled a Belmont Court apartment building.
The six residents were standing on balconies at the 51 Belmont Court building when firefighters arrived and were helped to safety down ladders by firefighters, said Deputy Fire Chief Edward Mack.
Several people were treated at the scene and at least one person was taken to the hospital for non-life threatening injuries, he said.
A lot of them were treated with oxygen, Mack said.
An off-duty West Bridgewater police officer, Daniel Desmond, who lives in the complex began banging on doors to alert residents when he noticed the smoke, Mack said.
When we arrived, he had just walked one lady out of the people and informed me there were other people inside, Mack said.
Flames were coming out of one apartment when firefighters pulled up and heavy smoke was filling the building, Mack said.
Access to the building was tough because of the snow the night before. We had a problem with one hydrant that was frozen. That happens occasionally with this type of weather, he said.
Firefighters went door-to-door in the 12 unit building and found some residents still asleep, even though the smoke detector was loudly sounding, he said.
The fire started in the kitchen of a second floor apartment. The resident told firefighters he had just returned home from work, smelled smoke and saw what appeared to be a fire around the stove, Mack said.
His son was outside shoveling at the time, Mack said. He called 911 and alerted people to the fire.
The cause of the fire, reported at 6:32 a.m., is under investigation.
Fire destroys Hamilton Street house; view story to see video
By Maria Papadopoulos, Enterprise staff writer
BROCKTON Eleven-year-old Dana Mitchell ran outside his Hamilton Street home Tuesday afternoon when he and his brother saw flames tearing through the house next door.
There was fire (coming) out of the window and on the roof, said Mitchell, who called his mother home from work when he saw the two-alarm blaze before evacuating his home.
The boy was among dozens of bystanders looking on as firefighters battled flames engulfing a vacant home at 21 Hamilton St.
(Photo by R. Myers First Due Companies Begin Suppression Operations Upon Arrival)
Emergency medical responders raced to the scene, but no injuries were reported.
Fire officials called the fire suspicious Tuesday night.
It was a vacant house, so the fact that anyone is in there is going to be suspicious, Deputy Fire Chief George Phillips said.
Earlier, as news helicopters circled overhead, firefighters hastily attached hoses to several street hydrants to draw water. Some firefighters were hoisted high up on ladders with their hoses to extinguish flames on the roof of the 21/2-story building.
Heavy smoke made it difficult to see the home and surrounding areas in the neighborhood.
Brockton High School student George Waugh was on his way home from school when he saw the heavy smoke, got off his school bus with some friends, ran to his Moraine Street home and grabbed his bike.
I called 911 on my cell phone, and I was like, 'Yeah I want to report a fire' and they said (fire officials) were on their way, Waugh said. Then I got here and I see this. That's horrible.
It was the second house fire Waugh witnessed in one week. The teen saw police and firefighters respond to a house fire on Moraine Street that killed former City Councilor George Papas last week. Waugh lives a few houses away from the Papas residence.
At one point Tuesday, as flames billowed from several windows, a fire official yelled to firefighters not to venture inside the Hamilton Street home.
The fire had a pretty good head start on us. We could see smoke in the distance, Deputy Fire Chief Edward Mack said at the scene as crews worked around him.
No one was inside the home at the time of the fire, Mack said.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Firefighters used large lines and ladder pipes to knock down the heavy fire, Mack said. Officials planned to tear down the house, destroyed by the fire, on Tuesday night.
The name of the owner of the building was not available Tuesday. A neighbor said nobody lives in the building.
A street box alarm at Hamilton and Belmont streets was pulled to initially report the fire at 2:40 p.m., fire officials said. Several 911 calls followed.
Responding to the scene were crews from Squad A, Ladder 1, Tower 1 and engine companies 2, 4, 5 and 7. Fire Chief Kenneth Galligan and Deputy Fire Chief Mark Baker of the city's Fire Prevention Unit also responded.
Brockton received mutual aid from the West Bridgewater and Avon fire departments.
BROCKTON The fire that earned Lt. Kevin Galligan a Medal of Honor Wednesday will be seared in his memory for a long time.
We couldn't see them at all. We could barely tell if we had a wrist or an ankle in our hands, Galligan, 29, said of the two unconscious women he and his colleague, Lt. Daniel Santry, pulled in complete darkness from a third-floor apartment during a four-alarm blaze in Brockton on July 6, 2006.
One of the women, also the mother of an infant Galligan had rescued from a third-floor window during the blaze, later died of her injuries.
That ended up being a terrible thing for us, Galligan said, somberly.
He and Santry were among several firefighters from Brockton, Whitman and Plymouth honored for their heroism Wednesday at the 18th annual Firefighter of the Year Awards in Faneuil Hall in Boston.
Galligan, the son of Brockton Fire Chief Kenneth Galligan, and a Boston firefighter received the top award, the Medal of Honor.
Obviously, it's a proud moment, the fire chief said Wednesday of his son's honor.
Other Brockton firefighters were honored for their response to the Montello Street blaze.
Santry and Firefighter George Eonas, who joined Galligan in rescuing victims from the third floor, both received the Medal of Valor.
Capt. Arthur Gay and firefighters Leonard Widdis, Brian Piantoni and James Miceli received a group award for meritorious conduct.
I am very proud of the actions by everybody who was involved in that fire, Fire Chief Kenneth Galligan said.
One local firefighter was also honored for his military service in Iraq.
Whitman call firefighter Paul Skarinka received a Patriot's Award Wednesday.
Skarinka, an Army veteran who earlier received a Purple Heart, has had several surgeries for injuries he sustained after a rocket-propelled grenade struck his unit in Iraq.
The Plymouth Fire Department was also recognized for its rescue of a man from a third floor residence at 122 Drew Road, Plymouth, on Dec. 18, 2006.
Plymouth firefighters receiving honors included Lt. Montgomery Gray, Lt. Gregory Kane, Michael Morrill, Deputy Chief Marin Enos, Battalion Chief Stanley Eldridge, Brian Russo, Nathan Torrance, Steve Williamson, Michael Balonis, Robert Ferrari, Lt. Jeffrey Carter, Donald DeCost, Lt. Douglas Pigeon, Edward Delano, Dale Melanson and Mark Milroy.
In the Brockton fire, Lt. Kevin Galligan said he and his colleagues worked together and relied on their training to get through the horrific blaze.
The experience that we went through was extremely taxing, both mentally and physically, said Galligan, who has worked as a firefighter for eight years.
When rescue crews arrived at the scene, Galligan said he saw a grandmother dangling an infant while screaming for help from a third floor window.
Seven other people had already jumped from the second floor apartment, he said.
Galligan went up a ladder to retrieve the infant, and went back for the grandmother, who then told firefighters two more people were stuck inside the apartment.
Galligan and Santry donned breathing apparatus and went inside. They could not see anything but felt around the apartment for victims.
The floor below me was extremely hot, said Galligan, of flames engulfing the second floor.
The two firefighters found one woman unconscious, and passed her out a window to other firefighters on a ladder.
But before they could remove the last victim, Galligan and Santry ran out of air.
They jumped from the window onto the ladder, and directed Eonas to go inside and find the woman, which he then passed to other firefighters on the ladder.
When asked about receiving the top honor for a firefighter, Galligan responded humbly.
I just happened to be the guy who was working on a certain truck that night, Galligan said. Any other firefighter would have been in the same position.
Brockton home damaged in Monday fire; view story to see video
By Maria Papadopoulos, Enterprise staff writer
BROCKTON Wendy Winkler dialed 911 when she saw flames coming out of her neighbor's Winter Street home Monday afternoon and live electrical wires dangling into the street.
It was a very intense fire. There were flames coming out, very bright orange, said Winkler, 35, clutching her child in her arms as firefighters hosed down the single-family home.
No one was home when the fire broke out at 268 Winter St. just after 3 p.m. Monday, fire officials said.
No injuries were reported.
When live electrical wires started sparking into the street, Winkler said she tried to warn a BAT bus and other cars driving by the home as flames ripped through the 1 1/2-story, wood-frame building.
The fire had knocked down all the telephone wires. The wires were flying back and forth, she said.
The fire started on the first floor, possibly in the living room, and extended out the first-floor window and up into the second floor, Fire Deputy Chief George Phillips said.
The firefighting effort was hampered by the electrical wires in the street and low water pressure from one hydrant used at the top of Winter Street, Phillips said.
Firefighters used another hydrant downhill to draw water.
The electrical feed to the home had burned and melted, Phillips said. It was live and it was in the middle of the street. Our firefighters had to dodge that. That hampered our approach to the fire.
The home is owned by Glenn Teague, fire officials said.
Investigators were still trying to determine the cause of the blaze Monday night.
Firefighters extinguished the flames within about 30 minutes, said Phillips, who estimated damages at about $80,000.
Firefighters were on scene more than six hours, with the last piece of apparatus clearing at 9:26 p.m.
Crews from Tower 1, Squad A, Ladder 1 and engine companies 3, 4 and 7 responded. City Wiring Inspector Chris Sheehan and representatives from the Building Department also responded.
Strand Theatre memorial takes shape; view story to see video
By Maria Papadopoulos, Enterprise staff writer
BROCKTON Ed Burrell can still hear the cries of his fellow firefighters, 66 years after the deadly Strand Theatre fire that killed 13 city firefighters and injured more than 20 others.
Burrell, then in his 20s, was with his company on the roof of another building next to the theater when the west section of the Strand's roof came crashing down.
I can remember hearing them screeching down inside when they were trapped, the 93-year-old Burrell, the last surviving city firefighter who was called to the blaze on March 10, 1941, said solemnly Tuesday.
He was among dozens of city firefighters and officials attending a groundbreaking ceremony for a planned Strand Theatre memorial at City Hall.
The monument, built of bronze and granite, will depict a city firefighter from the Strand Theatre blaze, said Robert Shure, president of Skylight Studios Inc. in Woburn who will sculpt the monument. It will stand more than 10 feet tall outside of City Hall, he said.
The firefighter will be represented with the type of uniform used during the Strand era, Shure said.
Work on the monument will begin next month. A dedication ceremony is slated for May 10, 2008.
Fire Lt. Richard Baker, co-chairman of the Strand Theatre Memorial Committee, said the monument will cost $156,000. About $105,000 of those funds have already been raised through the community, he said.
The memorial will honor the sacrifice made by 13 Brockton firefighters, Baker said.
It holds near and dear to our hearts ... we've never done anything of this undertaking. We hope that when all is said and done, that everyone will be proud of the statue and feel honored, he said.
The Strand, formerly located at 15 School St., had a seating capacity of 1,685, making it the largest theater in the city.
After the Strand fire, Burrell went on to serve as the city's fire chief, retiring in 1979.
But that fateful night in 1941 never left his memory.
Here we go again. Double trouble with the threat of being dumped into the state's GIC for health insurance, and a potential raid on our pensions.
PFFM members should immediately contact their Reps to oppose the Pension raid which will be voted on in the House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon, tomorrow. Also, please call your Senators on HB 4110, the GIC piece which is in the Senate. Please email, call and or come to the State House Wednesday afternoon.
"If this legislation passes the following boards will be mandated to turn over all their pension assets and all of the contributions that we have put in over our careers to the State and put our pensions at risk: Amesbury, Athol, Barnstable County, Chelsea, Chicopee, Dukes County, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Hampshire County, Lawrence, Lynn, Melrose, Methuen, Middlesex County, Norfolk County, Peabody, Pittsfield, Plymouth, Springfield, Waltham, Watertown, West Springfield, Winthrop and Worcester County." click here to read the entire document on the Pension Raid
BROCKTON Lisa Berggren was asleep in her bedroom Monday when she awoke to the cries of her three children and her father, William, that their Sinclair Road home was on fire.
They just yelled there was a fire, and then we ran out here and everyone's crying and it sucks, said Berggren, tears streaming down her face as firefighters worked to extinguish the flames.
No injuries were reported in the 3:38 p.m. fire that gutted the one-story, ranch-style home at 245 Sinclair Road and displaced two adults and three children.
The fire started in a bedroom with a 5-year-old child who admitted to playing with a lighter, Fire Deputy Chief George Phillips said.
It just stresses the importance of keeping lighters and matches away from children, Phillips said.
It was, like, the lighter you start the gas grill with, said Berggren, 36, a single mother of three. We hide it. We hide it. He must have got it and he said he took a piece of paper and lit it, and now I have no house.
When firefighters arrived, they found heavy smoke coming from the windows and roof and flames coming out of a bedroom window in the rear of the house, Phillips said.
We were concerned that it had gotten into the attic, so we were pulling the ceilings and chasing it and trying to head it off, Phillips said. It did extend a little bit but not a great amount.
Berggren, a Boston nurse, said she was sleeping before working a night shift at her job when the fire broke out.
I came down the hallway and there was fire everywhere, she said.
Neighbors and family members consoled Berggren, whose face was darkened with ash. She stood in the rain Monday wearing a purple robe and clutching a cup of hot cocoa.
Her father, William Berggren, 62, was watching television with two of his grandchildren, ages 6 and 7, when the fire broke out.
I got up and all I could see was smoke, he said. I was trying to get the kids out and then to wake up my daughter. I was so nervous and smoke was in my eyes I couldn't even see the phone.
Once outside, he ran to a neighbor's house and they called 911.
My daughter, you know, is worried about the house, but we all got out, he said, tears welling in his eyes. If this happened at night, and we were sleeping, we wouldn't be here.
Phillips cautioned residents about the dangers of having cigarette and other lighters in homes where there are children.
You have to be very aware of those and account for those and keep them out of the reach of children, the fire deputy said.
Firefighters extinguished the flames within about 30 minutes, said Phillips, who estimated damages at about $40,000.
Gas and power were turned off to the home, which also made it uninhabitable following the fire.
The fire department's arson investigators responded to the fire call, as did Brockton police.
Firefighters were on scene more than two hours, with the last piece of apparatus clearing at 5:50 p.m.
Crews from Tower 2, Squad A, Ladder 1 and engine companies 2 and 4 responded.
BROCKTON An oil-fired steam boiler that had run out of water is being blamed for sparking a fire that heavily damaged a Prospect Street home Monday morning.
No one was injured in the 11:13 a.m. blaze at 190 Prospect St. The fire prompted a search of the home for an elderly man whose car was in the driveway and who was believed to be at home at the time of the fire, Deputy Fire Chief George Phillips said.
The man, who authorities did not identify, was located at a local nursing home.
I'm not sure how long he's been in a nursing home, Phillips said. No one was home to monitor the boiler so it's hard to determine how long it had been running and how long this fire had been burning.
Phillips said neighbors reported the fire after seeing smoke wafting from the home.
The deputy chief said the boiler is supposed to be equipped with a device to shut it off if there is not enough water, but those devices sometimes fail, he said.
The boiler can turn red hot so the steam pipes that run through the floor get so hot they ignite the wood, Phillips said.
A portion of the floor on the first floor of the home was burned through, Phillips said.
The fire started in the basement and traveled through the 2 1/2-story, single-family house to the attic.
The home, which has an open balloon-frame construction, had a draft around the chimney that pulled the fire up from the basement to the attic, Phillips said.
The flames also followed floor joists, damaging the first and second floors of the home.
The guys did an excellent job keeping the fire damage to what it was, Phillips said. They worked very hard to get in there and try to head it off, all the different avenues of fire, in addition to searching for the occupant and at the same time trying to keep the fire in check.
He estimated the fire caused $100,000 in damage. The home is not habitable, and power has been turned off there. Phillips said fire officials had been in contact with the resident's attorney regarding the fire.
BROCKTON Joseph Jackson, a 911 dispatcher with Angels Ambulance in Abington, went from answering emergency calls Tuesday to helping three women to safety during a house fire he came upon on his way home from work.
There was just some smoke when I came down Warren Avenue to South Street, Jackson, 24, said.
He and his cousin, William Jackson, 21, stopped at the 42 South St. home and helped three women to safety, after the women kept going in and out of the burning home trying to rescue dogs, they said.
The smoke was just intense. I don't know how they withstood to go in there two times to get the dogs, Joseph Jackson said.
Three women at the house homeowner Angela Anaya, 55; and Luisa Gomez, 70, and Carmen Mercado, 51, who police said were both guests there were taken to Brockton Hospital by ambulances.
Fire Deputy Chief Robert A. Manning said the women were each believed to have suffered smoke inhalation. Onlookers at the scene said one of the women, who they said had high blood pressure, fainted after becoming distraught over the fire.
Another one of the women was also taken to the hospital after emergency medical workers at the scene checked her blood pressure. While firefighters battled the blaze, that woman sat on the steps of a home next door and sobbed, surrounded by friends who tried to comfort her.
An emergency room nurse at Brockton Hospital did not release information Tuesday night about the women's condition upon their request.
No firefighters were injured at the fire. An unidentified onlooker said the dogs at the home were saved.
The fire was reported at 6:54 p.m. by Joseph Jackson, who said he used the phone at 42 South St. to dial 911.
Jackson said when he and his cousin entered the home and went up to the second floor, a small portion of a rug in a rear room was burning.
They were trying to put it out with little pots, Jackson said.
He said although the fire was small at first, it got good and going all of a sudden.
After calling 911, Jackson said he tried to flag down help from passing motorists until the Fire Department arrived, but to no avail.
It just seemed an act of selfishness to me, Jackson said of the non-response from passers-by. Everybody's in such a rush.
Manning, the deputy fire chief, said the fire had a really good head start.
The home, a white 1 1/2-story New England Colonial with turquoise shutters, is owned by Anaya and Miguel Mercado, according to the city's online assessor's database.
The two-bedroom home is also listed for sale through Coldwell Banker, according to a sign at the front of the house.
Investigators from the fire and wiring departments remained on the scene late Tuesday night trying to determine the cause of the blaze.
Manning said when firefighters from Engine 2 arrived there was heavy fire coming from the back corner of the house. The fire extended up into the attic, burning from the back of the home to the front, the fire deputy chief said. Firefighters cut holes in the roof to ventilate the heat and smoke as they fought the fire. They also had to pull down ceilings to get at the fire. Manning said the home, which sustained smoke and water damage, is not habitable. Utilities to the home were cut Tuesday night.
Joseph Jackson, who was dressed in his Angels Ambulance uniform and had a diamond glinting from his ear, said this was at least the second time he helped lead people to safety in a fire. Another time he helped tenants at a three-family home in Dorchester owned by his uncle to safety during a fire, he said.
He's a regular action hero, said his cousin, William, a car rental worker.
BROCKTON Maria Barrada stepped onto her Arthur Street porch Saturday afternoon, turned around and saw thick smoke pouring from the second floor of her neighbor's home across the street.
She called 911 and raced across the street to alert her neighbor, but no one was home.
The fire department came quickly, Barrada said. And thank goodness.
Her husband had been concerned because he thought their neighbor's elderly mother may have been in the house, Barrada said, however the woman, who she said was in her 90s, had moved out several weeks ago.
The fire was the second house fire in the city Saturday. The first fire was reported at 1:13 a.m. at 975 Court St.
Bob Ulich and his father, Horst Ulich, were awakened by the sound of a smoke alarm going off. They were able to find their way out of the ranch-style home amid thick, choking smoke.
The Court Street fire caused an estimated $60,000 in damage to the home, according to fire Deputy Chief Robert A. Manning.
Bob Ulich said one of his father's dogs, a miniature daschund named Moody perished in the fire. Another dog, a husky named Lady, escaped.
No injuries were reported in either fire.
Police were the first to arrive on scene of the 2:28 p.m. fire at 39 Arthur St., fire Deputy Chief Robert A. Manning said. Police forced open the door of the one-and-a-half-story home and searched the first floor.
The occupant of the home, identified by Manning as Snieguole Ramanauskas, who is the daughter of the elderly woman, was not home. Neither was her brother, Raymond Ramanauskas, who lives at the rear of the home at 37 Arthur St.
Manning said firefighters contained the fire to a second-floor bedroom but Snieguole Ramanauskas was displaced by the fire due to smoke and water damage throughout the home.
The cause of the Arthur Street fire was still under investigation Saturday, as was the cause of the fire on Court Street.
Manning said the fire at Horst Ulich's home was in the garage. That fire was also discovered by a neighbor who saw the smoke and flames and reported it.
Manning said Horst and Bob Ulich were installing baseboard heating in the home and had been soldering pipes in the garage earlier Friday night.
Manning said fire investigators had not determined whether the fire was caused by the soldering or was sparked by something else.
While the acrid smell of fire still lingered in the air, Bob Ulich helped his father go through his belongings Saturday afternoon, many of which were strewn about the lawn, including a rack of shoes and a small ceramic Christmas tree.
Ulich said he expected it would be several months before his father would be able to live in the house again.
Brockton man charged with OUI after hitting car, pole
By Jennifer Kovalich, Enterprise staff writer
BROCKTON A city man who police say was drunk behind the wheel is facing charges after he crashed his Chevrolet into a telephone pole and fled the scene, leaving a passenger behind as the pole and its transformer toppled onto the vehicle.
Nigel Peterson, 18, 40 Cabot St., was charged with operating under the influence, operating to endanger, leaving the scene causing personal injury and failure to stay in marked lanes in connection to the accident that occurred at 11 p.m. Friday.
An unidentified woman in the vehicle was able to get out before the Chevrolet caught fire, said fire Deputy Chief Robert A. Manning.
Manning said the woman sustained a broken leg in the accident and was treated and released at Brockton Hospital.
Manning said it was not known whether the force of the crash, which sheared the utility pole at ground level, caused the vehicle to catch on fire, or if the vehicle fire resulted from the transformer and live wires falling on top of it.
The car was destroyed, Manning said.
Police Lt. Robert DiBari said Peterson's 1993 Chevrolet left the parking lot of a Tedeschi Food Shop at a high rate of speed, drove south along the sidewalk before getting back onto the roadway, then crossed onto the opposite sidewalk and smashed into the utility pole at 30 Taylor Ave.
DiBari said Peterson eventually returned to the scene and was taken into custody by police.
In an accident at 5:25 a.m. Saturday, police say a man crashed his green Plymouth Voyager into a telephone pole on at West Chestnut and Market streets. DiBari said the driver, who was alone in the vehicle, told police he had fallen asleep behind the wheel. The force of the collision snapped the pole in half.
An ambulance took the driver, Francisco Pires, of Brockton, to the Brockton Hospital to be evaluated for injuries, police said.
Police cited Pires for failure to stay in marked lanes.
BROCKTON The roof vent system over a charcoal grill may have contributed to a ceiling fire that caused the evacuation of a Crescent Street restaurant Wednesday, fire officials said.
No injuries were reported.
About 10 patrons were evacuated from Brazil Grill, a restaurant at 686 Crescent St., after smoke began to fill the restaurant, fire officials said.
Authorities received a 911 call from a cell phone reporting the fire at 3:35 p.m. Wednesday, said Fire Deputy Chief Edward Mack.
They're looking at the vent system, Mack said about the cause of the blaze, which remains under investigation. It's definitely in and around the vent area.
Firefighters arrived to find flames confined to the ceiling area and smoke throughout the restaurant, Mack said.
The fire advanced into the roof area and was burning the material off the roof, Mack said.
Firefighters, who used a power saw to cut off the roofing material, were able to extinguish the flames within 20 minutes, Mack said. Authorities cleared the scene within two hours. Mack estimated damage at $10,000.
Stacks of burnt roofing material were strewn behind the restaurant after the fire. Ceiling tiles had been removed above the grill, and the smell of smoke permeated throughout the restaurant.
Cido Alencar, the restaurant's manager, said he called 911 when he began to smell smoke.
We smelled something, he said. Then we saw the fire in the ceiling.
Alencar, 31, and his wife, Andrea, 26, who live in Weymouth, manage the restaurant and were in the process of buying it, he said.
Andrea Alencar said the restaurant does not have insurance.
The owners let (the insurance) lapse, Andrea Alencar said. We were in the process of getting it this week when we found out there was no insurance.
The restaurant is owned by Nei Oleveira and Jeff Sample, no address available, according to the restaurant's liquor license, Mack said. The building is owned by C.G.I. Management, 637 Washington St., Suite 200, Brookline.
The restaurant serves Brazilian cuisine that is cooked on a charcoal grill, Andrea Alencar said.
It's all rotisserie meats. There's a bunch of skewers, and it's all charcoal flames, she said.
A similar ceiling fire occurred at the restaurant in February, fire officials said.
Fire Inspector Richard MacMurdo said the restaurant is one of two in the city with charcoal grills, which burns a lot hotter than normal grills.
This is something new to us, said MacMurdo, who added a regular permit is required to have a charcoal grill.
MacMurdo said investigators are pointing toward combustibles in the ceiling area plywood and sheet metal, which were positioned too close to one another as a possible cause of the fire.
At 5:45 am, the Brockton Fire Alarm office received several calls reporting a house fire with occupants trapped at 779 Montello Street in the Campello section of the city.
First arriving companies found heavy fire showing from a 3- story wood frame tenement with several people jumping out the 2nd floor windows. Lt. Scott Sweet of Engine 2 requested a second alarm.
Deputy Chief Robert Manning arrived shortly after and assumed command. Members of Tower 2, while searching the 3rd floor, found 4 people trapped in a rear bathroom.
With heavy smoke and high heat, Tower 2 crew removed these people via ground ladders and the bucket from Tower 2. CPR was used on two of the victims while being lowered in the bucket. As the second alarm companies arrived an interior attack was under way with 2 1/2" lines on all floors.
Chief of Department Kenneth Gilligan arrived and assumed command and ordered a third alarm at 6:11 am. A fourth alarm for relief purposes was transmitted a 6:49 am.
Alert Brockton mom saves self, children
By Maureen Boyle, Enterprise staff writer
BROCKTON Seven people including three children are alive today thanks to carbon monoxide detectors, fire officials say.
The mother of three children, aged 8, 6 and nine months old, called firefighters shortly before 8:30 p.m. Sunday after the detector in her first-floor apartment on Williams Court, off Court Street, kept going off.
"Her detector was going off intermittently but when the baby got sick and vomited, she made the call," Deputy Fire Chief Timothy Murphy said.
When firefighters arrived, they discovered carbon monoxide levels of 100 parts per million more than 10 times the normal levels of 7 to 8 per million, he said.
The woman and her three children were taken to Brockton Hospital for evaluation and given oxygen. Tenants on the second floor were also evacuated, he said.
Officials inspected the house and discovered someone who had installed a water heater earlier in the day failed to reconnect one of the smoke pipes, he said.
As a result, the carbon monoxide wound up getting pushed through the forced hot air heating system in the house, he said.
Murphy said if there hadn't been detectors in the home, tragedy could have resulted.
"Because carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, no one even knows it is there," he said. "If this had happened after they went to bed, it could have been tragic."
The incident Sunday comes just days before a state law mandating all residents be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors as of March 31.
The detectors must be on all all habitable floors of a home, including bsements that are used as a bedroom or family room. Also, any any room either above or next to an attached garage must have a CO monitor installed. The law called "Nicole's Law" was prompted by the death of 7-year-old Nicole Garofalo of Plymouth, who died in 2004 after a snowdrift blocked an exhaust vent from her family's propane-fired boiler, filling the home carbon monoxide.
Two die after failing to flee fire
By Tim Grace,ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER
BROCKTON A burning couch wedged in a kitchen doorway fed a fire that killed two people and injured a third Saturday morning.
James Buchanan, 24, of Braintree and Jennifer Ortiz, 23, of Dorchester were guests in the first-floor apartment at 96 Harvard St. when the fire started at about 3:30 a.m.
Firefighters said smoke inhalation probably was the cause of death for both victims.
"It looks like the fire started in a couch in the living room," said Deputy Fire Chief George Phillips. He said a cigarette was most likely the cause of the fire.
The three men tried to move the burning couch out of the house, carrying it from the living room into the kitchen where "it flared up ... and got stuck in the door, trapping one occupant on that side of the couch," Phillips said.
James Boutin, who rented the apartment, was also hurt.
He was being treated in the Brockton Hospital emergency room Saturday evening. Hospital officials would not release his condition.
Phillips said a neighbor smelled smoke and called the Fire Department at 3:37 p.m.
When firefighters arrived, smoke was pouring out of the first-floor windows on the right side of the building.
Boutin and a second man, along with a mother and daughter living on the second floor, had made it out. Buchanan and Ortiz were still trapped inside.
"I saw them carry Jim (Boutin) off on a stretcher," said one neighbor.
The man, who lives across the street, but did not give his name, said he heard "people screaming and ran down" to see smoke pouring out of Boutin's apartment.
Once inside, firefighters found Ortiz "in the living room, partially lying in a closet," Phillips said.
She was rushed to Brockton hospital but died hours later.
Buchanan had already died when firefighters found him on the bathroom floor.
The kitchen exit was the only door out of the apartment. Because it was on the ground floor, the apartment's windows qualified as second exits said Phillips.
"The building did have smoke detectors, alarms were sounding," he said.
"It's very important for people to know, when a fire is discovered in a house, just get out," Phillips said. "Get out and call the fire department."
Bridget Norton Middleton, spokeswoman for the Plymouth County District Attorney's office, said the state fire marshal had investigated and was satisfied the fire, and the deaths that followed, had been accidental.
A man raking glass out of the lawn and pilling up burnt furniture and timbers outside the house Saturday afternoon would not discuss the fire.
The fire did not spread beyond the first-floor apartment.
Phillips did not know how many people had been living in the five-apartment, triple-decker, but said some of the apartments may have been vacant.
Damage to the building was estimated at $75,000. Scorched wiring and melted plumbing left it temporarily uninhabitable.
Hugh Drummond, spokesman for the American Red Cross, said the mother and daughter from the second floor would be put up in a local hotel Saturday night.
The Red Cross had provided the family with some emergency cash for food and clothing.
BROCKTON A mother and her four children were burned out of their Earley Street home Thursday afternoon.
Firefighters said two of the children were inside when about 4:30 p.m. a fire started in a crawl space under the ranch-style house at 49 Earley St. Both children got out of the house on their own without injury.
Deputy Chief Robert Manning said two basement bedrooms where engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.
"They were confronted with a large volume of fire in the basement," he said.
Firefighters kept the flames from spreading further and had the fire extinguished in about 30 minutes, Manning said.
Damage to the house, which the family had been renting, was severe.
"Those two rooms were burned and the upstairs of the house suffered extensive smoke and heat damage," Manning said.
He estimating the value of property lost at about $100,000.
The family planned to stay with relatives Thursday night.
BROCKTON One end of a strip mall was gutted and two firefighters were hurt fighting a stubborn Main Street blaze Saturday morning.
At 3:33 a.m., firefighters were called in to investigate heavy smoke pouring out of an electronics store at 706 Main St.
Fire Deputy Chief Edward Mack said the fire had probably been burning in the back of the brick and concrete block building for some time before firefighters arrived. Firefighters were slowed further by the metal security gate blocking the building's entrance.
Eventually, firefighters were able to rip the gate down and douse the flames.
But by then, the fire had already caused the collapse of the building's roof. Two suffered cuts to their hands that required treatment at the scene.
A friend in need: Brockton boy with muscular dystrophy can't get a wheelchair until $8,000 is raised
Brockton firefighter Rick Heenan shows Casey Pittman the Jaws of Life metal-cutting equipment during a visit to the Pleasant Street fire station. Casey, who has muscular dystrophy, was named a junior firefighter ambassador. (Marc Vasconcellos/The Enterprise)
By Jennifer Kovalich, Enterprise staff writer
BROCKTON Sitting in the driver's seat of his red motorized scooter, 11-year-old Casey Pittman drove his way around his classroom at the Downey Elementary School.
Dressed in a red fleece top and jeans, he got off the scooter and with slow, deliberate steps walked to a desk, his small, thin body shuffling from side to side in an unsteady gait.
Casey, a brown-eyed boy with an impish smile who likes baseball and video games, has muscular dystrophy and was recently diagnosed with scoliosis.
In December he was fitted for a new electric wheelchair that will help slow the curving of his spine from scoliosis and allow him to play outdoors, even in the mud.
"I will be able to get around a lot better," Casey said on Friday at the school. "It's going to be a lot more comfortable to sit in."
But before the wheelchair can be delivered, Casey's family needs some help to pay for it.
Paul Pittman, Casey's father, was laid off recently from his job on the Big Dig. His mother, Connie, is facing her own surgery.
"What we need is 8,000 more dollars," Casey said. "Some of it already got paid. Insurance and the Muscular Dystrophy Association paid for it. Altogether it's about $15,000."
The wheelchair is black, a color Casey picked, and is custom-fit to adjust as he grows. The seat can go back and if parked, can also be raised and lowered, he said.
Debby Enos, a family friend who met the Pittmans through the Brookfield Little League, is spearheading a fundraising effort for Casey's wheelchair. She opened an account at The Community Bank, making the first donation.
"I'm hoping that the whole community can chip in," she said.
Muscular dystrophy is a disease that weakens the body's muscles, which slowly stop working.
Casey was diagnosed at age10 months. Within the past year his condition has begun to deteriorate.
"He's had more difficulty moving from the scooter to a chair," said Deane Norris, Casey's fifth-grade teacher. Sometimes while moving from one to the other, Casey has fallen.
Norris' eyes welled up as she spoke about her student. Casey, she said, is an excellent reader, draws well and has good friends.
He is the Pittman's middle child and has a younger sister, Kaylee, and older brother Christopher.
On Saturday, Casey toured the Brockton Fire Department's Station No. 1 on Pleasant Street and met with firefighters over pizza. He is a "Goodwill Ambassador" for the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Southeastern Massachusetts, based in Raynham. The MDA is a charity strongly supported by firefighters.
"Today was just to bring him over and get to meet him," said firefighter Tim Bamford. "We've been looking for a Goodwill Ambassador. It will really just get Casey involved with the services that MDA has to offer."
Nicole Grimes, interim director of the local MDA chapter, said as a Goodwill Ambassador, Casey will be a role model for others and represent their educational and fundraising campaigns.
"He's very likeable," she said.
Casey used to play baseball in the Challenger Little League, which is for kids with physical or mental handicaps, but no longer.
"I can hit the ball but it's harder to run the bases," he said.
He bowls, shoots baskets and also like miniature golf.
He's also an animal lover, with two dogs, Jack and Mandy, and two cats, Misty and Mittens, and would like to become a veterinarian.
"He's a well-behaved little boy who would be deserving of any help," Norris, his teacher, said.
Fire ravages Brockton three-family house, tenants escape
By Elaine Allegrini, Enterprise staff writer
BROCKTON A woman led her four young children, including a 3-week-old baby, to safety Wednesday after a smoke detector sounded and she found smoke filling the hallway of their three-family home at 28 Snell Ave.
Ameil Chookolingo, 30, said his wife, Michelle, also alerted a third-floor tenant who got out safely with her 6-year-old daughter before the fire raged from the basement through the roof of the 2 1/2-story home.
Firefighters responded at 6:03 p.m. after receiving a call from police. Second and third alarms were sounded shortly after arrival as smoke quickly moved through the 100-year-old building.
Everyone's alive, that's the main thing, said Tony Evora of Brockton, whose 6-year-old daughter, Daisha, lives on the third floor of the house with her mother, Christine Medeiros.
He said they had just arrived home when they heard the first-floor tenant shouting for them to get out.
The second-floor apartment was vacant.
Fire Chief Kenneth Galligan led operations at the scene as firefighters fought heavy smoke on all sides of the building and dodged overhead wires to raise a tower and ladder to attack the flames from above.
Electric power was cut to the area as fire companies from Avon and East Bridgewater joined Brockton at the scene. Area streets, including Summer Street, were closed to traffic as firefighters stood by hydrants to control water flows to apparatus on the scene.
Neighbors from throughout the residential area of single- and multi-family houses on the city's southeast side gathered around.
A resident of nearby Hillside Avenue said he initially saw flames coming from the rear of the basement.
Denise Analoro of Summer Street was heading home with her three children when she saw the fire. Concerned that one of her students lived in the house, she walked to the scene. Later, she was able to speak to the family and the boy, a student in her class at the Downey School.
Thankful that the family was safe and sheltered in a neighbor's home, Analoro said the school would rally Thursday to help the family.
Meanwhile, Michelle Chookolingo, her children ages 9, 5, 1 and 3 weeks and her mother remained inside a neighbor's home while her husband came outside briefly to watch firefighters battle the blaze.
Everything I own is gone, he said, wondering where he and his family would turn in the coming days. He said his mother-in-law had been visiting to help his wife with the new baby, a boy.
Chookolingo said he owned the house at 28 Snell St. for three years, selling it a year ago to get money to open an automotive repair shop, AC's, at 456 Montello St.
The current owner of the house, Bracey Storme of Boston, was not at the scene Wednesday night and Chookolingo said he was unable to reach her by telephone.
According to city records, the property is valued at $484,700 and was sold to Storme Dec. 30, 2005, for $495,000.
City Building Superintendent Joseph Vasapollo, who responded to the scene, said it was too early to say if the building would have to be demolished. Fire prevention inspectors were attempting to determine the cause of the blaze as firefighters continued to pour water on the building, Chief Galligan said.
Mutual aid companies remained on the scene until after 9 p.m. Galligan expected city firefighters would be there until midnight or later.
No injuries were reported during the height of the blaze.
Fire companies from Stoughton, Whitman, Holbrook and Easton provided station coverage in Brockton..