"On the Front Lines"
What we do
The Waltham Fire Department's Fire Suppression Division is responsible for responding to emergency calls throughout the city. These calls for help can range from obvious fire emergencies (structure fires, brush fires, vehicle fires) to medical emergencies or technical rescues and hazardous materials responses. Other calls include water or electrical problems as well as terrorist/bomb threats. The job of front line fire fighter has changed and grown to include all these tasks as well as inspections of commercial and residential property for compliance with fire safety codes and practices.
How we work
Our department staffs 10 fire fighting companies 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. These companies operate 10 fire apparatus: six engines, two ladder trucks, one squad and one heavy rescue. Each fire apparatus operates with a minimum of three people. Each crew has one officer in charge of the apparatus and its personnel. A Deputy Chief/Shift Commander, who operates in Car-2 (C-2) along with his Aide, oversees and directs all 10 companies. The Chief, other Deputy Chiefs and any other personnel, for that matter, may be called in as the emergency incident warrants.
The Chief of Department manages the Fire Suppression Division and he can assume command at any incident. Next in line is the Deputy Chief. The Fire Suppression Division has four groups - each one managed by a Deputy Chief who oversees day-to-day activities of that group. Deputies can assume command over all incidents that occur on their shift. The Chief and Deputies can be recognized at incidents by their white coats and white helmets.
Each fire apparatus has one Captain who is in charge of that vehicle. Captains are also responsible for the city's six fire stations. Lieutenants serve as officers on the fire apparatus in absence of a Captain and are responsible for the apparatus and its crew. Officers (Captains and Lieutenants) can be recognized by the white shields on their helmets.
Fire Fighters (also called privates) fill out the rest of the fire suppression/fire fighting force. Each Fire Fighter must graduate the Massachusetts Fire Fighting Academy, be certified Medical First Responder (although many are E.M.T.s and some are even Paramedics) and maintain cardiac defibrillation certifications.