The Pittsfield Fire Department, like most fire departments, is known for its Fire Suppression Division. But the Pittsfield Fire Department, as a whole, includes other important divisions. The other divisions are Fire Prevention, Fire Investigation, Hazardous Materials Response, Technical Rescue, Training and Fleet Maintenance.
Fire Suppression Division
The primary role of the Fire Suppression Division is to provide trained personnel, in a timely manner, to respond, utilizing the equipment provided, to calls for assistance from the citizens of our community. The Fire Suppression Division encompasses any activities related to the suppression and extinguishment of any type of fire. Our top priority is always protecting life and getting people out to safety. Next is protecting property, which can involve protecting exposures to prevent fire spread, containing fires to small areas and finally extinguishing the fire.
Fire Prevention Division
Perhaps more important than firefighting itself is fire prevention. The Fire Prevention Division enforces all requirements of M.G.L. Chapter 148, CMR 527, all adopted city fire codes and ordinances and administers all permits and licenses along with the necessary inspections to issue the same. The inspectors review and approve all fire protection documents in addition to witnessing a satisfactory functional test of all fire protection systems prior to the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy. All commercial or multiple-dwelling buildings are inspected at regular intervals, and orders are issued for the correction of violations of fire laws. If necessary, court action is taken to compel compliance. In addition, the Fire Prevention Division directs fire prevention activities and provides public safety awareness education in the identification and protection of common risks from fire and other potential hazards.
Fire Investigation Division
The primary purpose of the Fire Investigation Division is to determine fire origin and cause, whether accidental or incendiary, in order to lessen injuries and death to civilians and firefighters and to reduce property loss. The Fire Investigation Division responsibilities include the fire scene investigation and follow up procedures to determine cause and origin. If the incident is determined to be arson, the Division’s goal is to work with local law enforcement agencies and complete a thorough investigation. Each member of the Fire Investigation Division is a highly-skilled, aggressive investigator who actively pursues people who engage in starting fires and furthermore, identifies products that have caused fires with the objective of preventing injuries and property damage.
Each investigator has undergone countless hours of training in basic and advanced fire investigation through the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services and the State Fire Marshal’s Office. The training covers various areas of fire investigation such as cause and origin, interviews, forensic photography, and evidence collection and preservation.
Hazardous Materials Response Division
The Hazardous Materials Response Division was formed to protect the public health and the environment from accidental releases and improper handling, storage, transportation, and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes. Hazardous materials exist in households, businesses, industrial services, and in transit over our railroads and roadways. When used properly, hazardous materials serve a purpose and are safe in society. In contrast, accidents, spills, leaks or criminal activity involving hazardous materials (chemical, nuclear, radioactive, biological, incendiary/explosive) can pose a significant threat to humans, animals, and the environment.
The Hazardous Materials Response Division identifies unknown substances, assesses threats, coordinates multi-agency responses and mitigates spills and releases. The teams provide remediation and oversight to ensure safe and immediate recovery of the affected properties, declaring properties safe for re-occupancy and identifying parties responsible for cleanup costs. The Hazardous Materials Response Division also permits and inspects hazardous material handling and hazardous waste-generating businesses to ensure compliance with federal, state and local laws and regulations. They apply their education, training, and experience in chemistry, manufacturing processes and industrial hygiene to identify and assess the use and storage of hazardous materials. They also oversee the proper handling, treatment, transportation and disposal of hazardous wastes generated by many industries. These inspections ensure compliance with applicable laws or regulations and assist businesses through pollution prevention and waste reduction.
Technical Rescue Division
The Technical Rescue Division provides specialty rescue services to the citizens of Pittsfield with appropriate equipment and special tactics and techniques. These rescue services include confined space incidents, trench or excavation collapses, high or low-angle rope rescues, structural collapses, or transportation or industrial accidents involving heavy vehicles or equipment beyond the scope of a typical fire company's capabilities as well as water rescue. Each member has received advanced rescue training to respond to emergencies involving above ground (high-rise, water tank), below ground (trench, tunnel), confined space (vaults, storage tanks) and structural collapse rescues.
The Technical Rescue Division also operates rescue vehicles that are equipped with a complete set of heavy hydraulic equipment known as "The Jaws of Life". These tools enable firefighters to spread, pull, and cut metal to free trapped victims of vehicle collisions. In addition, power saws, air tools, cable hoists, glass cutters, assorted hand tools, and air bags are also used to extricate and rescue victims.
The Training Division is a very important component of department operations. Properly trained, a fire department can control and contain almost any situation with minimal damage and loss of life. Training in fire tactics is important; however, a firefighter must be trained in many other areas in order to control the situations that are encountered in day-to-day operations. For example, constantly being updated in medical procedures, hazardous materials response and bio terrorism, the list goes on and on.
Fleet Maintenance Division
The Fleet Maintenance Division is responsible for the specifications, procurement, inspection, assignment, disposal and maintenance of all fire apparatus and fire equipment. The Division’s main objective is to keep all fire engines, ladder trucks, and paramedic units in response ready condition.
The Fleet Maintenance Division operates a full service facility for the repair and maintenance of all fire engines, ladder trucks, support vehicles and equipment assigned to the Pittsfield Fire Department. The Division is responsible for pump repairs, brake repairs, suspension and axle repairs, air condition repairs, electric repairs and tire service on all PFD apparatus. The Division also repairs and maintains the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), damaged fire hoses, as well as small engines such as lawn equipment, extrication tools, generators, chain saws, etc.