Frequently Asked Questions

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Why do you send a fire engine when I called for an ambulance?


Additional staff on a fire engine provides supervision and in some cases, it is necessary to have extra trained personnel to assist in moving stretches through buildings, particularly when stairways or slippery conditions are encountered. It is also necessary to have more than two people perform certain treatments such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation while moving a patient. At traffic accidents the fire department personnel assist in keeping the area safe if there are fuel spills, and help in extricating the person from the wreckage.


Why do I need to get a smoke detector inspection and where do I place them?


According to Massachusetts State Law (Chap.148 Sec. 26F) all buildings or structures occupied in whole or in part for residential purposes upon the sale or transfer, shall be equipped by the seller with approved smoke detectors/ MGL Chap.148 Sec. 26F. An operating smoke detector on every habitable level, including the basement. Finished attic spaces also need smoke detector coverage. In homes with floor space exceeding 1,200 square feet per floor, a second detector will be required.


When does the new carbon monoxide detector become law?


Starting April 1, 2006, under Massachusetts State Law (Cap. 148 Sec.26F1/2), the same parameters for smoke detectors applies for carbon monoxide detectors as well.


Do I have to remove my underground home heating oil tank?


No. Current state law does not require removing an underground storage tank for home heating oil. Tanks must have to be removed if they have been identified as leaking or if they are no longer in use. The oil can only be used for heating the building and domestic hot water. If the tank supplies fuel for other equipment such as an emergency generator, other guidelines become effective. However, if you are selling your home, a new buyer will find it difficult to obtain a mortgage on the property if an underground storage tank is present.


What can I do with my old propane tanks for the barbecue grill? Will the town’s rubbish removal contractor take them?


NO! The propane cylinders still have product in them and should be disposed of properly. Usually, wherever you get your propane tank filled will take your old tank for a fee.


Who was St. Florian?


Florian was born 250A.D. in Centium (now in Austria). He joined the Roman army and advanced in the ranks. However, the Emperor Diocletian was shocked to learn Florian did not carry out his orders to persecute all Christians in the area, and, thus, was sentenced to death by fire. Standing on the funeral pyre, Florian reputed to have challenged the Roman soldiers to light the fire, saying “If you do, I will climb to heaven on the flames.” Apprehensive to his words, instead of burning Florian, they drowned him. His body was recovered and buried.


About 600 years later, sometime between 900-955, a monastery was erected near Florian’s tomb, and subsequently the village of St. Florian grew up around it.


St. Florian was adopted as patron saint of Poland after Pope Lucius III consented to the request of King Casimir to send relics of Florian to that country. Soon after, a person was saved from fire by invoking St. Florian’s name. Since then, Florian has been invoked against fire and has generally been regarded in most countries as the patron saint of the fire service.


Why is the Maltese Cross the symbol for the fire service?


The insignia of the fire service is the Cross Pattee-Nowy, otherwise known as the Maltese Cross. The cross represents the fire service ideals of saving lives and extinguishing fires.


The fire service borrows the emblem of the cross from the Knight of St. John of Jerusalem (Knight Hospitallers), a charitable, non-military organization that existed during the 11th and 12th centuries that helped the sick and poor in setting up hospices and hospitals. Later, they assisted the Knights of the Crusades through their goodwill and also through military assistance in an effort to the Island of Malta, the island for which the Maltese Cross was named.


The need for an identifiable emblem for the Knights had become crucial. Because of the extensive armor, which covered their entire bodies and faces, the Knights were unable to distinguish friend from foe in battle. They chose the Cross of Calvary as their symbol, since they fought battles as a holy cause. The cross was later called the “Maltese Cross” and represented the principles of charity, loyalty, chivalry, gallantry, generosity to friend and foe, protection of the weak, and dexterity in service.


During the Crusades, many Knights became firefighters out of necessity. Their enemies had resorted to throwing glass bombs containing naptha and sailing their war vessels containing naptha, rosin, sulfur, and flaming oil into the vessels of the Knights. Many nights were called to perform heroic deeds by rescuing fellow Knights and extinguishing fires. In acknowledgement of these feats, the cross-worn by these Knights was decorated and inscribed. This was considered a most honorable acclaim.


What are the words to the Fireman’s Prayer?


When I am called to duty, God, whenever flames may rage,

Give me strength to save some life, whatever be its age.

Help me embrace a little child before it is too late,

Or save an older person from the horror of that fate.

Enable me to be alert and hear the weakest shout,

And quickly and efficiently to put the fire out.

I want to fill my calling and to give the best in me,

To guard my every neighbor and protect his property.

And if, according to my fate, I am to lose my life,

Please bless with your protecting hand my children and my wife.


Author Unknown


Why are Dalmatians considered firehouse dogs?


Dalmatians have shared the bans and the hunt courses with horses for centuries, so when fire-apparatus was horse drawn, nearly every firehouse had its resident Dalmatian to help direct the horses, keep the horses company, and guard the firehouse.


The horses are gone from fire stations today, but the Dalmatians aren’t!


Firehouse dogs nearly always were called “Sparky” so Sparky was the obvious name for NFPA’s fire prevention symbol.


What is The Fire Triangle?


In order to have a fire, there must be three elements:


  • Fuel     Something which will burn
  • Heat    Enough to make fuel burn
  • Air      More specifically, oxygen       


Usually these three elements are expressed as a triangle, called The Fire Triangle. All three elements must be present at the same time to have a fire. Fire will burn until one or more of these elements is removed, then will go out.