How Fire Safety Has Changed

Town Growth
Over the years many changes have occurred within and to the town. During the 50 years spanning 1950 to 2000, the town grew from a bucolic 10,594 to over 31,000 today. This growth brought with it a need for new schools, which is not yet satisfied even today. Hundreds of new roads were laid and now require attention from the Highway Department. A source of new water is always being sought. Demands for sewerage pushed the town out of the sewage treatment plant at Ward Hill and into a regional agreement with a plant in Westborough. During the past 10 years, the number of housing starts has averaged over 225 per year.

The Police Department was doubled up with the Fire Department in a building that at the time was not of sufficient size for either department individually. In 1974, the Police Department was afforded a new building adjacent to Town Hall. At the same time, the Fire Headquarters was remodeled to better serve the needs of the department.

Fire Department Size
The Fire department has operated from 5 to 8 vehicles over the past 20 years. The department maintained 2 brush fire trucks during a period when brush fires were serious matters that burned for days at a time.

Current Trucks
The apparatus compliment currently consists of:
  • 1 ladder truck
  • 1 pumper/engine per station
  • 1 pumper/rescue
  • 1 reserve engine set up as a brush fire truck
Sprinkler Systems
Sprinkler systems are considered a silent firefighter. Sprinklers detect small incipient fires and hold the fire down until the Fire Department can respond and completely extinguish the fire. Laws have been enacted requiring installation of sprinklers in new buildings over 7,500 square feet. Currently, laws are being promulgated to include all buildings over 7,500 square feet. This law will undoubtedly create a workload to bring compliance for the buildings currently in place that are not equipped with sprinklers.

Building Materials
Home building materials and products have changed from traditional wood to everything but. Plastics make up more than half of every house built today.

Petrochemical Plastics
Items built or made from petrochemical plastics of 1 form or another include:
  • Bath fixtures
  • Clothing
  • Decks
  • Home furnishings
  • Passage doors
  • Piping
The burn rates of these materials are 10 times greater than the burn rate of wood.