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  • Chelsea Mass. 1973

    We started an Inspector course tonight, and the instructor showed a film about Chelsea Mass. conflagration in 1973. Anyone know anything about this or remember it? 18 city blocks in 2 hours, 1,200 firefighters from 110 different departments, 3 days to extinguish, 1,100 residents displaced. Said that there were 326 buildings in the City and that 302 were condemed! I was amazed. And then 8 months later they had another similar incident. 2 city blocks involved. WOW!
    Anyone have any comments on it? Interested to hear from people who know about it.

    Stay safe,

    *Mark
    FTM-PTB-RFB-EGH

  • #2
    City of Chelsea is a small city located just outside the city of Boston, it Borders East Boston. It is 2.2 square miles with a population of roughly 30,000. If you have never been to the city, or have never driven past the city, the city has its share of very old triple deckers. They are all close together little to no fire stops. It is not uncommon for this city and others around it to get 2 triple deckers going at once. I do not know the exact details of the fire in 1973, but I figured I could give you a hand with the citys size and population.
    ** The opionions are mine and mine alone, they are not that of my dept or the local**

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    • #3
      Thanks! I looked up Chelsea on the internet last night. Found about the same demographics. But there was no mention in their history of the City or anything. Searching the web I could not find anything about the conflagration. Maybe I am searching in the wrong places.

      [ 11-08-2001: Message edited by: mark440 ]
      FTM-PTB-RFB-EGH

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      • #4
        If you want to know details about the fire, ask this guy. He has been around for a long long time, infact I would bet that he was even there.
        http://www.geocities.com/emba.geo/

        [ 11-08-2001: Message edited by: bfd1071 ]
        ** The opionions are mine and mine alone, they are not that of my dept or the local**

        Comment


        • #5
          I'd almost bet Leo Stapleton or Connie O'brien might be able to shed a little light on that blaze.T.C.

          Comment


          • #6
            The fire you saw the movie of took place in the Rag District of Chelsea. The fire required a response from as far as 30 miles away. The mutual aid system in the area is set up to allow each community to dispatch units out of town, while maintaining some in town to continue providing protection. Chelsea is part of Metrofire, whch has a website at massmetrofire.org. This might give you some insight.

            Other famous conflagrations in the area include the Lynn Conflagration of 1982 (?)and the Marstons Mills fire in Methuen Ma in 1999 (?).

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            • #7
              Thanks fellas!
              FTM-PTB-RFB-EGH

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              • #8
                A minor correction to Skip's post...

                The fire in Metheun was Malden Mills, which makes the synthetic fleece so popular today. Marston Mills is a village of the Town of Barnstable on Cape Cod, which is protected by what I am certain is the longest-named fire department in the U.S. -- Centerville, Osterville, & Marston Mills Fire Department or COMM for short!
                IACOJ Canine Officer
                20/50

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                • #9
                  The National Board of Fire Underwriters identified Chelsea, Mass as having a serious conflagration hazard in 1959.

                  The City repeatedly ignored the fire department’s concerns about inadequate water supply.

                  I saw a video on that fire a couple of weeks ago where they interviewed a former Chelsea firefighter who said that they were running 2300 fire calls a year (don’t know if it was his particular station or the whole department); that’s in a 2.2 square mile area.

                  The Chelsea fire was the first known use of “conflagration” on the radio.

                  To touch on something else Skip said about the mutual aid system, my understanding was that the first few departments that were called in sent everything they had, assuming that mutual aid companies would cover their districts. Of course, soon the companies covering other districts were pulled in and a large part of the area was unprotected at the time. Any basis to that? Or is that one reason the current system is set up?

                  The City of Chelsea got is some hot water in the late 80’s or early 90’s. Seems they had spent an awful lot of money that they didn’t have. The state took over the city government, appointing a person to oversee the city’s finances. Cut some firefighter’s jobs, among other things. Turns out the city’s leaders had a history of embezzling funds going back several decades. Many people went to jail. My understanding now is that things are a lot better.
                  Bryan Beall
                  Silver City, Oklahoma USA

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                  • #10
                    To touch on something else Skip said about the mutual aid system, my understanding was that the first few departments that were called in sent everything they had, assuming that mutual aid companies would cover their districts. Of course, soon the companies covering other districts were pulled in and a large part of the area was unprotected at the time. Any basis to that?

                    The problems encountered in Chelsea led to the creation of MetroFire in 1976. With MetroFire and it's wide-area mutual plan, the goal is no community ever drops below 2/3rds of it's normal staffing due to mutual aid requests. For most departments, the 1st & 2nd alarms are handled locally dispatch center to dispatch center. At the 3rd Alarm level, except in Boston, filling the Alarm becomes the responsibility of Newtown Fire Control under the auspices of MetroFire.


                    from www.massmetrofire.org

                    REV = Revere
                    BOS = Boston
                    EVE = Everett
                    WINT = Winthrop
                    MAL = Malden
                    SOM = Somerville
                    SAU = Saugus
                    MASSPT = MassPort (Logan Int'l Airport)
                    CAMB = Cambridge
                    WAKE = Wakefield (?)
                    STONE = Stoneham
                    BKLE = Brookline
                    BEL = Belmont
                    WINC = Winchester
                    LYN = Lynn (makes you wonder why the abbreviated it!)
                    NEW = Newton
                    MEL = Melrose
                    ARL = Arlington
                    WAL = Waltham
                    READ = Reading
                    WOB = Woburn
                    QUI = Quincy
                    LEX = Lexington (yes, of Shot heard around the world fame!)
                    WAT = Watertown
                    IACOJ Canine Officer
                    20/50

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                    • #11
                      Silver City, Dalmation....
                      Thanks that is good info. I appriciate it!
                      FTM-PTB-RFB-EGH

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