Pancakes and Protection: February Fire Beat

Photo courtesy of Lowell Area Fire Department

We are debuting a new column and a new writer today to provide regular updates on the Lowell Area Fire Department.

With the immense popularity of First Look’s Police Beat articles, I thought it might be a good idea to do a similar recap of what the Lowell Area Fire Department is up to.

I sat down with Fire Chief Shannon Witherell last week and got the recap of department activities and calls from February.

In the 28-day month, firefighters ran 90 calls. This equates to 3.2 incidents per day. These included:

  • 59 medical emergencies
  • 7 building or chimney fires or unauthorized burns
  • 6 vehicle accidents

The rest included calls for wires down, fire alarms and various other public and EMS assists.

The Fire Department’s newly formed Honor Guard also presented the department’s colors during the funeral for a neighboring department’s captain.

In staffing news, the department promoted Captain Sean Donahue to Battalion Chief, making him the first Battalion Chief in the department’s history. Long-time Firefighter Jim Oswald will also be retiring from the department at the end of March, wrapping up 19 years of dedicated service to the community. A celebration for “Ozzie” will be held at the Fire Station on Friday, March 31, from 6-8pm and all are welcome to come and see him off!

Firefighter Oswald with Little — now big — Chief.

The fire department’s two monthly trainings covered the topics of Hazmat and Incident Command. The department’s extensive training program totaled 442 man hours.

The department’s newest truck was also placed in service last month in an official dedication ceremony. Engine one, dedicated to retired Chief Frank Martin, was officially “pushed in” and set to respond.

Fire Chief Shannon Witherell (l) with former Fire Chief Frank Martin (r).

Chief Witherell also wanted to invite everybody to attend the department’s pancake breakfast fundraiser on Saturday, March 25, from 7-11am at the fire station. They will be serving pancakes, eggs, sausage and beverages to fill everyone’s stomach before they attend the Lowell Expo at the high school. The only cost for breakfast is a donation.

Funds raised will go towards the purchase of new thermal imaging cameras for the new engine. These cameras are invaluable to fighting fire and reading temperatures. They also measure body temperature so they can be used in the event of a search for a missing person. Any additional funds raised will be used to outfit and upgrade the Honor Guard.

The Lowell Area Fire and Emergency Services Authority — the board that oversees the Fire Chief, equipment and department budget — meets on the second Thursday of each month. These meetings are held at 7pm at the fire station and open to all.

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