Senator Timilty Tours Southeast Fire Training Academy
(Bridgewater, MA) – State Senator Walter F. Timilty (D-Milton), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, attended a briefing and tour provided by the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services, recently, at the Southeast Fire Academy in Bridgewater.
“One aspect of our job as legislators is to support other branches of government, such as the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services. This in-person experience is important for the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security to both fully understand and appreciate the extent of the fire services operation,” said Timilty.
Timilty, along with fellow committee members, fire chiefs, and firefighters from surrounding towns, including Milton, Stoughton, Easton, and Bridgewater, gathered to observe firefighter recruits perform rescue drills. In addition, a demonstration was held showing the prowess of accelerant-detection K9 teams from the State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit and other departments, including Northeastern University Police.
“This was an excellent opportunity to see how this site was successfully transformed from the Massachusetts Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center into the new Southeast Fire Academy,” said Timilty, whose legislative district includes communities in Norfolk, Bristol, and Plymouth counties.
Work to reconfigure this campus into a Department of Fire Services facility began in 2019, graduating its first class of recruits in March 2020. The new search and rescue building opened in August 2022. The $1.7 million building was funded in part with a FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant award. The structure stands four stories tall at its highest point with a footprint of 1,760 square feet, making it the biggest and boldest addition yet to a growing facility that had once been a vacant Department of Correction site.
The multi-story structure provides both a “clean” side for search and rescue activities and a “burn” side for firefighting activities. The prop is designed to provide firefighters and tech rescue with hands-on experience on how to respond to emergency situations during a life/safety event. Training conditions include collapsed floors and walls, racked windows, pitched roofs, as well as balcony and manhole rescue. Anchors mounted to the roof allow firefighters to rappel down the side of the structure. Moveable interior walls allow for flexibility in setting up different search and rescue scenarios. Once set on fire, the interior of the burn side of the structure will reach temperatures of 900 degrees Fahrenheit.
An important aspect of this Bridgewater location is its proximity to the communities in the Southeast region. Previously, new recruits had to travel to training facilities in either Stow, MA, or Springfield, MA, which are both at least an hour, or more, away.
“This site is a perfect repurposed piece of property being utilized by our firefighters. This prevents recruits from the Southeast region from having to commute across the state to complete their training programs,” Timilty said.
Buildings from the former treatment center have been repurposed as classroom, office, and storage space. Since the academy opened in Bridgewater, there have been 22 graduating classes. The graduates come from Bristol, Norfolk, and Plymouth counties, as well as Cape Cod.
“This puts our full services within reach of our six southeastern counties,” said State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey.
Timilty co-chairs the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security with State Representative Carlos Gonzales.