Belmont Fire Praised for Action At Waltham ‘Epic’ Fire

Photo: At the Waltham fire; Lt Gerry Benoit (E1), Asst Chief Wayne Haley (C2), and FF Brian O’Neill (E1 Hydrant). (Photo Credit – Lt Rob Wollner)

Belmont Fire Chief David Frizzell described the inferno his department help fight in Waltham last month was simply “epic.”

“You don’t see many of those during your career,” Frizzell said describing the 10-alarm fire on July 23  that ripped through a five building, a 260-unit luxury apartment complex under construction on Cooper Street. 

But in the past nine months, Belmont firefighters have now fought a pair of 10-alarm fires, the other occurring in December when a massive fire engulfed eight buildings in East Cambridge, destroying a city block.

“We joke about ‘over the river and through the woods’ because this fire was on the other side of the Charles River. We laid every stitch of hose we had on the truck, and we went over a bridge and through the woods to get to the back door,” said Frizzell.

An “alarm,” as in a “one alarm fire,” is different in each municipality said Frizzell; in Belmont, it would be two engines, a ladder truck, rescue team and the shift commander that make up a single alarm. In larger communities, it’s four to five engines, upwards to a pair of ladder trucks and fire rescue.

Belmont’s fast response and time spent at the fire was recognized this week by Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy in a proclamation, noting Belmont Fire’s “quick response and quality decision making” was critical in “preventing the fire from spreading, and causing further damage and possible injuries or fatalities.” 

The Belmont personnel who responded included:

  • Asst. Chief Wayne Haley
  • Lt. Gerard Benoit 
  • FF Chris Drinan
  • FF Brian O’Neill
  • Chief David Frizzell
  • Lt. Michael Madruga
  • FF Ace Elefteriadis
  • FF Ryan Keene

On Thursday, Aug. 10, the fire was determined to be arson and a $100,000 reward is being offered by the property owner and contractor for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible.

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