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Amesbury Fire Department Responds to Fire at Nursing Home


Amesbury Fire Rescue Department
Kenneth E. Berkenbush, Chief
17 School Street
Amesbury, MA 01913

For Immediate Release

Friday, April 13, 2018

Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Phone: 617-993-0003
Email: [email protected]

Amesbury Fire Department Responds to Fire at Nursing Home

AMESBURY — The extensive and pervasive fire and EMS mutual aid network in this region was on full display Friday morning as dozens of residents at the Merrimack Valley Health Center nursing home had to be relocated after a fire broke out at the facility.

Amesbury Fire Chief Kenneth E. Berkenbush is today praising the facility’s staff, firefighters from 11 departments in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Amesbury Police, Atlantic Ambulance and Northeast Emergency Medical Services Massachusetts Region III for their immediate response to the fire.

The Amesbury Fire Department, along with 10 additional departments in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, responded to the Merrimack Valley Health Center nursing home this morning for a fire. (Courtesy Photo)

The Amesbury Fire Department, along with 10 additional departments in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, responded to the Merrimack Valley Health Center nursing home this morning for a fire. (Courtesy Photo)

At 9:39 a.m., the Amesbury Fire Department responded to a 911 call and fire alarm activation from 22 Maple St. The first arriving firefighters observed a moderate smoke condition on the first floor of the east side of the building. Amesbury Fire subsequently struck a box alarm, which calls in off-duty firefighters and initiates the mutual aid process.

Chief Berkenbush, working in close collaboration with health center staff and Northeast EMS Region 3 Executive Director Jonathan Brickett, initiated a shelter in place of all 105 residents, moving everyone to the west side of the building, which is separated from the east side by a fire wall and fire doors. A complete evacuation of the building would have been unsafe given the lack of mobility experience by many of the facility’s residents and the facility’s location at the top of a steep hill.

Firefighters subsequently struck a second and third alarm simultaneously in order to make mutual aid available to facilitate the shelter in place process and assist in firefighting efforts. Multiple ambulances were called to the scene as a precaution, and nearby hospitals were ordered to stand by. However, no injuries were reported.

A preliminary investigation revealed that a fan connected to the HVAC system on the first floor malfunctioned and began to burn insulation. The fire was extinguished using dry chemical fire extinguishers, and the building did not suffer any structural damage. Firefighters remained on scene after the flames were put down in order to ventilate the building.

Due to the loss of electrical power, firefighters used a special stretcher to bring one patient down two flights of stairs in order for them to make it to a dialysis appointment off-site.

Mutual aid was provided by fire departments in Salisbury, West Newbury, Merrimac and Newburyport from Massachusetts, as well as Kingston, East Kingston, Exeter, South Hampton, Seabrook and Brentwood from New Hampshire. Atlantic Ambulance also provided assistance.

“This was a smooth, well-coordinated response that would not have been possible without the highly cooperative effort by numerous departments and agencies,” Chief Berkenbush said. “The mutual aid network we share with all of our surrounding communities helped ensure that everyone remained calm and avoided injury during this incident and I want to thank them for their consistent support.”

The fire is under investigation by the Amesbury Fire Department and the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal’s Office.



Prepare Your Property for a Hurricane

The following is a release from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency:

Prepare Your Home and Boat Before the Next Storm

FRAMINGHAM, MA – During hurricane season, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is reminding residents of steps they can take to protect their homes and boats from the damaging winds, torrential rainfall, and flooding that hurricanes or tropical storms can bring.

“There are many steps residents can take before a storm threatens to make our homes and boats more storm resistant,” said MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz. “Planning and pre-storm preparation can reduce injuries and property damage from tropical storms and hurricanes.”

Prepare Your Home for the Hazards of a Tropical Storm or Hurricane
Damaging winds and flooding from hurricanes and tropical storms can damage your home.

  • Learn whether your home is at risk of flooding during a tropical storm or hurricane by determining if your home is in a pre-designated hurricane evacuation zone (see Know Your Zone) and reviewing the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) flood maps.
  • If your home is at risk of flooding during a tropical storm or hurricane, make sure that your furnace, water heater, electric panel and other mechanical components are high enough off the floors to ensure that they are not damaged by flood waters.
  • Clear clogged rain gutters to allow water to flow away from your home.
  • Elevate items stored in the basement to minimize damage from basement flooding.
  • If the basement or lower level of your property are prone to flooding, buy and install sump pumps with back-up power supplies. If you already have a sump pump, check regularly to make sure it is functioning properly.
  • Consider installing check valves in sewer traps to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains in your home.
  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches around your home.
  • If you don’t have storm shutters, make temporary plywood covers for windows and glass doors and store them in a readily accessible place.
  • If you live in a coastal community, review the Homeowners Handbook to Prepare for Coastal Hazards.
  • Prepare for possible power outages:
    • Ensure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working and have fresh batteries.
    • Consider purchasing a generator to provide back-up power. Follow manufacturer’s instructions and know how to use it safely before an outage.

Protect Your Property with Insurance
Property insurance can provide you with coverage in case your home or possessions are damaged during an emergency or disaster.

  • Review your insurance policies to see if you have adequate coverage. If you are not sure you have enough coverage, talk to your agent or company.
  • Flood losses typically are not covered under renter and homeowner’s insurance, so consider purchasing flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Plan (NFIP). Flood insurance is available whether or not your building is in an identified flood-prone area, and can be purchased through insurance agents in most communities. There is a 30-day waiting period before it takes effect.
  • Maintain a current written inventory of your possessions. Back up your inventory by videotaping or photographing each room in your house.
  • Keep insurance policies, your household inventory and other important papers together in a safe and secure place. Consider sending copies of these documents to a trusted friend or family member living outside your area, or storing copies at your place of work.

Protect Your Property with Insurance
Boat owners in Massachusetts can reduce the risk or extent of storm damage to their boats:

  • Monitor the weather forecast for your boating area.
  • Have an emergency plan that includes how, when and where you will move your boat prior to a tropical storm or hurricane to ensure its safety.
  • Take photos or videos of your boat and all valuable items in and on your boat. Store these records in a safe place
  • Review the boat’s insurance policy to determine your coverage and liability.
  • Keep important paperwork in a secure place away from the boat. This can include insurance policies, boat registrations, a recent photograph and description of the vessel, gear inventory, marina or storage lease agreements, and important telephone numbers.
  • Discuss storm plans with your harbormaster or local marina to learn about procedures and resources before a storm approaches.

For more information, see MEMA’s Hurricane Safety webpage.

About MEMA

MEMA is the state agency charged with ensuring the state is prepared to withstand, respond to, and recover from all types of emergencies and disasters, including natural hazards, accidents, deliberate attacks, and technological and infrastructure failures. MEMA’s staff of professional planners, communications specialists and operations and support personnel is committed to an all hazards approach to emergency management. By building and sustaining effective partnerships with federal, state and local government agencies, and with the private sector – individuals, families, non-profits and businesses – MEMA ensures the Commonwealth’s ability to rapidly recover from large and small disasters by assessing and mitigating threats and hazards, enhancing preparedness, ensuring effective response, and strengthening our capacity to rebuild and recover. For additional information about MEMA and Emergency Preparedness, go to

Continue to follow MEMA updates on Twitter at; Facebook at; YouTube at

Massachusetts Alerts: to receive emergency information on your smartphone, including severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service and emergency information from MEMA, download the free Massachusetts Alerts app. To learn more about Massachusetts Alerts, and for information on how to download the free app onto your smartphone, visit:


HMCC Region 3 Program Manager Named as Center for Domestic Preparedness Instructor

The HMCC Region 3 is pleased to announce that Program Manager Mark Munroe has been named as an instructor at the Center for Domestic Preparedness (FEMA) in Anniston, Alabama. Munroe, who has been an instructor for 30 years, has taught around the world including Saudi Arabia. He has attended courses at CDP in the past and will be teaching Incident Command and Haz-Mat. Congratulations, Mark!


HMCC Region 3 Program Manager Mark Munroe Attends Homeland Security Training

The following is a press release from the Center for Domestic Preparedness:

Emergency Responder Mark T. Munroe, from Mass Region 3 Health & Medical Coordinating Coalition, recently completed training offered by the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP), in Anniston, Ala. The CDP is operated by the United States Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency and is the only federally-chartered Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) training facility in the nation.

The CDP develops and delivers advanced training for emergency response providers, emergency managers, and other government officials from state, local, and tribal governments. The CDP offers more than 40 training courses focusing on incident management, mass casualty response, and emergency response to a catastrophic natural disaster or terrorist act. Training at the CDP campus is federally funded at no cost to state, local, and tribal emergency response professionals or their agency.

Resident training at the CDP includes healthcare and public health courses at the Noble Training Facility, the nation’s only hospital dedicated to training healthcare professionals in disaster preparedness and response.

A number of resident training courses culminate at the CDP’s Chemical, Ordnance, Biological and Radiological (COBRA) Training Facility. The COBRA is the nation’s only facility featuring civilian training exercises in a true toxic environment using chemical agents. The advanced hands-on training enables responders to effectively prevent, respond to, and recover from real-world incidents involving acts of terrorism and other hazardous materials.

Responders participating in CDP training gain critical skills and confidence to respond effectively to local incidents or potential WMD events.

Information about CDP training programs can be found at Visit the “News & Media” tab at the top of the site to download images, share CDP training articles, and find out what others are saying about CDP training. For more information about the CDP, contact the CDP External Affairs Office, at (256) 847-2212/2316 or e-mail [email protected]


FEMA’s mission is to support its citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.