Safety/Special Operations Unit

The Safety/Special Operations Unit of the Boston Fire Department (radio call sign, H-1) is a sub-section of the Training, Maintenance and Research Division. Under the administration of the Deputy Fire Chief of Training there are four District Fire Chiefs and four Firefighters/Aides to the District Chief assigned to the Safety Unit. One District Fire Chief and Aide are assigned to each working group providing 24 hour/365 day/year coverage for the respective positions. The Safety Program of the Boston Fire Department is guided by various Fire Service standards including NFPA 471, 1500 and 1521 among others.

The District Fire Chiefs presently assigned to the Safety/Special Operations Unit are:

DFC Michael G. Feely Group 1
DFC Michael C. Liotta Group 2
DFC Brian C. O'Donnell Group 3
DFC James R. Evans Group 4

The Safety Operational Unit responds to all:

  • working fires (see notes) and multiple alarms

  • box alarms for a report of fire in high rise buildings or special occupancies (hospitals, large nursing homes etc.)

  • incidents involving electrical sub-stations and manholes

  • major airport incidents as well as all incidents involving ships at dock or in the harbor

  • incidents where the BFD SCUBA team has been activated

  • haz-mat (hazardous material) incidents level 2 and above

  • trench and tunnel incidents including subway and traffic tunnels and all tunnels under construction

  • technical rescue incidents (high angle, elevator entanglement, confined space, etc.).

The Safety Chief must respond to, investigate and report on all vehicle accidents involving any department vehicle. In addition, they investigate all in-house injuries sustained by both uniformed and civilian personnel as well as all accidents or injuries sustained by citizens while on department property.

H1_HighriseThe Safety Unit also participates in a program of identifying unsafe structures within the city where all pertinent information is entered into the CAD (computer aided dispatch) system and all structures are posted with appropriate placards. At various times, members of the Safety Unit are given special assignments by the BFD Command Staff and work on these safety related tasks as time permits.

At small incidents, the Incident Commander (IC) is solely responsible for scene safety. At larger, more complex incidents, the Safety Chief assists the IC by overseeing this important fireground responsibility. The Safety Chief has emergency authority to stop and/or prevent unsafe acts and notifies the IC of any actions taken. At structure fires, the Safety Chief examines the structure for signs of weakness or other hazards. In consultation with and under the direction of the IC, the Safety Unit establishes and maintains collapse zones when necessary. The Safety Chief monitors the water supply and investigates water supply problems. They also oversee the timely relief and rehabilitation of department members. At haz-mat incidents the Safety Unit supervises decontamination, communications with the entry and decon teams and maintains a record of the time all team members are "under air."

Contact Information:

Boston Fire Department
Safety/Special Operations
115 Southampton Street
Boston, MA 02118