On December 13, 1992 firefighters were called to 185-187 Pine Street around 4:30 A.M. for a reported building fire. The wind swept flames spread to 183 Pine Street, only 8 feet away. Due to winds conditions and recent snowfall three alarms were quickly transmitted. The inner city again was plagued by a series of arson fires.
On November 5, 1993 Manchester Fire Department faced its largest hazardous materials incident to date. At 4:35 A.M. a chemical fire struck the Baylis American Company at 195 South Beech Street causing the largest evacuation in city history. Extensive mutual aid was required to supply the 1000 gallons of foam and countless air cylinders needed for the 12-hour battle. Through extensive training and pre-planning this incident was terminated successfully without any major injuries or exposure losses. Before the under control was transmitted the department responded to an additional dozen calls including simultaneous reports of a major gas leak on Bodwell Road and an airplane approaching Manchester Airport with landing gear trouble.
This year has seen the department respond to several large fires. An icy 3-alarm fire on Montgomery Street in March destroyed an apartment building. A fire in June escalated to three alarms as fire destroyed two apartment buildings displacing 20 people. Three days later a modern 24-unit apartment building went to 3 alarms within eight minutes. A major portion of the roof collapsed while many firefighters were operating in the interior. Miraculously, there were no injuries.The Department currently has 11 Engine Companies, 6 Ladder Companies, 2 forestry brush trucks,and a Rescue Company operating out of 10 stations. Staffing for an Engine is an officer and two firefighters, a Ladder truck has two firefighters, and the Rescue has an officer and 3 firefighters. The department also includes an Administrative office, Fire Prevention Bureau, Training Division, Equipment Maintenance Division, and Communications Division.
The department has a structured alarm response. Recall of all off duty personnel is ordered upon the transmission of a third alarm and for signal 555 for manpower. A full 1st alarm assignment for a straight box is transmitted for hospitals, high rise buildings, nursing homes, schools (when in session), and day care centers. A 1st alarm assignment is three engine companies, two truck companies, and the Rescue. All other master box, central office, dialer, and private alarms receive one engine and one ladder company.
The Manchester Fire Department currently responds to between 12,000 and 14,000 runs per year. The department faces a variety of building construction- from old mill buildings, high rises, typical "3 deckers", industrial and commercial buildings, to single family residences. Department training includes fire suppression, hazardous materials, rescue, building inspection, and emergency medical service. As the city is a participant in the host city program firefighters are trained in the decontamination of people evacuated from the area of the Seabrook Nuclear Powerplant.
Like other cities in the Northeastern part of the country, Manchester is plagued by financial budget cuts. Although some fire stations have temporarily closed on a shift to shift basis, thus far there have been no layoffs.
On August 22, 1994 Chief Robert DeCotis, submitted to the Board of Fire Commissioners, his intent to retire from the department effective October 1, 1994 after 29 1/4 years of dedicated service to the department and to the City of Manchester.
On October 5, 1994 Joseph Kane was appointed Chief of Department succeeding the retiring Chief Robert DeCotis. Frank Monnelly was promoted from Deputy Chief to Assistant Chief of the Department on November 20, 1994.
On February 18, 1995 two tenants were killed in a fast spreading fire at 333 Pine Street, located across the street from fire headquarters. Heavy fire was showing from the large rooming house when firefighters arrived to battle the early morning fire that took 4 alarms to control.