Verizon storage yard fire prompts new agreement

Tisbury Fire Chief John Schilling explained to a Global Industrial Services foreman that a fire that broke out Sunday morning was not restricted to trash. — Photo by Nelson Sigelman

Tisbury fire chief John Schilling said Verizon representatives have been extremely cooperative in the aftermath of a fire on Sunday in a storage area behind the Verizon building off Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road. As a result, he said, he will issue a warning and not a citation to the company for the illegal trash burn.

Tisbury firefighters turned out at about 11 am Sunday to extinguish a fire in a pile of brush, fence timbers, and debris. With winds gusting past 30 mph, it was no day to be burning anything outdoors. Quick work by firefighters kept the blaze from spreading to nearby pines and woods and contained it in the Verizon work yard.

Chief Schilling, visibly irritated, told The Times at the scene that flames were leaping 10 to 15 feet high when he arrived. “This could have been much, much worse,” he said.

Mr. Schilling said that Simonio Cordeiro Albino, an employee for Global Industrial Services (GIS), a Verizon cleaning company subcontractor, told him that his boss in Boston instructed him to burn the debris.

Mr. Albino, who enlisted a friend to translate his Portuguese into English, later told police that when he arrived to take out the trash he saw the debris smoldering and he attempted to put it out with a bucket of water.

Mr. Schilling told The Times that the burn season ended on May 1 and there was no permit issued. “This was done without any forethought for the safety of anybody in the immediate area,” he said.

Chief Schilling contacted a GIS foreman who said he understood it was burning trash. In strong terms, Mr. Schilling explained it was not trash. “We were moments away from a conflagration,” he told the man on the other end of the phone line. Mr. Schilling insisted that a company representative meet with him to discuss the fire.

In a telephone call Wednesday, Mr. Schilling said that a Verizon representative contacted him immediately Monday morning and offered full cooperation. The work yard was subsequently cleaned up this week, he said, and he now has emergency contact information and keys to gate locks that were previously lacking. Verizon also assured him that yard deficiencies spotted during an inspection would be corrected.

“All in all we’re very fortunate that good came out of it,” the chief said.

Phil Santoro of Verizon Media Relations in a statement emailed to The Times Wednesday said, “We have worked with our facilities vendor to completely clean out the debris and restore the grounds. We take pride in the condition and safety of all our Verizon facilities and properties. We had a good meeting with Chief Schilling yesterday and are working together to prevent similar incidents in the future.”