The Berkshire Fire Commissioners are facing some critical issues with providing fire protection to our residents. We want all residents to be informed about these issues. We welcome any constructive ideas for solutions to these challenges.
We have a few very dedicated firefighters. There are not enough of them to safely fight a fire. Many times the Chief has to help fight the fire instead of commanding the scene. This creates multiple safety issues. He needs to know what every person at the fire is doing and coordinate the proper use of people and equipment. If the building requires someone to enter to either search for a person or fight the fire, we do not have enough qualified firefighters.
There should be at least six Interior firefighters. No one is to enter alone. They must work in pairs. There must be two outside and geared up (fully dressed) to enter immediately in case of an emergency. The other two are there for backup. The Fire Chief is totally responsible for these people.
The 1979 tanker truck is out of service. We had a fire truck specialist check it over and the repairs are far more than the value of the truck. We have established a committee to explore the replacement of the tanker. The committee will be meeting soon.
Fire trucks are expensive pieces of complicated equipment. It takes hours of training and practice to operate one efficiently. Our fleet currently consists of four, and one ambulance. All of these need an operator to be used at a fire and firefighters to man the hoses and equipment to control a fire. There needs to be a safety officer to assist the chief in knowing what and where each firefighter is.
Our challenge as fire commissioners is to provide fire protection for the residents of the district. It is becoming increasingly difficult to do that with the resources we have. We have a core of very good people, but they have jobs and families. This means they are not always available. Fires and emergencies don’t happen on a schedule. We work with our neighboring fire companies, but that can delay response times.
We have instructed our firefighters to take advantage of neighboring training sessions; this is so they are all trained and they all understand what is expected of each other at a fire scene. This also helps with the cost of training.
Please; find some time to support your Fire Service. You do not have to be a firefighter. There are many other ways you can help. Working with the firefighters when doing maintenance on the trucks and the station is a big help. They all put in many hours beyond fighting a fire. If they had some help doing routine tasks, they would get to spend more time with their families, hobbies etc. The board of fire commissioners also has an opening.
In order to provide the fire protection needed for Berkshire, we need help. If we cannot get and keep the staff needed to continue the way we have operated, we will be forced to look at other alternatives to provide fire protection.
If you are interested in helping, stop by the station. Fire Company Meetings are the first Tuesday of the month. Commissioner meetings are the fourth Wednesday of the month.
Jim Simmons, Fire Commissioner, on behalf of the Berkshire Fire Commissioners