Top News

Amherst adopts new management policy for fire department

AMHERST – A new policy for the management of the Amherst Fire Department adopted by Amherst town council will bring the department in line with how fire services operate in the 21st century, says the town’s fire chief.
The council approved the second reading on Oct. 23 of a bylaw that repealed a bylaw respecting the management of the department that was originally approved by council on Dec. 8, 1986, and amended on Sept. 8, 1992.
The repealed bylaw was no longer relevant to the current management of the fire department, which is comprised of volunteer and full-time firefighters. Following its repeal, council adopted a policy respecting the volunteer component of the department.
When the original bylaw was first developed in 1971, it was based on a department that was staffed entirely by volunteers, Fire Chief Greg Jones said.
“We now have a paid chief and eight full-time firefighters. The old bylaw didn’t take that into consideration,” Jones said.
The paid firefighters also weren’t taken into account when the bylaw was last updated in 1992. The review of that bylaw began four years ago and culminated on Oct. 23 with Amherst town council’s repeal of the bylaw and approval of a new management policy.
“When we went over the 1992 bylaw we found many inconsistencies,” Jones said. “For instance the definition of what was required to be a member was inadequate. It didn’t define what a firefighter had to do to become a member or to remain a member. The new policy does.”
The repealed bylaw also didn’t take into account the evolution of the fire service.
“Back then it only said that firefighters only had to fight fires. But, we do so much more today. Not only do we fight fires, but we respond to hazardous material situations, car accidents and we also do things like fire inspections,” Jones said. “The new policy now reflects that we do those things.”
The new policy also includes a code of ethics that firefighters must follow as well as sections on how firefighters can be promoted or demoted.
“The new policy brings everyone in the department onto a level playing field and brings the management of the volunteer component of the department into modern times,” Jones said.
The fire department has 55 members, including the nine paid firefighters. It is equipped with nine pieces of apparatus including a pumper, hazmat vehicle and ladder truck. It also has a restored antique fire truck and a fire prevention vehicle.

Recent Stories