It was certainly long overdue, but the Amherst Fire Department finally has a new management policy in place that brings the department into the 21st century.
The changes reflect how a modern firefighting service now offers the community the variety of protective services and at a standard that has changed quite dramatically over the past 45 years. Unlike the fire department of the early 70s, which was exclusively volunteer, we now have both paid staff and volunteers working side by side. The department has grown to include a paid fire chief with eight paid employees along with close to 50 volunteers.
There are also increased demands on today’s fire service in terms of new equipment, new technology and more in depth training to deal with a variety of emergency situations. Fighting fires is only one component in the complex role of managing and administering a department. As Fire Chief Greg Jones pointed out in detailing some of the policy changes, their role has been expanded so that they are trained and ready to respond to hazardous material situations, natural disasters and vehicle crashes.
As well, the department is providing the community with fire inspections and fire prevention education. 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.
Communities across the country have seen increased costs each year for protective services, fire departments included, and some citizens will question if they are getting value for their tax dollar.
We may not be seeing as many fires today as we used to, but in my opinion, having an element of readiness and preparedness is a wise investment. I recall a former fire chief telling me that they have a variety of skill sets that they are required to maintain, even if they don’t have to use them often and it is a service we as taxpayers have to be prepared to pay for.
The Town of Amherst has been fortunate over the years to have generations of families who have dedicated their time and talent to the fire service. They have also taken on the added component of community fundraising and this spirit of generosity has been a long running tradition with this local organization. We know that when there’s been a specific community need the Amherst Firefighters Association and the Firefighters Ladies Auxilliary have been there as part of the fundraising effort.
Having a clearly defined up-to-date policy for the Amherst Fire Department is in everyone’s best interest and serves to better protect and support all members of the department. It will also insure that the quality of service and protection being offered to the residents of this community will continue to be of the highest standard.
Geoff deGannes is the past chairman of the Tantramar Radio Society. His daily commentaries can be heard on 107.9 CFTA.