The Easthampton Fire Department provides Emergency Fire and ambulance services as well as fire prevention and education through the office of Fire Prevention. The Department is also responsible for various inspections and the issuing of a variety of permits.
The Department is a Civil Service, paid professional department consisting of the Fire Chief, five Captains and 19 Firefighters. All members are Emergency Technicians. Eight of which are Paramedics. There are four shifts that provide 24 hours a day coverage. Three of the shifts consist of a Captain and 5 Firefighters and one shift consists of a Captain and 4 Firefighters. Members work a 42 hour work week consisting of two 10 hour days shifts and two 14 hour night shifts. The apparatus consists of 3 pumps, 1 aerial ladder, 3 Advanced Life Support Ambulances and 1 Brush Truck.
The Department is also responsible for maintaining a telegraph system (the street boxes and alarm boxes on schools and factories) through the efforts of a member serving as the Alarm Superintendent.
The Fire Department issues several permits required by State and Local Regulations and By-laws. While smoke detector permits account for a large portion of permits issued, they also issue permits for: certificates of occupancy -- usually new construction -- oil burner and oil tank installations, propane tank installations, underground tank installations, black powder, blasting, fireworks, self-service stations, rooming houses, dumpsters, fire extinguishing systems, and open burning. Most, if not all, of these permitting applications require an inspection by the Department. Inspections are also done of all schools and municipal buildings, factories, businesses with alcohol and car dealer licenses, rooming houses, buildings at the request of another business, resident, or Town Department (i.e. Health/Building).
Fire drills are conducted at all schools, several factories, and the Williston Northampton School dormitories. Three S.A.F.E. (Student Awareness of Fire Education) instructors teach fire safety in all public and private elementary schools throughout the year. Several members participate in educational presentations and demonstrations to the public throughout the year, including portable fire extinguisher instruction and CPR.
Newly hired Firefighters must pass a Civil Service Entrance Exam, extensive physical exam, and a demanding strength and endurance exam. Firefighters hired in Easthampton must also be EMT certified (the current minimum is EMT-Paramedic) and pass a screening by the Medical Control Physician at Cooley Dickinson Hospital Emergency Department. Candidates must also be a Town resident within two years of being hired. The new firefighter will be assigned to a group or series of day tours to become assimilated to the equipment and methods. The Training officer will oversee various aspects of mandatory skill training, such as use of SCBA (self contained breathing apparatus). They also utilize a six part Hampshire County Firefighter Training course and assign the new Firefighter to the next available 11 week Recruit Training class at the Massachusetts Fire Fighting Academy.
Training is a combination of in-house modules conducted by the Training Officer and Company Officers as well as utilizing classes from the Mass Fire Academy and various industries (Bay State Gas, WMECO) as well as other fire and EMS agencies.
Easthampton Fire Department also has opportunities for persons interested in fire and EMS, to work as a Callman. The Callman must be at least 18 years old, have a valid Mass drivers license and be a certified EMT, EMT-I or EMT-P. These individuals will attend the Hampshire County Fire Classes as well as the Easthampton training classes and have an opportunity to 'drive along' to become familiar with methods and equipment. Callmen are used to fill vacancies due to vacation and extended illness or injury and will respond to assist at large incidents. Since Callmen are not permitted to operate apparatus, though they may operate ambulances, it is preferred they be individuals with EMT-I or EMT-P certification. Most of the present members were Callmen at one time.