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Amherst (MA) Fireghters, Local 1764

An important note about stafng:


There were only seven re ghters on duty Saturday. Two were running a call on A-1, leaving
only ve re ghters on the initial response to the massive re on East Hadley Rd.
Engine 1 arrived on scene with only a single re ghter. A single re ghter is unable to operate
a re engine alone at a re, therefore rendering him nearly helpless. The re, which had already
enjoyed a signicant head start, was able to continue burning freely in the 36-unit apartment
building until the second engine arrived.
Engine 2 was the next engine to arrive. Fortunately, there were four re ghters on board. On
any given day, it is perfectly normal for our community to have three ambulances committed at
the same time. If this had been the case on Saturday, Engine 2 would never have responded and
the single re ghter on Engine 1 would have been alone until off-duty or mutual aid help could
arrive.
The Amherst Fire Fighters have no interest in criticizing the response to Saturday's re. The men
and women who responded to this incident did so with the professionalism and courage we have
come to expect from our members, neighboring departments, and command staff. Despite the
severity of this re, crews fought valiantly and were able to keep the re from completely
consuming the structure. Two minor injuries to rst responders were the only injuries reported.
On Sunday afternoon, crews were able to assist residents in salvaging many of their personal
belongings.
Looking to the future, however, our community must take a serious look at our need for re
protection and public safety. Although we pride ourselves on being a tight-knit community with a
small-town feel, we must accept the fact we have grown into a large town that rivals many small
cities. Amherst is home to numerous large apartment complexes, with more being built even as
we speak. Large transient populations, aging long-term residents, residential and commercial
growth, and expansions to all three college campuses continue to drive up the demand for our
public safety system which has seen little signicant growth for decades.
On Saturday this community suffered a signicant tragedy. Though we are lucky there were no
fatalities, we must ask ourselves: Should we really continue to gamble with public safety? Will
we be so lucky next time? Sooner or later a re will break out with only that single re ghter to
respond. Let's not let that happen.

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