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Mutual Aid to Help Blandford During Firefighter Shortage

Russell fire

RUSSELL, Mass. (WGGB) — The Russell Fire department is one of the departments that will help Blandford if there’s a fire call in town.

The Blandford fire department remains closed.

Its fire chief and firefighters have submitted their resignations over who has control over the department, the board of selectmen or the chief.

Now, the burden of responding to a fire call falls to surrounding communities like Russell through what’s know as mutual aid.

A new protocol is now in place.

In the past, when Blandford would have an incident, they would respond and depending on how serious the call was, they would reach out for mutual aid…but now that mutual aid will come right away.

“If Blandford has an incident, you’re going to get other communities being dispatched at the same time Blandford is. Westfield, Chester, and Russell will cover portions of Blandford and the Berkshire county side will be covered by Becket and Otis,” says Russell Fire Chief Michael Morrissey.

Response time will be longer though than Blandford firefighters responding because of the distance mutual aid companies have to go.

“Obviously there are concerns, because every community wishes they had the highest level of protection they can and that’s been compromised,” Morrissey adds.

As for medical emergencies, Morrissey says Blandford has contracts with private companies like Hilltown Ambulance, as well as Otis Ambulance and the Westfield Fire Department, to transport patients to the hospital.

Chief Morrissey says what will be missing is that first initial response from local firefighters doing patient assessment and stabilization before the ambulance arrives.

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