BLANDFORD, Mass. (WGGB) — The town of Blandford has a fully staffed Fire Department once again after all its firefighters quit on Tuesday.
The Blandford Selectboard held an emergency meeting with the community Friday evening at the town hall on Russell Stage Road. And it was a fully packed house. After some discussion, the board officially appointed Brian Care to the position of Interim Fire Chief.
The seven volunteer firefighters who resigned Tuesday night have also returned to the department and are once again willing to work if they get called in.
“These are our neighbors, these are our friends. This is why we do this, to protect their lives, their families’ lives, and their houses,” said new Temporary Fire Chief Brian Care.
People in town say they’ll rest easier, knowing the they have the department has been restored.
“I haven’t been able to sleep for the last couple of days since I heard that there wasn’t going to be a department in town. I said ‘What?,” I started making calls right away,” said Steve Hart, a Blandford resident.
Though enough mends were made to bring the firefighters back, the issue at the center of all of this has yet to be solved.
It’s about a selectboard decision to require, and review, CORI checks themselves.
“We don’t have an issue with the concept of a CORI. We have an issue with the selectboard making the decision of who is on the department. They do not have that authority. It’s an open issue, but we’ll work through it now,” said Tom Piper, a firefighter.
The selectboard says they’re also willing to work things through, and find a long term solution.
“I don’t think it’s over. I think there’s a lot of work to do to make sure that the fences are properly mended on all sides. I think there were some hard feelings on a few fronts,” said Selectman Adam Dolby
On Monday, the board will start reviewing Brian Care’s qualifications for a permanent position.
On Tuesday Fire Chief Robert DeCouteau along with the 7 volunteer firefighters, decided to sign a resignation letter because of a conflict with a couple of members of the board who wanted control over hiring at the department. A job that is supposed to be exclusive to the Fire Chief according to Fire Captain Tom Piper.