Nov. 17-23, 2019, is Municipal Awareness Week in the Town of Amherst. The article below is the third of four outlining the role of some of the town’s departments.
“The Amherst Fire Department will, under the direction of its chief and by the means of its members, commit to providing residents with the most capable fire and emergency service possible, while promoting safety and quality of life.”
That’s the mission statement of the Amherst Fire Department and one the 54-member department works hard to live up to.
“As the chief of this department, I take great pride in the way the members tackle issues and situations, and plan and deliver service to the public no matter when the call comes in,” Fire Chief Greg Jones said recently at the Amherst Firefighters annual banquet.
And for the fire department that call can come in at any moment – day or night. While best known for fighting fires, that isn’t all the 53 volunteers, which include eight career firefighters and one deputy-chief, and Chief Jones do.
They also respond to hazardous material calls, motor vehicle collisions, confined space rescues, fire investigations and fire inspections. Between November 2018 and November 2019, the department responded to 246 calls, including 18 structure fires, 49 motor vehicle crashes and nine hazardous material responses.
In order to be ready for these changes, the members are maintaining their apparatus – three fire engines, a ladder truck, a safety and support unit, two hazardous material units, a utility vehicle and a tanker – on a daily basis. (They also have one antique fire truck and a mini fire truck, known as Pumper Joe that are used in parades.)
In addition, the members spend countless hours training to ensure they have the skills to carry out the work they do, whatever the emergency situation.
“Our firefighters, in a combined effort, have participated in approximately 11,000 hours responding to emergency calls, training and association business,” the chief said, at the banquet.
All the members also belong to the Amherst Firefighters Association. This group spends even more hours volunteering at community events, like raising money for muscular dystrophy research through their annual John Michels Sr. ladder sit, the Nova Scotia Burn Treatment Society via their annual Firefighter Burn Bonspiel, and other community events through a variety of other fundraisers like glow bingo.
The department is supported by the Amherst Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary. The latest was the purchase of a $1,800 rehab tent the members use to recuperate in while on the scene of a lengthy emergency situation. They raised the funds through things like 50-50 draws.
The department is always looking for new members. If you are interested drop into the fire station, located at 62 Albion St., talk to any Amherst firefighter or go to www.amherst.ca/volunteer-firefighter.