Easthampton using $1.5 million in grant funding to hire more firefighters
EASTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The city of Easthampton is using federal dollars to hire more firefighters. The city’s fire department will be getting four new firefighters thanks to a $1.5 million federal homeland security grant. It will bring the total number of firefighters up to eight for each shift and it’s a much-needed relief for the team as they battle an increase in calls
“To have that award, really, is a great opportunity for the community, as well as our department to increase our staffing levels,” said Easthampton Fire Chief Christopher Norris.
Western Mass News spoke with Norris about the current struggles and future help for his crew.
“One of the challenges right now is that we have three ambulances, all-licensed at the paramedic level. Our minimum staffing can go down to five. Each ambulance, based on state regulation, must have two personnel. We do not have the ability to staff three ambulances right now,” Norris explained.
However, Norris isn’t alone in his excitement for the increase in firefighters. Tyler Struthers knows firsthand what more team members would mean to the department. Hours before Western Mass News got to the building on Monday, Struthers and his colleagues felt the strain of having a limited staff.
“This morning, we did two heart attacks transported down to Springfield. That pretty much pulled all of our staffing out of the building,” Struthers noted.
However, the Easthampton native told us that, regardless of the current staffing crisis, he’s proud of the work they do.
“I’m very happy to be here and to watch this department grow. I’m homegrown. I grew up here, so it’s cool to see that we’re advancing and a lot more opportunity for development,” Struthers added.
Hiring will begin in early spring of 2024.
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