Town of Hampden, MA

  HAMPDEN FIRE DEPARTMENT 

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Do Hampden firefighters get paid?

As of July 3rd, 2017, the Hampden Fire Department has three salaried Full-Time/Career Firefighter/EMT's on duty manning the station Monday-Friday during business hours. The rest of the Department has transitioned from an entirely-volunteer service to what is known as Paid-on-Call, or a Call Department.  

What is a Paid-on-Call/Call Department?

A Paid-on-Call/Call Department means that those members of the Fire Department who are not serving in a Full-Time/Career capacity will be paid on a 911 call-by-call basis. When the pager system alerts the Call Personnel that there is an emergency, they will be compensated on an hourly basis during the time of the 911 call. When they are released from the station after the call is over, the pay clock stops. While many of our staff enjoyed volunteering our time, due to increasing costs of living and difficulty leaving our full time jobs to respond to calls, it became essential to transition so as to avoid losing personnel.

Do the fire trucks carry water?

Yes, the fire trucks all carry water on our department. The amount varies, from 100 gallons on our smallest unit up to 2,500 gallons on the tanker. After they use their water up, it must be re-supplied. If all of our apparatus were to arrive at a fire at the same time, we could pump over 8,000 gallons of water before having to re-supply!

Where do you keep all those fire trucks?

All of our apparatus, including our antique engine, are very carefully packed into our small station behind the Town Hall.

You just go to fires, right?

No. While fighting fires is one of our main purposes, we also need to respond to motor vehicle accidents, ice rescues, swiftwater rescues, emergency medical incidents, Hazardous Materials Incidents, search-and-rescues, and yes, brush fires, car fires, house fires, and more. 

  1. Is there anyone at the station?

As of July 3rd, 2017, as stated above, there are three Full-Time firefighter/EMT's staffing the station during weekday business hours. These three personnel will be able to handle inspections, initial responses to emergency calls, issue burning permits during the state-controlled burning season January-May, and more. During week nights and weekends, the station is not staffed. 

  1. How are the Call Department firefighters notified of a call?

Call Department staff carry Motorola voice pagers which notify them of the location and nature of a call. Those personnel that are in Town or near Town then respond to the station to put on their protective gear and take the applicable trucks to the emergency. As a fail-safe/back-up system, our personnel also receive a voice/text message to their cellular phones that play the same message as the pager system dispatch alert.

  1. Why did I used to hear a siren going off before the fire trucks respond?

There are two stationary sirens in Town that used to go off after the pager alert. In a way these are an artifact of days-gone-by however if a firefighter was not wearing their pager or if their pager was not working it would notify them that a call had been dispatched.

  1. Who dispatches calls to the fire department?

This job is currently performed by the 911 Dispatcher who works in the Hampden Police Department. There are currently studies in place to evaluate the possibility of a joint dispatch center for multiple area towns.

  1. How can I become a member of the Hampden Fire Department?

You must fill out an application

pass a drug screening test and medical examination; 

undergo a background check

be interviewed by the Department officers and be appointed by the Board of Selectmen. Please call 566-3314 for more information on the process.


Emergency Situations


  1. What do I do if there is a fire in my home?
    Make sure everyone is out of the home and dial 911. NEVER re-enter to rescue property or animals. Closing the doors on the way out is incredibly helpful as it limits the flow of fresh air into the fire, in a way keeping it in check until we arrive. 
  2. What do I do if my carbon monoxide detector alarm sounds?
    Dial 911 and evacuate everyone from the house. Do not vent the house by leaving doors and windows open as it will be harder for us to find the source. In other words, PLEASE keep all windows and doors CLOSED and leave the home.        
  3. I had a house fire/car fire and need a copy of the fire report for my insurance claim. How do I obtain it?      Contact the Fire Department Administrative Assistant, Jane Budynkiewiecz, at the Town Hall. Please note, in order to obtain a fire report, the Fire Department had to have been requested and must have responded to the fire. If you had a fire in your home or your car caught fire and you extinguished it yourself and never called 911, we CAN NOT issue you a fire report.                                


Home Fire Safety


  1. Where should smoke detectors be placed in my home?
    Residential smoke detectors are early warning devices to wake a sleeping person or persons. Smoke detectors should be placed in each bedroom (sleeping area) and in the hallway leading to the bedrooms. The requirements vary depending on the year the house was built and applicable edition of the building code. Contact the FD for more information.
  2. Should I put a smoke detector in my garage?
    No, a residential smoke detector is an early warning device to wake sleeping people. However, heat detectors may be required depending on year of construction and applicable building code.
  3. My smoke detector is making a "chirping" noise. What's wrong with it?
    The battery is low. Replace it immediately. Remember to test your detector once a month and change the battery when you change your clock to and from daylight savings time.
  4. I need to purchase smoke detectors and Carbon Monoxide detectors for my home. There are so many out there, what do I do?
  5. The Fire Department cannot recommend any specific brand of detectors. We do caution you that local hardware stores do sell many varieties of detectors, some of which that are not in compliance with current Building and Fire Codes. Also keep in mind all new detectors for your residence must be Photoelectric with a ten-year sealed Lithium battery.
  6. Where should fire extinguishers be placed in the home?
    Having a fire extinguisher in the home is a good idea. If you have an extinguisher, it should be placed where it is easily accessible. The kitchen and garage are good sites for an extinguisher.
  7. What is the best kind of fire extinguisher for my house?
    A multi-purpose fire extinguisher is best for the home. This extinguisher can be used on any type of fire commonly found in the home. It will be labeled A-B-C.
  8. How often should a fire extinguisher be serviced?
    There are no regulations mandating the servicing of fire extinguishers placed in single family residences. However, the Fire Department recommends that fire extinguishers be inspected at least once a year.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Miscellaneous                                                                                                                            
  1. Why are windows broken or holes cut in roofs during fire fighting operations?
    As a fire burns, it moves upward then outward. Breaking the windows and/or cutting holes in the roof (called ventilation) allows smoke and heat to escape the structure. This enables fire fighters to operate safely and efficiently. Ventilation also limits the spread of fire and smoke, thus reducing damage.
  2. How do you fight fires in town if there are no fire hydrants?

 When a fire is reported in town, the 911 Dispatcher located in the Police Station notifies the Police of the location, and pages the firefighters over the pager and radio system. The dispatcher relays the address and type of emergency call to the firefighters with this system. If it is during the business hours on a week day, the full time firefighters will immediately respond with an engine. The Call Department firefighters then respond in their personal vehicles to the fire station. You may see regular everyday vehicles driving with red and white lights flashing, heading towards the fire station. If you do, please be courteous and pull over to the right-hand side of the road and allow them to go by. Once at the station, the firefighters put on their gear, load up in the appropriate trucks for the call, and respond to the scene. If it is an actual house/structure fire, the small Squad 1 usually heads to find the closest water source, whether it is a pond or river, and sets up a drafting system to suck up water. The other trucks head to the scene. The engines and tankers lay out hoselines and portable tanks.

          

Other surrounding towns may be called upon to bring either engine, ladder, or tanker companies for manpower assistance or water supply. Once the tanker is empty, it rushes back to the water supply site, links up with Squad 1, and is re-filled, before heading back to the scene to re-supply the engines. Since Hampden has no fire hydrants, this is the most efficient way to fight the fire. Once the first trucks get to the scene, the firefighters have the capability of putting almost 7,000 gallons of water on the fire immediately. However, much more than that is usually needed in order to extinguish larger fires, sometimes over 100,000 gallons! This is why you may see firetrucks driving through town during a fire; they are most likely tanker trucks heading to and from the water supply site.