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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Home Fire Safety
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.
Jaws of Life/portable power equipment demonstration.
Engine 2 showing off the various equipment carried, for a multitude of scenarios.
Firefighters demonstrating automobile extrication to the crowd at the Open House, Nov. 2012
"Castle" Fire on Stafford Road, 2017
Cooking fire demonstration at the Open House, 2016.
"Castle" Fire, Stafford Road 2017