The Amherst Fire Department is currently made up of 44 professional
firefighters. Of those 44, 2 are Assistant Chiefs, 8 are Captains, and
the remainder are Fire Fighters. The Chief and Assistant Chiefs work
during regular business hours, but they also respond to all working
fires and are assigned specific command duties on the fire scene.
The 42 members who make up the Captains and Firefighters are divided into 4 groups. There is 1 group on duty at all times. On each group there are 5 firefighters and 1 captain assigned to Central Station; and there are 3 firefighters and 1 captain assigned to North Station.
Each person is assigned to a seat on the engine and a spot on the ambulance. The only exception is when there are an odd number of people on duty, because ambulances generally run with a 2 person crew. With this set-up, we are usually able to staff 4 paramedic level ambulances. Often we can staff 5 ambulances. Because we must have at least 7 firefighters on duty, we can always staff at least 3 ambulances. The Captain at each station is responsible for assigning duties at the beginning of the shift. Generally, each firefighter rotates through the various assignments from shift to shift.
In addition to our emergency responses, the Amherst Firefighters stay quite busy. We inspect new and renovated residential buildings as required by law. Maintenance of our facilities, equipment, and vehicles is also an important aspect of our work. Each day of the week has specific duties assigned to it.
Public education is also an important part of our role in the community. Not only do we conduct regular fire drills at the schools in town (the students are always excited to get out of class for a while!), but our award winning S.A.F.E. program is active in teaching children about the dangers of fire and even smoking. Occasionally we have a scheduled tour of our facilities, and we often show parents and kids around our equipment when they stop in on a nice day.
All new members of the Fire
Department attend the 12-week training program at the Massachusetts Fire
Fighting Academy after being hired. The course certifies candidates in
Firefighter I & II as well as in Hazardous Materials (MAZMAT)
response, vehicle extrication, high-angle rescue, and other aspects of
In addition to attending the Academy, our
firefighters spend countless hours each year attending training in new
fire ground techniques and equipment, technical rescue courses, and fire
Aside from being highly trained fire fighters, our members are all certified as EMT-Intermediates or Paramedics. The Amherst Fire Department provides primary ambulance service to the towns of Amherst, Leverett, Shutesbury, Pelham, and Hadley at the Paramedic Level. Training to be a Paramedic takes about 2 years of classroom and in-hospital training, as well as hundreds of hours of working as an intern in the field using their skills to learn real-world experience.
Once their training is complete, continuous education is required to maintain certification. This is done in addition to the hours of other classes our members already complete on an annual basis.
IAFF Local 1764 is the union local representing the career firefighters and paramedics of the Amherst Fire Department.