Town of Cummington

History of the Fire Department


The Cummington Fire Association

1943 to 2003


1943 - $500 fire engine 1928 Reo

            $400 hose and related truck equipment

            $21 rent for fire truck garage


1947 – $900.00 operating, 10 chimney fires; 3 forest fires; 4 out of town calls; Stanley R. Cowell, was appointed Fire Chief and formed the Cummington Volunteer Fire Department (The Cummington Fire Association) consisting of 36 members.  Received their first formal training from Deputy Fire Chief Charles Martin of Northampton.


1948 - $800.00 operating, $6,000 Fire engine 1948 3-ton Diamond T, 6 chimney fires, 3 forest fires, 2 out of town calls. 

“The Cummington fire Association voted to purchase land and to erect a fire house to the limit of their treasury.  After a lot of planning and many hours of voluntary work we have the building nearly completed.  We have spent and donated the following: Land $250.00, Building Material $1,714.85, Sawing Lumber and Labor $740.00, 945 Hours of donated labor at $1.00 per hour $945.00 for a total of $3,649.85.  We still have the wiring to do; a cement floor to lay; finish off both gables; install a septic tank and put in water; buy a furnace and build a furnace room; paint and seal proof the cement work on the sides of the building.  All of which is estimated at a cost of $1,500.  We would like to have the town accept the land and building from the Fire Association also to raise and appropriate the sum of $1,500 to finish the building.” – Stanley R. Cowell 1948 Annual Town report


1949 - $1,099.86 operating, $1,496.98 to finish the Fire Department Building, 14 chimney fires, 2 forest fires, 1 cabin which burned down causing 1 death, 3 out of town calls. 

“We of the Fire Association realize that the past expenses of the department have added as much as six and one-half dollars to the tax rate.  In the future we hope not to ask the town for more money than is necessary for operating and upkeep of our present equipment and building.  This should amount to about seven or eight hundred dollars or about one dollar to tax rate each year.” – Stanley R. Cowell 1949 Annual Town report


1950 - $900.00 operating, $1,300 fire hose, $350.00 to purchase Elliott land directly in back of the Fire House.  Lawrence B. Montgomery appointed fire chief


1951 - $800.00 operating, $775.00 fire hose and portable pump, 8 chimney fires, 1 forest fire, 1 grass fire, 1 car fire, 2 dump fires, 1 brush fires, 1 false alarm, 2 out of town fires of a total of 17 calls


1952 - $1,349.22 operating, 4 chimney fires, 1 shed fire, total loss, 1 house fire, 1 out of town fire;


1953 - $1,159.46 operating, $485 to convert retired town hiway department truck to 700 gallon tanker, 4 chimney fires, 1 house fire, 6 forest and grass fires, 1 dump fire and 5 out of town calls for a total of 17 calls


1954 - $1,900 operating, $350.00 pumps and hoses, 6 chimney fires, 1 house fire, 3 forest and grass fires, 2 dump fires, 1 motor vehicle fire, 1 oil burner fire and 5 out of town fires for a total of 19 calls.


1955 - $1,894.89 operating, 9 chimney fires, 1 house fire, 1 evaporator saved, 5 grass fires, 1 oil burner, 2 truck fires, 4 out of town calls.


1956 - $1,596.07 operating, 5 chimney fires, 2 truck fires, 4 grass fires and 1 out of town assistance call for a total of 12 calls.  Stanley R. Cowell was appointed fire chief. 

“Our (Cummington Fire) Association now has a total of fifty-three members.  Twenty of these members were enrolled this year.  The Association is ready and willing to do anything that will benefit our people, young or old.  I would like to mention some of the activities we have sponsored during the past year: 1. We are sponsoring the Cummington Boy’s Club.  2. We are sponsoring the Ambulance Service.  Thanks to a $200.00 contribution from the Cummington Grange we were able to buy our ambulance from the Town of Ashfield for $250.00.  This ambulance is now equipped and ready to serve when needed.  3.  We were instrumental in forming the Hill Towns Mutual Fire Aid Association, which was formed to provide mutual assistance in case of a large fire.  4. We formed the Hill Town Little League and sponsored a local team.  5. We sponsored the Fireman’s Muster along with the Town of Chesterfield.  This activity gave us much beneficial practice in handling our equipment under pressure.” - Stanley B. Cowell 1956 Annual Town Report


1957 - $1,640.70 operating, 3 chimney fires, 2 brush fires, 2 house fires, 7 out of town fires (Windsor 1, Plainfield 4, Worthington 1) assisted by Worthington for fire on Trouble street.  The Cummington Fire Association with 50 members received $385.75 in donations from residents to keep the ambulance running and made 20 ambulance runs including 1 to Boston.


1958 - $2,214.02 operating including paving apron in front of firehouse. 4 chimney fires, 4 brush fires, 4 house fires and 3 out of town fires; The House fire of George Gibbs in West Cummington on December 20 was a total loss.  The Cummington Fire Association with 55 members purchased the Maxim truck from the town of South Royalton, Vermont with funds generated from donations and fund raising activities.  The Association received $600 in donations from Cummington residents and $40 from Plainfield and earned $80 on out-of-town work for the ambulance fund.  $650 of this money was used to purchase a 1947 Cadillac ambulance selling the old one to Savoy.  The ambulance made 27 runs with one trip to Wareham, MA.


1959 - $1859.71 operating, 1 house fire, 1 barn fire, 5 chimney fires, 1 brush fire and 2 out of town fires (Plainfield brush fire and Windsor house fire) the barn fire, a total loss, was at the Donald Marcoux place on September 15, 1959.  The Cummington Fire Association answered 22 calls with the ambulance service.  The ambulance fund has a balance of $775 raised through fund raising events and contributions.


1960 - $1,811.57 operating, 2 house fires, 4 chimney fires, 3 brush fires and 2 out of town calls; The Cummington Fire Association built a new chimney on the firehouse and began a project to add an addition to the firehouse for the ambulance to be paid for with Association funds and volunteer labor.  The ambulance made 23 trips.


1961 - $2,019.49 operating, 3 chimney fires, 1 oil burner fire and 1 house fire; The Cummington Fire Association Ambulance made 43 trips with 2 to Boston and 2 to Albany. 

“This is a year that will long be remembered by our Department.  We built a 32-ft. wide by 28-ft. long addition on our Fire House, making it 32 ft. wide by 61 ft. long.  We also installed a new 280 BTU Lenox Ceiling Furnace which cost $881 and a new 500-gal. Septic tank.  The Department spent $1,844.82 from the Ambulance Fund and $992 from the regular Fire Association funds, for a total of $2,836.82.  This did not finish our building.  We still have to insulate and put on a new ceiling downstairs, clapboard the two gable ends, and put two coats of paint in side and out on the cement blocks.  The materials for this will cost about $450.  We are putting an Article in the Warrant to ask for this amount.  Last, but not least, we would like to tank the non-members, Andrew Shaw, Almon Shaw, and Herman Goldsmith for the really large amount of help they gave, and also Robert Burnett for the generous discount he gave us on materials. ” – Cummington Fire Association, 1961 Annual Town Report


1962 - $2,129.16 operating, $450 to complete firehouse, 4 chimney fires, 3 brush fires, 1 house fire at the Earle Streeter home on Stage Road. 

“This year we purchased a 1958 Cadillac ambulance; purchase price was $900 and our 1946 Cadillac.  This ambulance has only 16,000 miles on it and is in perfect condition.  We feel we have an ambulance to take care of our needs for the next five or six years.  As the addition to the fire House could not be finished this year, we have asked to have the special appropriation of $450 held over until 1963 when the building will be completed.” – Cummington Fire Association, 1962 Annual Town Report


1963 - $2,799.61 operating, 3 chimney fires, 2 house fires, 2 auto fires, 14 brush fires;

“At this time, I would like to congratulate the members of the Fire Department for their ability as firemen and their knowledge of their trucks and equipment.  This, I am sure, saved the town of Cummington from one or more major forest fires last October.” – Stanley R. Cowell, 1963 Annual Town Report. 

The Cummington Fire Association Ambulance answered 27 calls. 

“The (Cummington Fire) Association purchased a 1941 Maxim 750-gallon pumper on Long Island, New York.  This is a good truck and will be used to back up our Diamond T pumper at fires.” – Cummington Fire Association, 1963 Annual Town Report


1964 - $2,399.43 operating, 1 house fire at Leon Higgins’ house on Powell Road with little damage done, 2 chimney fires, 4 grass fires, 8 dump fires, the Cummington Fire Association Ambulance answered 32 calls


1965 - $2,091.09 operating, 2 structure fires, one small building at Leon Thayer’s home burned and there was a bad flash fire at the garage owned by Carl B. Liebenow.  The latter was quickly extinguished by fast and proper use of our equipment. 4 chimney fires and 5 grass fires.  The Cummington fire Association Ambulance answered 31 calls with 2 of them to Boston.


1966 - $2,089.73 operating, $1,700.00 for purchase of 1961 Ford truck which the highway department traded in and the purchase of 1,000-gallon tank installed on the truck. 2 chimney fires, 4 grass fires, a barn owned by Francis Wells burned to the ground, assisted by Worthington Fire Department, 4 out of town calls, 37 ambulance calls were answered by the Cummington Fire Association, 2 trips to Boston, one to Albany and one to Portsmouth, NH.


1967 - $2,074.37 operating, 3 chimney fires, 6 grass fires, 4 other type of fires, 4 auto fires, 4 out of town calls.  The 1948 Dodge is now out of service and is for sale.  The 1961 Ford is in service and still has some work to be done on it.


1968 - $2,100 operating, a few more grass and brush fires than last year, 3 out of town calls; The Ambulance made 37 trips including one trip to Portsmouth, NH


1969 - $2,093.46 operating, 2 chimney fire, grass fires started early in April, but the rains came and we were not bothered in the last spring and fall.  Dean Morey’s barn burned on December 19, 1969.  The main hay barn, middle section and lower section where the cattle were housed were all burned and approximately 20 head of cattle were lost.  The fire lasted through the night and into the next day.  The ambulance answered 30 calls, 15 that were emergency and 15 that probably should have been serviced by private car. 


“In 1947, twenty-two years ago, your Fire Department went to bat and asked the town voters for a new fire truck which was very badly needed.  That truck has served well over the years, but like all pieces of machinery used for many years, it has aged and become less efficient than it should be to provide adequate protection.  The Fire Department and Fire Association feel that it is past time to replace the “Old Diamond T” with a new truck.  The life expectancy for a fire truck is twenty years.  The present truck has gone twenty-two years and should no longer be the number one truck.

We realize that this will cause a large expenditure, about $35,000, for the town.

In April 1969 a committee was formed in the Fire Department and Fire Association to investigate this problem.  The members of this committee have visited at least five towns that have recently purchased new trucks, for the purpose of evaluating and getting ideas that would apply to our town.  They have studied specifications on various makes and believe that the truck we need must cost very close to the $35,000 figure.  Much thought and work have gone into this project and we feel that every cent will be well spent.  Prices on fire equipment are increasing about 8% per year.  We cannot afford to wait any longer.  Bernard Forgea, Carl B. Liebenow, Robert Pratt, Thomas Caldwell, Ernest Strong, John Horton, Richard Taylor, Arlin Stevens, Stanley Cowell” - 1969 Annual Town Report


1970 - $2,098.47 operating, $34,975.00 1970 Maxim fire truck, 2 auto accident wash downs, 2 oil furnace fires, 4 grass fires, 1 forest fire (Plainfield), 1 forest fire (East Windsor), 1 potato storage (Worthington).  The ambulance responded to 29 calls, 22 in Cummington, 4 in Plainfield, 2 in Worthington, and 1 in East Windsor.


1971 - $2,661.24 operating, the number of fires was very few. 

“In 1971 the Hampshire County Mutual Aid was re-organized with Chief Howard Sanderson of Williamsburg as president.  Jack Horton represented the Fire Department at monthly meetings every 3rd Wednesday of the month.  The meetings were held in different towns each month.

The county was broken up into regions.  Our region is called the Hill Towns – Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Plainfield, Windsor and Worthington.

The dispatch center is in the Northampton Fire station, which is manned at all, times for telephone and radio.  This dispatch center has a list of all trucks and equipment in the county.  Our listing is:

                                Pumper                  Water                     2 ½ hose                                1 ½ hose                port.       Pump

Maxim                    1,000                      1,000                      2,200 ft.                 700 ft.                     1-300 gal.

Diamond T               500                         650                         700 ft.                  100 ft.

Ford                          100                      1,000                           50 ft.                  500 ft.                     1-300 gal.


3,000-watt electric generator and lights

Smoke ejector

Foam – Eductor and nozzles

Ambulance – fully equipped”

Stanley R. Cowell, 1971 Annual Report

The Cumming Fire Association Ambulance went on 37 calls, Cummington 29, Plainfield 6, Worthington 2.


1972 - $3,126.21 operating, very few fires, a couple of chimney fires and some small grass and brush fires, no mutual aid calls.

“Our equipment is about the same as last year; a 1971 Maxim 1000 gallon pumper with 1000 gallons of water, 2200 ft. of 2 ½ “ hose, 700 ft. of 1 ½ “ hose one 300 gallon portable pump, one smoke ejector, a 3000 watt electric generator with lights, foam eductor and nozzles.

A 1948 Diamond T 500 gallon pumper with 650 gallons of water, 700 ft. of 2 ½” hose, 100 ft. of 1 ½” hose, and one 300 gallon portable pump.

A 1962 Ford tank truck, 1000 gallons of water, 50 ft. of 2 ½” hose, 500 ft. of 1 ½” hose, and one 300 gallon portable pump.

This equipment is checked, started and run each week; also quick checked for heat and batteries each day during the winter months.

This year was a very good year.  We finished a great deal of work needed doing for a long time; some since we built the 1st section of the firehouse in 1948.

First we chipped out and pointed up again the cement blocks on the front half of the building.  We then water proofed the blocks and painted two coats of paint inside and outside.  We were very fortunate to have some of our younger members take over and install new clapboards on both gable ends of the building.  When this was completed they removed the old leaking asphalt shingles from the front half of the building and put on a new asphalt roof.

I would like to especially thank Bernie and Denny Forgea, Conrad Liebenow and Henry Morrill.  We can now he very proud our building.  It is one of the best-equipped and attractive firehouses around.

Lets all keep it that way” – Stanley Cowell, 1972 Annual Town Report

The Cummington Fire Association Ambulance made 31 calls, Cummington 22, Plainfield 6, Worthington 1, Chesterfield 1, and Goshen 1.


1973 - $2,146.38 operating, 1 chimney fire, 3 grass and rubbish fires, 2 automobile fires (one a total loss), 1 barn fire – although the barn was lost at Leon Thayer’s, our firemen and mutual aid firemen from Worthington, Chesterfield, and Goshen should be commended highly for saving the house. 5 mutual aid calls

2 calls to Plainfield – On February 17 at 6:20 P.M. we were called from our town meeting to a fire at A. E. Albert’s’ potato storage.  On February 26 at 9:20 A.M. we were called to the Plainfield town shed.  Both fires were too far out of control to save either building.  2 calls to West Worthington – Frankie Brook’s tavern: a grass fire answered on Cheney road on November 14.  1 call to West Chesterfield – V. Bernier on November 20, the fire in the building was also too far out of control to save.  One of the Chesterfield firemen succumbed to smoke inhalation.  Bernie Forgea and another fireman responded immediately with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and closed chest heart massage.  Within a few minutes they had him breathing again and on his way to the hospital.  We were indeed fortunate to have had Bernie there.  He is representing our ambulance department at the Cooley Dickinson Hospital, which is offering the Emergency Medical Technician Course.” – Stanley Cowell, 1973 Annual Report

The Cummington Fire Association Ambulance made 25 trips, Cummington 14, Plainfield 5, Worthington 3, Chesterfield 2, East Windsor 1. 

“In last year’s report it was stated that there was need for an ambulance in better condition than the one we were using.  On June 24 we took out a 90-day loan for the purchase of the one we are presently using.  Ambulance drive letters were sent to you, and as usual, you came through so that we were able to pay off the loan before it was due.  Thank you for your continued support of these ambulance drives.

On January 22, 1974, a new law – Chapter 111C of the Massachusetts General Laws becomes effective.  It is legislation authorizing the Department of Public Health to take action to insure a high quality Emergency Medical Care through regulations of ambulance and ambulance services.  In short, this means that we will have to be trained Emergency Medical Technicians.  In order to do this we will be required to attend an 81-hour course.  This is the same course which Bernie Forgea recently completed.” – Stanley Cowell, 1973 Annual Report


1974-75 – Cummington changed to a July 1st to June 30th fiscal year, so these are 18-month numbers.  $4,430.80 operating, During the past eighteen months there have been no major fires with any large amount of loss.  The increase in use of wood-burning stove this past years and a half has been the reason for a number of chimney fires.

“In our last report we stated that a new law Chapter 111C of the Massachusetts general Laws would become effective as of January 1974 whereby we would be required to have trained Medical Technicians in order to legally run an ambulance service

We are proud to state that fourteen of our townspeople have taken a rigorous course (approximately 81 hours), passed all requirements, and are not Emergency Medical Technicians.

The new law now requires all ambulance services to have a new van type or modular type vehicle in order to meet the new regulations.  We have received a State Matching Fund Grant of $8,000.00 for a new van type vehicle.  In order to continue our ambulance service it will be necessary for the association to raise the balance which amounts to approximately $8,000.00” – Stanley R. Cowell, 1974 Annual Report


1976 - $3,047.34 operating, 4 chimney fires, 2 brush fires, 3 auto fires, 2 accidents – flush gas off road, 2 dump fires, 1 Plainfield house fire, 2 Windsor brush fires, The Cummington Fire Association Ambulance made 44 calls. 

“Since our last report the Cummington Fire Association has been incorporated.  This was done for several reasons.  The Association was required to incorporate to be eligible to be listed as a non-profit organization, which in turn has made it possible for all contributors to the Ambulance Service to deduct their contributions on their income tax returns.  The incorporation was also an advantage to us when we applied for the $8,000 grant we received toward our new ambulance. 

The new ambulance cost a total of $17,215.79 and was paid for by the above-mentioned $8,000 grant plus $6,115.00 from the Town of Cummington and $3,100.00 from the town of Plainfield.  We mention this because there has been some confusion over how we could afford such an expenditure.” – Cummington Fire Association, Inc., 1976 Annual Report


1977 - $3,565.70 operating, 1 house fire at Remington Lodge, 1 cabin fire, 2 chimney fires, 4 brush fires, 2 dump fires, 2 accidents, flush gas from road, 2 car and truck fires, 4 generator calls, 1 Mutual Aid call to Cusson Fire in Plainfield.  The very effective use of Scott packs at the Remington Lodge fire prompted us to purchase another Scott Airpack and 3 reserve tanks.

“We reported that we would need a new ambulance and would have to raise approximately $8,000 to pay our share of a Matching Fund Grant with the state in order to comply with Mass. 111C.

Actually we had to raise $9,000 and after examining our assets and time win which we had to raise the money we were forced to go to the Town of Cummington for $6,000 and to Plainfield for $3,000.

The new ambulance arrived and after an inspection, by the state, of our equipment, organization, records, and supply we once again found ourselves in a crises situation.  Although our EMT list had grown to 18 we still lacked an in depth organization.

The association hired “Training and Consulting Services”, under the direction of our friend Gary Bunce, to come in and help us reconstruct our service.

We are happy to report that at this time we feel we are on the road to self-sufficiency.  We have organized our EMT’s into committees, one to check and care for supplies, one to care for vehicle, another cares for the record keeping, training, scheduling EMT’s for ambulance duty.

By working with the Fire Dept. we now have a system where at least one ”RED PHONE” is answered at all times, day or night and at least two EMT’s are on call at all times to run the ambulance.  This is a tremendous undertaking for this small organization with limited manpower.” – Cummington Fire Association, Inc., 1977 Annual Report


1978 - $4,421.37 operating, 7 chimney fires, 4 vehicular accidents, 3 house fires, 2 grass fires, 1 car fire, 1 fallen electrical wires, 1 mutual aid to Plainfield; John P. Horton was appointed fire chief.  The most serious fire was at the Frank Philbrick home on Trouble Street.  There was considerable fire and water damage, but the house was saved.

“A new septic system at the firehouse and repairs to our old portable pump depleted our budgeted money for new equipment.  Fortunately we received a donation of used turnout gear, and now most active members have been assigned helmets, coats and boots.

Cummington Fire Department members have participated in over 500 man-hours of training this past year.  This included inflammable liquids, stove installation, and basic fire fighting courses.

This past year was our first year of assigned 24 hour manning of the fire phones.  The inconveniences to our dispatchers has pointed out our need of joining most of our neighboring towns by installing a better system of radio dispatching from a centralized dispatch center.  This will be one our top priorities in the coming year.” – John P. Horton, 1978 Annual Report


“In our last report we stated that we had hired a consulting service to help us reconstruct our ambulance service.  With a year of operating under the organizational system set up by “training and Consulting Services”, we have found it necessary to make many adjustments in our service.

We found that having the “red Phones” covered at all times and at least two EMT’s on call to run the ambulance day or night necessitated many sacrifices and adjustments in our personal lives.  It seems that no matter how much planning goes into the monthly schedule something inevitably comes up and we are constantly arranging coverage or standby for each other.  Every one of our dedicated dispatchers and EMT’s willingly covers for each other in order that the “system” will work.

The Association did help the EMT’s purchase outside bells for their private telephones to allow the person on duty a limited degree of freedom.

With our various committees that care for supplies, vehicle maintenance, record keeping, and training all doing a very fine job the State of Massachusetts finally felt we had produced a plan of correction for the deficiencies within our service sufficient to warrant licensing us as a Class 1 ambulance service.  Licensure had been held up subject to satisfactory compliance to the requirement for a two-way F.M. radio communication.

The License was presented by representatives of the Department of Public Health, Ambulance Program.

We feel we have completed a very successful year.  Future plans include investigating electronic alerting for our attendants to give them the much-needed flexibility necessary to continue giving the long hours they give and increasing the efficiency of our service to better serve the town.

We would like to say a very special tank you to Peter and Franny Kipp of Cummington Supply.  They have taken on the tremendous responsibility of being our daytime dispatch, whenever their store is open.” – Cummington fire Association, Inc, 1978 Annual Report


1979 -  $7,037.83 operating, $5,000 Two way radio system, 5 motor vehicle accidents, 4 car fires, 3 structure fires, 2 illegal burnings, 2 chimney fires, 1 wastebasket fire at Community House, 1 grass fire, 1 mutual aid call to Goshen with tanker.  The most serious fire was at the Francis Wells home and barn on November 21, 1978.

“The Cummington Fire Department members have participated on over 550 hours of training this past year, including hazardous materials, propane gas, car fires.  A mini course sponsored by the Mass. Fire fighting Academy lasting 4 days was conducted in Cummington the fall of 1978.  Eight of our members are now enrolled in the County Training School, which is a six-day course.  First assistant Bernard Forgea is continuing his Fire Science courses at Berkshire Community College.

In spring of 1979 our new paging system was put into use, this equipment is exceeding our expectations.  Other new equipment includes 6-inch dump valves for Engine 2 and 3, a 1,000 gal. Port. Dump tank, some new turnout gear, 2 new Scott Air Packs needed to meet N.F.F.A. specs.  Some of this equipment was purchased with money from the Title 4 matching grant.  This was the first year Cummington has received this money.” – John P. Horton, 1979 Annual Report

“The members of the Ambulance Service would like to thank the residents of Cummington and Plainfield for their generous response to the annual Ambulance Maintenance Fund Drive and particularly, for the residents of Cummington for their show of support of the service through their vote for funds to purchase the Pager Alert System.  The system not only allows for the instantaneous notification to all EMT’s of a medical emergency but also enables the EMT’s to pursue activities while on duty out of hearing of the telephone.

During the past year, seventeen registered EMT’s have provided twenty-four hour emergency medical care and transportation, free of charge, to the residents of Cummington and Plainfield, and to any traveler passing through the area.  Each EMT has been on duty 120 hours a month, has spent 11 hours a month in training, and 3 hours a month in meetings.  This does not reflect the time spent in training with the Fire Department of which most EMT’s are members.” – Cummington Fire Association, Inc, 1979 Annual Report


1980 - $5,238.59 operating, 8 motor vehicle accidents, 3 chimney fires, 3 illegal burnings, 2 structural fires, 2 dump fires, 1 grass fire, 1 brush fire, 1 flooded oil burner, 1 tree on wires, 2 search parties, 4 mutual aid calls; The most serious fire was at the brick house on Dodwells Road owned by Catherine Simpson.  That fire was February 1, 1980.

“This completes our first year using Amherst as our primary dispatch center and we are quite please thus far and feel that this system has added to our efficiency.

The Cummington Volunteer Fire Dept. members have participated in over 500 hours of training at Hampshire County Fire Training School, Bennington County (VT) Training School and locally taught courses.  Five new members have joined the department this year.

First assistant chief Bernard L. Forgea has completed his studies at Berkshire Community College with an associate degree in Fire Science.  He also received the outstanding fire science student award for his class at BCC.

Our major piece of new equipment this year is a forcible entry saw to be used mainly for ventilation purposes.  This saw will cut wood, metal and cement.  A gate wye was made out of old parts and saved us over $300.  Some new turn out hear and a new length of 3-inch hand suction hose for use with our dump tank have also been purchased.” – John P. Horton, 1980 Annual Report


1981 - $5,563.87 operating, 6 grass and brush fires, 4 accidents and crash downs, 3 chimney fires, 2 structure fires, 2 vehicle fires, 1 fire out on arrival, 1 broken water pipe, 3 mutual aid calls – Worthington 2, Chesterfield 1, Plainfield 1; The most serious fire was the old horse barn at the Fairgrounds.  The barn that was almost completely involved upon our arrival was lost but a new building nearby was saved.

“New equipment consists of 200 feet of 1 ¾ attack hose and a new nozzle for this hose.  We also purchased a Hooligan tool for forcible entry.  We have two new trainers for our dump tank that were made by Conrad Liebenow thus saving us more than $300.

The firehouse now has storm windows on the heated areas and weather stripping has been installed around the overhead doors.  A new overhead door replaces the deteriorated rear door.

We have participated in many man-hours of training at country schools, state fire schools and with the Goshen Department to learn the use of their Jaws of Life.  All men are either trained as Emergency Medical Technicians or First Responders.

Three of our men are county instructors in either the county fire school or first responder’s course.  They are: James D. Martin, Jr., Dennis Forgea and Bernard Forgea.

The use of the Amherst dispatcher and our pager system continues to be of great service and is certainly a convenience to us.” – John P. Horton, 1981 Annual Report


“Last year we were forced to appeal for financial help from our primary service towns of Cummington and Plainfield to enable us to put candidates from each community through the 81-hour EMT course.  From this program we were able to graduate three EMT’s who we welcome to our ambulance service: Sue Forgea from Cummington, Lois Goodnoff and Bill Chapman from Plainfield.  We say, “goodbye and thank you for all of your help,” to Cathy Michaels, Diane Mimitz and Lynne Taylor.  Our compliment of attendants remains at nineteen with which to provide our continuous 24-hour a day coverage.

Reluctantly after 30+ years the Association considered a billing system this past year.  As we all know everything costs more and this includes the cost of operating our Ambulance.  In an effort to make the ambulance service self-supporting to the point where we would not have to again seek funds from Cummington or Plainfield in order to replace this present vehicle, when the time comes, we implemented a method of billing for services rendered and supplies used.  It is too soon to draw any clearly defined conclusions regarding the success of the collection rate on our billing but every effort is being made to keep the Ambulance service fiscally responsible.

On the lighter side, this past year saw some much needed new equipment arrive on board the Cummington Ambulance.  After a successful raffle directed by Monica and crew, a good car parking effort by Den and gang, and a great coon and turkey supper with the Deer Hill Rod and Gun club the associated voted to purchase some long overdue equipment vital to our continued commitment to immediate life support and quality patient care.  We purchase a “scoop” stretcher, which enables us with minimum handling, to lift even the most seriously injured patient without fear of causing further injury.  Another important purchase was a series of supplies specifically designed for use on pediatric patients.  It is a great relief knowing we have this kit on board!!  How many of you have ever tried to use an adult blood pressure cuff on an infant? Try it!  We also purchased a special air chisel for use when cutting metal in auto extrication problems.  Since we have a policy of responding Engine one, which has air brakes, to all auto accidents involving trauma, we have a readily available supply of air with which to operate the new chisel.  Next in supplies, we purchased two more electronic pagers to compliment our truly great communications system.  Finally, the organization voted to purchase two fully equipped “jump kits” and place them with strategically located EMT’s to enhance our response effort.  These kits contain large amounts of various first aid supplies, which will enable the EMT’s who arrive on the scene prior to the ambulance to initiate immediate life support and patient care.

Throughout the year our organizations holds training sessions for our attendants.  Under the supervision of Jim Martin, our training officer, we have a carefully designed schedule, which requires each attendant to participate in one three-hour continuing education session each month.  These sessions are utilized as constant review of our basic skills and knowledge in an effort towards combating skill decay, a serious problem in a service, which make so few runs each year.  Any new material pertinent to our EMT field is presented at these monthly sessions as well.  Fore instance last year, by way of review e held six CPR classes in which we re-certified or newly trained over 85 local residents in this vital skill.  An example of introducing new techniques and training to our EMT’s was the Radiological Monitors course held by the Massachusetts Civil Preparedness agency.  With the increasing concern about the possibility of people being exposed to radio-active materials, e it from accidents on the highway involving industrial waste or fallout from nuclear attack, it has become appropriate for the Cummington Ambulance EMT’s to be fully trained in using Geiger counters and survey meters, the only instruments available to detect and monitor the emission of radiation.  We currently have each attendant trained in the use of these instruments and through the state Civil Preparedness Agency (Civil Defense) we have assigned to us a complete set (three) of these instruments.  The set is carried in the ambulance and tested at least one a moth when the EMT’s are performing their weekly inventory and cleaning of the ambulance.” – Cummington Fire Association, Inc, 1981 Annual Report


1982 - $5,280.13 operating, $1,266.05 Firehouse Winterization, 7 structure fires, 4 vehicle accidents, 3 chimney fires, 1 liquid propane gas leak, 1 false alarm; Mutual aid was given by this department twice and mutual aid was received by this department six times.  The most serious fire this year was at the Ronald Wolf Farm on Plainfield Road and the Kataoka residence on Plainfield Road.  Of the seven structure fires noted below, four were caused by faulty chimneys or stove pipe installations. 

“Because of Proposition 2 ½, the only new items purchased this past year were two salvage covers.  All other equipment is in good shape except for Engine No. 2.  This 34-year-old truck is constantly breaking down and replacing this vehicle should be the town’s number one priority at the next annual Town Meeting.

All members have completed their first responder or emergency medical technician’s training as required by state law.  Many members are attending the county school and the Bennington County Training School.  County instructors from Cummington are: James D. Martin, Jr., Dennis Forgea, Bernard Forgea and Wallis Page.

Our county dispatch system is working extremely well and the automatic tanker dispatch for structure fires has proven itself a number of times.  It should be noted that three other towns have followed our lead and now have automatic tanker dispatch in their towns.” – John P. Horton, 1982 Annual Report

“An improvement which we are sure most have noticed, and many have already commented on, is the purchase of uniforms for our active firefighters and EMT’s.   Not only do the uniforms stand out at social and official functions but they tend to enhance the service by instilling in each member a certain sense of pride and achievement.  The uniform is the Association’s recognition of an individual’s many sacrifices while earning and maintaining his or her membership in good standing.

An example of sacrifi8ces made the membership in order to maintain and perpetuate our fire emergency service is the weekend long vehicle extrication course held in Cummington last November 13th and 14th.  Each participant was required to attend both days of the program in order that we might develop a coordinated in-depth response to any situation involving people trapped in wrecked vehicles.  The program was run by the Massachusetts Fire Academy and included five surrounding town’s police, fire and ambulance services.  We were shown, and later tried for ourselves, the latest techniques and equipment for removing vehicles from around people.

Another area where our members spent many hours away from home is the requirement that all of our personnel be trained as first responders so that they can give basic first aid to victims of accidents or sudden illness until the services of a higher medical authority can be obtained.  Last winter a first responder first aid and CPR class was held in Plainfield for those in the Hilltowns in need of such a program and 13 from Cummington completed the 21 hour and one all day Sunday course of study.

Our continuing education classes for EMT’s under the very able guidance of Jim Martin took on a new profile last year.  In an effort to broaden the scope of our training and tap a resource wealthy with knowledge and eager to participate in this type of endeavor, the Ambulance service, with the help of Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield and Carol Wolf of Cummington worked out a program, which awarded education credits to both EMT’s and RN’s.  This was no small task but the rewards are immense.  We were please with such a large turnout at the Oxygen Therapy session and hope to have another offering ready by fall.” – Cummington Fire Association, 1982 Annual Report


1983 - $5,300 operating, $6,000 for 1960 Ford pumper, $2756.09 for repairs of 1960 Ford pumper, 7 chimney fires, 6 vehicle accidents, 4 grass fires, 1 faulty oil burner, 1 false alarm, 11 mutual aid calls; Bernard L. Forgea was appointed fire chief.

“Since all of our firefighters are trained in emergency first aid and CPR they respond to ambulance calls with our Emergency Medical Technicians to supply greatly needed support at the scene of accidents or sudden illness.

This year saw a change in the format of the County Fire School.  The school has been divided into two divisions, a Hilltown division and a Valley division.  This allows the County school to run each of its classes in a Hilltown fire department thereby applying time we used to spend traveling back and forth, to school in Amherst to the class itself, at home.  This simple change has enabled many firefighters to complete the county school who otherwise couldn’t have received the training.

At a special town meeting in February the town purchased a secondhand pumper to replace our 1948 Engine 2.  After nearly 700 hours of volunteer labor by firefighters the newly renovated pumper was placed in service August 26, 1983.  This type of commitment and achievement by department members in the face of Proposition 2 ½ is a credit to the community.

Proposition 2 ½ caused our budget request to be cut by nearly 51% at Annual Town Meeting.  Cuts of this magnitude in an all volunteer service can only be reflected in a decrease of equipment and building maintenance and items to replace worn out or broken firefighting gear.  The roof on the back half of the fire station leaks and needs replacing.  The upstairs needs to be insulated to conserve heat, as do the doors to the equipment bays.  We do not have enough turnout gear to full dress our 22 firefighters and much of what we have is badly worn or not serviceable.

Our excellent dispatching system utilizing electronic pagers often wants for batteries for the individual paging units.  Our Ford tanker needs bodywork to slow the deterioration of both the cab and the compartments on the tank.  Also cut from the budget were the funds for an annual oil burner servicing and septic system treatment.” – Bernard L. Forgea, 1983 Annual Report


1984 - $5,626.00 operating, $993.91 Fire house repairs 7 Box alarms (structure fires), 7 auto accidents, 4 chimney fires, 5 alarm sounding, 1 brush fire, 1 furnace malfunction, 1 lightening, 1 false alarm, 2 mutual aid; the most serious structure fire was the loss of the Mildred Holmes property on Snow Road.

“Last year at this time it was reported that the Cummington Fire Department needed to begin a long range plan for maintenance and upgrading of equipment if it hoped to avoid large scale replacements and repairs.  The Fire Department is happy to report that in conjunction with the finance committee and other public official, such a project is under way.

So far the department has been able to either replace or rebuild its six Self Contained Breathing Apparatus at an average expense of $316.  The Department has also finally been able to purchase 10 gallons of Fire Out, a chemical additive that increases the fire suppression characteristics of ordinary water nearly four times.

Annual Town Meeting this year appropriated money to wire the upstairs in the fire station, completely insulate upstairs and downstairs including the overhead doors in the equipment bay.  Also included in this year’s work is a complete reproofing of the back half of the station.

The past year saw a tremendous increase in requests for smoke detectors locations.  While the majority of these requests were the result of selling homes, the Fire Department experienced a great increase for detector information and locations from the community at large.  In fact, the request have increased to the point where the Cummington Fire Department has developed a group of volunteer inspectors from the rank of the department who have been trained and certified by the Massachusetts Fire Fighting Academy to determine locations, make recommendations, and final inspections on fire alarm systems.

It should be noted that this same group will return to the classroom this fall to receive instruction in oil burner inspections.

This past year we saw an end to the era of an unlocked firehouse.  The decision to ‘lock up’ was not easily made.  The inconveniences many would experience were considered but in light of the growing numbers of problems the Fire Department was experiencing both with the building and with tampering of apparatus, the choice was finally rendered.  Since that time the Department has been nearly problem free.

During the past year two Cummington firefighters and one Plainfield firefighter were recognized at the annual Northampton Lodge of Elks B.P.O.E. #997 Police-Fire Recognition Night for Heroism.  Retired Chief John Horton was cited for his actions in saving the life of a young person who had been overcome by carbon monoxide poison.  His citation reads in part, “Due to the alertness of Chief Horton and rapid application of life saving skills he learned during his years as both a fire-fighter and Chief officer this victim was successfully revived and fully recovered from the (incident) which nearly claimed his life”

Fire Assistant Chief Dennis Forgea and Plainfield Captain David Alvord were lauded for rescuing Mrs. Mildred Holmes and her pets from the tragic fire, which destroyed Mrs. Holmes’ residence.  “Due to the rapid unselfish actions demonstrated by these firefighters, a certain fatality was averted and Mrs. Holmes and her pets were rescued without injury.” – Bernard L. Forgea, 1984 Annual Report.


“Wally Page replaced Jim Martin who retired his office.  We have enjoyed a variety of new ideas in training with Wally from introduction to the Hadley Aquatic Rescue Team, which it should be noted Lelia Kaufman, Dave Wood, and Ray Vandoloski of the Cummington Ambulance are members of, to live fly in on the ball field of the Original “Life Flight” from U. Mass Medical Center in Worcester.

One of the highlights of the last couple of years is the nearly complete renovation of the meeting room in the Fire Station.  Financed by funds raised by the Fire Association, Inc.; volunteers refinished the ceiling, walls, floor and yes even much of the furniture.  A very generous donation of sanders and paper from Cummington Supply provided the necessary edge for a beautifully glossed floor.

A special tank you to Ada and Raymond Forgea for repairing all of the broken and loosely jointed furniture and then supplying the material and labor as a donation to recover all of the cushions!

In an effort to insure that emergency telephone stickers and cards are made available for Police, Fire and Ambulance, the Association voted to locally deliver phone books each year to each resident in Cummington.  This enables us to include a new sticker and card fore each phone.

As we begin the last half of 1984 it would be well to remind everyone that our “new” Ambulance will celebrate its 10th birthday next year.  Our still valued and venerable chariot of mercy is showing signs of her age.  New England weather, road sand and salt, rust, and a serious jam or two have combined to make 54 Al a candidate for replacement or extensive bodywork.  At the writing, a careful scrutiny is being given each option.  This $18,000 1975 ambulance now goes for approximately $42 - $45,000.” – Cummington Fire Association, 1984 Annual Report


1985 - $6,500 operating, $1,900 repair of Ford tanker, 3 Box (Structure), 4 Auto Accidents, 9 Chimney Fires, 2 Alarm Sounding, 5 Brush fires, 4 false alarms, 2 appliance malfunction, 2 wires down, 2 smoke odor, 2 car fires, 9 mutual aid.  The most serious fire was the April 26th fire at the Bartlett residence on Bush road.  Children playing with matches resulted in the loss of a two-car garage and a vehicle parked inside.

“We reported in 1983 that our Ford tanker was in need of body work “To slow the deterioration of both the cab and compartments on the tank.”  As part of the ongoing planning with the Finance Committee and the Selectmen to re-examine the needs of the Fire Department, proposals were being prepared to see which alternative would be more cost effective, replace the truck and tank with something newer or repair the existing unit.  The decision was made for us on January 14th.

As we backed the tanker in the station from a run, we noticed water dripping underneath the truck.  A closer examination revealed the 20+ year old tank had cracked a seam.  Immediately the firefighters went to work locating another tank.  One was found and the fire members set about installing the new tank on the old chassis.  Within a month the tanker was back “in service,” thanks to many, many hours of volunteerism by the firefighters.

The $2,400 renovation of the tanker was completed without exceeding the department’s allotment for last year.  A real tribute to the department’s ability to realign priorities and make grave sacrifices.

At the time of this report we have finished the electrical wiring and insulating upstairs in the station.  We also have a fire alarm system throughout the building.  Presently the alarm only rings locally.  We hope to have an automatic dialer installed so that any alarms will automatically be sent to our dispatch center in Amherst.

Requests for smoke detector locations continue to rise.  We are working with the camps in town helping them equip with fire alarm systems.  The cooperation we are receiving from everyone is most gratifying.

The Department continues to train one night a month in every aspect of firefighting.  As long a so good weather favors outside drills, the second Tuesday of each month at 7 PM finds the department practicing the various arts and skills associated with our task.

Short days and cold weather bring us inside to refresh our all too often needed First Aid and CPR skills.  Currently our roster has 27 active firefighters each trained in First Aid and CPR.” – Bernard L. Forgea, 1985 Annual Report


“Our annual plea goes out again for people to serve with us.  Supporting a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week ambulance service requires enormous resources.”  “We desperately need new EMT’s particularly daytimes.

We indicated last year that we were considering either trading in our ambulance or getting some badly needed repairs done to it.  After exploring both options we decided to fix it up one more time.  With some body work and a coat of fresh paint 54 A-1 looks like new.  We hope to get at least a couple more years of duty out of the old rig as it is virtually valueless as a trade in.” – Cummington Fire Association, Inc, 1985 Annual Report


1986 - $6,500 operating, $4,550.00 portable water tank, coats, boots, helmets and rechargeable lights, 6 false alarms, 2 Box alarms (structure), 4 auto accidents, 1 smoke odor, 1 car fire, 1 gasoline leak, 2 wire down, 4 chimney fires, 1 brush fire, 10 mutual aid; The most serious incident was the fire at the home of Paul (Red) and Mae Emerson of Main St.  Fortunately the Emersons, who were asleep in their second floor bedroom, were alerted by a recently installed smoke detector on the first floor of their home.  The resulting fire damage was confined to a small area of the wall directly behind their wood stove.

“We reported last year that we had finally completed the electrical wiring upstairs in the fire station and that we had included a fire alarm system and a temperature loss alarm system.  Fortunately the temperature loss alarm works perfectly as we lost heat in the station no less than six times last winter.  Each time the alarm alerted us early enough to prevent the freezing of the building’s water as well as the water in the apparatus’ tanks.  Each time temporary heating units were utilized to calm the situation and each time the furnace company was called to make the necessary repairs.  Finally, after numerous visits by the furnace repair people, the various problems were al resolved and what could have cost the town thousands of dollars to repair if apparatus tanks had split or building pipes burst and ruined ceilings, floors, and walls only cost the department $375.08.  We feel this is one time we can actually document a condition where significant savings actually have been realized, as opposed to being projected, through the timely installation of an alarm system.

During August of last year we were finally able to begin our annual testing of the water pumps on each of our two fire pumpers.  Unfortunately the pump on the Engine we purchased from Amherst failed to pump up to its rated capacity.  An estimate was received for repairing the unit and we expect the project to be completed this summer before the Cummington Fair.

On the lighter side, we went to bid for new personal protective clothing at the beginning of last year and were finally able to outfit each of our firefighters with safe reliable helmets, coats, and boots.  This year we plan to enhance this equipment with money approved at annual town meeting for fire resistive hoods and gloves fore each firefighter.

We also purchased four rechargeable hand lights for the department.  These lights we will be constantly recharged from the vehicles batteries via the lights’ mounting brackets, thereby providing a readily available source of portable light for the fire-fighter instead of the firefighters constantly having to rely on the uncertainties of regular battery powered lights.” – Bernard L. Forgea, 1986 Annual Report

“Last year our 1975 ambulance showed some more signs of her advancing age.  As the crew was returning from a trip to Northampton the vehicle began to respond very sluggishly, especially on hills.  A quick trip the garage revealed a need for a new transmission.” – Cummington Fire Association, Inc., 1986 Annual Report


1987 - $6,662.00 operating, $4,500 personal protective gear, 11 still alarms (includes gas and oil leaks and odors), 4 chimney fires, 6 auto accidents, 2 box alarms, 1 auto fire, 1 wires down, 1 brush fire, 1 false alarm, 6 mutual aid calls; The most serious fire call was an outside shed fire that, except for a quick thinking of a passerby who alerted the fire department and then used a garden hose to control the flames, could have been very serious.  The shed, attached to a house, suffered only minor damage.  Fortunately the home and the occupants were spared.

“Smoke detector location requests and inspections continue to be a major function of the department.  The department is able to report that at this time all of the camps in our community have been completely outfitted with fire alarm systems that provide for automatic notification of the fire department.

Also reported on last year was the fact that our oldest pumper failed to pass its annual pump test and that we had expected to have it repaired before the Cummington Fair.  Such was not the case.  The vendor hired to repair the pump was unable to perform the repairs that he had given an estimate on so the department was forced to look elsewhere for help.  Very luckily we located a shop that was able to not only repair the pump, but also performed some additional modifications to the truck that greatly improved the department’s ability to deliver water with this vehicle.  Since the final repairs to the pump cost slightly less than the appropriated amount, the balance of the fund was used toward the purchase of floating strainers which prevent the pumps fro sucking in sand and gavel from the stream and pond bottoms which caused the damage in the first place. 

Along with the strainers the department was able to follow it proposal and purchase for each firefighter a special fire resistant hood and pair of gloves.  These items certainly add to each firefighter’s overall personal protection.

The department did request capital funding for additional necessary equipment at the last town meeting but the necessary money was not available due to other financial constraints on the community.  However, the Cummington Fire Department ahs been able to replace some very badly worn and broken equipment and go forward with some new equipment as well.  Naturally this has only been possible because of the close working relationship between the various boards in the town and through the support of the town at large.  We only hope this forward momentum can be renewed next year and funds will once again become available to provide for the needs of the fire service.

Finally, the Cummington Fire Department continued throughout the year to drill with surrounding fire departments.  A drill to develop a prefire plan for the Cummington Farm Village was held at the facility and hosted by the Plainfield fire Department.  The early Sunday morning exercise gave the Plainfield, Goshen, Cummington, and Chesterfield Fire Departments an opportunity to discuss and try various tactical firefighting plans.  Similarly, a multi-town drill is expected to be tried again this summer at the Cummington Fair grounds.  The tow of Worthington hosted a smoke house drill in July, which drew approximately 20 firefighters from Worthington and Cummington.” – Bernard L. Forgea, 1987 Annual Report


“On the training front this past year was some what unique in that our town Fire Department and Ambulance squad participated in a pilot program run by the State Fire Academy.  We were offered the opportunity to receive training in the basic recognition and handling of Hazardous Materials.  The six-hour course was run at the Worthington Fire Department for all Hilltown Fire and Ambulance personnel. We report on the class here because of the seven Cummington residents anticipating, six were dual role firefighters EMT’s.

Over the past couple of years we have mentioned the slowly deteriorating condition of our ambulance.  Three years ago we decided to refurbish the body, repair the dents, nicks, and scratches.  The next year we had to replace the transmission.  Now with the patch job on the body’s exterior rusting through again and serous little problems beginning to plague us, we have formed a committee to develop a schedule and plan for replacing our 1975 ambulance.  By the time most of you read this you will already have received our letter appealing for donations toward the purchase of a new ambulance.  The present unit is twelve years old and really showing need for replacement.  In 1975, it cost $18,000.  A similar unit today is $60,000. So you can readily see the all volunteer ambulance service which manages 24 hour/day, 7 day/week coverage for the towns of Cummington and Plainfield is faced with a tremendous uphill challenge in raising this hugh amount of money in time to replace our existing ambulance by 1988.” – Cummington Fire Association, 1987 Annual Report


1988 - $6,662.00 operating, 22 still alarms (includes gas and oil leaks, odors, and alarms sounding), 5 chimney fires, 4 auto accidents, 3 box alarms, 1 brush fire, 1 mutual aid call;

“Each year the Fire Department comments on request for Smoke Detector locations.  Each year we have reported an increase I requests for both sales of homes and for new homes being built.  In fact, the demand increased to the point where another era has ended in the Fire Department.  As of April 1989 Town Meeting, the Fire Department has included in its budget, a line item for all inspections.  This will enable the Fire Department to pay the inspecting officer the fee applicable to the inspection being performed.  Also, as of the April 1989 Town Meeting, all inspection fees (oil burners, gas, smoke detectors, etc.) will be charged per visit, not per project.  This is a major change and should be noted.  Every time an inspector ahs to visit, and revisit a site, another full fee will be assessed.  As for the inspectors receiving the inspection fee, while that is new that in it self doesn’t change inspection requirements.  It simply means that the fees no longer go into the Town’s General Fund and the inspection gets done by volunteer time and at the out of pocket expense of the inspector.  The Department is simply re-directing the fees to the inspector to pay for the cost of doing the inspections.  All Fees are still payable to the Town of Cummington, preferable by check.  The inspector will submit a bill to the Fire Department for reimbursement.  This adjustment in procedure for Fire Department inspectors finally brings the Fire Department in line with every other inspector in town i.e. plumbing; gas, electrical, and building.

Turning to training, the annual First Aid, First Responder Class held in Cummington was very successful this past year.  The classes are held generally from late January through March and are not only interesting, but beneficial to the communities at large.  Everyone is welcome.  When you se the notice under Suburban news, make plans to join us.

Last year we indicated a multi-town drill was scheduled for the Cummington Fairgrounds.  The drill was timed to take advantage of the newly installed water system in Cummington, which for the first time in history, saw the water main go by the front gate of the Fair.  The drill was a huge success and presently the Cummington fire Department is working with the underwriters of the Fair to have the water main extended onto the Fairgrounds to a minimum of three hydrant locations to be determined by the Fire Department.

On the subject of the new town water system, the Cummington Fire Department again wishes to acknowledge the important significance of having a readily available ample supply of water for fire fighting should the need arise.  Summer or winter it doesn’t matter.  If the water supply in rivers and ponds is low due to drought or frozen over the fires in our community don’t care.  They burn freely until they either run out of fuel or enough water can be brought to bear to achieve extinguishment.  The Town of Cummington has chosen a path toward the latter along with insuring a reliable domestic supply.

Finally in this report the Cummington Fire Department has begun the arduous task of replacing our 1962 Engine 2 pumper.  To date we have had one vendor in to discuss vehicles with the Department’s selection committee with several others scheduled.” – Bernard L. Forgea, 1988 Annual Report


“Each year we try to keep the readers of this report apprized of the latest developments in the area of training for the Ambulance Squad.  Happily we are able to report that the Office of Emergency Medical Services (the state agency that governs ambulances in Mass.) ahs finally decided to reduce the number of hours of continuing education from 48 to 28 that each EMT must attend in a two year period to maintain their EMT certification.  To translate this into terms of everyday life it means that on the average, instead of being away from home for 16 evening over a two-year period, EMT’s now only need to attend 9 classes over the two years.  This is to ambulance attendants what the wheel was to land transportation!

The members of the Cummington Fire Association, Inc. are proud to announce that a contract has been signed for the purchase of a new ambulance to replace the venerable coach that has served us so well since 1975.  Last year we reminded everyone that our 1975 model was purchased for $18,000 and the projected cost to replace it was in the “neighborhood” of $60,000.  Well, as it turned out the “neighborhood” was considerably larger than expected.  In fact, the “neighborhood” finally turned out to be not only the entire back yard and “south forty” but also nearly the entire town.  The bottom line delivered, in-service, price of the new ambulance is $76,510!

The time for placing the new unit in service is December 1988 January 1989.  Hopefully we have a warm sunny mid-winter weekend so we can schedule an open house for all to come and share with us the joy of the receipt of this vehicle.” – Cummington Fire Association, Inc, 1988 Annual Report


1989 - $6,662.00 operating, $1,700.00 radios, $148,273.00 pumper tanker purchase, 1 lightning strike, 4 still alarms (smoke in building), 2 chimney fires, 6 car accidents, 10 automatic dialer, 2 brush fires, 3 car fires, 3 box alarms, 5 mutual aid calls; The most serious fires were the losses of the Albert Farms house on Dodwells Road, unoccupied at the time of the fire, and even more tragic was the Higgins fire on Bush Road, on 4/11/89 in which the Kevin Higgins family lost not only their home but all of their belongings.

“On training, the department ran its annual First Aid First Responder program and on the county’s first CPR programs under the newly revised criteria outlined by the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association.  Instead of the usual 3-4 hour re-certification, this year all re-certifications were mandatory 14-hour programs.  This is a tremendous burden to those who already have such limited available time.

We reported last year that we had begun the task of replacing our 1962 Engine 2 pumper.  The task was completed in June of 1989 when the Annual Town Meeting unanimously appropriated $148,273.00 for the purchase of a Pierce, combination 1,000-gallon pumper tanker.  This unit incorporates many of the changes necessary to equipment to insure efficient firefighting capabilities with today’s decline in the numbers of available volunteers, especially during the weekdays.  The Town is expecting delivery of this unit in April of 1990.

Finally, four members of the Cummington Fire Department and Ambulance service were honored by the Northampton Elks Lodge for “Excellence in Performance of Service in the Line of Duty.”  The following is a description of the incident that led to this award.


On Friday, January 27, 1989, at approximately 2118 hours, all Cummington Ambulance and Fire Personnel were summoned to a vehicle accident on Route 9 just east of the Village.  As is the case in many volunteer departments, personnel respond directly to the scene and await the arrival of fire apparatus and the ambulance.

Upon arrival at this scene, the first units observed that two motor vehicles had been involved in a collision and immediately thereafter these two vehicles had been struck by a third vehicle resulting in the passenger door of one of the original vehicles being pushed entirely through the vehicle into the driver’s seat.  The crashes also resulted in the rupturing of one vehicle’s gasoline tank, spilling its contents on the highway.  By now, all three vehicles were sitting in a pond of raw gasoline that was growing by the second as gasoline continued to pour from the damaged tank.

Closer investigation revealed the driver of the most severely damaged vehicle was trapped in her crushed auto.  This individual was conscious and pleading with the rescuers to free her.

At this point three Firefighter/First Responders and one Fire fighter/EMT having evaluated the scene and realizing the potential danger involved, with total disregard for their own safety, chose to attempt a rescue of the trapped driver.

The four firefighters directed other arriving personnel to seal off the highway to all traffic, left orders for a blanket of foam to be laid upon arrival of the first piece of fire apparatus, and then, proceeded into the gasoline spill to the pinned driver.  Several more minutes were to pass before the first engine or the ambulance arrived.

Continuing to ignore the dangerous situation they were in, the four firefighters methodically performed a secondary survey, which revealed a very severely angulated fracture of the patient’s right femur.  The rescuers place a collar on the patient, tied the legs together to splint and support the broken limb and removed the windshield from the vehicle to facilitate access for extrication.

By now the ambulance and engine had arrived.  Containment devices were located to prevent the further spread of gasoline and a cover of foam was spread in place.  The four rescuers continued to direct and assist the final extrication of the patient on a long board.

Their heroic effort resulted in the successful extrication, with no additional injury, of a victim that otherwise may well have perished, had these four volunteers not chosen to act as promptly as they did.

They were able to perform the required first aid functions due to their countless hours of training as First Responders / EMT’s.

Their decision to go forward in the face of almost certain disaster is a tribute to their personal courage, dedication, and commitment as volunteers.

For their unselfish act of heroism, with total disregard for their safety and well-being, the Cummington Fire Department proudly salutes Firefighter/First Responders Conrad Liebenow, Kevin Martin, and Michael Horton and Firefighter/EMT David Celino.

These Firefighters answered an alarm “above and beyond the call of duty.”

                                Very truly yours,

                                Bernard L. Forgea, Chief

                                Cummington Fire Department

Cc: Cummington Board of Selectmen


The Cummington Fire Department-Ambulance Service joins the Elks and the Town of Cummington in saluting these four individuals.  Well Done! We are proud of your! “ – Bernard L. Forgea, 1989 Annual Report


“As in the past we attempt through this annual report to keep the towns of Plainfield and Cummington updated on activities such as training.  This past year was particularly difficult for the EMT’s as the new CPR regulations became effective and instead of a two to four hour annual re-certification, each member of the squad not faced up to twelve hours of class and “hands on.”  Proudly each member met the challenge and many spent additional time to be certified as “Instructor Aids” so that they could assist the instructors when training our local First Responder Police and firefighters.”

“In our last report we informed you that we expected delivery of our long awaited new ambulance somewhere between December of 1988 and January of 1989.  Well, in fact we took delivery on June 14, 1989.  One delay after another resulted in several months waiting but at least we feel that upon delivery we got what we bargained for.  Were we Happy?  Well let’s put it this way, there are approximately eighteen members on the squad and on the day of delivery, probably eighty showed up!  On the very day we selected to swap from “Old faithful” to the new unit (June 15, 1989), we had gathered the entire squad to assist with the transfer and wouldn’t you know it, just minutes before the official “out of serve” for the old unit there came a call not just for Cummington or Plainfield, but a mutual aid call to cover on of our neighboring towns.  Just like the plan calls for, the duty crew jumped in the old unit and covered the call. Interestingly enough, and the reason for all of the rhetoric is that three hours later when the duty crew returned, most of the people were still assembled to assist with the transfer of equipment.  We all waited many, many years for this new unit and it does incorporate so many improvements over the 1975 unit that its difficult to remember how inconvenient “it used to be.”” – Cummington Fire Association Inc., 1989 Annual Report


1990 - $7,300 operating, 5 box alarms, 1 chimney fire, 6 car accidents, 1 car fire, 3 lightning strikes, 17 still alarms (includes automatic dialers, unauthorized burnings and smoke from cooking), 1 mutual aid; The most serious fire of course was the tragic loss on December 15, 1989 of the Ralph Page home on Nash Road.  Bitter cold temperature accompanied strong winds, which instantly turn hose lines and water spray into ice.  Fire units from the surrounding towns of Plainfield, Goshen, and Williamsburg assisted Cummington personnel in the attack on this blaze.  The Cummington Fire Department would like to express its thanks to these hearty souls.

“The Departments Annual First Aid First Responder Program held throughout January and February of 1990 was another hugh success.  The program continues to provide the required training necessary for surrounding communities’ police and fire personnel to meet state regulations.

On an even brighter note, usual cadre of instructors received a tremendous boost this year with the addition of John Horton, David Celino, Scott Keith, Heather Can field, Kevin Martin, and Tom Streeter to the list of CPR instructors available to our program.  Here we offer not only a thank you to these new volunteer instructors but also a very special “ Thank you “ to the Hampshire County Red Cross Instructor Trainer Chris Bak of Belchertown.  Chris traveled from Belchertown many nights to provide the instruction and guidance for this class! Thanks Chris!

On Friday, May 4, 1990 the long awaited day finally arrived.  At approximately 4 PM Clayton Cromack, the salesman for the Blanchard Fire Apparatus, delivered Cummington’s new 1,000 gallon pumper tanker.  After several hours of admiring the unit on the apron in front of the station, it was moved into the highway garage where Mr. Cromack and Byron Brooks (owner of Blanchard) conducted a five-hour class on the “care and feeding” of Cummington’s newest arrival.  This exhaustive presentation covered everything to do with this new truck from basic pump theory and actual repair of the pump, to the proper way to open the engine compartment hood.  Perhaps on of the greatest benefits of this class is yet to be realized.  The entire program was videotaped for future training sessions reviewing various aspects of the vehicle or for orientation for new members.  This type of resource was only a dream just a few short years ago.

Once Friday’s class concluded the Department reconvened on Saturday morning (in the pouring rain) to spend another 5 hours in a “hands on” pump class actually operating the pump.  This session was followed on Saturday afternoon with another 5 hours of driver training during which each member of the department was required to drive, operate and become familiar with the various aspects of driving a fully loaded fire truck that among other changes from our existing trucks, had an automatic transmission and not the usual standard shift.

Sunday morning concluded the driver training and that afternoon the department met at the station and swapped equipment from the old E 2 to the new unit.  By Sunday evening some 28 Cummington Firefighters had been fully trained in and had actually operated and driven the new piece.

The following day, Monday, four members of the Cummington Fire Department, Bernie and Dennis Forgea, Dann Emerson, and Gary Galvagni along with Bill Benoit from the Goshen Fire Department left for St. Paul, Minnesota to attend the manufacturer’s school on maintenance and repair of the pump in the new fire truck.  The week long school provided us with the knowledge and contacts necessary to provide many years of service for our new equipment.” – Bernard L. Forgea, 1990 Annual Report


“Our annual training in CPR recertification took on a new look last year as well.  In 1989 we reported that each member now had to complete a 12 hours course as compared to the old 3-hour course.  This extra amount of class time and the change in teaching format made it nearly impossible for the existing five instructors to complete the re-certifications in time.  The Red Cross changed the ratio of students to manikins a class could operate on so we begged borrowed and were given manikins by various agencies.  Northeast Utilities generously loaned some dolls to our volunteer effort; The Hilltown Police Association donated 2 very expensive manikins to our group; and the Chesterfield CPR Committee closed their bank account and donated the entire proceeds to our effort.  To each of you we say a very sincere “Thank you” and to all of your “You just make life so much nicer.”  We would also have to have VCR equipment available fore each class so wouldn’t you know the Friends of the Library loaned their unit to us as did the Plainfield Firefighters Association.  You all are very special people and certainly deserve the same praise and thanks expressed to those connected with manikin donations.  Thank you ever so much!  We are not able to run simultaneously, classes on all three floors of the Community House.  Only one problem remains!  We now had enough equipment and space to teach the new format and reduced ratios of 1 manikin to 2-3 students.  But, where do you get the necessary instructors? (You will have to read the Fire Department reports to find out.)

We have been operating out of the “new” ambulance since June 14,1989 and without fear of contradiction we are happy to report that after one complete year of service we wouldn’t change a thing.  In fact we delivered a set of our specifications to a nearby town who after trying out our unit, wanted to purchase one just like it.

One other major item to be mentioned is the fact that the Cummington Ambulance service became Defibrillator certified in 1989.  We purchased a $5,500 Defibrillator unit and presently have nineteen EMT’s certified to operate this unit.  Each EMT is required to attend a sixteen-hour training session, pass a practical and written exam and then recertify every three months on this unit.  These nineteen EMT’s also include Plainfield EMT’s who also purchased a unit for use in Plainfield.

We continue to interface more and more with the Critical Response Intervention Team (CRIT) from Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton and LIFE Team from Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield.  In fact in many cases if we are able to contact one of these units immediately upon our receipt of a call (depending upon the nature of the emergency) they can be enroute to Cummington or Plainfield before we reach the incident scene.  In a few cases due to extended extraction problems or other run complications these units have actually been able to reach us in the field at the scene prior to our beginning transport!  This kind of Paramedic – Doctor assistance on site combined with the drug therapy they can deliver to augment a defibrillator in action certainly move rural emergency care a giant step in the right direction.” – Cummington Fire Association, Inc, 1990 Annual Report


1991 - $7,299.86 operating, $3,925.00 radios, 11 smoke in building, 22 alarm sounding, 2 tree on wires, 2 auto accidents, 1 search party, 3 auto fire, 4 chimney fire, 2 brush fire, 4 mutual aid;

“Of the fifty-one calls responded to by far the most serious were the Mutual Aid calls to Plainfield on Route 116 on August 13, of 1990 when a home was completely destroyed by fire and then just three days later the call to River Road in Worthington on August 16, 1990 at Newborn Co. headquarters where the Mutual Aid efforts from several communities combined to save the main house of Newborn Co. while the attached barn was entirely consumed in flames.  No small task for any of the departments.  Our own Department has every reason to be extremely proud of its performance during that incident.  In fact a lengthy video was made during that fire that was show extensively at the Cummington Fair in 1990.  That video now resides in the Departments files.

This year marked the departing of long time firefighter and Officer David Wilcox.  David regretfully submitted his resignation to the Department he served so long to pursue business opportunities in another part of the country.  The Cummington Fire Department bids Lt. Wilcox farewell and offers our sincerest sense of gratitude for his long years of dedicated service to the Town of Cummington.  Good Luck David.

David’s position was not easily filled.  The process calls for all members of the Fire Department to be offered the opportunity to nominate a replacement lieutenant.  The nominations are based on training, leadership, and in general the skill, knowledge and ability of the candidates.  Then using the departing officer as the standard to be measured against, the Department’s firefighters (no officers) recommend a final candidate to the officers for confirmation.

The Officers meet to review the nominee’s credentials and to interview the nominee.  Any officer may ask the nominee any questions on any firefighting related subject(s) as they desire.  Hopefully this process will produce an individual worthy of replacing the departing officer.  In this instance the Department nominated and confirmed Delbert Robbins to replace David Wilcox.  Delbert’s name was presented to the Board of Selectpersons and finally Lt. Delbert Robbins was sworn in as a Lieutenant in the Cummington Fire Department.

So much detail is offered on this process because it happens so infrequently that most people have no idea how the leaders of the Fire Department are chosen.  In fact one would have to go back to 1980-81 to find the last promotions.  Congratulations to Delbert.

The leading category of calls, alarms sounding, deserves mention and some explanation as well.  This group contains “all other” calls, i.e. insects in alarms, workmen setting off units while working on systems, moisture, dust and dirt in alarms, etc.  This group could be significantly reduced by property owners doing timely inspection and maintenance on their systems.  While it is encouraging that there are ever increasing numbers of alarms being installed it is doubly important to maintain these systems as each alarm requires a response by the Fire Department which over time results in an impact on our operating budget.

On a different note:

As a result of the inspection of the Fire Department performed by Insurance Services Organization (ISO) the group which determines the insurance risk of each community for Fire Insurance companies to set their rates by, the Fire Department undertook an annual hose test which requires every single length of hose to be taken off of each piece of apparatus each year and undergo a rigorous test.  Each piece of hose must be numbered and each year a test is performed on that length.  The hose itself must not only be marked but also a log for every length must be maintained as well.

After several length meetings with the ISO Investigator, to review Department records, dispatch, training, equipment, and the town’s new water system the inspector retreated to evaluate Cummington’s situation relative to an improved rating for Fire Insurance.  Presently the town is rated a 9.  This rating was changed from an 8 in the 1970’s because of a decline the town’s water system.  We are hopeful to regain the number 8 rating and perhaps even improve to a lower number.  The lower the number the less property owners must pay for fire insurance in the area of the town rated by the number.  However, not all of the town has been reviewed.  Only that portion included under the new water system was rated.

The ISO inspector did provide us with the opportunity to modify many of the aspects of record keeping, testing, and maintenance performed by the Department.  This in and of itself will pay dividends to the town over time.

With regards to training: The Department hosted the Massachusetts Fire Academy’s Liquid Propane Gas fire school in May of 1991.  This action packed training is the subject of still another video in the Department’s library and in fact such a good job of filming was done that the Mass. Academy requested a copy for use in their future classes.  During this class a significant first was achieved by the Cummington and Goshen Fire Departments.  Never before had the Academy’s instructors seen this program while drafting all of the water required.  Normally all water is supplied via city water mains to pumpers which in turn relay the water under controlled pressure/ volume to the fire site.  What started out as a skeptical group of Academy instructors was quickly won over to the rural volunteer concept of getting water from draft.  The drill went beautifully under perfect weather conditions.

Staying with training for a moment, it is a pleasure to report that six member of the Cummington Fire Department were able to attend along with 6 other Hilltown firefighters the factory pump school put on by the manufacturers of the pump in our 1970 Maxim (54E-2) and of two of our portable pumps, the Hale Pump Co. Of Conshohohoken, PA.  Tom Streeter, Rich Granger, Gary Galvagni, Delbert Robbins, Dennis Forgea, and Bernie Forgea Attended the three day program which included not only a tour of the factory but also a very beautiful adventure in Hale’s parts room as well.  What a difference it makes talking to an old timer in the parts room about an obsolete part for our old portable pumps, versus a voice at the end of an 800-telephone number who says, “that part is out of production.  You will have to replace the pump.”  Needless to say, we obtained the necessary parts to keep our 1950’s vintage pumps running smoothly! – Bernard L. Forgea, 1991 Annual Report


“Interestingly enough, our ambulance responded to fifty-three (53) calls during the past year.  While that number appears low, consider that each response is very much an emergency and very few are simple transports anymore.

We continue to offer each year a comprehensive First Responder First Aid and CPR training program for area fire and police departments.  This past year we had students from Smith College Security Force in our program as evidence of the growing need for this training.  We reported in last year’s report that we had gained six new CPR instructors to assist in our training program.  They received a warm welcome in the classes and soon got over any “stage fright” they may have experienced on opening night.  A hearty thank you to all who assisted in putting on all of this training.

As we close 1991 and look to 1992 we are struggling with the concept of E-911 (Enhanced 911) for our town.  If we are successful in achieving our goal, any emergency call, police, fire, or ambulance will be made by dialing 911.  Many obstacles remain to be overcome and may have already been addressed.  A region wide committee ahs been appointed with the charge to develop the 911 concept for our area.  This committee has toiled unbelievable hours on this matter and I’m sure will not rest until 911 is a reality in the Hilltowns.  With so many other projects, activities, training, etc. going on it’s a miracle that anyone has any more time to donate.  We offer a “Thank You to that Committee.  Cummington’s representatives are Police Chief Raymond Vandoloski and Fire Lieutenant John Horton.

We continue to train and recertify our members on the Defibrillator Unit we reported on last year.  Thankfully we have not had to actually us it yet, although we have had the pads in place on several occasions.  We do have two newly certified Defib Evaluators on our squad, Wallis Page and Dennis Forgea.  Welcome!

The connection we enjoy with Life Team out of Berkshire Medical Center and Critical Response Intervention Team from Northampton has been enhanced by the addition of a CRIT unit capability out of Pittsfield to augment Life Team when Life Team goes out of service.  This gives our patients twenty-four hour a day paramedic coverage in either direction.  These units in many instances can nearly be in Cummington by the time we call for them, respond to the scene and prepare the patient.  In several instances these units have gotten all of the way into town prior to our own Ambulance departing.  Excellent service available to us.” – Cummington Fire Association, Inc, 1991 Annual Report


1992 - $7,300.00 operating, 11 smoke in building, 13 alarm sounding, 3 mutual aid, 5 auto accidents, 2 chimney fires, 1 illegal burn, 3 box alarms (structure fires);

“Last year we reported fifty-one calls as compared to this year’s thirty-eight!  The category with single greatest reduction was the “catch all” alarm sounding.  We reported last year this group could be significantly reduced by property owners doing timely inspections and maintenance on their system.  The Fire Department would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of property owners, which have caused such a significant reduction in alarms.  Each alarm requires a full response by the Department to investigate.  With a 41% reduction over last year’s “Alarm Soundings” this translates into money saved for the town and an enormous amount of time saved for the firefighters.  Please keep up the good work with your system.

Of the three Box Alarms listed the alarm sounding at 0059 on 9/19/91 was not only the most serious from the standpoint of property loss, but was by far the most spectacular scene as well.  The evening prior to this middle of the night blaze was rainy and interrupted by several severe weather fronts moving through the area.  Around midnight a weather front passed through the area spawning a violent thunderstorm.  Several strikes of lighting were heard by residents as the storm crashed around town.  Then one particularly terrible flash and bang of lighting awakened many people from sound sleep, rattled windows and frightened animals.  Within moments a call came into Fire Dispatch Center reporting a fire in the main lodge at Berkshire Snow Basin.  Our first units were on the scene in approximately three minutes reporting a working fire in the East side of this building.  Immediately an Incident Command system was established to direct the incident.  Mutual Aid was requested and received from four surrounding towns: Windsor- west side of the building, Plainfield – water supply and manpower, Goshen – County Air supply vehicle plus a tanker, Worthington – tanker – manpower.  Cummington focused on initial attack on the front and East side of the structure and finally stretched hose line to the rear of the building, plus early water supply until Plainfield arrived.

The Cummington Police immediately closed Route 9 and directed traffic through West Cummington’s Main St.  This action was necessary for nearly four hours as the fifty plus firefighters battled in vain to save the lodge.

Even as the fire raged, citizens were bringing refreshments to replenish energy burned up by the firefighters.  Again a sincere thank you to Ken and Jo Cyr of Remington Lodge for their support at the scene and to Martha Emerson and crew for the same.  In the excitement it’s very easy to overlook BASIC human needs.  The fire Department is extremely grateful to those who do remember and respond so unselfishly.  Thank you to each of your!

Naturally, given the weather described earlier, it continued to rain all night, which made conditions miserable indeed.  As if there wasn’t enough going on with the fire a call came in to the Incident Commander at one point reporting a tree had fallen across West Cummington’s Main St. Completely blocking the detour route.  The only personnel remaining uncommitted to the actual fire fighting duties were the Ambulance crew standing by just incase of injury to a firefighter at the scene.  This next point is what makes living in the Hilltowns special! The Ambulance crew (four women) was dispatched to investigate the situation with the tree.  They responded, borrowed a resident’s chain saw and cleared the street for traffic!

The Fire Department did request the assistance of the State Fire Marshall to investigate this fire.  Determination, to no one’s surprise – lightning strike.

A point worth mentioning here is the fact that this building was not protected by a fire alarm system.  A passerby on Route 9 first observed the building on fire and then had to drive to his home to report the fire, some 5-10 minutes later.  The Fire Department does have some video footage of this incident at it worse moments.

In last year’s report we went into great detail on the process the Department utilizes when selecting an officer.  Again this year we followed the same criteria when, after forty-seven years of dedicated service, Second Asst. chief Carl B. Liebenow retired from active duty with the Fire Department.  Carl’s career highlights were noted at, and Carl was guest of honor at the Annual Firemen’s Banquet.  At Annual Town meeting the entire community, along with Representative Jonathan L. Healy and Senator Jane Swift presenting proclamations from the State House of Representatives and State Senate and from Gov. Weld, paid tribute to Carl and his lovely wife Lillian for sacrificing and committing not just careers but lifetimes to public service for the town of Cummington.  Thank you to you both.

Lt. John P. Horton was selected to replace Carl as Second Asst. Chief of the Fire department.  Firefighter Eugene Granger was selected to fill the Lt.’s position created by the promotion of John Horton.  Congratulations to both Jack and Gene.  Both of these individuals have long meritorious records with the Cummington fire Service and will do well in their new roles.

As for training during the year the Department continued to train to meet the required First-Aid/First Responder demands plus a new dimension: sixteen hours of hazardous Materials first Responder training.  This latter category is a recent governmental mandate and is an ANNUAL requirement for all firefighters, Ambulance personnel and Police Officers.  The Cummington Fire Department was uncertain how it would be able to comply with such rigorous requirements but after several meetings with and telephone calls to the Mass. Firefighting Academy a plan was conceived.  The ideal plan called for the training to be done locally (in Cummington) for all Hilltown First Responders (as listed above) by someone readily available to meet our scheduling needs and of course this individual(s) had to be qualified to teach the material and certified by the Mass. Fire Academy to present the material to the students.  Cummington Firefighter William B. Brooks former Laboratory Supervisor at the University of Mass. VOLUNTEERED to undertake this challenge.  Bill traveled at night and on weekends to Williamstown to attend Mass. Fire Academy classes certifying him to teach for the Academy.  Upon completion of his teacher training Bill established a schedule to link up with the First Aid / CPR training offered by the Department each February – March.  Bill’s classes were arranged to begin upon completion of the 4 week First Aid / CPR program and run 4 additional weeks on the same evenings.  In following this modular format students are able to select only those segments he or she needs each year without having to attend on an annual basis up to 8 straight weeks of training.  Was Bill’s firs class successful? Absolutely.  He had 65 police; fire and ambulance personnel start and complete his program.  That is the single largest class we have ever had.

While on this subject of Bill Brooks, Bill found the time to complete some much needed maintenance and repair on the Fire House.  The many “little” jobs finally began to create problems at the station and Bill quietly volunteered his time to begin the long process of “catching up”.  One undertaking is of particular interest however.  Two years ago the town’s insurance carrier condemned the chimney for the furnace at the Station.  Bill directed a team of volunteers who removed the existing chimney and erected a brand new one in its place.  Contributing many hours to assist Bill on this project were Delbert Robbins, Dave Celino and Gary Galvagni.  The Department’s gratitude to everyone.

During the year of record as the result of training received, decisions were made by the Department to modify how the department would deploy it apparatus to enhance water delivery in future fire incidents.  These changes required major modifications to two of our piece, E-2 and E-3.  Each truck was to be outfitted with what in the trade is called a “10 inch Newton Dump Valve.”  Each valve costs around $450 and goes up from there according to various options on each.  Once the valves arrive they need to be installed into each water tank on the trucks.  This latter step can be, and is, troublesome and expensive.  Only one vehicle ever had a similar valve before but its installations in no way simulated the installation of a Newton Valve.  Not only were the water tanks cut open to receive the new valve but consider that the exterior skin of each vehicles as well had to be cut to accommodate the valve protruding through to the outside.  Naturally we expected our vehicles to look as good after the installations as they did prior to someone punching them full of holes.  The Department had one valve, although not complete and need a second one.  Enter Gary and Dianne Galvagni of Industrial Sheet Metal.  Their company undertook the task of completing this project IN THE SHOP AT NO COST TO THE TOWN OF CUMMINGTON.  Gary and Dianne have never offered to explain where the second Newton Dump Valve cam from.  From the Department’s standpoint that is quite clear.  We are not only grateful but indebted as well.  Anonymous donations are wonderful.  A thank you to Gary and Dianne for theirs is most appropriate.  THANK YOU both!

The Department also received fro Industrial Sheet Metal and Dennis Forgea much needed maintenance on our very old portable pumps.  With their assistance we now have these pumps back on line.

Before this report move on, a special not of appreciation to Lt. Delbert Robbins and the firefighters he gathers together to perform the numerous daily, weekly, monthly, or whatever checks on vehicles and maintenance jobs that never used to get done.  The kinds of preventative maintenance that keeps emergency equipment ready to run requires constant vigilance by someone.  The Cummington Fire Department’s someone is Lt. Del Robbins.  When you see the Department responding and it appears that everything is working as it should be it’s probably because Del has taken the time to pre-check the equipment and repair broken lights, adjust leaky valves, repair brakes, adjust the steering, and on and on.  There is no way to capture in actual dollars the incredible amount of money Del and his team saves the town.  It is however appropriate for he Town to say THANK YOU to Lt. Delbert Robbins and his team for all of their dedication.

The Department is happy to report the Annual Hose Test, as described in last year’s report, was completed again as well as the annual pump service test for engines E-1 and E-2.  Both trucks still pump to standards without problem.  However, the 1972 E-2 Maxim is faced with some major expense to the body components due to the compartments rusting out and replacement of the engine and transmission with a diesel-automatic.  The Department is in the process of developing a plan and time line for this project to present to the Finance committee and Selectpersons.

You will recall at the beginning of this report the story regarding Berkshire Snow Basin’s fire and how the scene was under the direction of an Incident Command System.  During this year the entire Cummington fire, Police and Ambulance departments participated in a class presented by the Mass. Fire Academy training us how to set up and manage ourselves, our resources and environmental concerns at various situations to which we respond.  The program was well received by all departments and provided us with the framework of a plan that can be expanded as required by any size incident.  This type of program has been long overdue in this area.  The department complimented the ICS program with the companion program “Tactics and Strategy”, also put on by the Mass. Fire Academy.  This training teaches the participants how to look at a situation and “size it up” relative to firefighting needs.  Again a very beneficial experience for our Department.  Speaking of “Tactics and Strategy” and “incident Command”, the Cummington Fair of 19992 provided an interesting opportunity to apply both concepts.  On Saturday evening the fair blacked out due to an overload circuit on Western Mass. Elec. Co.’s power lines.  As has been preplanned for years the “on duty” crews with the Ambulance and Fire truck on the grounds set up portable emergency lights and cleared all persons from inside of and closed buildings.  The fuses were replaced in the street returning the Fair to normal only to have the fuses go again in a short time.  Again the emergency steps previously taken were repeated.  Because of planning and cooperation between Fair officials, Police, Fire, and Ambulance personnel, there were no injuries or other incidents.  Before we move on it should be noted that each year at the Fair the town of Plainfield, Savoy, Chesterfield, Goshen, and Worthington have Fire and Ambulance personnel on the grounds available to Cummington.  Thankfully we have only had to utilize these departments on a few incidents.  It is a comfortable feeling knowing they are there and the Cummington Fire Department thanks them for that.

The brightest moment in this past year occurred on April 11, 1992 when firefighters Susan Gallerani and David Celino were married.  As can be imagined all had a good time and we certainly wish Mr. And Mrs. Celino the very best in the world.

John Horton, Second Asst. Chief continues in his role as E-911 coordinator for Cummington working to bring E-911 to the Hilltowns.  Jack continues to attend numerous meetings to this end and has tirelessly worked with Bryan Thackeray and Sue Forgea on the Street Numbering Committee to ensure the town street numbering system matches that of the U.S. Postal Service and the information is accurately recorded by the Telephone Company.  The Street Numbering Committee was responsible to measure EVERY street in town, number every lot, and be certain no two streets had the same name.  Finally, that every street had a name, period.  As can be imagined, this committee put in hundreds of volunteer hours to get Cummington ready to go on line with E-911.  They are to be commended for their fine work.

The Department reports that it now appears our Emergency Services (Police, Fire, Ambulance) dispatching will be done through the Massachusetts State Police in the future.  More to come on this.

Gary Galvagni, newly appointed training officer to the Department, continues to schedule monthly drills for our firefighters.  Gary has held a couple of “special” drills involving other departments as well.  These mutual aid drills pay big dividends when working with other departments at an incident.

As anyone can readily see the past year has been busy for us but with the great support of the Town of Cummington, the year flew by.  Thank you to everyone for all of the support. – Bernard L. Forgea, 1992 Annual Report


“During the past year our Ambulance service responded to sixty-one calls between Cummington and Plainfield.  The types of calls ranged from minor trauma, which required attention by the crew on duty to major accident trauma and cardiac symptoms requiring the intervention of Advanced Life Support Units from either Berkshire Medical Center or Cooley Dickinson Hospital.  We reported last year that the Advanced Life Support Units were now available from either BMC or CDH on a 24-hour basis.  We have had the opportunity to test their availability on a 24-hour basis and happily report that is true.

Each year we attempt to update the status of our ever-growing comprehensive First Aid / CPR training program for police, and fire First Responders.  If you haven’t already done so please turn to the Fire Department’s report for the latest addition to our program under the direction of Firefighter William B. Brooks.

At last year’s Annual Fire / Ambulance banquet we took the opportunity to share with the group in attendance some interesting statistics relative to the amount of volunteer time which has been given to the First Aid / CPR portion of our training.  The statistics are as follows:

Training began in 1978 and has been held continuously since.  20 instructors have been involved during this period.  The evaluation data covers 13 years.  From 1978-1990, the twenty individuals over 13 years have given a total of 28,458 hours of time!  Official breakdown by the American Red Cross shows that the 20 volunteers have taught a total of 93 years, which averages 306 hours per year.

Some instructors have been with the program for one year or 306 hours.  Some have been with the program for 13 years or 3,978 hours!  Anyway viewed these figures demonstrate a tremendous commitment by this group to meet the needs of area police and fire departments who must comply with the state First Responder Law.

In our last report we reviewed the work the Fire Association undertook to improve and expand our car parking facilities at the Cummington Fair.  This year we made permanent installation of poles and lights, which for the past several years had been in a temporary status.  We rented from Joe Czpanck of Berkshire Septic (at a greatly reduced rate) a digger derrick truck and proceeded to set three more poles, anchors, strung permanent wire and installed ten more high intensity lights.  These improvements will greatly assist us in our use of some remote lots.

Monica Vandoloski agreed to oversee the Fair raffle again this year but notified the organization that she desired to retire as raffle chairman.  Monica and crew once again did the usual fine job with the raffle.  At the conclusion of this year’s Fair, Dianne Galvagni and Sue Forgea cam forward to take over directorship of the raffle.  Since they both have long histories associated with fundraising we see the raffle in fine hands.  Dianne and Sue, as well as Monica in recent past will look once again to Brian Anderson to construct and decorate (along with his wife Diane) another beautiful dollhouse.  Brian and Diane’s creations are truly works of art and take nearly a year to complete.  The dollhouse serves as the Central Theme for the annual raffle, which is surrounded by many more beautiful prizes donated by patrons of the Ambulance service.  Martha Emerson continues to donate handmade quilts and other sewing items.  Many local businesses and many friends donate prizes that cover the entire spectrum of imagination.  The list of contributors is so long that it can’t possibly be represented here.  However, please do not feel that these unnamed sources are taken for grated.  All money raised through the parking and raffle goes to support the existence of the Cummington Ambulance.  For any support we receive we are truly grateful.  Thank you to ALL!

Last year in this report we asked the question of the Ladies Softball Team if “having Gary Galvagni in the ‘Big Dunk’ (would) help profits?”  This year we report (based on reliable information from the ladies and the roar of the crowd heard at the Fairgrounds while G.G. was sitting in the dunk) Gary sitting in the dunk boosted profits immensely.  It’s rumored other organizations (even out of town) want to rent G.G. from the ladies to sit in their dunks.  The Ladies Softball Team again made a very large donation to the Ambulance Fund from their “Big Dunk” fair profits.  Ladies, Thank You so much.

E-911 was a subject we brought up last year so we update this year.  Second Asst. Fire Chief John P. Horton continues as town liaison for this huge project.  With another year of meetings behind him, (many are during the day and Jack is forced to use his vacation to attend), Jack reports that the short answer is it appears the Town of Cummington Emergency Services will be leaving the County Dispatch facility located in the Amherst Fire / Police Dispatch Center and will be joining the Massachusetts Sate Police in a new system.  We view leaving Amherst with mixed emotions and with a true sense of gratitude for the excellent service provided since 1979.  However, like most things in life, nothing stands still.  We look forward, eagerly, to developing a relationship with the Mass. State Police similar to that enjoyed for so many years with Amherst.  With change, comes new opportunities and challenges.  The Cummington Fire Association along with the Cummington Fire Department expects to work with the State Police to improve our existing capabilities.

Something new has happened with our Defibrillator program in Massachusetts.  Yes our squad continues to train and annually certify with our unit.  Now, however, the State has approved the training for all First Responders, i.e. Police and Fire personnel and does not limit this very valuable piece of lifesaving equipment to EMT level.  This is a welcome step especially out here where during daytime in the past there may not have been anyone around who could administer this machine.

During this past year the Federal Government implemented regulations which require certain agencies whose personnel administer First Aid or could come in contact with another’s body fluids in the course of normal duty conduct to be offered, at no expense to the individuals, a series of Hepatitis B vaccinations.  Locally this included all Ambulance, Police and Fire personnel.  The Cummington Ambulance working through the Western Mass. Emergency Services Region 1 Director, Linda Moriarty, put together a program and successfully treated 22 out of 44 members of our Police, Fire and Ambulance crews.  The other 22 received their series of injections from their private medical providers at no expense to the town or to their agency.  The Cummington Ambulance Service funded the program for the other half of the personnel.  Presently 100% of our First Responders are protected.  A tribute to the cooperation between Fire, Police, Ambulance, Linda Moriarty, and to the ladies who gave generously of their own time to actually give the injections to the personnel.  Each person received 3 injections over a six-month period.  Lucille Temple and Mary Williams donated the time necessary to administer the serum and then even chased down a couple of us to complete the required paper work.  To both Lucille and Mary man, many thanks.

A new concept (for us anyway) in fundraising began in November of 1991.  Let’s back up a step.  Always looking for ways to raise money, the Association is willing to and has tried many, many things, some succeed, and some don’t.  When Gary Galvagni suggested at a monthly meeting we consider setting up a bottle and can collection site for returnable containers as a fundraiser, the group immediately questioned the wisdom of this (not just because it was Gary’s idea).  Would there be volume enough?  Where to locate the container.  What type of container, etc. etc.  After nearly NINE months of consideration and constant prod from Gary, the Association purchased at a very attractive price a used horse trailer from someone sympathetic to our project (Linwood Clark of Williamsburg).  The trailer was sandblasted inside and out, rewired, painted and placed next to the Fire House.  Automatic lights were installed to proved 24 hour / day access for dropping off returnables.  Mike and Terry Robbins created and donated a beautiful sign for the site.  We are in business.  The only individual who was not surprised by the volume of returnables was Gary Galvagni.  The rest of the group is still wonder where they all come from Gary G. said “I told your so.”   He’s correct.  From the Cummington Fire Association to all who deposit with us, thank you so very much.  We hope to continue this endeavor for years to come.  Yes, the white barrels at the Compactor go into the same fund.  Our idea was to provide another opportunity to catch returnables before they ended up in a landfill.  Thank you to everyone.

Sue Forgea again headed the food booth at the Annual Men’s Softball Tournament.  Even in these economically depressed times people need to eat.  Sue’s efforts were rewarded as she turned in a tidy profit to support the Ambulance.

During the summer of 1992 the Fire Association was approached about running the hamburg / hot dog concession at the now famous Bryant Homestead Craft Fair.  Naturally we said yes and so begins what we hope will be a long, long association.  Monica Vandoloski, a member of the Trustees of Reservations, the board that oversees the Bryant Homestead, suggested to the trustees that perhaps the Association would consider attempting the project in view of the Associations’ constant interest in raising money to support the all-volunteer Ambulance.  The weekend was a huge success and many lessons were learned by those who worked.  Some may recall this was the same picture perfect weekend the organizers (Dave Gokey and Grew) of the now annual, famous, growing Ambulance Chase Race was run at Swift River Inn.  Words seem inadequate to thank all who worked that weekend on both projects.  Wouldn’t you know right in the middle of this beautiful weekend with nearly all of our fire, ambulance, and police personnel participating n one or the other events a fire alarm cam in from one of the children’s camps in town.  There were several very tense moments until 54-X-7 (Delbert Robbins) reported “on scene investigating” ----alarm reset” Delbert says he was considering activating our mutual aid plan, fortunately he didn’t have to.

This year’s report has dealt very heavily with reporting on the various activities that financially support the Ambulance.  So no one is left with impression that we have lost site of our primary goal, patient care, we have not.  The squad continues to medically train to certify in CPR defibrillation, MAST, splinting, bandaging, wound care, shock and survey, extrication (vehicle, farm machinery, etc.) stabilization and so on.  We just thought people might be interested in what we do in our spare time when we aren’t training for Fire, Police or Ambulance duty!

A special note to anyone who may have even the slightest interest in becoming an EMT with Cummington.  Please contact Bernie Forgea at 634-5458 or Wally Schneider at 634-2165, Dave Celino at 634-5618 or Dennis Forgea at 634-5358.  We need help desperately!

The Cummington Fire Association has been linked through the Ambulance service to Plainfield since 1956.  The Fire Department connection goes back even further to the 1940’s.  Yet, at least in recent memory, a specific thank you to Plainfield’s Emergency crews, Police, Fire, EMT’s ahs not been offered.  We have a very special relationship with Plainfield and the excellent providers there.  Many times an Ambulance call to a resident in Cummington is handled completely by Plainfield personnel.  The Plainfield EMT’s respond to the call, pick up the Ambulance, transport the Cummington resident to the appropriate medical facility, return the Ambulance to Cummington, and then return to their homes or jobs in Plainfield.  To us that is a very unique relationship, one to be cherished and cared for.  To Plainfield, if we never said thank you before we are saying it now!  Thank You!  Truly don’t know how we would continue without everyone there.

As we close this year and begin again two new items we will be purchasing and hope to report on next year are the installation of a cellular telephone in the Ambulance to improve communications and security of messages over the air, and the other item, which is particularly exciting because if it works out, and we are presently testing the equipment, we will be the only Ambulance service around to have on board as part of any transfer: equipment capable of automatically checking blood pressures, pulse, and oxygen level in the blood, and provide the information on a printout.  More next year.

To conclude, the members of the Cummington Fire Association, Inc. again say thank you to EVERYONE who so generously supports us each year.  We believe you will agree the dedication of these volunteers supported by you makes the Hilltowns a special place for us to live, a place others only dream about living in.” – Cummington Fire Association, Inc. 1992 Annual Report


1993 - $8,496.45 operating, 11 alarm sounding, 6 smoke in building, 1 motor vehicle accident, 14 still alarms, 3 mutual aid, 1 pump test, 11 outside burn, 3 box alarms, 1 vehicle fire, 1 storm standby;

“As reported last year “Alarm Sounding” continued to be high in responses.  After reviewing the “run reports” to the locations that were experiencing repeated alarms, an all out effort was launched toward reducing this category.  It is too early to report, but preliminary indications show greater efforts by property owners toward policing their systems has greatly reduced this category of call thereby saving the town’s money in cost of each response.

There were three “Box Alarms” listed for the past fiscal year.  The greatest dollar loss was the Patenaude shed fire on March 12, 1993 wherein the property owners witnessed the total destruction of their shop at the rear of their home.  The Town of Cummington received mutual aid on this bitter cold night from Goshen and Plainfield.  Many thanks to those who responded to our call.

The Box Alarm with probably the largest response of personnel in recent history was the call on November 26, 1992 (yes, Thanksgiving day) at approximately 12:00 NOON.  Units from Windsor, Plainfield, and Worthington raced to assist Cummington Firefighters in containing and extinguishing flames at the Nancy Clemo residence, Cole St., Cummington.  Again, the Town of Cummington is extremely grateful to everyone who responded to our request for help!  Tough day, difficult call, great results! Thank you.

During the spring of 1993, area fire departments were invited to Goshen to attend a class on the County Air truck.  The purpose of the program was to familiarize area departments in the use of the County Air truck.  Up to this point we had been content to rely on the good graces of Goshen emergency personnel to always bring this equipment to any emergency, then stay and operate it for us – NICE DEAL if you are not from Goshen!  Who by the way never complained about the situation.  They simply pointed out to us the shortcomings if they didn’t have sufficient personnel.  Our imaginations did the rest.

We continue to hold medical first aid and first responder training, CPR, and Hazardous Material training for our area police, fire and ambulance personnel.  Each module is designed to meet current state, local and or Federal requirements as applicable and as expected each is well attended.  Last year the Hazardous Materials class had 65 police, fire and ambulance personnel in attendance.  Attendance for the class reported this year was 85!  Congratulations to William B. Brooks of Cummington for another fine performance.  Bill also continues to “carry on” with those repairs at the Fire Station that otherwise would exhaust our budget.  He replaces doors, glazes windows, and assists Eugene Granger in providing CPR to the buildings heating system.  While on the subject, Gary Galvagni, his supervisor Dianne Galvagni, Brian Anderson, Dennis Forgea, Robert Dextraze, Kathy Patella, and Sue Forgea are also in line for kudos.  Each separately and collectively have promoted the emergency cause in town and deserve recognition fore their unselfish pursuit in getting the rest of us to help the department in various fund raising activities.  Not to slight the balance of the department, everyone participates and contributes.  However, occasionally it’s useful to identify particular contributions, i.e. Diane Galvagni informing Gary he had to help the department scrape roads instead of going fishing. (Again).  Seriously, Gary and Dianne through their company engineered and installed a new safety device on our tank trucks when dumping water.  Prior to this innovation a firefighter had to stand between the tank and the back of the backing truck to operate the dump valve.  After observing a “near miss” incident in September of 1992 (in which a firefighter was nearly run over while positioning himself behind a tank truck still backing up to a tank, Gary Galvagni immediately set out to correct this situation.  He again took Engine-2 into his shop and outfitted it with a set of remote controls that permits operating the dump valve from the side of the truck instead of behind the vehicle as previously indicated.  We hope sometime in the coming year to apply similar controls to the other two engines as well.

On January 9 and 10, 1993, the Cummington Fire Department hosted “ Wildlands Fires” a Massachusetts Fire Academy program aimed at training firefighters in preparing for and dealing with the interface between wildland fires and structured firefighting.  No better example of problems involved with wildland fires encroaching on buildings that the current history of Malibu California burning to the ground due to out of control wildland fires.

In the East we refer to wildland fires as forest or brush fires.  The result is the same however.  Where homes continue to be built further off roads surrounded by combustible vegetation sooner or later similar circumstances could happen here given all the necessary ingredients i.e. hot dry winds to fan fire as it races through vegetation, dead and tinder dry from prolonged drought.  To address this issue the Cummington Fire Department has held two training sessions with the Department of Environmental Management Forest Wardens to prepare operational plans and develop tactics and strategies for use in such circumstances.  Additionally, during the past year members of the Fire Department have been working very closely with the Department of Environmental Management, Department of Forest and Parks, Division of Forest Fire Control, to obtain excess property through the Federal excess property program.  Any items so obtained must be used in the pursuit of forest fire fighting (actual used in fight fires) or in assisting forest fire fighting efforts i.e. repairing or building fire access roads.  Again our personal thanks to Gary Galvagni, Delbert Robbins, Robert Dextraze, Eugene ranger, Dennis Forgea and David McCarthy for their dedication to this effort.  I expect their efforts to make a significant impact on Cummington.

At the close of the past fiscal year the Cummington Fire Department re-proposed to the Selectboard a plan wherein the Fire Department would work for the town Highway department providing a predetermined number of labor hours at $6.50 / hour.  The uniqueness of the plan was the feature that the Fire Department was to use the revenue raised in this project to purchase protective firefighting clothing for Fire Department members.  On June 30, 1993 the Fire Department completed 200 hours of labor with the Highway department consisting of scraping gravel roads, cleaning waterways, and cutting brush.  We all learned a great deal about the demands of roadwork.  It’s not as easy at it appears.  Hopefully (if there are any volunteers left) the Fire Department will be able to repeat this effort next year and continue to purchase much needed equipment.

Referring back to the list of calls responded to by the Fire Department, notice “Storm Standby – 1.”  This represents the March of 1993 blizzard, which dumped 30+ inches of snow on our area.  From Friday evening’s preparations of emergency generators, food and fuel supplies, members of the Department left their homes to live at the Station to staff the Town’s Emergency Operations Center through Sunday afternoon.  From the Center Food was prepared for plow crews and the firefighters and ambulance attendants on duty.  The E.O.C. contacted Area IV Civil Defense for National Guard assistance Saturday evening when up to 80% of all town roads were declared lost and impassable to vehicular traffic by the Highway Department.  An emergency shelter with back up generation was established at the Cummington Community House where several people stranded on snow clogged roads sought shelter for the night.  All preparations were made possible by the generous support of the members of the Fire Service and their families.  My personal thanks to each of you who helped so much that long weekend.

The Fire Department continues to perform annual test on our hose and pumpers.  We happily report again all went well with the tests.

Last year the department reported on the deteriorating condition of E-2, a 1971 Maxim 1,000 gal. Pumper.  The department pursued plans for either replacing or rehabilitating this vehicle.  Based on the history of this piece, i.e. pump test results, low mileage, and low usage we obtained estimates to rehabilitate rather than replace at this time.  Preliminary figures indicate it most cost effective to put some money into the truck and extend its useful life 5-10 more years.  The Department intends to pursue this option with the Selectboard and the Finance Committee for the coming fiscal year.

Jack Horton, Second Asst. Chief continues to track E-911 for Cummington and reminds everyone to put up those house numbers.  They are extremely important as precious time can be saved if the fire, ambulance and police can quickly locate the correct address of an emergency.  Please get your numbers up!

Another action packed year ahs closed and as we look forward to yet another year the members of the Cummington Fire Department would like to pause a moment to reflect on the great support provided by the Town of Cummington.  Thank you all for being there for us.” – Bernard L. Forgea, 1993 Annual Report


“The past year saw our ambulance respond to fifty-one emergency medical calls and the three “Box Alarms” responded to by the Fire Department.  We continue to intercept with Berkshire Life Team from Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield and CRIT (Critical Response Intervention Team) from Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton.  These two advance life support units are available to us on 24-hour per day basis thereby providing Paramedic care to our patients long before we arrive in the Emergency Department.

As indicated in the Fire Department’s report our cadre of First Aid / CPR / Hazardous Materials instructors continue to provide quality classes for area police, fire and ambulance personnel.  Again we extend our gratitude to these volunteers.

E-911 is much closer to reality as this is written.  Jack Horton, Second Asst. Fire Chief continues to attend meetings and update the Police, Fire, and Ambulance services on progress to date.  We know Jack has contributed hundreds of volunteer hours to this major project and we need to let him know how grateful we are.  Thank you Jack!  The only request Jack wishes of us is to please get your house numbers up according to the regulations. PLEASE!

Wally (Schneider) Granger continues to supply our monthly schedules for the duty on the Ambulance.  Wally, honestly we wonder how you manage with so many open slots to fill!  Anyone interested in becoming an EMT?  Please call Bernie Forgea 634-5458, Wally Granger 634-2165, or Dennis Forgea 634-5358.  Wally Granger continues to coordinate an annual refresher course for Ambulance personnel.   This program requires dozens of hours of Wally’s time because of the criteria that need to be met in order for us to get continuing education credit for attending.  Another heavy demand on someone who is away working all day.  Thank you Wally!

You may recall in last year’s report we mentioned the fact we hoped to be able to report on two new items for the ambulance, a cellular telephone and a pulse oximeter.  The cellular phone became a reality o March 12, 1993, just in time to be used during the blizzard that weekend.  With the phone available we were able to utilize the Fire House as the Town’s Emergency Operations Center (E.O.C.) and maintain contact with various agencies necessary to provide support to the community i.e. Area IV Civil Defense Headquarters in Belchertown, Western Mass. Elec. Co., media and National Guard Units and State DPW.  The pone we purchased is called a transportable and can be used in or out of a vehicle as the situation warrants.  Normally the phone is on board the Ambulance with its primary purpose to provide patient information to the hospitals instead of over the 2 way radios as we did in the past.

The other item we now carry on the Ambulance is a device capable of automatically checking blood pressures, pulse, and oxygen level in the blood and provide the information on a printout.  This unit costs several thousand dollars and was entirely donated by the Plainfield Fire Association.  We said it last year in this report and we repeat it this year; we have a very special, unique relationship with Plainfield, one to be cherished and cared for.  Plainfield, thank you so very much for being there for us!  This unit enables the crew to provide timely accurate vital signs to the hospital and responding paramedics so that better decisions on patient care can be made much more quickly than ever before.  This unit, thanks to Plainfield, truly moves our Ambulance service into the future.

As we wind down yet another action packed year mentioned here for information is another venture the Association ahs voted to undertake, Driver Training for our personnel.  Not the “run of the mill” kind of training one might imagine but training done by professionals of the National Safety Driver s Council at their West Boylston, MA facility.  The training will include emergency driving, maneuvers, skids, and slides with fire apparatus and ambulances. (NO, NOT OUR EQUIPMENT!)  Dennis Forgea has completed a Train the Trainer program enabling him to assist in this type of training.  Our goal is to be able to provide this program locally with our own course and instructor.

The members of the Cummington Fire Association want to again say thank you to everyone who so generously supports us each year.  We say thank you every year and every year we have more to be thankful for.  It gives us great pleasure and satisfaction serving the towns of Plainfield and Cummington.  Thank you All. – Cummington Fire Association, Inc., 1993 Annual Report


1994 - $8,707.36 operating, $7,229.00 for turnout gear, $1,771.00 replace oil tank, 2 box alarms, 11 still alarms, 6 chimney fires, 5 vehicle accidents, 2 brush fires, 1 illegal burns, 6 mutual aid, 0 alarm sounding, 2 vehicle fires;

“Review of last year’s records show a 100% decrease in “Alarm Sounding” category.  Our special tanks to property owners who are determined to police their alarm systems to increase proper maintenance.  The reduction from 11 calls to zero in just one year translates into money saved for the town.  Of the two Box Alarms listed last year the Gero fire at 0330 March 21, 1994 certainly was by far the largest dollar loss.  At approximately 0330 an alarm was called in by the radio of a Cummington fire fighter on his way to work (Tom Streeter) reporting a structure fire at the Dale and Donna Gero residence off Packard Road.  Anyone there that morning will promptly testify to the bitter cold (sub-zero) weather endured that night as fire departments from Windsor, Goshen, Plainfield and Worthington came to Cummington’s assistance.  The hours wore on as the crews attempted to shuttle water up the mountain side to the foot of Gero’s driveway where trucks, barely able to navigate the icy road (due to spilled water), dumped the water into portable bags for another pumper to pump the water up the 500 foot driveway to the fire scene.  Efforts concentrated on saving the Gero’s home less than forty feet from their fully involved barn containing not only all of Dale’s contracting tools but which was also home to Donna’s horses.  The valiant effort by all did in fact save the house, which only suffered minor scorching and some cracked glass due to the heat.  The barn and its contents were a total loss except for the horses” In an act of pure heroism Dale Gero ran to the burning barn (the sound of popping from the fire and bright light through their bedroom window had awakened the Gero’s only to find the phone lines burned off) to free the horses into the barn year.  As Dale attempted to lead the horses out the doorway, one of the animals confused and frightened by the smoke and heat reacted by kicking Dale in the forehead.  Luckily the horses had very recently had their shoes removed otherwise, Dale would have been much more seriously injured, even killed.  As it was, the first units on the scene discovered Dale in the yard with blood streaming from his head.  The Ambulance crew was immediately brought up to the scene to care for and transport the injured.  The horses were (are) fine.  The Cummington Fire Department extends it gratitude to everyone who assisted us on that terrible morning.

The other Box alarm, May 7, 1994 at the Cunningham residence, Main Street, while not as spectacular, had the potential for loss of life and buildings.  The Cunningham’s were awakened around midnight by smoke detectors operating in their living room.  Investigation showed smoke escaping from the wall around their fireplace.  As fire units arrived and began to open walls search for the fire, it was soon discovered the fire had spread into the ceiling as well.  Fortunately, early detection enabled a great stop.  The structure was damaged but fortunately damage was limited and this time there were no injuries.

Each year we attempt to inform the public on our continuing medical training for ourselves and surrounding communities.  We offer full Medical First Responder training, including CPR and Hazardous Materials.  William Brooks has continued to train and upgrade this program to the point that he has a “sold out “ audience each year.

Industrial Sheet Metal (Gary and Dianne Galvagni) did exactly what they said they would do and installed safety controls on the Engine 3 enabling us to dump water from the side of the truck, not directly behind it as we have in the past.  Recall last year that we reported an incident during a drill in which a fire fighter was nearly backed over as he stepped behind a truck to activate the dump mechanism when suddenly the driver’s foot slipped and pushed the accelerator instead of the brake.

The Cummington Fire Department continues to raise funds by various means and methods.  To that end I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank, not only you the public who supports us, but also each fire fighter and EMT for their continued unselfish contribution to our success.  I have the privilege of being allowed a leadership responsibility with a wonderful group of individuals and can only hope my contributions to them reflect what they give me.

If you will, take a minute and return to last year’s report, page 100.   You will find a paragraph dedicated to Wildlands fire and Federal excess property program.  At the conclusion of the paragraph I made a statement.  Well, that statement is coming true, at least in the eyes of the Department.  We have been able to continue our training AND acquire equipment, which enables us to build, construct, and clean out existing ponds as water supply for fire fighting.  Our first effort was not only a huge undertaking but a huge success as well.  In January we approached the Trustees of Reservations about the possibility of dredging the Bryant Pond and installing a dry hydrant.  The Trustees offered enthusiastic support for the project since they had spent a great deal of money similarly in the eighties only to have the pond refilled by the infamous flood of July 29, 1986.  The Cummington Conservation Commission was contacted for guidance on our ambitious project, which they willingly gave.  Bill Volk of Lorraine Engineering donated his time and expertise developing plans and procedures for this project.  Hearings were held, permits were issued, hay bales were placed, equipment poised, pond drained, Martha and Steve Emerson read to feed the legions of volunteers, and the project began.  Through generous contributions of equipment form Western mass. Elect Co., again Peter Marcoux, Granby Fire Department, personnel from Windsor Fire Department, the project lasted sixteen hours per day for four days.  Martha, Steve and family served from gas grills on site breakfast at 0600, lunch at 1200, all four days.  To them and everyone who sacrificed so much personal time, I can only say on behalf of Cummington and myself “Tank You!”  I urge anyone who hasn’t heard of the project or seen the results of everyone’s efforts to please visit the Bryant Homestead Pond for a peasant view of a restored resource for all.  The spot is beautiful for picnics and lunging.  More on this type of project next year.

Similarly, last year the Fire Department reported working on a project unique to Cummington.  We completed our work and, as promised, utilized the money gained to purchase fire equipment.  The Town of Cummington voted $9,000.00 for fire capital purchases.  Out of this figure had to come money to remove our aging underground furnace fuel oil tank and replace it with an above ground unit (project estimated at $2,500.00).  Again due to contributions of labor and equipment the Fire Department was able to accomplish this task for approximately $1,700.00.  The balance of the money from the $9,000.00 went toward new turn out gear for fire fighters.  Still, the total price tag for this equipment was slightly over $15,000.00.  The difference to be made up through fund raising by the Department.  The money we realized through the efforts mentioned on page 100 of the 1993 report and was combined with other fund raisings to pay the bill.  Today Cummington Fire Department members are fully protected by proper turn our gear.

We report each year on the progress and results of our pump and hose tests.  This year the pump tests were easily achieved.  However, we blew apart two length of 1948 – 1950 vintage hose.  This will be the subject of further investigation and recommendation in the very near future.

Last year we discussed the deteriorating condition of Engine two.  A review of the project was completed and brought before the voters as an override item.  The article was unsuccessful. Therefore, the conditions reported on last year have worsened.  The Department intends to pursue rehabilitating, to a limited degree, this vehicle extending it useful life 5-9 more years.

This report would not be complete without mentioning Asst. Chief Jack Horton’s efforts for 911.  As we closed in on (or so we thought) cut over of 911 in the spring of ’93, one problem after another plagued our efforts.  The greater let down of all (yet entirely understandable when all fact are known), even greater than not being able to use the modular building rented to temporarily house 911 dispatch center, was the departure of our 911 Coordinator Robert Chisholm to become the Director of Communications for the City of Worcester.  This was an opportunity Bob, or anyone else for that matter, who had trained so long for, could not turn down.  We wish Bob the very best.  Enter Jack Horton.  Jack was called upon to expand his role of Liaison representative to Trainer / instructor, going to other towns in the new dispatch center, unfamiliar with the policies and procedures we in Cummington have become so comfortable with, to teach, train, convince, gain consensus for policy and procedure etc., and, to keep explaining why 911 was being delayed.  Though job but Jack stayed the course.  He and Kathy Patella provided the much needed guidance to communities unfamiliar with our system.  So now it’s been three plus years for Jack on this project.  Kathy has become a 911 dispatcher as well as continuing to serve as a fire fighter / EMT in Cummington.  To both we say thank you.  To Kathy it’s going to be a long lonely road.  You will do well.  To Jack it has been a long lonely road.  You have done well.  Thanks again to your both.

One final note of interest.  This past year we were fortunate to secure the services of retired Asst. Chief William White of Dalton to run a recruit training class in Cummington.  We needed to run the classes weekday evenings to accommodate several area fire fighters who work weekends and cannot attend the county school.  Bill worked with us for several weeks and everyone agreed his program was the best.  Thank you to Bill White.

As you can tell by this report we close another chapter in our very active fire careers, remembering it is only possible with your support.  Our sincerest thanks to all of Cummington for your generous support.” – Bernard L. Forgea, 1994 Annual Report


“Another era ended this past year with the retirement of Raymond L. Vandoloski and James D. Martin, Jr. as Fire Fighter / EMT’s with the Cummington Fire / Ambulance services.  Ray began his service as a Fire fighter / EMT on August 25, 1982.  Jim began his service as Fire fighter / Ambulance attendant on July 17, 1962 converting to EMT on January 11, 1975.  Ray and Jim shared a distinction that demonstrated the ultimate commitment to public service.  They are the last two individuals to serve simultaneously as police officers, freighters and EMT’s.  Ray and Jim both served with distinction in all three services and continue to serve the Town of Cummington as Police Chief and Police Sgt. Respectively.  Space here does not allow a review of all accomplishments and changes these two individuals have achieved, witnessed and endured during their tenure with Cummington fire / ambulance.  We offer and they deserve our sincerest thanks while wishing them the best in any “free” time they may have discovered.

As for Ambulance business, last hear we experienced an increase from 51 emergency calls to 64.  Not a very good statistic.  Let’s hope it’s just a “bump” and not an indication of a trend.  We continue to work with CRIT (Critical Response Intervention Team) from Cooley Dickinson Hospital and now from Berkshire County as well.  “Life Team” from Berkshire Medical Center no longer operates such a service.  However CRIT’s of Hampshire and Berkshire County meet advanced life support needs on a 24 hour / day basis.  Especially important this far from a hospital.

Ambulance personnel, along with a group of First Responders, continue to provide annual medical and Hazardous Material training for all area police and fire departments.  These volunteers donate hundreds of hours from early January through mid March teaching new programs to meet newly mandated requirements as well as providing refresher training in the many ongoing established programs.  In the past it has been mentioned the number of hours this group has contributed to keep this training ongoing.  Many of our instructors have surpassed the 2,000-hour level and are closing in on 3-4,000 hours.  Remarkable by any measurement.  Thank you to everyone.

Wallis Granger and Brian Anderson provide our monthly schedule covering 24 hours / day, 7 days / week.  No small task given the many open positions they have to fill.  Theirs is truly a balancing act with some begging and pleading thrown in.  Wally more often than not ends up doing an inordinate amount of duty due to the shortage of personnel, especially daytime.  Anyone interest in a fulfilling, rewarding experience, please contact Wally at 634-2165, or Bernie Forgea at 634-5458, or any member of the service for that matter.  We will meet with you to explain what we are all about and explain how “you too can get in on it.”

Last year we noted the Department had voted to undertake Driver Training for our personnel.  This became a reality October 16, 1994 in West Boylston, MA at the National Safety Driver’s Council facility.  Six of our members, both fire and ambulance, went through a rigorous ten hour classroom and hands on experience.  The defensive driving included various maneuvers drivers of vehicles, especially emergency vehicles, can expect to be exposed to sometime during their careers because of the nature of the business and the way other drivers often react to approaching emergency apparatus.  Each participant came away with a different and better understanding of why vehicles are constructed as they are and why and how highways are developed.  The driving included skills beginning at 10-20 mph and concluding at about 50 mph.  Everything from cornering, sudden evasive maneuvers, recovery after driving of the read edge, to spinning, sliding, skidding, and steering on the skid pan was offered to our group.  We do have a video of this training if anyone is interest.  We hope to offer this opportunity to more members in the coming years.

Ellen Coss and Gary Galvagni recently completed the PHTLS (Pre-hospital Trauma Life Support) program.  This training embodies principles of physics i.e., kinetic energy and its effects on the human body during critical trauma.  For example, in a motor vehicle accident students are taught to review what the scene looks like.  What did the vehicle strike?  Or what struck it?  Were seat belts worn?  Air bags present?  Skidding distance?  Accurate assessment of these questions leads to his / her predictability of the kinds of injuries suffered by the victims, and therefore more rapid treatment.  We now have six members of our service trained in PHTLS.  Hopefully a few more will receive the opportunity in the coming year.

Another activity necessary to report on is the pointing of equipment received through the Federal Excess Property program.  Dace McCarthy, along with anyone he can get to help, is continuing to clean and paint this equipment.  Rules of acquisition state the equipment must be painted (red) and lettered Fire Department.  So far we have managed to keep David very busy.  Thank you very much David!” – Cummington Fire Association, Inc., 1994 Annual Report


1995 - $8,213.00 operating, 6 still alarms, 2 alarm sounding, 5 motor vehicle accidents, 6 chimney fires, 2 smoke in the building, 1 oil tank leak, 3 brush fires, 1 mutual aid, 1 drinking water supply;

“The Cummington Fire Department responded to 8 fewer calls over the past year from the previous year.  Interestingly and gratefully there were no “Box Alarm” structure fires in town compared to the previous same period in which the community suffered two very serious house fires.  The category “alarm Sounding” remains low due to property owners continued maintenance on their systems.

The call that generated much interest and had potential for major problems was the “oil leak call on January 27, 1995.  A late night delivery resulted in the driver not seeing a tree stump near the driveway.  As he pulled his tank truck over the stump the truck’s pump caught on the stump breaking the pump off the truck.  The quick thinking driver managed to shut off the flow of oil and control the spill until the Fire Department arrived.  Only a few gallons were spilled and easily cleaned up but the hazard was the tanker was full and this incident occurred next to the Westfield River.

As well, on February 10, 1995 the Cummington fire Department was called to the Dan Harper residence at 23 Main Street for Furnace Oil odor.  Upon investigation responding personnel discovered a 275-gallon fuel oil tank had recently been filled in the cellar at this address and had tipped over breaking off the supply line to the furnace.  The resulting spill caused approximately 115 gallons of fuel oil to leak into the dirt floor cellar and eventually seep down to ground water about 12 feet deep.  After months of excavation and pumping to filter the oil out of the water the incident was considered closed and the town’s water supply safe but, not before tens of thousands of dollars were spent to jack up the house, remove gravel and dir, pour new foundations and filtration of water were accomplished.  This points to the need for anyone having oil tanks in the area of the town’s water supply to consider their responsibility and replace single wall tanks with containment to avoid this potential disaster.

One noteworthy point needs to be made as a reminder; although our department responded to 8 fewer calls this past year those are strictly fire apparatus dispatched calls.  We also responded to an additional 60 ambulance calls during the same period.  Since first Aid First Responder training is mandated for all police and firefighters these personnel respond directly to scenes requesting the Ambulance.  First Aid CPR, extrication, etc. is well under way prior to arrival of the Ambulance.

Our personnel continue to train in firefighting techniques as well as the myriad of other requirements today’s emergency personnel must meet.  The list of additional requiems includes annual certification in CPR, First Aid, Hazardous Materials, Blood and now Air born pathogens.  We are fortunate to have in house instructors who make this training available to our and surrounding departments for no charge.

Our own William B. Brooks has developed such a unique hazardous Materials Program that is not only the largest of its kind anywhere but is not looked forward to by our emergency personnel.  Nearly eight students completed Bill’s class last season.

As report last year we continue to acquire Federal excess property and utilize it to enhance emergency services in our area.  Upon completion of the Bryant pond dry hydrant project we moved our equipment to Worthington to assist the Worthington Fire Department in cleaning two ponds and installing a dry hydrant.  We also were able to assist the Town’s Highway Department last winter when a large snowstorm move through and highway crews were unable to keep up with plowing.  Two of the trucks we use to haul mud while cleaning ponds are equipped with plows.  In an emergency they can be used to open roads as in the case of last winter we used on vehicle equipped with a belly scraper to scrape badly rutted dirt roads during the first spring of “95”.

Along the lines of excess property we have undertaken a project to build a storage shed for our equipment.

On March 25, 1995 a work team of firefighters traveled to Northampton to dismantle a 130-foot x 22-foot building offered to the department by O’Connell Oil Company.  O’Connell Oil needed the building removed to make room for planned expansion of their facilities.  We need material to construct our own building.  By 3PM on March 25th the first of two trailer loads of salvaged rafters and metal siding roiled into town.  In all the team salvaged $3,200.00 worth of material for our own project.  Our building is being erected next to the highway garage, a site agreed to by the Selectboard.  More on this project next year.

We reported last year on the condition of E-2 particularly on the rusted compartments.  Gary Galvagni headed up a work bee at the highway garage over several evenings and replaced much of the deteriorated metal with temporary compartments.  Good job and greatly appreciated.  Thanks to everyone.

Gary Galvagni also completed a pre fire plan for Shire Village Camp.  Gary has put much tem into the project because of the lack of water at this site.  An actual drill was held at the Camp to test this plan, which worked very well.  Only hope we never have to use it.

Another accomplishment this past year was the formalization of an “Automatic Aid” agreement between Worthington and Cummington fire Departments.  This agreement calls for pre-designated fire apparatus to be automatically sent to either town on certain calls.  This arrangement reduces delays in getting help on the way early on in incidents.

We report each year the results of the Annual hose and pump test.  For the past two years we have had several length of supply line fail the pressure test.  The concern is most of our hose is of the same vintage and will be failing at the same time.  While we deliver much of our water by tank trucks there are situations and times when we must lay hose lines and pump water a distance.  The greater the distance the greater the pressure required.  As the fiscal year concluded we finally managed to replace some of our aging fire hose.  We have begun to replace old 2 ½” supply hose with 4” synthetic jacket hose.  The new hose requires less pressure to move up to four times the water through it.  It also does not have to be thoroughly dried before placing it back in the hose bed unlike our 2 /12” cotton jacket hose.  If the cotton jacket is not thoroughly dry it rots thereby weakening the pressure capacity of the hose.

The past year also saw the retirement of longtime firefighter Carolyn Wolf.  Carolyn retired after nearly 16 years service.  Carolyn will be missed as both an active firefighter and very capable fundraiser.  Good Luck Carolyn.

A special thank you to Kyle Ducharme for scraping and painting the fire Station.  The station was in dire need but time just didn’t permit, as has been shown through this report.  Kyle’s Graduate Painters came to the rescue.  Thank you Kyle.

Finally on November 30, 1994, 911 became a reality for our area.  After years of work, jack Horton could finally breathe a sign of relief as 911 went on line.  There were of course a few problems to be worked out but all in all the cut over went very smoothly.  Jack continues on the advisory board to Northampton Control (the name of our new dispatch center).  The board meets periodically to review performance, problems, suggestions for change, etc. I’m sure Jack is happy his pace has slowed somewhat.  Jack from all of us a well deserved thank you for all your hard work.” – Bernard L. Forgea, 1995 Annual Report


Ambulance calls totaled 60 last year, four less than the previous year.  CRIT (Crisis Response Intervention Team) continues to proved tremendous support to our service.  Members of the serve also continue providing Annual First Responder Fir Aid, hazardous Materials, Blood born pathogen and now airborne pathogen training for area police and fire personnel.  Hampshire County Red Cross celebrated its 80th birthday last year.  As part of the celebration Cummington was recognized as a major provider of volunteer training along with recognition of our many instructors for all of the hours they have contributed to Red Cross.  Dennis Forgea 4,300 hours, James D. Martin Jr. 4,300 hours, Wallis S. Granger 3,100 hours, Susan F. Forgea 3,400 hours, David Celino 1,000 hours, John P. Horton 900 hours, Kevin C. Martin 900 hours, Heather Canfield 500 hours, Thomas E. Streeter 450 hours Kathleen I. Patella 300 hours, Leslie Maerki 242 hours.

Last year at Annual Town meeting Cummington’s Police, fire and Ambulance services offered a proposal wherein if emergency personnel were permanently disabled in the line of duty and unable to work the town would be able to compensate that individual up to the annual salary level of an area entry level full time police, fire, or ambulance attendant as the case may be.  The problem of disability in the line of duty was increasing levels of concern in all of our volunteer services.  Our insurance (which is the broadest coverage available) for disability only covers our members for five years.  After that State law states the town is responsible to pay the individual $3,000.00 per year!  The town voted unanimously to support our proposal.  That was step one.  Next the State Legislature had to enact legislation to allow our home rule petition.  After many long months of waiting and several frustrating rewrites mass. General law Chapter 148 Acts of 1995 allowing all of this became effective September 27, 1995.

David McCarthy continues to paint our excess property to meet the federal rules of acquisition.  Thank you David.

A special tank you to Dave Rancourt who acquired and installed heated mirrors on each piece of apparatus (3 fire engines and the Ambulance).  Now when we drive out of the heated firehouse into the cold nights or splash water on top of the fire trucks our rear view vision won’t be compromised.

Kathy Patella has instituted monthly drills for ambulance personnel to maintain their skills on the various pieces of equipment.  Thank you Kathy for seeing a need and doing something about it.  That’s really appreciated.

Everyone continues to volunteer tremendous house of time to keep our serves operating.  Thank you to all.” – Cummington Fire Association, Inc., 1995 Annual Report


1996 - $9,463 operating, 1 box alarm, 10 still alarms, 4 motor vehicle accidents, 2 chimney fires, 3 mutual aid, 3 in service responses, 1 hydrant test, 3 drinking water supply;

“Of the above calls the one which certainly had the potential for large loss was the box alarm on May 31, 1996 at the Keith Ferrin residence on Clark Road.  Fifteen firefighters, three trucks, and one ambulance responded from Cummington along with units from Worthington and Plainfield, both of who are automatic aid to Cummington.  The crews made short work of a stubborn blaze in the wall behind the wood-burning stove.  The quick work by the crews saved the Ferrin’s a much larger loss.  Job well done by all.

As always the Department continues to offer training to members of our own department as well as surrounding towns.  Fourteen instructors begin each January a series of classes aimed at satisfying the many requirements placed on us by State and Federal law.  Courses are offered in CPR, First Aid, Blood and Airborne Pathogens, and hazardous Materials.  Our last several classes served 80+ personnel with CPR, 35 First Aid, 70 Blood and Airborne Pathogen, 80+ Haz Mat.

The past year was unusually busy for the Department.  As you may recall on July 15, 1995 a tremendously powerful thunderstorm swept over large portions of Western Mass.  Around 7:00am members of the department, who were preparing to serve up the usual 800 hamburgers and hot dogs at the Bryant Craft Fair, were diverted instead to begin clearing roads with chain saws and bucket loaders to enable electric crews access to restore power to the devastated area.  By mid-morning with most roads open weary crews headed to the Craft Fair to begin a long weekend of food service.  Everyone is to be commended for such great efforts.  As the hot dry summer wore on drought raised fears of forest fires the likes of which we haven’t seen in Western Mass. in recent decades.  The drought brought about another set of problems as well.  Private water supplies began to fail.  For the second year the Fire Department responded, this time to three private homes, with water tankers (known as water buffaloes) obtained through the Federal excess property program.  A tank of fresh water was delivered to each of these three homes by members of the department.  Once in place the homes were either gravity fed (if the tanks could be located uphill from the home) or as was the case on two separate instances, electric jet pumps with pressure tanks were attached to the water tanks so the homes could be pressurized.  Each week each tank was returned to the Fire Station, drained, cleaned, refilled with fresh water and returned to the homes with water.  The tank shuttle was accomplished using military ten wheel dump trucks also obtained via the Federal Excess Property program.  This process repeated itself all through the summer and early fall until Columbus Day weekend.  Mentioned earlier was the fear of a major forest fire due to the extreme drought the East was experiencing.  On September 1, 1995 a fire broke out on Shatterack Mountain in Russell, MA.  The stubborn blaze continued to burn underground for days in rugged inaccessible terrain between the Westfield River and Montgomery.  Occasionally the fire would surface and, fanned by the strong winds created by deep valley air currents, race along the surface.  It had been more than twenty years since a fire had scourged this region so the fuel build up on the ground was immense, tinder dry and dangerously explosive.  After two weeks of battling this blaze it filled the Pioneer Valley with smoke so strong that smoke detectors were reportedly being set of in Hartford, CT.  As local Fire Departments grew weary and low on resources and firefighters, the Massachusetts Bureau of Fire Control began to send in ground crews to hand battle the blaze.  To assist, the ground assault helicopters were brought in with water bags and scoops to drop water on the advancing flames.  Then for the first time ever the State called up a fixed wing aircraft to drop fire retardant in hopes of slowing the fire enough for ground crews to cut a fire line and stop the fire that by now had burned over five hundred acres and had a lead nearly a mile and one-half long in some of Western Mass.’ Most difficult terrain, if not the most difficult.  At 8:30 am on September 15, 1995, district 11 Fire Warden placed a call to Cummington.  He said Federal officials had been requested to help with the fire and once the arrived on the scene and sized up the conditions they advised District 11 Fire Warden Robert Hannon to get some heavy equipment on the fire line to build a road from the river to the top of Shatterack Mountain (1 ½ miles) to cut off the advancing fire and to enable wheeled pumper tankers access to apply water directly to the fire as the only hope of containing the blaze.  Cummington Fire Department immediately dispatched the first of two dozers obtained through the Federal Excess Property Program.  Peter Marcoux loaded the TD20 on his own trailer and within two hours was on the line in Russell.  The second dozer from Cummington a D-7 arrived a short time later aboard the Fire Department’s trailer and for the next two and a half days rotating crews of operators working 12-16 hours a day, plowed a road to the top of Shatterack Mountain.  As the Federal fire officials predicted the road cut off the advancing fire and dozens of vehicles with water and pumps ascended the mountain for the first time to once and for all put out the fire.  The dozers are part of the fire pond project conceived by the Department to improve firefighting capabilities in our area.  In fact the State had been told by the Fire Department if such equipment could be made available to us for our fire pond project, the Fire department would in return make it available to the State for just such cases.  Now back to Columbus Day.  On that particular weekend the Department decided to dredge Almond Streeter’s Pond on Stage Road and place a “dry hydrant.”  The timing seemed perfect.  Almond advised us he had been able mow “wet” areas on his fields below the pond for the first time in recent memory.  The drought was finally working for us.  We had not attempted this site before because of the rapid recharge normally filling the pond.  Wouldn’t you know it?  Saturday morning, as we began to unwater the remaining few inches of water on top of years of mud, it began to finally rain.  And rain it did!  For two days and several inches.  So much so in fact that we had to construct a special road of crushed rock on top of fabric paper (special paper used in highway construction), just to finish the job.  We have some really great video footage of our efforts as the ten-wheeler dump trucks inched across the jello like surface of our road.  The report on this pond would not complete without saying “THANK YOU” to Rick and Sharon Lafontaine for donating the use of their tracked backhoe for the weekend.  The more it rained the deeper we sank with our wheeled loader.  Rick and Sharon came to our rescue and for three very long days, scooped mud out of the pond, graded the steep banks and delicately placed rip-rap along the banks to prevent further washing into the pond.  As we drive by a year later and view the full pond with shiny hydrant and barricades in place, it’s hard to remember what a muddy mess Columbus Day Weekend 1995 was like.

While all of this was going on the Department had been pursuing a special permit from the Department of Environmental Protection to burn the Col. Budd Estate Mansion in Windsor.  The Trustees of Reservations, owners of the estate had been trying for over five years to do something with the main 27-room mansion.  The house was decaying quickly as water began to leak in though various holes in the roof, walls and foundations.  Finally the building was offered to the Windsor Fire Department for training with the stipulation it had to be totally destroyed and the cellar hole filled and graded for seeding upon completion.  Windsor declined the opportunity but agreed to assist Cummington Fire Department with the project.  Building on the success and good relationship Cummington Fire developed with the Trustees as a result of dredging the Bryant Pond as a water site, it was decided to explore this project as well.  After nine months of planning the project and allowing area departments the opportunity to drill and practice on the mansion, the end was near.  The day after Thanksgiving 1995 the house was prepared for its final moment in history.  The site was prepped as well.  Utilizing the same equipment just home from the Shatterack Mountain fire plus some added pieces, preparations were made to haul gravel, or dirt, to fill the cellar and grade the site.  After all, if we could haul fill out of a hoe to make a pond, it stood to reason we could fill a hole as well.  On Saturday morning with 80+ fire personnel from eleven agencies, Fire Departments, and a fixed wing aircraft circling overhead, a search of the building was conducted to insure it was vacant.  A final conference was held by the pre-designated command structure to determine go-no go.  “GO” it was.  “All Clear” was sounded indicating to the four safety officers (one on each side of the building) no one was to approach the building closer that the safety officers’ position.  Almost exactly 8:00am, multiple points of ignition were achieved and 2 hours later the Budd mansion existed only as a memory (and on some great video footage with Cummington Fire Department).  The following day, Sunday, we returned to fill the cellar and then let the dirt set and compact for a year.

As we prepared to light the building we should have paid closer attention to the six inches of snow on the ground and realized maybe we were in for a long winter.  As everyone probably recalls, the winter of 95-96 brought one severe snowstorm after another.  Once again the Fire Department was able to assist the highway crews plowing snow.

With all of this activity it probably doesn’t see possible to accomplish much more (Please read the Fire Association Report).  However, we continue to train with our fire apparatus to maintain readiness.  The department conducted in annual hose test on June 10, 1995 only losing 2 lengths of vintage hose.  During the winter the Department hosted a class on Carbon Monoxide and CO detectors, and Meters.  Berkshire Gas Company provided the speaker for a very interesting program.” – Bernard L. Forgea, 1996 Annual Report


“You may have noticed the new building being constructed behind the Highway garage.  The Cummington Fire Association, In. is sponsoring the construction of the building to house the excess property the Fire Department has acquired for Cummington.  The Fire Association secured a matching grant through the Department of Environmental Management which under Title IV Rural Community Fire Protection Program provides some funding for non profit rural volunteer fire departments that provide service to a community with a population of 10,000 or less.  The Fire Department must be at least 80% call or volunteer (we are 100% volunteer) and recognized as a department under State Law.  Funding is available on a 50% reimbursement basis only.  We bear the full cost of the project then apply for up to one half of the cost.  Our share of expenditures may include cash expenditures or in-kind services (volunteer labor to construct building.)  The money we put up for the project is money we raised out-of-town charging for use of excess property (such as fighting the fire on Shatterack Mountain in Russell.  See Fire Department report).  Hopefully the 30’ x 128’ shed will be completed for this report next year.  The project is a tremendous commitment in time and energy but we believe the building will have a long useful life.  William B. Brooks is chief builder and designer for this project.  Bill, a huge thank you for your fine effort and efforts of all who assist you each week.  Also not to be forgotten is Peter Tessier who supplied the backhoe to dig the foundations for the building.  Pete also operated the unit for the project as well.  Thank you, Pete.  Anyone interested in helping is more than welcome!

Finally, last year we reported 60 calls over the preceding 12 months.  This year we responded to 77 calls over the same period.  Hopefully this is not a trend for the future.  However, there is plenty of room for new EMT’s if anyone has a desire to assist us.” – Cummington Fire Association, Inc., 1996 Annual Report


1997 - $9,003.44 operating, 18 still alarms, 1 mutual aid, 2 special drills, 1 public service call:

“The category Still Alarm includes motor vehicle accidents, brush fires, wires down, alarm sounding and trees in contact with wires.  The good news is the alarm sounding calls have greatly diminished over recent years.  This is due to better maintenance by homeowners on their alarm systems.  We continue to experience several serious motor vehicles accidents each year and this year was no exception.  The corner on Route 9 by J. King’s annually claims one or two vehicles either into the guardrails or ledges.  Fortunately we did not experience a serious home or structure fire this past year.  A contributory factor is the steady decline I wood burning that has also taken place over recent history.

One particular incident last year, which deserves special attention, was the mutual aid call to assist with a brush fire on Mount Road on April 26, 1997 (Town Meeting).  Cummington’s 1961 Ford Tanker’s transmission failed.  This unit, 54 E-3, had been the subject of discussion between the finance committee, Fire Department and the Selectboard for the past several years.  A former town truck 54 E-3 had seen better days and besides needing a new engine, had so much rust on the body the passenger side fender had fallen off.  With Town finances so tight, patch and repair had kept the old tanker in service beyond any normal life span.  After this incident, members of the department and the Selectboard once again worked late into the night, only this time they were preparing the replacement truck for old 54 E-3.  The replacement tanker (obtained through the Federal excess Property Program) valued at $33,000.00 had been acquired for “0” dollars.  The Fire Department invested approximately $7,000.00 to place this vehicle in service.  Fortunately much work had already been completed on the new truck when old E-3’s transmission failed.  The replacement tanker was “on-line” the evening of April 26, 1997 and the department’s budget was not exceeded for the year.  This is a tribute to all who once again devoted so much of their time, talents and even materials to sustain the Cummington Fire Department.  A personal thank you to everyone who has assisted with this project.

While we were busy responding to “still alarms” we still managed to continue our regular programs of instruction in CPR, First Aid and Hazardous Materials, Blood and Airborne Pathogens.  As usual we grained 80 or more personnel in the required courses for emergency personnel.  Bill Brooks and his assistant Brian Anderson kept a regular Saturday wok schedule for everyone on the Fire Department’s building behind the Town Garage.  No matter what the weather they never missed a Saturday.  Congratulation to you both for seeing this very worthwhile project so far along.

Another project brought to completion this past year was the final grading and shaping of the site of the Budd Mansion in Windsor.  The Department returned to Windsor in October for the final landscaping and grading to complete our efforts there.  The past year the Cummington Fire Department entered into an agreement with the Department of Environmental Management Bureau of Fire Control to utilized buildings a Snow Basin for storage of parts for the Federal Excess Property Program.  The Fire Department spent several days cleaning in and around the area to improve access and looks and then began storing spare parts in the former garage building.  Parts will be available to other Fire Departments across Massachusetts as well.  This warehouse of parts will make the Federal Excess Property Program extremely valuable to the cities and towns who take advantage of the opportunity offered here.

On a personal note I would like to recognize the work and efforts of fire fighter Rich Meyer.  Rich became aware of the inventory problem the fire Department had with the many air bottles we have (we are a County depot) and recognized the need to develop a system to mark and identify each bottle, its location, on which vehicle, date last tested (dates vary from 3-5 years), and the next test date.  Rich, on his own, undertook this monumental task and today we have a complete inventory of all Cummington’s air equipment as well as that belonging to Hampshire County.  He has an established testing schedule laid out to follow and all of this information is on display on a large grease pencil board in the station.  Rich, thank you very much!

Earlier in this report it was mentioned that we managed to respond to several serious motor vehicles accidents each year and often we are called to cardiac arrests and other serious injuries and illnesses as well.  On May 22, 1997 twenty-two members of the Fire Department, Ambulance Service and one member of the Police Department (the Chief) were honored by Western Massachusetts Emergency Services for their long time dedication to Emergency Training and Life Saving.  Each member received a regional recognition award and a County recognition award.  The full text of their citations follow here or in the Fire Association report and needs no further explanation!  A huge thank you to everyone for all you do.


                To Whom It May Concern:

The following list of individuals is placed in nomination for recognition of outstanding service by a group:

John Horton (Cummington Fire), Kevin Martin (Cummington Fire), Leslie Maerki (Cummington Ambulance), Dennis Forgea (Cummington Ambulance and Fire), Susan Forgea (Cummington Ambulance and Fire), Kathy Patella (Cummington Ambulance and Fire), Wallis Granger (Cummington Ambulance and Fire), Grant Knapp (Worthington Police Chief, retired), Brian Anderson (Cummington Ambulance and Fire), William Brooks (Cummington Fire), Ken Dawley (Red Cross), Martha Emerson (Cummington Ambulance), James D. Martin, Jr. (Cummington Police), David V. Celino (Cummington Fire and Ambulance), Thomas E. Streeter (Cummington Fire And Ambulance);


Each year beginning in 1978, this group of dedicated individuals teaches a full First Responder Course including CPR, and recently added newly required training in Hazardous materials, blood and air born pathogens.  In the twenty years they have brought this training, which begins in January and concludes in late March, to the hill towns, they have amassed over 21,000 hours of volunteer time training Emergency Services Personnel.  Early in their careers, they developed a “team teaching” concept for their program to involve more individuals in the training effort and to guard against the inevitable loss of one central instructor.  They recognized the need to spread the responsibilities and work to avoid tradition and stagnation that so often takes over a one or two person long-running show.

The diversity of affiliations of the group supports the need to stay current in the ever-changing world of Emergency Care.  They recognize the need to relate to fire fighters, police officers, EMT’s and most importantly to the citizens of the communities served by their students.  Each year many new faces in class are relatives, spouses or friends of prior students who attended a special event hosted by this group to bring together family members and friends to share training experiences, hopefully to gain a better understanding of what Emergency Service is all about.  Examples of special classics include CISD, Lifeflight, defibrillator demo, a special Christmas lecture, electrical safety and demonstrations during hazardous materials module.

Since this course of instruction runs every year and only certain portions are required annually while others need to be renewed every three years, the group developed a modular style program.  Each year they publish an outline and schedule describing which evening each module will be held, thus enabling area fire and police departments to schedule required training for their own personnel.  While first aid training is being conducted by one or two instructors each evening, the remaining instructors conduct CPR refresher courses for area personnel in other parts of the same building.  Area police and fire departments send personnel to CP{R refresher training based on a special schedule designed to avoid having all area police and fire personnel in training at the same time thereby draining the resources of any one town.

To put this in perspective, each year this group trains, and  / or, recertifies an average of 25 to 30 first responders, 60 CPR candidates, 60 to 70 in blood / air born pathogens and hazardous materials.  While the focus of the training is centered in the Hilltowns throughout the years many departments from Berkshire, Franklin and Hampden Counties have sent personnel as well.

Every minute of time provide by each of these instructors is strictly volunteer.  They have never received payment for their services except the good feeling of helping each other and helping others serve.

Finally, there is not rank structure to this group of instructors.  Anyone becoming involved soon discovers they are treated on an equal basis and their contributions are viewed similarly.  Perhaps that is why it has taken twenty years for them to nominated for recognition they so legitimately have earned.

As the year ends we have many ongoing projects we hope to complete soon, such as our new building and replacement tanker for 54 E-3.  We have more dry hydrants to install and will be pursing that goal next year.  As always it is our privilege and pleasure to be able to serve the Town of Cummington and we do sincerely appreciate everyone’s support” – Bernard L. Forgea, 1997 Annual Report


“As for a run down on our yearly activities, let us begin by saying, as usual, Wally Granger continues to organize “Hilltown Day” at the Bid E, along with annual refreshers, continuing education classes and so on.  In fact, this year on May 22, 1997, Wally finally received the recognition for all her work she so greatly deserved.


To whom it May Concern:

The name of Wallis Granger is placed in nomination for recognition of outstanding services by an individual.  Wally is the stalwart of our squad.  While other squads rely upon an “all call” method of coverage, each month Wally turns out a schedule for Cummington Ambulance covering 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  As one can imagine, this is not small task spread across 17+/- EMT’s with individual personalities, needs, and desires and covering two communities.  Many, many times she simply covers the schedule herself because the conflicts are impossible to resolve.

Not only does Wally perform hundreds of hours of this coverage, she regularly covers several 12-hour daytime shifts of her own each week, all the while managing a family, raising a husband, responding to fire calls (yes, she is a Lieutenant in charge of fire inspections for the Cummington Fire Department), and driving a regular school bus route in the hill towns.  She attends regular monthly drills for both fire and ambulance and regular monthly business meetings of both organizations as well.  Wally’s contributions do not stop there.  She finds / develops training and obtains approval credits for numerous continuing education classes for our squad and area EMT’s.  She produces an annual DOT refresher, which includes programming, scheduling speakers, announcements and administration of the entire project.  Each year (since 1978) she has been a co-instructor in the Hill Town First Responder Training Program, which begins in January and concludes in late march.  Wally instructs several modules during the first aid portion of the classes and assists as a CPR instructor during the many following weeks.  As requirements for training changes so does the program offered by the hill town instructors.  When blood born, then air born, pathogen training became mandatory, Wally seized the initiative to become one instructor for both programs and with the assistance of other instructors; she incorporated the required training into the First Responder Program.  Each year these particular modules train approximately 60 emergency personnel in the hill town area.

In addition to her endless hours of ambulance coverage, teaching time and fire department duties, Wally also take responsibility for much of the administrative work for the entire First Responder Training Program including the enrollment process, class attendance, distribution and collection of books and materials, preparation of lists of successful candidates by town and distribution of certificates.

As demonstrated by the foregoing, Wall does not confine her unselfish contributions to Cummington.  She extends her support and sharing to the entire emergency service community.  Finally, all of this time is totally volunteer.  She receives no pay for any of her efforts.  Her reward is assisting others who desire to serve.  This recognition is long overdue and richly deserved.

                                                                                Respectfully submitted,

                                                                                Bernard L. Forgea

                                                                                Cummington Fire Chief

Our core business, providing Ambulance Service to Cummington and Plainfield, showed a busy year.  We had 84 calls for Ambulance service.  To demonstrate how that compares with past years, we had 60 in the 1995 report, 77 for the 1996 reporting period.  As you can see business is up so please be careful and try to live a healthy life style.  The last group anyone really wants to call is us.  However, we are here, due to the community’s generous support, if you need us.

Every now and again the volunteers need a boost in moral to keep going, you, to help understand why it is they spend countless hours in training and raising funds to support the service.  Well on August 21, 1996, such a call cam in.  On the morning of August 21, 1996 the members of the Cummington Fire Department, Ambulance Service and Police Department were making final preparations for the upcoming Fair.  At approximately 11:30 am a call came in “Cardiac Arrest” at 3 Bates Road, Cummington.”  As luck would have it, several EMT’s and first responders were in the immediate vicinity gathering equipment for the Fair.  All dropped what they were doing and responded to the scene.  Upon arrival an individual was discovered in full cardiac arrest, (no breathing, no pulse).  While some responders began CPR, others raced for the defibrillation unit on the Ambulance.  Others went for oxygen while still more responders moved furniture to enable the ambulance crew to move the victim from the home.  Advance life support was immediately called and on route as CPR was initiated.  Working against the biological clock the first responders struggled to continue CPR and ventilation until the defibrillation unit finally arrived and was attached.  The directive came from the defibrillation operator, “Clear Analyzing the patient.”  Sweat soaked responders waited anxiously for the machine to determine if they had a shockable heart rhythm.  Finally the screen flashed the words, “Shock Advised.”  The operator shouted, “Clear! All clear!” and delivered a shock. “Pulse check” as responders searched for a pulse the machine was reset to analyze again.  A very weak pulse was found but soon stopped.  Again the operator called “Clear! Analyzing!” Again the machine flashed “shock advised.” “Clear! All Clear the patient!” cam the call as the second shock was delivered.  This time a strong pulse was found and victim, who only moments before was lifeless and still, began to attempt self-ventilations and spontaneous movement.  Wasting no time the responders moved the victim to a “long board” and whisked him out of the house into the waiting ambulance.  Within short minutes, Cummington’s Ambulance was met on Route 9 by Paramedics called earlier in the incident.  By this time the patient, as unbelievable as this seems, was talking to the Ambulance attendants!  The victim was transported to Baystate Medical Center where a person Pacemaker / Defib, unit was installed on him.  William Lafleur Name and incident details printed with Mr. Lafleur’s permission) was discharged home, underwent cardiac rehabilitation and is currently enjoying life at his home on #3 Bates Road.  Good Luck, Bill!  To all who served “Great Job.”

The following individuals were recognized by Western Massachusetts Emergency Services at the May 22, 1997 awards ceremony for their participation in this call.  Interestingly many are instructors in our annual First Responder training and all are students in some part of the program.  I guess you can say training does pay off!  John Westwood – Cummington EMT/Plainfield firefighter, Dennis Forgea – Cummington EMT/Asst. Fire Chief Cummington, Sherryl Ducharme – Cummington EMT, Wallis Granger – Cummington EMT/Lt. Cummington Fire Dept., Richard Meyer – Cummington EMT/Cummington firefighter, John Horton – Second Asst. Fire Chief Cummington, David Rancourt – Cummington firefighter, Delbert Robbins – Lt. Cummington Fire Dept., James D. Martin, Jr. – Chief Cummington Police Dept.

Another project undertaken by our group last year was the purchase of a new stretcher for the Ambulance.  Not it might seem that all that one would have to do is pick up the pone and buy whatever is available.  After al a stretcher is a stretcher, right?  Well that’s what we thought too!  However after months of calls and actual demonstrations by vendors we still could not decide on a brand much less the bells and whistles that could be provided.  Finally on May 18, 1997 the group voted to purchase a Ferno model 35A stretcher to replace our aged unit.  You may ask, “What’s the big deal? Just buy a stretcher and get on with it!”  Well did you know stretchers can cost over $3,000.00?  With all the work everyone does to support the ambulance we wanted to be sure what ever we spent was based on a process that hopefully brought about the best results possible because the stretcher we purchased would in all likelihood be used for 15 to 20 years.  That’s a long time to live with a mistake!  Many, many thanks to everyone who worked so hard to set up demonstrations (K. Patella) and made many phone calls (W. Granger) to obtain information.

Before we move on to other activities we need to pause for a moment to say “Thank you and good luck” to Carl B. Liebenow who retired as President of the Cummington Fire Association effective September 17, 1996.  C.B.L. as you all know retired from the Fire Department after forty-five years of service but had agreed to continue as President of the Fire Association.  Carl took over the Presidency in 1984 after the untimely death of Robert Pratt.  Prior to that Carl had been Vice-President for as long as anyone can recall.  Under Carl’s leadership the Association continued the work begun by Bob Pratt’s team and expanded the services provided by the Association beyond Ambulance coverage.  Carl will be missed as President and we look forward to his attendance at meetings whenever he is in town.” – Cummington Fire Association, Inc., 1997 Annual Report


1998 - $9,000 operating, $5,000 portable pump and parts, 1 gasoline leaking, 9 special drills, 7 alarms sounding, 3 chimney fires, 1 furnace malfunction, 9 motor vehicle accidents, 1 mutual aid;

“We were extremely fortunate over this period to not have experienced any serious fire losses.  We did respond as Mutual Aid to what could have been a total loss house fire in Plainfield, December 31, 1997 at 11:30pm.  In sub zero temperatures units from Cummington and Plainfield battled a stubborn blaze at the Steele residence on Central Street.  Elements involved can be proud of the great “Stop and Save” experienced at this fire.  There were no injuries, the home saved at the start of New Year.  Hopefully a good omen.

Our most serious fire related event was January 24, 1998, 16 West Cummington Road, when a chimney fire resulted in damage to the chimney.  Still everything was confined to the chimney and the home was not damaged.  Our most serious motor vehicle accident, and somewhat spectacular, occurred on August 8, 1997 at 0125 hours.  A pickup truck collided with a house and partially penetrated an exterior wall.  Again. Fortunately injuries to personnel were minor.  The home however, suffered structural damage requiring professional construction.  It is appropriate here to mention one other motor vehicle accident, which resulted in a very unusual mutual aid request by Cummington to Worthington.  On November 30, 1997 Cummington received a call for a vehicle accident on Route 9 at the bridge and entrance to West Main Street.  The weather was turning to light rain with temperatures below freezing.  As units responded it quickly became apparent the bridges on Route 9 with concrete surfaces had glazed over with ice instantly creating extremely dangerous conditions.  West Cummington EMT’s managed to reach the accident scene and radioed a caution regarding the slippery conditions on Route 9.  A call was made for a State sand truck while Cummington personnel spread out on Route 9 from Swift River to Windsor on bridges to alert oncoming traffic to the slippery / treacherous driving surface.  Since we had insufficient personnel to cover the accident scene with an Ambulance, Fire Engines and EMT’s as well as firefighters and still patrol bridges on Route 9, a mutual aid call went out to Worthington for personnel to assist Cummington with traffic on icy Route9.  Worthington responded, very carefully, with enough firefighters to cover the West end of Route 9 to the Windsor town line.  We are grateful to Worthington for their help under these unusual circumstances, as we are grateful to all who come to our aid.  It should be noted as well, there were several near misses as it was, even with personnel stationed at each bridge.  Several vehicles upon approaching bridges locked up their brakes and literally slid sideways across.  It was interesting to observe what was happening.  As vehicles approached, in the now driving rain, it was obvious the drivers still thought they were cruising on wet pavement (there was no snow on the ground and “Black Ice” glaze was not visible) and to suddenly encounter a firefighter in full turnout gear on a bridge in the middle of nowhere waiving and motioning to slow down pointing to the road surface; the looks on drivers faces told the entire story!  Suddenly at 50+ MPH (or greater) then would realize the hazard and human survival driver instincts took over!  Lock ‘em up!  Even the State sand truck suffered from this same mesmerized condition as he passed bridge after bridge without slowing his speed.  As he arrived at the accident scene he put on his brakes sliding the truck sideways into the curb nearly tipping over, spilling part of his load in the process.  The moral of this story, for emergency personnel anyway, is to not expect drivers to be alert and aware as they drive.  Don’t expect them to see you and understand what is going on.  For your own safety provide for safety margin and personal escape route especially when working on a highway.

Over the past year we experienced several equipment improvement purchases, repairs worth commenting on.  First our newest Engine 1990 international developed a leak around the joint where the 10” dump valve connects to the main 1,000 gal. Water tank.  Firefighters spent an entire day removing sheet metal and truck components to expose the area only to discover a manufacturing defect when the hole was cut in the main water tank.  Once the very poor workmanship was revealed to the truck dealer, arrangements were made to transport our Engine to Hopkinton, MA for repair.  The dealer cleared his shop for our truck, made necessary repairs and within a day and a half we were back in service.  It is a good feeling to do business with reputable concerns that stand behind their products with superior after market service.

Kathy Patella was able to put together a personnel personal accountability system for the department.  After struggling with how to do it, what to use, what will work, she settled on a basic reporting system for firefighters at incidents.  Se worked out further arrangements with Police Chief Jim Martin to provide photos for the ID tags fore each member.  Upon completion of the project Kathy had in place a system, where upon arrival at a scene each member clips their personal photo ID tag to a clipboard on Engine 1 and when the incident is over retrieves the tag.  Any tag left on the board indicates a firefighter either forgot to pick it up or potentially a missing firefighter.  Hopefully one will always be the former and not the latter.  This system finally provides us with a basic tool to assist tracking our personnel especially at large events.  Thank you Kathy for your efforts.

We also received through the efforts of William Volk, a fire truck and related equipment from the closing of a factory.  The equipment represents several thousands of dollars, were we to have to purchase it.  Most likely we would not be able to afford much of what came on the truck.  So a huge thank you is in order to Bill for his foresight with this opportunity.  One of the items aboard this vehicle was a “jump kit” medical first aid supplies) worth hundreds of dollars.  This kit was immediately placed in West Cummington with the new Defib unit to provide EMT’s even more supplies to work with while waiting for an ambulance.

Also on board the “Kendall” fire truck were 11 – 20 pound dry chemical fire extinguishers.  At $150.00+ each obviously we would never be able to outright purchase such a quantity.  However with this windfall of good fortune Cummington firefighters have developed and implemented new tactics for chimney fires.  We no longer use water on such incidents unless fire has spread beyond the chimney to the structure itself.  Instead we remove the wood stove and connecting pipe, insert the hose end of the extinguisher in the bottom most accessible point to the interior of the chimney, plug the excess hole around the hose with a blanket or salvage cover and soot the dry chemical contents into the updraft created by the fire.  From personal observation on January 27, 1998 when this tactic was first employed into a roaring fire springing 6+ feet high out of the top of the chimney, a volcano was instantly reduced to a cloud-extinguishing agent harmlessly blowing out the tip of the chimney.  The procedure is quick and not harmful to the chimney in any way.

Another item worth of space here is some discussion on the “Wellness Act” so called.  The long and short of this act is that certain communities (Cummington is NOT one of them) are required to comply with provisions of the act because of how and where their municipal retirement funds are funded / handled.  The provisions currently require 188 of the 351 towns and cities in Massachusetts to require new emergency personnel, police and fire, to pass a medical physical exam and physical agility test to get into the respective service.  Then, to retake and pass the test every five years thereafter!  That, believe me, is a thumbnail, no little fingernail, sketch of what this is about.  There are so many “hairs’ on this dog it would take thousands of pages to list and describe all relevant material.  How did Cummington become interested if it doesn’t apply to us?  Well, it is a simply a matter of trust or a better description is, lack of trust, in those who come up with these broad-brush decrees without an understanding of the impact on call / volunteer fire services.  Frankly this legislation, which by the was has passed and is in place for the 188 communities mention above, will absolutely end emergency services as we know them, especially for smaller call / volunteer departments.  We take whom we can get; it’s better to have someone coming to assist rather than no one at all!  Anyway, Cummington’s involvement in opposing this legislation along with most other communities in our area arises from recognition of the fact that whoever proposed this in the first place, (Senator Moore from Uxbridge, MA) for the 188 communities, certainly would not be content with a double standard which imposed stringent regulations on Eastern communities while leaving western towns unaffected.  Simply a matter of lacking a trust in a seemingly benign law and recognizing the ramifications on our own area and lives.  Sure enough as forces from Western MA galvanized to oppose implementation of this lay and its ridiculous attached regulation, Senator Moore finally stopped denying his ultimate goal and admitted on the record he intends to apply these standards to every single emergency service group across the State.  It should be mentioned here for everyone to know that Lt. Robert Corash of Plainfield Fire Department gave hundreds of hours of his time and of his staff and office to assist / lead organized responsible opposition to this bill.  He deserves more than a simple “Thank You.”  But if someone were to call, write or stop him and say “Thank You” for your efforts to stop the effects of the Wellness Act on call / volunteer Fire Departments, it would go a long way.  Other individuals directly responsible for any success achieved with this matter are House Majority Leader Bill Nagle from Northampton and Representative Stephen Kulik of Worthington and Representative Shaun Kelly of Dalton, Senator Steven Brewer, Barre; Senator Andy Nuciforo, Adams; Senator Stan Rosenberg, Amherst; and virtually every Representative and Senator from Western Mass plus a host of some from Eastern Mass.  The list is too extensive to write here but if anyone desires more information please contact me directly and I will provide it.  Without their intervention, support, counsel, direction and contacts, there would have been no responsible voices heard “on the Hill.”  To each of you, thank you.

During the winter of 1997-1998 Cummington began the arduous task of formulating a Public Safety Complex plan.  A committee was appointed by the Selectboard and given a charge.  Much work and many meetings have been completed.  All are hoping sufficient financial resources are secured making this overdue much needed facility a reality.  The Fire Department wishes to thank everyone associated with this effort for their contributions.

Another significant event occurred in the spring of 1998.  After receiving support from Hampshire County fire Defense Association from the early 1980’s through Spring of 1998, for conducting our well known first Responder First Aid and CPR Training, Cummington notified HCFDA that Cummington would no longer be using the CPR mannequins or text material and slides provided by HCFDA.  The equipment and material were originally purchased for countywide use in early 1980’s and with a few exceptions nothing had been done to update the program.  With the advent of EMS 2000(State effort to standardize Emergency Medical care across the State) and subsequent changes to medical protocols combined with the uncertainty for the future of County Government, it appeared if Cummington was going to be able to continue providing quality training, we would have to look else where for help.  HCFDA was notified of this in the spring of 1998 and the organization took no action on the matter.  Cummington notified HCFDA, Cummington would no longer use the old equipment.  Since that date we have applied for several grants in an effort to modernize and continue our program.

Two final items mentioned in conclusion are the Federal Excess Property Program and our new building behind the Town Highway Garage.

First the Federal Excess Property Program, long the source of free equipment for Cummington Fire Department.  The Federal Government closed Westover Air Force’s Defense Reutilization Marketing Office (DRMO) where we obtained the lion’s share of equipment.  As is so true today everyone including government is seeking more efficient methods of performing their missions.  In this case the only DRMO’s left for the Eastern area are in Maine, New Hampshire, and Connecticut, too far in most cases, for us to benefit without incurring great expense in transportation fees.  We were very successful while the opportunity was present for Cummington at Westover.  The town as well as the area will continue to benefit from equipment obtained, if properly maintained, for years to come.  The Fire Department thanks everyone who has so generously supported our efforts to obtain equipment, move it, and store it for our collective future benefit.

Finally, as a direct result of the aforementioned equipment and, as reported in prior, the Fire Department and Association undertook an unprecedented project in town.  Under the direction of head designer / builder William B. Brooks and his assistant Brian Anderson, our 3,600 square foot storage building was completed with planting of flowers and grass. (We still think there should b e more clover over a wider area of grass)

All of the accomplishments described herein are achieved in addition to regular monthly meetings and drills and numerous other projects not listed or described here.

My personal gratitude to everyone in and out of the Department who so unselfishly support us each year.  Sometimes we forget how much we accomplish each year until it’s time to prepare this report.  Truly gratifying.  Thank you everyone!” – Bernard L. Forgea, 1998 Annual Report


“The Ambulance responded to a total of 98 calls during this period.  This is a significant increase in activity over recent years.  As noted in the Fire Department report this year saw another cardiac defibrillator save at the Cummington Fair.  The following history was presented to the audience at Hampshire County Award’s night in Northampton on May 21, 1998:

Examples of mankind coming to the aid of others in need can be found throughout the ages.  This concept received an official designation under Ben Franklin, the individual credited with forming the first organized Fire Department in the United States.  The first fire companies in America called this concept “mutual aid.”  As time wore on “mutual aid” was redefined and refined by many fire and police agencies to fit the very changing, challenging landscape of Emergency Service needs but, still, by in large “mutual aid” remained a call for help to meet a “specific need.”  Then the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Legislature added a dramatic dimension, which would forever change the meaning of mutual aid by handing down the decree we now hold near and dear to our hearts.  In 1974 Massachusetts General Law, Chapter IIIC, Section 201, better known as “The First Responder Training Law,” was enacted.  The express purpose of this law was to require all affected First Responders I Massachusetts to be trained to administer first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).  The reasoning for these requirements remains as sound today as it was when passed by the legislature.  That is, when members of agencies who by the very nature of their duties are required to be called first to emergency situations or other incidents wherein the need for emergency care develops, they would be trained to provide necessary emergency care and support to victims to ensure full benefits of the “Golden Hour” thereby enhancing patient survivability and reducing convalescence.  No longer did those arriving first on a scene requiring medical intervention have to call for help then wait helplessly as precious minutes ticked away.  Now all “First Responders,” regardless of their agency, community affiliation or rank, were trained and empowered to act to mitigate the incident.

No better example of cross departmental, cross town jurisdictional “mutual aid” assistance can be cited that the events of Saturday night, August 23, 1997, at the height of the Cummington Fair when a veteran First Responder was rescued by fellow First Responders.

Members of the Cummington Fire, Police and Ambulance services were assisted by Windsor Police, Chesterfield Fire, Plainfield Police, Worthington Police and a private citizen nurse, when the call came “man down at the walk in gate, possible cardiac.”  Instead of waiting for “someone else” to act, members of these departments immediately and instinctively raced to the site to begin patient evaluation and implement life saving / support measures.  As vital signs were being evaluated, the victim was positioned for possible CPR.  Responding personnel formed a barrier to control the gathering crowd and to provide flashlight for the medical first responders to work by (CPR was now in progress).  Since the ambulance (already called for) would be slowed by the crowd, one First Responder ran to obtain the defibrillator unit from the ambulance.  Several others raced to push the crowd back to speed up the ambulance response.  Another First Responder brought portable oxygen to the scene.  Within minutes the Defib was attached and the first shock delivered.  “No pulse!” “Reanalyze, shock advised.” “All clear” a second shock was delivered.  “He has pulse.”

By now the ambulance had arrived and preparations to load the patient were completed by other First Responders.  The patient regained consciousnesses as he was being loaded into the ambulance, enough so he was able to talk to the responders asking what was going on.

What happened next is the true mark of professionalism demonstrated by all involved in the incident.

By the time the doors closed on the ambulance, all of the First Responders involved from all the agencies from all the towns had simply melted back into the crowd to continue their duties as assigned.  Not a single person was left.  In fact, this happened so quickly and handled so rapidly most of the fair goers never know it took place.  This theme was played out again and again as attempts were made to determine whom from what agencies, what town(s) were involved.  Call after call resulted in responses much like “I really don’t know who was there.  I just did what I was trained to do.”  Personnel involved either didn’t remember others or actually didn’t know whom they were performing life saving with.  As incredible as this sounds, it is true and it is how First Responder training was deigned to work.  Those who are normally expected to be called and arrive first on the scene should be prepared to act and act decisively for the patient’s benefit without regard to who they are working with.  Skills, knowledge, and ability should and did prevail.

This great effort, which resulted in a “SAVE”, deserves special recognition.  Presenting this recognition to his rescuers is the victim “saved” in this incident who after 47 years of public service retired as Police Chief and Assistant Fire Chief in Cummington, Carl B. Liebenow.  Carl underwent coronary artery bypass graft surgery after this incident and after a rather lengthy hospital stay, returned home in September of 1997.  Carl’s recovery is a tribute to excellence in First Responder performance demonstrated through dedication, training and opportunity.

It has been determined the following individuals, along with their respective affiliations, were involved in this call.  All are First Responder, CPR certified or EMT’s and nearly all are Defibrillator certified:

                                Windsor Police – Officer Lewis Bean, Officer John Lombardi

                                Plainfield Police – Officer Justin Litchfield

                                Chesterfield – Firefighter/EMT James Brisbois

                                Worthington Police – Officer Scott Thornton

Cummington Fire and Ambulance under the direction of 1st Asst. Chief Dennis W. Forgea, EMT

                                Gary V. Galvagni, Firefighter

                                                Thomas E. Streeter, Firefighter / EMT

                                                William B. Brooks, Firefighter

                                                Eugene M. Granger, Lt. Firefighter

                                                Delbert H. Robbins, Lt. Firefighter

                                                Richard B. Meyer, Firefighter / EMT

                                                Wallis S. Granger, Lt. Firefighter / EMT

                                                Sherryl A. Ducharme, EMT


1998 was also the first time we utilized “Life Flight” helicopter ambulance to transport a patient from Cummington.  This event occurred on August 27, 1998 from the ball field in Cummington.

Again this year 11 EMT’s conducted annual First Aid First Responder training along with Bloodborne and Airborne Pathogen and Hazardous Materials training for our own Departments and surrounding communities.  As is noted in the Fire Report this is the last time this group of dedicated instructors will use the old and outdated equipment and material from Hampshire County Fire Defense Association.  We are grateful we have had access to these supplies since early in the 1980’s but in its current state and considering uncertainties of the future of County Government, the funding source for all of the equipment and material, the decision was made to explore other options to get back on track with training to benefit our classes.  Several grant applications have been filled out to see what, if any, help is available.

Our goal is to be able to continue providing the same or better quality care and training as in the past.

The Fire Association finally completed the storage building behind the Highway Department.  Under the direction and guidance of William B. Brooks and Brian R. Anderson this work of art was at last completed.  Three years of labor by Bill, Brian and their helpers finally saw the finished product.  A structure we are all proud of and should serve us for many years to come.

As for the Ambulance itself we spent a considerable amount of time and money this year fixing or replacing many little things beginning to show upon our nearly 10 year old “new Rig.”  Time flies!  An item of importance here not mentioned in the Fire Report was the removal of Plainfield Road Bridge.  This is more than an inconvenience, it adds a couple of miles and precious time onto all responses by our emergency services to any where served by the bridge or, to those units from Plainfield responding to Cummington.  It will be a happy day when a new bridge is in place again.

Our service was asked to participate in discussions leading to the creation of a “Cadet” EMT program at Mohawk Regional High School in Buckland.  Meetings were held over the course of many months, between school representatives and representatives of ambulance services whose towns send students to Mohawk.  Cummington was asked to participate considering our relationship with Plainfield, a member of Mohawk Regional.  The idea behind the concept as copied from other programs in place around the country, is to introduce EMT curriculum and training to High School students so when they turn eighteen in school they will already be fully prepared for certification as EMT’s on an ambulance.  The program includes provision for students to respond from school classes to local (nearby the school) emergency medical events during and as part of their training.  All of this naturally involved much dialogue with Office of Emergency Medical Serves (OEMS), each ambulance service that may be involved, school officials, even to the point of how would they respond? What vehicle? Who would drive them?  How long away from school?  Would there be need for Critical Incident Stress Debriefing?  Finally was there any consideration for recognition for the sacrifice and dedication of these students i.e., a school letter on awards day?  Each topic opened new doors for opportunities to work together.  The committee finally resolved each question and has endorsement to proceed with a pilot program at Mohawk.  Certainly other schools, and services will be watching closely to measure success of this program.  I know we will.

In the companion Fire Department Report it was noted we had the opportunity to secure a matching grant for a second Defibrillator in town.  We recently learned the original unit purchased in 1988 will no longer be supported by the manufacturer after 1999.  Therefore, during 1999 we will launch a similar campaign to replace our original Defib. Unit.  The unfortunate side to this story is we will not have a matching grant to work with.  Therefore it will be necessary to raise approximately $4,000 -$5,000 to cover the entire cost of a new unit.

We participated in many more activities over the past year equally worthy of mention here.  Space and time do not permit.  The most sincere thank you goes to the heroes and unsung members not mentioned herein.  Your efforts are greatly appreciated and do not go unnoticed.  Thank you all. To all residents and friends of Cummington and Plainfield, thank you so much for your continued support of our service.  Your kind words and gentle encouragement make a difficult task rewarding.

As always there is considerable need for more EMT’s on our Service.  Anyone interest please call Bernie Forgea at 634-5458 or Dennis Forgea at 634-5358 for more information or talk to any of our current EMT’s.  They will surely be happy to answer any question you may have to help you decide to belong.” – Cummington Fire Association, Inc., 1998 Annual Report


1999 - $9,382.00 operating, 2 special drills, 1 mutual aid, 12 still alarms, 2 brush fires, 1 in-service response, 4 motor vehicle accidents, 2 motor vehicle fires, 1 chimney fire, 1 wires down;

“Once again we are fortunate to have not experienced a serious fire loss.  The category with the greatest number of calls, still alarms, covers calls for alarms sounding.  In most instances these are alarm systems set off by insects, dirt, or unknown causes but, nevertheless require a response by the Fire Department.  We encourage everyone with an alarm system to be diligent with its maintenance.  The balance of calls ere what we would consider results of a “secondary survey” as if they were medical calls.  A “secondary survey” in medical circles is conducted to discover injuries which, while not life threatening in and of themselves, could become life threatening if not discovered and correctly treated.  So, in the case of fire calls, many calls may not present themselves as serious at first but, if not responded to and dealt with, could develop into loss of property and /or life.  It is a tribute to our trained, dedicated volunteers who faithfully respond to so many calls and are able to maintain and manage our community fire danger at such low levels.

As a reminder to all residents of Cummington, we enjoy a low fire insurance rating in town (5) (on a scale of 1-10 where 1 is considered so good it is likely to be unattainable by volunteers and 10 is considered no fire department at all) due in great part to volunteers who make up the Department and who, through their training, respond to every alarm and manage the call.  Even as this report is written, Cummington is responding to its “midterm” evaluation by Insurance Services Office, (ISO) the organization that provides fire insurers with public protection information in communities based on factors that quantify a community’s fire suppression resources.  “Information regard the fire department, water supply, fie alarm system and boundaries are critical elements to insurers providing insurance coverage to communities.”

As we fill our ISO’s forms providing information on the “current” status of Cummington’s Fire Department, we take great pride in our ability to deliver fire suppression resources to residents of Town and respond to requests for Mutual Aid as well.  ISO states in their cover letter “…providing current information will intimately help the citizens of your (Cummington) community to receive full benefit of available property insurance premium discounts and accurate allocation of state insurance premium taxes to applicable state and local tax-supported programs.”

You may be interested to know the % weight given to each of the above listed categories in ISO rating schedules and how evaluations are conducted.

The following information is excerpted from ISO’s “Product Spotlight,” the guide provided by ISO to communities to assist towns to understand how Rating Schedules are determined.  It is provided here to assist residents of Cummington to understand how our rates are determined and the importance of a working relationship between all factors making up the Rating Schedule.

Please take special note of the % value applied to Fire Department rating and what goes into that rating.

Fire Department

50 percent of the overall grading is based on the number of engine companies and the amount of water a community needs to fight a fire.  ISO also reviews the distribution of fire companies throughout the area.  ISO checks that the fire pump is tested regularly and inventories each engine company’s nozzles, hoses, breathing apparatus and other equipment.  ISO also checks the number and type of ladders, including ground and aerial ladders, and other service equipment, such as salvage covers, saws, and smoke ejectors.

ISO also reviews the fire company records to determine:

q       Type and extent of training provided to fire company personnel

q       Number of people who participate in training

q       Firefighter response to emergencies

q       Maintenance and testing of fire department equipment

Our relationship and ability to work will with Northampton Control, Mass. State Police Emergency Dispatching service for fourteen communities including Cummington, is also evaluated.

Here’s How FSRS Works

Fire Alarms

10 percent of the overall grading is based on how well the fire department receives and dispatches fire alarms.  ISO field representatives evaluate the communications center, looking at the number of operators at the center, the telephone service, including the number of telephone line coming into the center, and the listing of emergency numbers in the telephone book.  ISO also looks at the dispatch circuits and how the center notifies firefighters about the location of the emergency.

Cummington continues to see benefits from the $1.2 million water system completed in 1988.  Prior to then the town struggled with an inadequate water supply system.  West Cummington’s water supply did not benefit homeowners at our last review in 1991 but presently that system is being rebuilt.  We will have to wait to see what impact, if any there is on the town’s overall rating.  Upon completion and testing, homeowners within 1,000 feet of hydrants in West Cummington should contact their own fire insurance providers to determine if they qualify for a reduction in premiums.

ISO has this to say concerning water supply

Water Supply

40 percent of the grading is based on the community’s water supply.  This part of the survey focuses on whether there is sufficient water supply for fire suppression beyond what may be used for daily maximum consumption.  ISO surveys all components of the water supply system, including pumps, storage, and filtration.  ISO observes fire flow tests at representative locations in the community to determine the rate of flow the water mains provide.  Lastly, ISO counts the distribution of fire hydrants up to 1,000 feet from the representative locations’ needed fire flows.  ISO compares the water supply works capacity, the rate of flow at the test location, and the hydrant spacing with the needed fire flow calculated for the building.  ISO based the credit on the minimum of these features up to, but not exceeding, the needed fire flow(s).  The analysis is worth 35% of the water supply grade.  ISO excludes from the analysis buildings equipped with automatic sprinkler systems that are properly maintained.  ISO individually evaluates non-sprinklered buildings that have needed fire flows in excess of 3,500 gpm.  Their assigned classification may differ from the community’s classification.  As part of the water supply evaluation, ISO also considers size, type, and installation of hydrants, hydrant maintenance, and hydrant condition.  Hydrants should be visible and in good working order.  They should be inspected semiannually as outlined in American Water Works Association Manual 17, “Installation, Field Testing, and Maintenance of Fire Hydrants.”  This analysis is worth 5% of the water supply grade.

As for commercial properties, insurers determine premiums “after analyzing construction type and materials; occupancy type and hazards; protection, such as extinguishers and sprinklers; and exposure of adjacent structures.”

Homeowner property generally requires less water and equipment to fight a fire than commercial properties and are classified accordingly under the Public Protection Classification System just described or premium calculation.  Groupings vary from State to State and from insurance company to insurance company.  Therefore, individual property owners in Cummington are encouraged to contact your fire insurance providers to determine if you are receiving maximum benefit from Cummington’s insurance rating of (5).

A final note on the rating system just described.  ISO evaluates communities with a population under 25,000 approximately every 15 years.  We were last formally evaluated in 1991.  We can expect the next evaluation in 2006, sooner if we have a significant change in our fire protection or simply request a resurvey.

As part of our ongoing training we conduct drills at fire ponds we cleaned using equipment obtained through the Federal Excess Property program.  Twice each year (more often if thee is a fire) we back flush each “dry” hydrant we have installed and then conduct a pump class to insure proper function and flows from our installations.  These hydrants are critical to our ability to deliver the earlier noted fire suppression resources in areas of town not served by the water system.  Yes, these “dry” hydrants are also taken into consideration by ISO when evaluating Cummington.

Some other Issues:

Cummington Fire Department would like to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to everyone who assists us each year at the Fair.  As the Fair grows in popularity so does our responsibility and burden.  The load is much easier to bear with everyone’s kind help.  Thank You!

Over the past year Bill brooks, long time firefighter and chief designer/builder of the shed behind the Highway garage, suffered a debilitating stroke.  Bill, with the help of his wife Carol, has fought very hard on the long road to recovery.  Seemingly impossible, Bill was at the Fair this year to assist us once again.  As Bill regains his strength and mobility don’t be fooled into thinking he is not alert. Bill can (and does) hold his own in discussions.  Get well soon Bill.

We had a line item in last year’s budget for new Self-contained breathing apparatus.  The Fire Department itself withdrew that request of $30,000 prior to town meeting because it was discovered we had received erroneous information while we were researching replacement units.  Additional research is ongoing at this time.

Last winter was particularly cold with little snow to insulate the ground or ice coverings on ponds.  The result was ice thickness in excess of 2-3 feet, way beyond hand chopping capabilities we normally employ when establishing a winter water hole for fire fighting.  We purchased (after much trial) a chain saw with a long bar and chain (this unit will also serve to cut ventilation holes in roofs or walls) for this purpose.  Interestingly, we then discovered what our parents and grandparents already know.  That is, you have to lift the block of ice out of the hole.  Anybody ever go in search of purchasing ice tongs?  We finally located several sets at various antique shops and even purchased a “log carrier” (tongs suspended from midsection of a wooden pole for carrying wood) to assist lifting the really “big one” out of the hole.  These items will probable take all of the fun out of standing on Plainfield Pond in January at –20, 20-30 mph wind blowing.

Last year in this space it was reported the Fire Department and Ambulance had applied for several grants to replace obsolete, worn out, outdated First responder First Aid teaching equipment and material used in our annual program.  The Fire Department applied for a Student Awareness of Fire Education (SAFE) grant and received $2,500.  Under education reform guidelines this money can be used in programs such as our First Responder First Aid, as well as in schools as long as basic guidelines are followed.  In this regard we now incorporate a great deal more information in our First Responder program concerning health and social problems with smoking.  Fire Safety and escape plans are discussed and developed as well.  As long as we adhere to purposes of the SAFE program (i.e. smoking cessation, health, fire safety) we are allowed to utilize grant money in our First Responder training.  More on this in the Fire Association report.

Finally, the Cummington Fire Department took advantage of a program sponsored by the Fire Service Commission in conjunction with the Department of Fire Services, the creation of the Massachusetts Firefighter Service Award.  Essentially, this award is a length of service award to recognize periods of service totaling 20 or more years, in five-year increments.  For volunteers service includes volunteer or call (paid) firefighter service in one or more department(s).  And/or, prior service as a call or career firefighter in the same or any other department.  Recognition did not include auxiliary service or military duty.  It also only applied to active Mass. Firefighters or retirees no earlier than January 1, 1998.  Cummington Fire Department proudly presented seven members listed below for 20 or more years of service at five-year intervals.  Therefore in the left column is the award level in years and the right hand column is years of actual service.

                                                                                                Years      Actual

2nd Asst. Chief John P. Horton                                          35           38

1st Asst. Chief Dennis W. Forgea                                       35           37

Firefighter Conrad S. Liebenow                                      35           36

Capt. Dann M. Emerson                                                     30           34

1st Lt. Steven E. Emerson                                                    30           34

Lt. Delbert H. Robbins                                                        20           21

Lt. Wallis S. Granger                                                          20           20


This incredible level of volunteer service exceeds many individuals working careers.  It is a tribute to these individuals who have “stayed the course” through good times and not so good times.  It is highly unlikely someone could spend 20 years or more in an Emergency service and not experience tremendous changes in equipment, techniques, and social behavior.  To meet everyday challenges, make a living, provide for their own family needs, and still train, respond and commit this level of service to a community says a great deal about the personal integrity of these individuals.  Cummington residents can and should be proud of their record of achievement providing Emergency Protection, and more for a combined total of 220 years to Cummington and surrounding towns.  It makes a clear statement regarding beliefs in improving quality of life through active participation “in the game” and not being content to observe from the sidelines.  Congratulations and a person thank you to each of these dedicated volunteers.

To everyone in the Fire Department, thank you as well.  Please Cummington, remember it takes all of our members to sustain the level of excellence the town enjoys.  So while we recognize those who have achieved 20 or more years, let us also say thank you and provide encouragement to all who are not less dedicated or committed and, not quite at 20 years.

In closing it needs to be said, just in case it isn’t obvious, a service cannot have it both ways.  As much as Cummington Fire Department would like to have all of its members 20 years old with 20 years or more of experience it simply doesn’t happen that way.  The pride and comfort enjoyed knowing Cummington has such levels of service is tempered by the cold fact we are an aging department.  We are aging without replenishing our ranks to take up challenges we face as we move into a new millennium.  With an eighteen (18) active member department, 8 with 20 years (44+%) or more of service, Cummington residents need to carefully evaluate their own circumstances to see if there isn’t some room to become an active participant.  Not everyone has to run (walk) into burning buildings.  There are other tasks that need to be, and can be performed or supported by those with limited time, either young or those with more life experience.  Won’t you all please reread this and consider or reconsider a rededication of some of your endless talents to Cummington? Give me a call.  We will chat about how much need to be and can be done.

My personal gratitude to everyone who serves so unselfishly and to all who do support us similarly all year long.

We fail to say thank you enough.  The simplest task seems to be the most difficult to accomplish.” – Bernard L. Forgea, 1999 Annual Report


“The Cummington Ambulance responded to 88 calls during the past year.  This is similar to the number of calls responded to in the previous year.  At least we did not see another dramatic increase in numbers, as has been our experience over the past three years.

As mentioned in the Fire Department report and this report last year and this year, we applied for several grants to complete replacement of all aspects of our First Responder First Aid training program.  We could no longer provide this necessary training with outdated non-maintained equipment and printed materials and visuals.  Replacement costs were established at nearly $10,000.  Raising this amount of money in a short period (April-September) seemed a daunting task at best.

After several unsuccessful attempts we were directed to file an application with Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.  Persistence pays off.  Someone learned, from our early applications, of the needs we had and importantly, had discovered the impact of our program not being able to continue.  Essentially, without our program, Hilltown police, firefighters and EMT’s would either have to find new sources for the State mandated training or….

Once contact was established with Community Foundation personnel, they did everything they could to assist us in filling out our application, creating our grant request in meaningful goals and objectives, as well as assisting us in documenting our case needs.

Annually the Foundation holds a meeting for benefactors of, and to the Foundation and its many funds.  In September of 1999 Cummington Fire Association was invited to attend this event as a guest of the foundation.  It was clear from the beginning from the material received in the application process that it is not the intent of the foundation to completely fund a grant application.  Their goal is to establish worthiness of an application project through the rigors of the application process and provide some money to encourage other funding sources to assist the grant application obtain necessary funds.  Imagine if you can, Cummington’s complete surprise / shock and overwhelming sense of gratitude when it was announced that the Foundation was so moved by our project and the need for this valuable training, that they determined to set aside their rule of partial funding and announced Cummington would receive the full amount of its grant application!  This money, when combined with the SAFE Grant (discussed in the Fire Department report) enabled Cummington to purchase a completely new training program including equipment for our First Responders.  So training goes forward for our volunteers and we also have available to us more equipment in case of a mass causality incident.  You see, when we replaced our physical training ability to provide care on a larger scale, (hopefully we never have to) by purchasing actual Emergency response level grade equipment.  The very same as carried on our Ambulance.  Positioning our First Responders with such training and equipment would never have been possible without the generosity from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.  We would like to say a special thank you to Ann Awad, Mass. Dept. of Health for her patience, guidance and proofreading of the many drafts leading to the final product.  Without Ann we would never have passed the first screening.  Thank you Ann.

On to other issues.  We had another very successful fundraiser at Cummington Fair.  All members continue to go above and beyond to insure success at the Fair.  We also received assistance from several (up to 9) other area departments for both Fire and Ambulance duty coverage during the Fair.  This year we had a new addition, the Student Awareness of Fire Education (SAFE) House.  Sue Labrie from Goshen Fire Department coordinated a county wide mutual laid request to provide trained staffing at the House during the Fair.  The House is designed to teach fire safety and escape techniques to school age children and parents benefit as well.  Participants learn to feel doors for heat before opening them, how to roll out of bed if a smoke detector sounds and crawl low under smoke to a predetermined exit.  Once outside each group is instructed how to gather at one location and have one person go call the Fire Department.  They are also instructed once safely outside; to never go back inside for anything, even pets.  Instruct the firemen what is missing or trapped and let them go in.  The House is a favorite with our younger groups.  Next year we hope to have Smokey Bear as a greeter at the entrance to the House.  Bet the little one will like that!

Don Pearce continues doing a superb job with us.  Don began his career with us by taking over responsibility for our bottle and recycle trailer.  Now, not only does he do that task be he works on nearly every project we have including preparing for and parking cars at the Fair, helping set poles for the scoreboard at the ball field and everything in general.

Readers, if you will now refer to the Fire Report where we ask everyone to consider giving some time to our organization, we think you will more clearly see what we have in mind.  Don is a perfect example of filling needs in a volunteer organization by doing things OTHER than running off to fires and Ambulance calls.  Responding to calls is the minor part of belonging these days.  The support roles, i.e. inspections, investigations, meeting, hearings, grant writing, letter writing, responding to requests for information, etc.  The list goes on.  So if anyone still hesitates, after reading the Fire report, please know the needs run a common thread and knows no bounds especially in these two departments.  We sincerely hope to hear from you.  We do have volunteer positions in need of a “few good men and women!”

Kathy Patella labors away with weekly EMT training. It is amazing how quickly skills deteriorate and knowledge is forgotten.  Thank you K.P.

Wally Granger, originator of “Hilltown Day” at the Big “E”, continues to coordinate that effort as well as crank out a monthly schedule and stand duty. Obviously a busy lady.  Thank you Wally.  It should be pointed out that Wally was the victim of a vehicle accident last winter that put her out of work and off the ambulance for several months.  Even so, the schedule still appeared each month.

It was reported last year that the Mohawk Regional School was developing only the second of its kind in Massachusetts, a Cadet EMT program.  Idea being to introduce EMT concepts to High School students so when they turn 18, they will be fully trained and have some experience on runs.  Mohawk is nearly there after a couple of years of program modification to satisfy the Certifying Agency concern list posted in last year’s report.  Last word was training was progressing in the school and they are attempting to refurbish a vehicle, obtained through Federal Excess Property, into a response unit.  We will watch this experiment with keen interest.

As always we need and want to say a hearty thank you to the many organizations who support us each year.  Ladies Softball and Cummington Lions continue to work hard raising money and sharing their successes with us.  These organizations deserve a tremendous thank you from everyone.  Thank you!

The Bryant Craft Fair continues to be a major fundraiser for us as well.  Each yar we try to have everything in order to reduce last minute scurrying around.  Each year we scurry especially since the food trailer arrives late Friday afternoon and needs to be steam cleaned prior to serving food from it.  Some things are inevitable.  All in all this project goes off extremely efficiently and provides another area for volunteering.

As reported in last year’s report we needed to replace our original defibrillator unit since we were notified by the manufacturer they would no longer support the unit in the field either mechanically or electrically.  This meat hoping we could find some supply of after market parts, someone to work on the unit when needed and most troublesome, find someone who would / could legally certify the machine as performance ready.  The choice was quite clear so Cummington Ambulance sent a letter to residents of Cummington requesting funds (we needed up to $5,000 since there were no matching grants available as was so the previous year with the Fire Department).  At this writing the fund drive is well under way so hopefully by next year we will report we have a replacement unit on board.

Cummington Grange, through ongoing efforts of EMT’s Martha and Steve Emerson, donated what is called a Kiddy Litter for use in the Ambulance.  For years we have been wrestling with how to properly secure small children to the main litter in the Ambulance for transport.  Problem was ambulances are designed for much larger patients and normal (code required) restraints / straps do not properly secure children to the cot.  The idea with the Kiddy Litter is to secure a child to this miniature backboard type device, which in turn is made to correctly attach to the larger Ambulance cot.  Bingo! Problem solved.  A sigh of relief and hearty thank you to the Cummington Grange and to Steve and Martha for their constant vigilance for better ways to perform our duty.

In October and again in November of 1998 the Board of Directors of the Cummington Fire Association met to discuss ways to insure the future of our service and one unique idea (there are many but most are to do with training and fund raising) was brought before the entire body for consideration.  That idea was the formation of a membership enhancement committee.  The committee’s charge was (is) to discover ways to boost moral, enthusiasm, internally and, to become an organization that external people want to join.  Perhaps we need to be a more exciting, fun place to be, family oriented, proud to belong, wear our uniforms with such pride and dignity that other will want to participate as well.  In January of 1999 Brian Anderson volunteered to chair this committee (Brian as President is also on the Board of Directors) made up of volunteers Rich Meyer, David Rancourt and Kyle Ducharme.  The committee ahs spent a considerable amount of time looking inwardly at reasons everyone joins and belongs.  Their plan, one they understand the driving force behind existing volunteers, is to attempt to reward those who belong and convince those who don’t, why they should; how much there is to do and, how nearly anyone can contribute to sustaining the future of our cherished service.  They have a tremendous task in front of them but the rewards are too great not to continue and not to succeed.  Good Luck to our committee.

Finally, Cummington Fire Association is happy to announce this year’s Length of Service Awards for our EMT’s:

Cummington                         Kathleen Patella                 10 years 06/26/89

Cummington                         Tom Streeter                                         10 years 07/31/89

Plainfield                              Mark Keller                                          10 years 07/31/89

Plainfield                              Merton Taylor                                      10 years 07/31/89

Plainfield                              John Westwood                    10 years 07/31/89

Cummington                         Steven Emerson                   20 years 11/03/79

Cummington                         Wallis Granger                    20 years 03/20/79

Cummington                         Dennis W. Forgea                                25 years 07/18/74


Every single person listed above also serves as a firefighter in their respective communities as well as hold a full time job and, most have families.

As has already been stated in the companion Fire Report, as wonderful as it is to see these levels of longevity in our service it also points to the inescapable conclusion that we are also an aging service.  If you compare this list to the Fire Department Length of Service Award list, you will discover at least three matches.  The same hold true for Plainfield.  In many cases individuals have been forced to drop one or the other services to maintain membership in at least one.

Our volunteers have, as demonstrated, carried a huge burden and labored in silence.  However, the time has come for others to take up the challenge and lighten the load.  We currently have an intense recruitment effort under way and need to gain some volunteers to support our service.  Some will go on to be EMT’s others may not.  All are welcome.  We have positions in need.  Please consider committing some of your valuable time and assist our service members sustain our service.

As always it is a privilege to serve the residents and friends of Plainfield and Cummington.  You do support us in so many ways already.  A simple thank you seems so inadequate.  Nevertheless, THANK YOU!” – Cummington Fire Association, Inc., 1999 Annual Report


2000 - $9,530.49 operating, $4,500.00 Hose Tester and Hose, 9 vehicle accidents, 1 vehicle fire, 15 alarm sounding, 1 lightning strike (confirmed), 1 transformer fire, 1 wires down, 1 brush fire, 1 mutual aid, 5 drill and fair duty, 1 disposal of gunpowder, 1 chimney fire, 1 gasoline spill;

“Again, while Cummington has been fortunate to not have experienced a serious fire loss, we have seen a significant increase in annual calls.  Alarm sounding continues, and likely will continue, to be the category with the greatest number of calls.  Dirt, bugs, insects, and unexplained causes set off alarm systems in this category.  In many instances simple maintenance, cleaning detector heads with a vacuum, would lessen these calls.  Each call requires a Department Response to investigate.

Second highest category is vehicle accidents.  Here we see better than 100% increase in activity.  Many of these accidents have been very serious and involve many of our trained Ambulance and First Responder Fire and Police personnel being on scene for several hours.  As the severity and number of calls increase, it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract and retain volunteers for our all-volunteer service.

We extensively reported last year on the rating system used by insurance companies to quantify a community’s fire suppression resources.  In that report we mentioned West Cummington’s water supply being rebuilt.  As this is written, the new water system is nearly complete.  One testing is finished homeowners within 1,000 feet of hydrants should contact their Fire Insurance providers to determine any potential reduction in premiums on their insurance.

We also continue to work on cleaning, installing, maintaining dry hydrants in the fire ponds around town.  This past year we attempted to re-clean Bryant Pond (only cleaned 3 years ago!)  Then the rains began.  We were never able to begin removing silt washed into the pond.  Perhaps next year.  These sites are considered by the insurance industry when they set Fire Insurance rates for our town.

We did experience a significant change in leadership of the Fire Department.  Long time Captain Dann Emerson, due to employment changes, decided it was time to retire as our Captain.  Dann continues to serve as a firefighter with the Department.  After discussion with other Department Officers and Dann, Dann’s brother 1st Lt. Steven Emerson was unanimously selected to move up to the rank of Captain.  This in turn moved up the other Lieutenants as well.

As reported in the companion report of the Fire Association, we continue to enjoy wonderful support with our car parking and raffle at the Fair.  Everyone is so generous donating prizes and time to assist with the many duties / functions we cover.  Thank you to all.  A special tank you to the Ladies’ Softball League who, each year share their Fair booth income with our emergency services.

Last year we reported we had withdrawn a budget request for $30,000 to replace our outdated Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA).  We had received erroneous information concerning the serviceability of units we currently (then) had in use.  What we also discovered, upon further investigation was, even with continued availability of parts and service for our existing units, cost to bring them into recognized safety compliance would approach replacing them altogether!  What to do?  About this time Northampton fire Department converted their entire department over to a different style and type of SCBA.  Since we were utilizing the same service company as Northampton to maintain our SCBA, this company facilitated an arrangement for Cummington to receive six of Northampton’s traded in units.  Our only cost was to flow test each unit and replace one mask.  We now have six very serviceable, safety compliant, breathing units to use until we are able to fund some additional pieces.  Many thanks to Northampton Fire and Industrial Protection Services (IPS) for their assistance.  This is networking and mutual aid at its best!

Last years as well we learned of a problem with the majority of air bottles used with our SCBA.  A number of years ago we made the conscious decision to switch from fiberglass wound bottles to much heavier aluminum bottles.  The reasons were pretty simple to understand.  Fiberglass wound bottles, though much lighter in weight to carry, had a useful life of only 15 years.  Aluminum bottles, on the other hand, have indefinite lives as long as they pass a hydrostatic test every 5 years at $18.00.  Fiberglass wound had to be tested every 3 years at $18.00.  Fiberglass wound at this time were selling for $500.00 each.  Aluminum was selling for $400.00ish, slightly less expensive even.  Simple math and ease of record keeping made this decision easy to make.  Last year however, we were informed, by a government testing agency, aluminum bottles made between certain years “were manufactured using an alloy that had caused a few bottles to fail. Explode! Under pressure.”  When one of these bottles explodes inside of a fire truck compartment, it can, and has, blown the compartment off the truck!  Imagine this on a firefighter’s back!  Dutifully, we carefully inventoried every single bottle we have, some fifty in all.  Thirty-five were listed in the time period using the alloy construction.  We then discovered the hydrostatic test (pressurizing the bottle under control) we used might not reveal the fault.  We had to have these 35 bottles retested at $18.00 using a more sophisticated “eddy current” test.  Believe it or not, this latter examination revealed two of the thirty-five just hydrostatically test to have cracks in the necks of the bottles, precisely where the government agency said the cracks would likely appear!  Since the balance of bottles (33) showed no sign of fault we elected to implement the procedure approved for refilling and maintaining these bottles.  It requires a longer period to fill each and they need to be tested more frequently than 5 years but they are safely usable while we seek to replace them.  The two bottles that failed are supposed to be replaced free of charge, by the manufacturer.  We are still waiting.

We completed our second year under a Student Awareness of Fire Education (SAFE) grant.  Combined with monies received from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts our “one of a kind” First Responder First Aid training flourishes in the Hilltowns.  We continue to evaluate our program and offer courses required for Police, fire and Ambulance personnel to retain their certifications.

As many citizens are aware Cummington Fire, Police and Ambulance continue to explore means for a Public Safety Complex.  Under guidance from the Selectboard various sites with many options are under consideration.  No easy task as these departments attempt to blueprint and construct a facility to meet Cummington’s need for 50(75?) years.

On November 26, 1999 Cummington Fire Department, with assistance from Fire departments from Plainfield, Chesterfield, Worthington, and Goshen, held a training exercise, which, upon completion saw the burning of the old potato storage warehouse at the intersection of Dodwells and Lyman Flat Roads.  The even marked the culmination of several years litigation attempting to clean up the partially fallen in, dilapidated structure.  Since this time new laws have been passed specifically directed to addressing situations such that existed here.  These new laws were passed to address abandoned vacant buildings to prevent, to the extent possible, firefighters being exposed to tragedies such as befell Worcester, MA Fire Department which lost six firefighters on December 3, 1999 fighting a fire in a previously vacant building.  At least now a mechanism is in place to deal with these structures.  It also provides opportunity for the office of building inspector to work with the Fire Department to insure these structures are dealt with.

Year before last Fire Department budget requests included a line item capital purchase for a hose tester.  You see, part of the Insurance Company’s evaluation of a community’s fire resources is to determine not only what equipment we have i.e., how many lengths of fire hose and what size they are, but also their condition.  Condition is determined by annual testing of every single length of hose we carry, and keeping records demonstrating the date and pressure each length was test at.  Yes, each length of hose we carry, some 5,000 fee in all, mostly in 50 ft. lengths, is individually numbered so we not only know which truck it goes on, but where on each truck it is carried.  Each year during the test hose that passes is identified with a spray painted stencil indicating the year of test.  Hose that fails is removed from service, hopefully to be replaced.  Cummington Fire maintains a spreadsheet containing all test data on each piece of hose.  What was different about our testing procedure last year was the use of our new hose tester.  Now instead of having one, or both, or our pumpers out of service for a day while we unload hose from each, fill the hose with water and pressurize to test strength, we only unload 1 pump at a time and by attaching hose to the hose tester (same device as a pressure washer) we are able to run tests without having to stress our truck pumps.  The trucks remain “in Service” ready to respond to community emergencies!  Additionally, until last year we faced the age-old problem of not only having to annually test our cotton jacketed hose, but keeping it dry during the test and draining so we could immediately reload it for use.  Cotton jacket hose if repacked (loaded) wet will mildew and rot the cotton jacket of the hose.  This leads to abrupt sudden failure of hose under pressure (200-250 psi.)  It also means, if this is at a fire scene, we are immediately out of business with an assured fire loss of property we are attempting to protect.  Last year Wilbraham Fire Department converted to 4” hose and shared some of their synthetic jacket 3” hose with Cummington.  Synthetic jacket hose is designed and made to be cleaned (washed) and repacked wet.  Can you imagine Boston Fire Department being unable to respond to fires while they dry their hose!  We were in the same spot, slightly smaller scale, until Wilbraham assisted us.  Now we pull all hose off, test and mark it, then reload.  Within 4-6 hours we are in service ready to respond!  Many thanks to Chief Ken Willette of Wilbraham and the Wilbraham Fire Department for coming to our aid.  Before we move away from hose testing it should be pointed out that our cotton jacket hose was 3” in diameter.  This was hose we received in 1999 from Lowell, MA Fire Department when they upgraded to synthetic jacket hose.  So while we had already replaced the last of our original supply line 2 ½” hose, dating, yes back to 1946, we now enjoy the ability to immediately clean and reload any hose we use.  Truly a time saver.

Mentioned in this year’s Fire Association personnel for 200+ people who assisted us at, and during the Fair.  This particular year was chosen because of an event that took place August 29, 1999, Sunday of the Fair.  That event, an automobile accident on Route 9, its timing and ultimate utilization of resources was of such magnitude Cummington Fire Department nominated those departments and agencies involved, for a Pre-Hospital Award presented annually at Western Massachusetts Emergency Medical Service Award Ceremony.  Complete text of the nomination is reprinted for benefit of those unable to attend this prestigious event.  Again, a well deserved “thank you” to all involved.


SUNDAY august 29, 1999 is a bright sunny day at the 131st Edition of the annual Cummington Fair.  Hundreds of fair goers are entering the grounds and lining roads to the fair.  Traffic is backed up its usual one mile from Route 9 to the Fair’s entrance.  At approximately 1:30PM Cummington Fire, Ambulance and Police personnel are alerted to respond to a motor vehicle accident, with personal injury and multiple victims, on Route 9 three miles west of the village of Cummington.

In previous years Cummington personnel had planned to cover this type of call with their own personnel using an elaborate plan calling for backup and move up by several area departments.  This particular year, due to growth of the fair, Cummington and area Departments, Fire and Ambulance, held a pre-fair planning meeting to discuss / review emergency responses on and off the fair grounds.

The conclusion of this meeting resulted in a major overhaul of local emergency plans.  Now, instead of Cummington responding to calls off the grounds (they still cover all calls on the grounds), arrangements were reached with area Fire Departments and mutual aid Ambulance Services to cover calls, both EMS and Fire, off the grounds.  Incident Command Structure would be utilized with overall command remaining with Cummington and Scene Command designated to units responding to incidents off the fair grounds.

On August 29, when the call comes in, Worthington Fire, according to pre-planning, responded from the fair with their own pre-staged apparatus as Scene Command.  Because of information provided as to injuries and number of victims involved, Cummington Ambulance responds from their position deep on the fairgrounds to establish immediate EMS response and control.  Within minutes Worthington, after making their way through heavy traffic, arrives on the scene and immediately call for “jaws” from Goshen and their own town, Worthington.  Upon arrival of Cummington’s ambulance on scene and, establishment of EMS control, AMR is requested for ALS support as well as Life Flight, due to the nature of injuries and entrapment delaying transport and definitive treatment.

In the meantime, to cover hundreds, thousands, of fair goers and associated events being conducted, Windsor Ambulance is requested to respond to the grounds for coverage there.  Upon request of Life Flight, Cummington’s engine 2 is dispatched to set up a Landing Zone at the town ball field for Life Flight.  Difficulty is, most of Cummington’s firefighters are already engaged attempting to move the mile long traffic jam off the roadway and control movement of some 600 vehicles attempting to leave, to enable emergency apparatus to enter and leave the fair.  This leaves no personnel from Cummington to staff Engine 2.  However, as part of the pre-plan, the County SAFE House is located at the fair for use in fire safety training.  Previous arrangements have Goshen firefighters managing shifts and personnel to operate the trailer.  This is accomplished by using county wide mutual aid requesting SAFE educators from across Hampshire County Fire Departments to completely run this exhibit.  As luck goes, and sometimes you need it, especially if it’s good luck, there is a shift change at the SAFE House.  Arriving Firefighters from Williamsburg, who just happen to have their emergency gear bags with them, are immediately released by Goshen to staff Cummington’s Engine 2 for Landing Zone duty.

Amazingly, the SAFE House continues to operate, conducting fire safety and escape route classes, with remaining Goshen fire staff, now assisted by Massachusetts Bureau of Fire Control personnel who, witnessing and overhearing developments respond to the house to assist.  All coordinated under the guidance and management of Smokey Bear.  No difficulties are reported.  In addition there is a Firefighter from VT who reports to the SAFE House offering his services in support of the remaining Engine on the grounds.  Now, remaining on the Fair grounds is one Engine with an officer and three firefighters, two firefighters are staffing the booth, as is Savoy Fire Department.  These Departments have prearranged assignments to assist as well.  About this same time several firefighters from Windsor, who are also at the fair, report to Cummington personnel off the grounds to assist moving traffic.  In some cases this includes members of families who are with firefighters, wives and children.

Meanwhile, Worthington Fire, as “on Scene Command,” is dealing with Worthington jaws and Goshen jaws as they struggled with extrication.  Cummington’s Ambulance crew, providing EMS Scene Command, is working with AMR to load first of several victims.  Oh, by the way, Route 9 is also closed, so traffic is rapidly building.  No way around the scene once there.

Recall, Windsor has been requested to report to the fair for coverage in the absence of Cummington’s unit.  Well, Windsor becomes trapped in the traffic jam backed up around the accident scene.  It is precious time before they are able to enlist assistance of police to enable them to pass through the scene.

By now Life Flight has arrived on the ball field with the flight Dr. and nurse requesting ground transportation to the scene, some 2-3 miles away.  Upon arrival at the scene they, the flight crew from the first plane, request a second helicopter from Albany.

Meanwhile, at the fair, Cummington is growing concerned about availability of resources.  What if Windsor is not allowed past the scene?  Perhaps they will be pressed into service to transport a patient from the scene since they are already there.  Once at the scene there is no way around it.

A call is placed to Northampton Control (911 Dispatch) to contact Ashfield Ambulance requesting them to stand by in quarters, depending o what happens with Windsor.  A second call is placed to Plainfield Fire Department to stand by in quarters with an Engine Company to be ready to establish a second Landing Zone, closer to the accident scene, once a second LZ location is determined.

Windsor calls to inform personnel at the fair they have successfully passed the scene but are now stuck in traffic approaching the Fair.  They are at a dead stop some one-mile from the grounds.

A request for assistance to get Windsor on the grounds is made to the police detachment, made up of Windsor, Worthington, Plainfield, Goshen, Chesterfield, and Cummington officers, attempting to direct inbound traffic to coordinate with the mid-afternoon parade at the fair, quickly results in the most amazing transformation ever witnessed.  Within a very few minutes everyone is stopped, traffic and parade.  Then, traffic is directed to proceed in a rapid fashion away from the gate to be used by Windsor.  Some of those vehicles may still be moving away.  Just don’t know where they all went, so quickly.  In just a few short moments the highway is clear and Windsor’s ambulance is being directed onto and around the grounds by police.

By this time AMR has departed for the Hospital with their patients.  Cummington is not far behind with another and Life Flight, with the most seriously injured on board, is on route to Bay State.

Fortunately the second plane is canceled which negates Plainfield’s response.  Ashfield, however, is stuck on duty until Cummington returns, a couple of hours later, to relieve Windsor and Goshen returns to backup Cummington.

When all is said and done there are a total of four victims, the most serious of which is the trapped individual.  Happily all recover.

Cummington Fire and Ambulance service want to recognize the incredible support we receive from our own Police Department, and the combined efforts of Police, Fire, and EMS from Worthington, Plainfield, Chesterfield, Goshen, Savoy, Windsor, Ashfield, Williamsburg, AMR and Life Flight that respond to assist us in meeting responsibilities for public safety at Cummington Fair.  We recognize you are there all year long but there is something special.  Something different, about working together during these few days making the fair a safe place to visit and insuring all who attend enjoy their stay and want to return the following year.  Thank you for all you do.


We renew our appeal for new members.  As noted in last year’s report we are an aging service.  We reported we have 18 active members of which 8 have 20+ years with the department.  5 of the 8 fall between 30-40 years of service.  Please take a few minutes of your time to see if there isn’t some time you can give us.  No, not everyone wants, or can be a firefighter or an ambulance attendant.  There are many tasks that need attention that don’t require that level of involvement.  What you can do is free up, for the rest of us, time spent on inspections, paper work, etc.  Time we could spend concentrating on firefighting / ambulance aspects of our duties.

Please think this over carefully.  We need more help to continue providing the service our town enjoys.  Call me at 634-5458.  Let’s talk it over!

Once again Cummington Fire Department’s deepest sense of gratitude to everyone who supports us so unselfishly all year long.  My personal tank you to all of our community as well and, most importantly, to every single firefighter, ambulance attendant and associate who labors for Cummington Fire and Ambulance each year.  Thank you to each of you.  You make it all possible.” – Bernard L. Forgea, 2000 Annual Report


Cummington Ambulance responded to 109 calls over this period.  This is a 24% increase in calls.  “As everyone is able to see, we continue to experience more calls, hence our need for additional personnel.

We are extremely pleased to announce arrival on our squad of EMT’s Ryan Strong, David Owen, Martha Eisenhour, Judy Bogart, Scott Dupont, Wendy Mimitz and Stacy Magdycz.  Ryan, Martha, Jud, and David are Cummington residents, while Scott, Wendy and Stacey are residents of Plainfield.  Scott is also a Plainfield firefighter.  Their collective arrival followed last year’s appeal, in this same report, for assistance.  We were dangerously close to not being able to continue operating our twenty-four hours a day, seven day per week emergency service without some additional staffing.  With the assistance of the Office of Emergency Medical Services (hereafter OEMS) we were able to create a schedule, which allowed immediate use of these recently examined EMT’s.  Under normal circumstances once an EMT candidate successfully completes an EMT course they are scheduled for their state certification exam sometime over the next three month period with results of the exam released some six to eight weeks after that.  In our case we needed immediate relief with daytime coverage since we only had four individuals covering all day shifts every week.  OEMS explained to us there is a provision within the Ambulance Law (Chapter 111C), which allows EMT candidates who are waiting for their exam results to participate as second EMT’s on a crew.  Working with OEMS, Cummington created a unique scheduling arrangement to enable use of our EMT candidates.  Each candidate had to apply for an official “waiver” to be allowed to participate in this program.  OEMS reviewed each waiver application for appropriateness i.e., successful completion of a state approved EMT course, final certification exam scheduled within time parameters provided in the law, etc.  However, since we had so many (6) applying for waivers, OEMS was concerned they would potentially be establishing precedent under which an ambulance service could operate indefinitely with provisional EMT’s.  Therefore, OEMS set a limit of three persons operating on a waiver within one service at any one time.  OEMS felt this was in keeping with the intent of the law.  With this as a framework, Cummington set about creating a staggered schedule utilizing three applicants for three months and then rescinding their waivers and applying for waivers for the next three.  Using this approach we were able to gain needed relief for our daytime schedule and fully comply with State law.  In case anyone wonders how we got to six EMT waivers from the seven we originally named at the beginning, Ryan Strong was not part of this tedious learning experience.  Ryan was in a previous class so he became a fully certified EMT prior to this process.  Anyway, welcome to each recently joined EMT.  We sincerely hop you have long careers with Cummington!

In last year’s report we described the grant process and results we achieved seeking funds to continue our First Responder training.  We now have completed two years training utilizing our newest program and equipment.  We must admit the results are gratifying.  As previously described, when we purchased equipment to use during First Responder training, we obtained actual field equipment, same as carried on ambulances.  This provided very realistic and actual training experience for emergency personnel.  We also said this “extra” equipment would be available should we ever experience a call requiring more resources than we carry on the ambulance.  Several times since acquisition of our training supplies we have gone to this equipment to support our needs at accidents and, to return our ambulance to service because we had to leave, at hospitals, equipment still attached to patients.  Eventually most, but not all, of this equipment is recovered by our service.  In the meantime, regulations require the ambulance to carry a minimum of certain items to remain “in service.”

Last year as well, we reported we had to replace our original Defibrillator unit since parts and service for it were no longer available.  This venerable unit, dating to late 80’s with two confirmed saves to its credit, no resides with our service a memorabilia.  Replacing it is a new Life Pac 500 style unit.  This defibrillator is identical to the ones in West Cummington, Plainfield and Worthington.  The idea behind this uniformity is simple.  With trained personnel scattered around these communities, all having available to them the same technology, victims stand a greater chance of being reached within the narrow 3-4 minute window necessary for successful defibrillation.  With all towns’ responders employing the same technology there is no delay in having trained personnel, familiar with the equipment, respond no matter which town they are in or from.

Last year the Pomona Grange honored Cummington First Responder Instructors and Aides.  At a meeting in Huntington, Cummington instructors each received a personal proclamation and thank you for contributions to Community Service.  Complete text presented that evening is reprinted here for benefit of those unable to attend.


Grange Recognition Ceremony Huntington

Good Evening – Thank you for having us as guests at such a prestigious occasion.  I am Bernard Forgea, Chief Cummington Fire Department and fellow member of the group receiving recognition this evening.  If I may, before our team / recipients are introduced, I would like to provide you with some back ground on our organization, Cummington Fire Association, Inc., and give a brief review of who we are, how we got into the emergency business and specifically how we entered into the training program that is the subject of tonight’s ceremony.

The Cummington fire Association, the social side of the Fire Dept., for lack of a better description, was formed in 1947 as an adjunct to the newly formalized Cummington fire Department.  References to the town supporting fire suppression can be found as early as 1903 when the town voted to purchase some kind of fire extinguishers and place them in appropriate locations around town.”  The ide3a here was, of course, if a fire was discovered once the alarm was sounded (SHOUTING), those persons having access to these extinguishers, and ability, would rush to the fire scene with these Town purchased extinguishers and hopefully put out the fire.

On one such occasion at one of the several fires suffered y the Cummington Manufacturing Company mill on Main Street, fire trucks were sent to Cummington from Hinsdale and Northampton.  There couldn’t have been much left of the mill by the time these units arrived.  The purchase of extinguishers continued and in 1933, with the installation of a water main along Main Street, the town purchased a hose reel on wheels and 300 feet of 2 ½ inch hose for fire fighting.  Still there is no mention of a Fire Department.  The individual with authority over fires in the town was called Fire Warden.  This person gave out permits for open burning (still does today) and held a position somewhat the same as a Fire Chief.  Interestingly, even today we have Fire Wardens for permits and Fire Chiefs who oversee our Fire Departments.  Often they are not the same individual.  Works much better when they are the same however.  Obvious reasons.

Cummington’s first reference to a Fire Chief and a Fire Department is around 1943ish.  Our town history and reports indicate an individual was appointed Fire Chief to “oversee the affairs of the Fire Department.”  Whatever that included then.  In about 1946-1947 members of the Cummington Fire Department purchased a piece of property on Main Street “ for the purpose of erecting a Fire Station.”  This is truly the beginning of our modern day Department.  Over the course of the next 2 years these volunteers prepared the site (filled it in because it was several feet below street level), cut logs to be sawn into lumber to build the station and actually built the station.  In 1948 the Station and the land was given to the Town by the Volunteer Firemen who created it.  In 1948 the town also purchased the town’s first real fire truck, a 1948 Diamond T (we still have it).  This is most likely the motivating factor for building the Station in the first place.  Prior to this the volunteers had a very old Diamond Reo truck with a water tank and a pump attached in a very homemade manner.  Our senior members recall that it would boil over by the time they got to West Cummington, or halfway up Rt. 112 by the Library.  These early pioneer volunteer Firefighters knew they had to modernize and obtain a real piece of fire apparatus.

The Department continued to grow and expand services until in 1956 it became necessary to add onto the station to accommodate the recently acquired 1939 LaSalle ambulance, our first for $260 of which $200 was donated by the Cummington Grange.  Our relationship with Grange is not only founded in this historical perspective, but continues a traditional relationship through Community Service.  Most recently, the Grange, through efforts of Steve and Martha Emerson, both long time Grange and Fire and EMT members, presented Cummington a Kiddy Litter. Not a kitty litter.  This device enables us to safely transport very small, tiny, children on our main cot without fear they will fall off.  An ambulance cot is not constructed for small children and securing them for transport had been an ongoing problem for us.  This terrific device eliminated those concerns.  I would also mention here, Martha along with her husband Steve, daughter Shelly and son Chris have provided refreshments for all of our classes and fire groundwork.  Labeled the Coffee Lady, Martha and family have provided this service for over twenty years.

To make an otherwise long story somewhat shorter we fast-forward through the next 20 years, which saw the purchase and replacement of several more ambulances and fire trucks.  Ambulances were still in the $900-1500 range until – 1973 when our State legislature, following the Federal Government’s lead, passed what we fondly call the Ambulance Law, MGL Chapter 111C.  This piece of legislation was to have, and still does have, far reaching effects on how we conduct ourselves in emergency services.  This was the beginning of, though not fully in effect until 1978, the First Responder Law which requires each Police Officer, Firefighter, life guard etc., to be trained to a specified level of First Aid (described in the act itself), CPR, and more recently, Blood / Airborne Pathogens, Hazardous Materials and in the very near future, Semi-automatic Defibrillation.

This is where the story of the group before you begins.  In 1978, recognizing we needed to meet the imposed training requirements of the new Law, Cummington looked around how best to accomplish this.  Problem was, there was no training in place to meet this new requirement.  In fact, EMT’s had to travel to Springfield to obtain courses for credit to be able to continue as ambulance attendants.  What to do?  Careful review of the Law revealed we could train our own personnel using our EMT’s, if only we could get them certified to teach CPR and, if we could come up with necessary funding for training equipment, materials, and books.

We approached then Chief of the Dalton fire Department, Bob Kirchner who, at that time was an Instructor trainer for Berkshire County Red Cross, readily accommodated our EMT’s.  (Once the program began producing First Responders, some of them in turn, because CPR instructors, in fact two of these individuals are with us tonight.)  We began instruction using 3 of our own EMT’s and a set of slide we borrowed from the electric company, SMECO.  Our first class was in Plainfield with 20 students.  The year was 1978.

In the beginning we traveled from town to town each year to lessen the travel burden on local responders.  This arrangement soon lost its luster and we settled on a regular site, the Community House in Cummington.  In truth, it is an ideal location for our style of training.  Even as we settled into a routine schedule I Cummington we were sill without necessary equipment and materials.  Remember Hampshire County?  Well, through efforts of heavy lobbying of Hampshire County Fire Defense Association, Fire Chiefs of Hampshire County, County Government provided funding to get this extremely important project up and running as it needed to be.  As is the case, and rightfully so, with funding such as this we needed to share our resources across the entire County.  We managed this balancing act for years, from approximately 1980 to 1997.  By then equipment, books and material were so used up they were beyond use.  The Sate Office of Emergency Medical Services, which governs our training and that for ambulances, passed an entirely new set of State wide medical protocols.  The idea is to provide quality care consistently across our entire state.  This was the final straw for our program.  We had been limping along with textbooks that should have been replaced years prior, to say nothing about the condition of the rest of our supplies.  With County Government facing an uncertain future and considering many departments by now had adopted some form of First Responder Training “In House,” the decision was made to not replace any of this equipment or material, at this time.  This left the group before you with two choices.  1) Get out of business and end our Training or 2) Devise some way to raise money enough to replace our entire program.  We chose the latter and entered the Grant application market.  We finally, after several disappointments, connected with Community Foundation of Western Mass.  What wonderful people.  We made our case before them, they interviewed us on site to view our facility and finally they awarded us sufficient funds to replace our entire program.  A special thank you here goes to Ann AWAD, recently elected Selectwoman in Amherst.  Ann works for the State Department of Public Health.  She learned of our situation (Laura Baker of Hilltown CDC) and took pity on our plight.  She worked with us to refine our grant application to match the image and likeness necessary for a successful application.  Through her efforts we were successful.  In Ann’s words, “this program provides too much good, it deserves help.”  Our sincere thanks to Ann Awad for her assistance.

Before the group is introduced I would like to close my story with a couple of sobering facts.  In 1973 with advent of Chapter 111C we were required to replace our non-compliant $1,500 ambulance to the tune of $17,215.79.  This ambulance was, in turn, replaced with our current 1989 model for $76,520.00. We are in the process of thinking of the pain of replacing this unit.

On the lighter side, in 1989 our service became Cardiac Defibrillator certified.  To date we have two confirmed life saving CPR prior to our arrival.  First Aid Training does pay off!

It is my pleasure to introduce current members of our team who are present and, who have toiled for so many years providing the very training just mentioned.

1.       Leslie Maerkie.  Trained registered nurse came to our service in 1992 as an EMT and promptly began to assist with First Aid Training and CPR instruction.  Leslie has provided training in Blood / Airborne pathogens and has provided our training and fit testing for respirators we wear when we suspect exposure to air borne toxins.  All the while Leslie worked a full time position in Holyoke and Cooley Dickinson hospitals where she commuted daily from Cummington.

Leslie finally called it a day left us for a while to return to school to become a Physician’s Assistant.  After two plus years of agonizing work and study, she has completed that challenge and returned.  We are grateful.

2.       Diane Anderson.  Another Registered nurse began her career with our group in 1991.  Diane not only instructs CPR but also stepped in to provide medical oversight for our group when it became necessary for us to receive annual testing for tuberculosis.  She continues each year to test Cummington fire, Police and Ambulance as well as several other communities.  All gratis.  She has provided our Hepatitis inoculations as well.  This is a series of three shots given over a several month period and includes a ton of paper work.  Diane continues her employment at the Medical Center where many of you may meet her.

Between Leslie and Diane you are able to see the tremendous contribution these two individuals bring to our service.

3.       Joe Sabourin.  Another very busy individual who finds time to volunteer for Ambulance and first Responder Training.  Joe entered our service July 3, 1999 as an EMT.  That’s not all he doe3s.  Joe is a member of the Plainfield Fire Department and a Police Officer in Plainfield.  What does he do with his spare time, besides help his wife raise their family?  Well for one thing, he works a full lime job and uses his spare time to serve on the Board of Overseers for Northampton control, our 911 Dispatch service, as the representative for Selectmen of which he is one.

4.       Brian Anderson.  Joined our squad as an EMT and began to teach First Responder Training and CPR in 1991.  As a retired Federal Employee some have asked Brian he knows he is retired, what changed!  His days are filled as well.  He serves as a Selectman for Cummington, is President of the Cummington Fire Association, inc. the organization we all work for.  He works nearly ¾ time for Senior Housing in Cummington and works full time for our Highway Dept. As well he performs as clerk of the works for projects such as the new water main being installed in West Cummington and serves as one of the very few available for a day time duty as a firefighter.

5.       Dave Celino. First became involved with our ambulance service as an EMT July 10, 1987.  From the very beginning Dave has been involved as an EMT, a firefighter and as our premier recruiter.  It was Dave’s initiative and resourcefulness that launched our very first new member recruitment drive.  Several members recruited at that time not only continue as EMT’s but are included in this group tonight.  Dave is busy as well.  He is the Director / Manger for the National Rifle Association’s Colrain Training facility, Dennison Place.  He manages to continue as a member of Massachusetts’ Wildland Fire crew, the team of specialized fire fighters who are called each year to respond all across the United States to battle wild land fires.  In his spare moments Dave is a member of Colrain’s Fire Department and Ambulance Squad.

6.       Grant Knapp.  Is a retired Police Chief from Worthington who joined our training in 19__ after many years of teach independently at Gateway High school and for the Hilltown Police Association.  Grant brought years of experience I CPR and First Aid training.  As new requirements are placed on our instructor group, Grant is first to complete new requirements and keep the rest of us current.  On one such occasion he outlasted an instructor trainer, who shall remain nameless for his own good, by waiting to take his qualifying exam at 1:30 in the morning.  That particular trainer later informed us he had never run into anyone quite as determined as Grant.  He has endured years of service with us through snowstorms and flu season.  One year he was the only instructor standing for a week because flu had eliminated everyone else.  Grant recently became the first of this group to certify as an instructor for the American Heart Association with the Defibrillator.

7.       Kevin Martin.  Firefighter for Cummington came on board as a first Responder CPR instructor in 1989.  Kevin’s service with the fire department actually begins in 1980 when he joined a much younger crew on the muster teams o that era.  Kevin, like many, began as an Instructor’s aid.  He would assist setting up the class rooms, prepare mannequins for class, clean them after class and, in general, perform all duties no one else like to do.  He also had to, as part of his duties, evaluate students and assist them in learning their skills.  Kevin is also Chairman of Cummington’s Recreation Committee and is currently knee deep in Junior Olympics preparations.  Did I mention he works full time, helps his wife raise their family and is learning how to play softball?

8.       Susan Forgea.  EMT for Cummington began her career with Cummington Ambulance on February 24, 1981.  What is remarkable about Sue’s service is she actually began as an EMT some years earlier in Worthington but was forced to give up her certification and retake the entire course all over again.  To date only three of our EMT’s have accomplished onerous task.  Two are still with our service.  That ladies and gentlemen, is true dedication.  Sue’s career as a CPR instructor with our program began the same year.  She prepares our class facilities each evening and has nearly single handily taught infant (baby) CPR all of this time.  Once we complete courses the fun of completing paper work begins.  Sue compiles all of our CPR rosters (makes certain each students hand writing is legible) and sends them off to the American Red Cross and American Heart Association for their review and for these agencies to make up certification cards for each student.  When the cards are returned to us for distribution to each student Sue insures each for the student’s respective emergency agency, prepares a bill for each town, and finally sends out the material to each community.  Did I mention she is Cummington’s Town clerk and works a full time position along with three evenings of dance and aerobics?

9.       Wallis Granger became a member and vital part of this organization March 20, 1979 when she recertified as our second active EMT who went through he process twice.  Wally began her career with Ashfield’s Ambulance and Fire Service.  Her duties at her family’s long term care facility caused her to forgo her EMT certificate until she moved to Cummington where she immediately applied for admission to both our Ambulance and Fire Services.  Wally is a Lieutenant on Cummington’s Fire Department and serves as Vice-President of the Fire Association.  In that position Wally also serves as a member of our board of directors.  One of Wally’s long time duties with our Association has been to maintain our monthly Ambulance schedule.  No small task when you consider keeping 14-19 EMT’s personal schedules straight.  Our service is somewhat unique since we operate with a schedule.  We know, reasonably accurately, who is on duty at any given time during the month.  Several advantages for this.  Most importantly, we know when we are not on so we can plan our lives.  The schedule requires Wall to be current, as one can be, with everyone’s personal life’s schedule.  Huge task.  Home requirements change, job requirements affect us.  Personal choice on quality time impacts our schedule as do soccer, softball, basketball, dentists, etc.  In any event. Somehow Wally sorts through all of this to publish a monthly schedule.  How long has she been doing this? Since 1979.  She works a full time job out of town serves scheduled duty on the ambulance, is still raising her husband and still manages time to serve as an instructor with our group.

10.     John Horton moved to Cummington and joined our emergency service group in 1965.  April 19 to be exact.  Prior to this date Jack had been a member of Lanesborough MA Fire Department, which he joined in January 1961.  So Jack has continuous service back to 1961.  What I want to point out here is prior to 1973 and passage of Chapter 111C, the Ambulance Law anyone who joined the Fire Department took the semi-required Advanced First Aid Red Cross course and served on the ambulance.  EMT’s did not exist prior to 1973.  So, although Jack joined our instructor cadre in 1989, at first as an aid then as a certified instructor, his first aid emergency career goes back to 1965 when he was an ambulance attendant.  Jack served as a firefighter and subsequently as our Chief for several years.  During this period Jack oversaw a complete modernization of Cummington’s training.  He not only oversaw the changes he participated as well.  Jack continues to serve as an Assistant Chief with the department and supports Brian Anderson as one of the very few daytime crew.  He is our rural Mail carrier for a full time job and manages to find time to sustain his avid interest in hunting.  He runs a special series of training each year during summer months to assist our training officer.  Makes you wonder where he gets all of his energy.  Martha’s cookies!

11.    Dennis Forgea is another member whose service predates 12973 as well.  His credited service date as an EMT is July 18, 1974.  His credited service date with Cummington Fire and Ambulance is January 16, 1962.  Essentially he has been on duty with our service as an Ambulance attendant over 38 years.  His only real break was a four-year tour of duty with the U.S. Navy during Vietnam War.  Dennis is one of the original 1978 founders of the group before you tonight.  He has managed to stay the course while he served three happy fun filled terms as Selectman, raised a family with his wife Donna, serves as First Assistant Fire Chief, is a member of our Board of Directors and, is Cummington fire Association’s Treasurer.  He oversees all of our financial issues, both debt and revenue.  Make payments on new ambulances, and insures our billing is ON TIME.  He currently serves as Chairman of Cummington’s Finance committee.  He is our town representative to Hampshire County Council of Governments and is on the Council’s Public Safety Committee.  Oh, he also reports to a full time position as Western Regional Director for the Registry of Motor Vehicles.


This group represents approximately one half the total number of individuals who have participated since 1978.  My personal thanks and gratitude to all.


If you return to last year’s report you will discover a paragraph dedicated to developing a committee within our service to “insure the future of our service.”  We said at the time there was a tremendous amount of work to be done.  Well the committee met several times to sift ideas offered by our membership and settled on pursuing new uniforms for everyone.  What a task!  There had been several recent events (Worcester – 6 fire deaths, Russell Asst. Chief funeral and memorial services) where uniforms would have been appropriate.  If you think it is difficult buying clothes for just one other person, consider if you will, attempting this for 23 individuals!  The Committee, with some additional assistance, set up a plan and time line for achieving this.  Nearly to the day, just as final deliveries were being arranged and final adjustments were being made to individual uniforms, we had the unhappy occasion to experience the unexpected and untimely death of Doug Wilcox.  Doug, in true family tradition (his late father Norm had retired as Asst. fire Chief) was a firefighter and emergency responder.  Doug’s family was offered a full Department dress funeral, which they accepted.  Our very first occasion in uniform was to honor and escort our friend Doug on his final journey.

The committee also implemented T-shirts for both fire and Ambulance personnel.  These garments are more for training and work environment as opposed to the aforementioned uniforms.

It is difficult to imagine what Cummington would be like without so many people involved in so many worthwhile projects.  All of these combined bring satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment to everyone who helps out.  It truly makes our lives better here in the Hilltowns.” – Cummington Fire Association, Inc., 2000 Annual Report


2001 - $9,805.00 operating, 12 vehicle accidents, 1 vehicle fire, 13 alarm sounding, 1 transformer fire, 4 wires down, 1 brush fire, 1 mutual aid, 2 box alarms, 1 chimney fire, 1 diesel spill;

“Cummington Fire Department is fortunate to have not experienced a more serious fire on November 15 last year than we did.  An alarm for a fire in the cellar was called into our 911 center from a resident on Lightning Bug Road.  The call came in during the morning hours so staffing was minimal.  Only two firefighters were available to respond.  Upon arrival and entry of the home they discovered a working fire in the basement of the residence.  Without hesitation they stretched a line to the cellar and extinguished the blaze before the flames could escape into the walls of the home.  Responders from Worthington and Plainfield finally strengthened crews on scene but the very nature of this call should cause all residents to consider if they might just find some time to belong and assist the fire department.  The individuals responding to a working structure fire is hardly adequate to provide sufficient safety margins to insure firefighter safety and accountability.  In this instance Cummington was fortunate with training and opportunity coming together for a successful outcome.  Please consider if you might find some extra time to assist us.

We continue to see “motor vehicle accidents” increase.  As we noted here last year, each of these calls puts strains on our fire, ambulance and police resources.  Accidents can tie up these groups and their equipment for hours so they are unavailable for additional responses.  In cases where personnel lose time from their jobs because they are required at a scene makes it increasingly difficult to retain and attract volunteers.

Also last year we reported West Cummington’s water supply was nearly completed.  By now it is and those with homes on this system should contact their homeowners insurance agent to investigate any possible savings on fire insurance.

In last year’s report we indicated we had previously withdrawn our budget request for $30,000.00 for new Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) because conflicting information on serviceability of our then existing units.  We sent on to report that Northampton Fire Department had donated six “trade-in” units to us.  Once we had minimal modifications performed to these units we at least had six serviceable SCBA’s to work with.  At the town meeting last year, the town voted enough funds for us to purchase three new SCBA’s of the kind and with the attachments we felt we needed for our work.  We were also fortunate to be able to purchase one similar unit from funds received from a grant from State legislation, the purpose of which was to provide for the purchase of firefighting equipment.  Currently we have four new SCBA’s, which meet all current standards for safety and communication.  We continue to use the six units we received from Northampton and hope to be able to replace them, a few at a time, over the next few years.

Mentioning the State grant for purchase of firefighting equipment.  After the Worcester Fire of December 3, 1999, Massachusetts Legislators voted 10 million dollars to be distributed to the fire departments in the Commonwealth.  The main focus of this money was to make available to every single fire department, regardless of size, a thermal imager.  With this instrument a team of firefighters is able to see through smoke to locate and rescue victims in a fire building, persons lost at night, locate smoldering underground fire in wildland fires, locate overloaded devices i.e., switches, ballasts, circuit breakers, etc.  The State developed a formula for distributing the money based primarily on population and provided a list of vendors approved by the State Office of Procurement for fire departments to purchase fire safety equipment from.  Along with this package was a suggested menu of equipment for departments to select equipment from.  If a department wanted anything other than what was on the list, they had to make a separate case, in writing, to enable the purchase.  Cummington selected a Scott thermal imager to be compatible with other communities around us who had also purchased Scott units.  This consistency in equipment enables our limited staffing resources to be able to instantly respond to emergencies in surrounding towns and immediately go to work without being unfamiliar with the camera at hand.  This same logic applied to the purchase of our Dragger SCBA.  Worthington, Goshen, Chesterfield, and Cummington all have the same SCBA units.  This now enables any firefighter to arrive at a scene in any one of these communities and have available to them the very same equipment they train on and use in their own town.

We continue to work with Hampshire County Fire Defense Association to replace the faulty air bottles discovered during testing.  This was an item we reported on last year.

On a truly bright note, Cummington Fire Department was requested to bring our robot “Sparky” to the Massachusetts State House to participate in last year’s Young Heroes award day.  The ceremony, conducted in the Great Hall of Flags at the State House by then Secretary of Public Safety Jane Perlov and Fire Marshal Steve Cohn, pays tribute to young boys and girls (ages K-High School) who have participated in the Student Awareness of Fire Education (SAFE) Program and as a result of this training have saved a life of, or averted a disaster for family, friends or schoolmates.  At his particular event 32 young men and women were so honored.  Sparky and faithful companion Denise Forgea led the procession of Young Heroes into and out of the Great Hall.  Sparky and Denise also provided entertainment for the Young Heroes and their families before and after the ceremonial event.  Of course, operating well hidden from view was Sparky alter ego, First Asst. Chief Dennis Forgea.  Dennis, Denise and Darren provided Sparky’s vast knowledge base and pearls of wisdom during the Cummington Fair, Westhampton’s Public Safety Weekend and Northampton Fire Department’s open house during Fire Prevention Week.

Sparky and Denise also went to school, Denise, a teacher in Southampton, invited Sparky to help her co-teach a First Aid Safety class in Denise’s school.  To say Sparky and Denise were hits would be a vast understatement.  One more example of SAFE education at work.

Likely covered in the Selectmen’s, Police and Board of health reports are references to Cummington’s Municipal Safety complex efforts.  This report is no exception.  With wonderful assistance from Hilltown Community Assistance Corp., Cummington’s committee finally selected an architect for Cummington’s project.  Now the long task of creating a layout for the building begins.  While demanding, this project provides certain excitement considering any building will need to meet Cummington’s purposes for 50 (75) years.

As the Fire Department continues to comply with provisions of Insurance Service Organization (ISO) ratings through equipment performance and hose testing, it is a pleasure to report the continued success we enjoy with the hose-testing device made available through town meeting funding.  Last year during our testing we discovered problems with 700 feet of primary first line supply hose.  This was hose we received in 100 ft. lengths, but because it is difficult to manage in those lengths, we had it cut and recoupled into 50 ft. lengths.  During the recoupling process by others, an expansion ring, designed to hold the hose in place inside the collar while under pressure (250 psi), was not seated properly.  This allowed the collar to literally blow off the end of the hose when brought up to operating pressure.  Thanks to testing the hose and to safety features of the hose tester, when the couplings suddenly failed the tester shut down reducing pressure and no injuries occurred.  We have been notified that the hose, which was removed from service, has been recoupled and we will have it back available for service as soon as we test it again.

This past year saw another important change in fire training for Cummington and all of Hampshire County.  Hampshire County Fire Defense Association, (HCFDA – Chiefs organization) voted to end our long running (since the 1970’s) Basic Six county fire school and instead adopt the Tiered approach offered by Mass. State Fire Academy.  The Basic Six, as the name implies provided 36 hours of very basic fire training skills.  The Tiered method requires ninety or more hours and provides more comprehensive and flexible training.  The Basic Six was a stand-alone entity.  There was nowhere to advance to upon completion.  The Tiered approach, on the other hand, enables every class to be dedicated towards what is know as Firefighter I, a notional standard.  That is to say, personnel taking training under the new scheme will be trained by the same material, and receive credit toward a certification standard, same as they would if they were anywhere in the U.S.A.  Yes, all credits are transferable.  It was not easy to break with the old and begin with the new because like many things new and unfamiliar, we resist change and do not like the uneasiness and work.  Many, many thanks to Joe Gervais of Ware for his dedication and commitment to implementing and sustaining, practically on his own, the Basic Six for 23+ years.  A tribute to dedication and Joe’s professionalism.  With this new training we welcome the training officers of Hampshire County career departments working side by side with volunteers to improve firefighter safety through quality training.

On a different note, Asst. john P. Horton, at our September 2000 meeting, announced that the U.S. Postal Service had recognized volunteer service with a Volunteer Stamp.  At this point in the meeting Cummington’s Postmaster, Brenda Smith, paid a surprise visit to present jack with a plaque recognizing his long years of service to the postal service and his pending (October 9, 2000) retirement from the U.S. Postal Service.  It was a very nice ceremony.

Also in October of 2000, the Cummington Fire and Ambulance Service participated in the service of dedicating a memorial to Deputy Chief John Murphy of the Russell Fire Department Chief Murphy died fighting a wildland fire in Russell.  Cummington, along with scores of other communities, assisted at the fire and participated in the service of dedicating a memorial to Chief Murphy’s memory.

Lt. Wallis Granger put together one of the best EMT Refreshers we have attended recently.  Using her vast contacts gained through many committee memberships, she assembled a cadre of presenters on a variety of interesting medical subjects.  It was a great deal of work for her but Wally did a wonderful job and class was a great success.  Many thanks from all of us to Wally!

As well, last year Wally set up a Paramedic Assist program for our EMT’s for training to assist paramedics when they intercept with our ambulance.  Wile this does not enable basic EMT’s to start I.V.’s it does enable EMT’s to help prepare many aspects of patient care freeing up paramedics for procedures only they can perform.

Last year we were extremely fortunate to obtain another grant from the Department of Environmental Management, Bureau of Fire Control.  We were able to purchase a special high-pressure pump for our forestry tanker, something we badly needed.  This pump and truck saw action at the Hadley / South Hadley wildland fire in the fall of 2001.

As we take time to reflect on a year of great success and improvements, we again renew our appeal for new members.  We provided in last year’s report statistics in support of our aging service.  Only three things have changed since then:  We are one year older and we welcome Andy Liebenow and Bob Cunningham as our newest members.  Andy’s energy, enthusiasm and knowledge of mechanics are certainly going to be a great asset to our department.  Bob doesn’t claim to be a great mechanic but he too demonstrates the enthusiasm and energy to undergo the raining required for the fire service.  Welcome to both.  Very happy to have you aboard.

Once again Cummington Fire Department extends thank you’s to all who generously support us, and in particular, to the citizens of Cummington who come to our aid whenever we ask.  It is truly a privilege to serve the town.  A special thank you to each firefighter, ambulance attendant and associate who work so hard all year long for the Fire Department and Ambulance.  You do it without recognition and often without proper thank you’s.  None of our accomplishments and achievements would be possible without your dedicated loyal service I thank each of your.” – Bernard L. Forgea, 2001 Annual Report


“Cummington Ambulance responded to 79 calls since last year, while this is a dip in the number of responses we have become accustomed to (100+) the breather is a welcome respite for the all volunteer squad.

We continue to seek EMT’s to serve with us.  And while we haven’t experienced anyone actually leaving the squad last year, a couple of our EMT’s have, due to other obligations had to curtail the number of hours they are able to contribute to our valuable service.  We do have one individual scheduled to begin taking a Basic EMT course in January 2002 but there remains six to eight month before candidates are able to serve on the ambulance, if they have successfully passed the course exam and the State written and practical exams.

Reviewing last year’s report Cummington Fire Association, Inc. is happy to report with the help of the then new EMT class, we now enjoy the assistance of veteran EMT’s who have and continue to contribute tremendous amounts of time to our service.

In last year’s report we reported on the extra equipment we were able to secure as the result of a grant supporting our First Responder training.  We said then this equipment was not purchased for training only.  It was field grade equipment available for use in mass casualty situations or to be placed on our ambulance to return our unit to service.  Many pieces of equipment are required to be on board an ambulance before the ambulance legally is considered in service.  Many times we have had to go to the extra training supplies to fulfill this requirement.  Normally and eventually, we regain our equipment from patients so we are then able to return to supply the borrowed equipment.

No greater example is there of borrowing equipment from our supply cache to remain in service than the situation that arose with Huntington Lions Club Ambulance in June 2001.  After fifty-two years of dedicated, unselfish service to six communities the Lions felt that they had to terminate their service.  Cummington Fire Association, Inc.  Board of Directors joined with American Medical Response in assisting Attorney Christopher K. McCarty of Worthington’s Fire Department to explore the possibility of the towns served by the Lions’ Club Ambulance, forming a regional ambulance service of their own.  The service now known as Hilltown Community Ambulance was born in June.  Through and with the tireless unselfish generosity of Attorney Christopher McCarty, who performed pro-bono all of the legal work to create this regional service, the towns of Huntington, Montgomery, Chester, Russell, Blandford (and likely Worthington), joined forces to create a first ever community based regional ambulance.  The significance of this achievement lies in the fact that these communities formed what most of us would recognize as a regional school committee structure to operate an ambulance service for their towns.  Not only has this never before been done in Massachusetts, the State Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS) watched very closely and consulted weekly with principals forming this regional concept to evaluate the practicality of utilizing this regional model as a template elsewhere in Massachusetts as other small services are forced to close or consolidate due to declining volunteerism and revenues.  Currently there is nothing in place in Massachusetts on how to cover these areas of the state currently served by small one or two ambulance private groups.  So, as you can see, we and many other communities owe a debt of gratitude to Attorney Christopher McCarty and the working group he labored so long and hard with to create a model the rest of us will be able to copy to insure uninterrupted ambulance service to you our loyal supporters.

The actual detailed story behind creating the regional ambulance makes interesting reading.  Not all decisions were unanimous, for or against, and not all decisions remained unchanged when made. There were many bumps along the road to final success but the credit goes to those who worked so diligently to solve a local problem with local resources.  The individuals forming the working group, which ultimately became the Hilltown Community Ambulance, did not hire a consultant to tell them what they already knew.  They had a serious problem and needed to solve it in a manner that would stand the test of time.  To answer the challenge, the selectboards and finance committees from the previously listed communities met to deliberate their collective situation and evaluate their strengths and assets base.  Much credit goes to the Fire Chiefs in those towns as well, for it was this group of leaders who first realized the full consequences of being without the Lions’ Club Ambulance.  The Fire Chiefs held informational meetings to explore strategies and idea for preserving some sort of ambulance service to replace the Lions’ Ambulance.  The chiefs, while too busy to and too few for undertaking the task of creating the new model service, nevertheless continued to support their towns’ efforts and worked to raise funds and equipment for the new service.

Before leaving this subject, a very heartfelt thank you goes to American Medical Response (AMR) Regional Manager Peter Heap for engineering a gift of a serviceable second hand ambulance from AMR to the Hilltown Community Ambulance for either one or two purposes; one to replace the Lions’ Club Ambulance should that be necessary, or two, to become the second ambulance for Hilltown Community Ambulance.  The later was the chief goal since for the fifty-two years of Lions service, they had covered over 200 square miles with a single ambulance.  Peter Heap, Chris McCarty (Who had also served as an EMT for 12 years prior to obtaining his law degree) and the Board of Directors of Hilltown Community Ambulance immediately understood how untenable a single ambulance service was.  To their collective credit they set out to not only solved the problem of creating a new ambulance service for these towns but to also build an interdependent system with built in support to sustain the viability of the new service and to insure their ability to provide backup support for other service in the area, i.e. Otis an Becket.  Good luck into this venture, adventure, from the Cummington Fire Association, Inc.

At this time Cummington Fire Association, Inc. wants to again say Thank you to Don Pearce for his never ending support.  Don finds time to do the bottle and cans collection service and assists with our many projects such as car parking at the fair and working at the Bryant Craft Fair.  This year Don added a task to his already full days and painted every single fire hydrant in town.  Many thanks to you Don for your continued dedicated service.

As well, we want to recognize and say thank you to the Ladies’ Softball Team and Cummington Lions for their continued generous support.  Their support provides the basis for training and equipment supplies and replacement we otherwise would not enjoy.  Thank you to both groups.

Last year we noted in this piece our success with the Bryant Craft Fair.  Gone from our menu is breakfast (popular with those who came and ate but not enough came) but our beverage stand is a huge success.  The combinations of burgers, dogs and soda are unbeatable, especially when they are located together.  Like most projects there are kinks to work out and the beverage concession was no exception.  However, once our honorable staff tackled the problems we encountered, and overcame each, the concession ran smoothly.  A hearty thank you to everyone assisting at this event.

As we make our way along the list of project each year w mention our car parking at the fair.  This year, happily, we again were very successful with this major fund raising event.  It seems each year some innovation takes place to enhance our efforts.  This year it was the expansion of one of our most popular and close to the gate parking lots.  The expansion enabled us to more easily park more vehicles and importantly, facilitated traffic flow into and out of the lot.  There definitely is a science to parking so many vehicles in such small areas, in such a short period of time and having most customers come away smiling.  Many thanks to all who assist us and every firefighter, EMT and their families who contribute to this monumental task.

A final note on the fair.  This year once again we experienced an extensive emergency call during Sunday of the fair.  Fortunately all turned out for the best but in the beginning it did not seem as if anything could go right.  In this instance we had two simultaneous ambulance calls on the fairgrounds involving Cummington and Goshen ambulances when Worthington was toned for a fire in their own community.  For a few minutes the pace was hectic but, since we had a plan in place to cover a variety of situations should they occur, we finally restored organization to our thoughts.  Again many thanks to everyone who assisted.

Cummington Ambulance continues to participate and support many other projects and events.  Among them is the ongoing updating of our first Aid and CPR instructors.  Last year each of our CPR instructors participated in and completed upgraded CPR training to include Semiautomatic Defibrillator training for our First Responders.

As always it continues to be a pleasure serving Plainfield and Cummington.  Our sincerest gratitude to each of these towns and to all who generously support us all year long.” – Cummington Fire Association, 2001 Annual Report


2002 - $10,050.00 operating, $13,248 radios and breathing apparatus, $5,240 computer and software, 2 box Alarms, 2o still alarms, 8 motor vehicle accidents, 4 coverage of Cummington Fair, 1 brush fire;

“The two box alarms noted above deserve special attention.  The first on July 2, 2001 was a building at the Academy at Swift River filled with smoke.  Units from Plainfield and Worthington responded in support of Cummington.  Using the thermal imager, noted in last year’s report and purchased through the state special firefighting equipment grant, the responding units were able to quickly determine and locate the cause of the smoke.  A defective light ballast above the ceiling in one of the classrooms.  In the past locating such a cause would have involved time consuming removal of ceiling sections to expose possible location of the overheating unit.  With the thermal imager a team of firefighters quickly scanned floors, walls, and ceilings and readily located the melting ballast.

Yet another great save credited to our thermal imager was a situation at a local establishment involving a defective propane gas hot water heater.  In this instance the products of incomplete combustion, caused by an improperly operating burner, were making employees ill all day with dry throats, headaches and red, tearing eyes.  The thermal imager was brought in, even though there was not a report of fire or fumes, just something wrong.  After a very brief period the camera operators reported observing wavy images through the view port as the scanned near the hot water heater.  The wavy images cleared to normal as they scanned away from the heater.  This was the only indication something may have been wrong with the heater.  At this point the owner shut off the heater and the wavy images disappeared, so did the headaches, dry throats, and runny eyes.

The second box alarm was a fire in an oven extinguished by the quick thinking resident prior to arrival of the fire department.  She closed the oven door and turned off the stove.  Great save by the resident’s quick thinking.  We are very fortunate to have not experienced more serious losses at either of the two box alarms.

Again this year we saw a number (8) of motor vehicle accidents.  Many thanks to the Police and EMT’s for their rapid, professional, assistance at these difficult scenes.  What makes working at these accidents at all comfortable for these different agencies is because they continue to train together.  Each year we conduct a First Responder First Aid Course in Cummington and every other year Lt. Wallis Granger plans and conducts a refresher for the EMT’s.  EMT’s assist with teaching the First Responder program and First Responders participate as observers and victims in Wally’s refresher.  The combination of training provides opportunity for growth, development and leadership training for all involved.  Many, many thanks to everyone who participates.

Still alarms continue to be our catchall category for fire department responses.  This designation includes alarms sounding, false alarms, wires down, trees down and about anything, which demands our emergency response.  In the past we have had large numbers of alarm sounding, usually caused by lack of maintenance of the alarm system by the property owner.

As time goes on and education on system maintenance has improved we have seen overall dramatic drop in these calls.  This is a refreshing statistic.  Keep up the good work!

We reported in this column last year on the exciting exploit of Sparky the fire robot.  This past year Sparky was a hit at Westhampton’s public safety day as well as in Adams for Adams Ambulance Open House.  Perhaps Sparky’s grandest moment was when he, Denise Forgea and asst. Chief Dennis Forgea visited these children in the Shriners’ Hospital in Springfield.  By special invitation Sparky and his helpers were invited to entertain and educate these children in fire safety.  It was along but rewarding afternoon particularly when Sparky was requested to leave the third floor ward where he was teaching and travel, by elevator, to the main lobby of the hospital to meet with parents, children and visitors there.  The trick to moving Sparky around without the crown observing the operator now comes in the form of TV cameras.  Yes, wireless TV transmitters have been fitted to Sparky so the operator(s) are able to remain concealed and view his movements on a closed circuit TV monitor.

We mentioned in last year’s report we continue to work to meet the Insurance Service Organization’s (ISO) rating for Cummington.  This is the rating insurance companies use to determine what residents and business will pay for fire insurance in a community.

Using the hose tester purchased a couple of years ago we reported we discovered 700 feet of hose with faulty couplings.  This year this hose had been recoupled and return to us.  It still remains to be tested but with the hose tester this is now a simplified process over past procedures.

Speaking of the ISO, and mentioned in this report over past years was the fact ISO reevaluates communities approximately every 15 years which puts us on target for our next evaluation around 2007.  The fire department was notified this past summer that ISO had decided to change their schedule from fifteen to ten years meaning, Cummington just underwent a complete reevaluation of its Fire Department.  Included in the weighted rating schedule is 50% fie response / suppressor / equipment, 40% water system, 10% taking and dispatching of calls.  We know this about the evaluation.  The water department and dispatch service serving Cummington were rated vary well.  The many, many aspects that go into the Fire Department report are still being reviewed.  For instance, annual pump test and hose test records are thoroughly reviewed for accuracy, consistency and timelines.  Each department member’s training is reviewed with additional requirements for officers – tools and equipment are counted and evaluated as well.  As your can see, the process is thorough, comprehensive and tedious.  We eagerly wait for ISO’s final report on Cummington.

Last year we detailed the new TIERED approach to firefighting training undertaken by Hampshire County Fire School.  So far Bob Cunningham, Darren and Dennis Forgea have participated in portions of the newly adopted training.

Last year Cummington Fire Department applied for funding assistance to purchase a new pumper to replace our 1972 Maxim pumper.  We were unsuccessful in our attempt, but expect to continue applying for the funds from the Federal Firefighters Assistance Grant program.  In the meantime, members of the department are meeting to develop specifications for a replacement truck for our old 1973 unit.  Grant money or not to maintain our ISO rating and, to continue to be able to provide rapid response to emergencies with the professional service Cummington and our mutual aid communities depend on, this vehicles needs replacing, now.  Preliminary discussions have been held with the Selectboard and members of the Finance Committee preparing for this expense.

Last year Cummington Fire Department was called to assist at two wildland fires.  One fire straddled the Mt. Holyoke Range into South Hadley and Hadley.  This fire burned for nine days before it was finally stopped.  At various times, Cummington provided personnel, tankers and bulldozers to combat the fire, which ultimately consumed 350-400 acres.

The second fire was in Russell, MA.  Again, Cummington, as part of the statewide fire mobilization plan, responded but this time with only a light dozer fro cutting fire line.

As a result of the drought, which plagued Western MA at the time of these fires, Cummington joined other departments participating in a wildland fire training programs offered through the State Department of Environmental Management, Bureau of Fire Control.  These 12-16 hour courses were designed to provide local firefighters with basic wildland firefighting skills to facilitate and enhance capabilities of units responding, particularly on mutual aid.  What was learned from our experiences in Hadley / South Hadley and Russell was the pain of experiential learning had all but vanished for most of our fire department.  By that we mean it has been so long since Western MA has experienced anything like the Hadley and Russell fires, we were unprepared.

This year is the first time the department has listed the Cummington Fair as a separate response.  The reason to do it this year is to highlight the dedication and commitment the Cummington fire Department puts into Fair coverage.  The department currently has 18 members listed.  Nearly every single member is at the Fair from Thursday afternoon until closing at night and, the same for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In all, each firefighter contributes approximately 44 hours of actual duty during the Fair.  That’s 18 x 44 = 792 hours of free volunteer professional experience and service.  This doesn’t even count the hundreds of more hours contributed by the fire department members and their families preparing for and cleaning up after the Fair.

In connection with an event such as the Fair and to meet every day, every call challenge, every member is expected to attend at least two three hour training / meetings each month.  This equates to 18 members x 6 hours = 108 x 12 months = 1296 hours a year just for the monthly drill. Each member is required to take and pass a 24-hour First Aid course, 6 hour Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) course, 3 hour Blood Borne and Airborne Pathogen class and 24 hours of Hazardous Materials training.  This latter group of training classes is mandated by the State and must be met for firefighters to remain qualified.  This latter group adds up to another 1026 hours of training time contributed by the 18 members of the Cummington Volunteer Fire Department.  Beyond this training the Insurance Service Organization (ISO) in their review of department training records looks fore each firefighter to have 10 hours each of certificate (usually a class provided by Mass. Fire Academy) with officers expected to achieve 20 hours each both on an annual basis.  For these two groups this is 100 hours and 160 hours respectively.  If we consider just fire calls (35) and only half (9) of the department responding to each call with an average time fore each call of 2 hours (this is only for the 35 calls listed on the fire report.  The fire department also responds to the 80+ ambulance calls Cummington has each year.)  We have another 630 hours of free professional service provided by the volunteers of the Cummington Fire Department.  So, in a given year adding up the amount of time member of the Cummington Volunteer Fire Department provides their professional services for free we have:

                Fair                                                                          792

                Meetings / Monthly drills                                  1296

                Mandatory training                                            1026

                ISO firefighter                                                        100

                ISO officer                                                               160

                Defibrillator                                                           144

                Fire calls only                                                       630


Finally as we close yet another year, members of the Cummington Volunteer Fire Department would like to thank the residents of Cummington for your generous support over the past year.  As you can see we have been and continue to be, busily involved in the life of the Town of Cummington.  It is only with the support of the citizens of the town that we are able to continue.  Thank you to all.” – Bernard L. Forgea, 2002 Annual Report


“Over the past year officers of the Cummington Fire Association were President – Brian Anderson, Vice-President Wallis S. granger, Treasurer Dennis W. Forgea, and Clerk Bernard L. Forgea.  Cummington Ambulance responded to 83 calls over the past year.  This is up slightly from the previous year’s dip to 79, but still well below the 100+ calls we had been experiencing.

As always, we renew our plea for new EMT’s.  Since our last report we have said good-by and thank you to Wendy Mimitz of Plainfield.  Wendy’s life is moving on with work and other interests, which left too little time to serve on the ambulance.  Many thanks, Wendy.

Last year we reported here about the creation of Hilltown Community Ambulance Association, Inc. to replace the Huntington Lions Club service, which after 50+ years called it a day.  We reported on the tremendous effort put forth by a small group of dedicated citizens I Huntington and surrounding towns to create the new entity that ultimately replaced the Lions Club Ambulance.  As this is written, Hilltown Community Ambulance Service is up and running with great efficiency, leadership and dedication from their EMT’s and with great professional training from Deb and Mike Clapp of Northampton.  Last year as it became time for Hilltown to take over management of the service, the Board of Directors struggled over whom to recruit as service director.  Good fortune was smiling on Hilltown because Deb and Mike, the two busiest people on the planet, agreed to become directors on an interim basis.  What a job they did!  Many, many thanks to Deb and Mike for their enormous contributions.

What has all this got to do with Cummington you ask? Well, during the period of crisis, when it wasn’t at all clear who, how, or when another ambulance service would form to cover that six town area, Cummington Fire Association membership voted to put our licensed service into the area, along with the ambulance donated by the American Medical Response (AMR, see last year’s report).  This meant Cummington Fire Association was willing to work with existing EMT’s in the six-town area to continue providing service under our license with an ambulance donated by AMR.  A daunting task to say the least.  Provide 24/7 services 30+ miles from Cummington over a 200 square mile area with EMT’s most of whom we didn’t know and to this day have never met.  Very fortunately this did not have to happen even though it came very close.  What this plan did however was to demonstrate to people in the Huntington area that there were solutions to the problem they face and that others were willing to step in and help.  Great credit goes to the membership of Cummington Fire Association who saw the seriousness of losing the Lions Club service and the nearly impossible task of raising a new service from the ashes.  Cummington’s willingness to become involved so far from home provided inspiration to a group of dedicated citizens in the six-town region to roll up their sleeves and begin the arduous task of creating a new company to perpetuate ambulance services in this area for approximately 9,600 residents of the six towns.  Now that Cummington Fire Association, Inc. is not longer directly involved as it was, the time has come for he Town of Cummington to learn just how cooperative, generous and visionary or organizations is.  Without the substantial support and guidance provided by the years of experience residing in Cummington’s group, the task before the working group formed to build a new service for the six towns would have been extremely difficult.  As it was they endured tremendous challenges.  Fortunately Deb and Mike Clapp, wonderful friends of Cummington Ambulance, were able to step into the breach and deliver when it counted most.  From everyone at Cummington Fire Association, Inc., to Deb and Mike man, many thank you’s.  To everyone in Cummington who reads this, a sincere thank you to the members of Cummington Fire Association, Inc. would be greatly appreciated.  It’s the only pay they receive.

Moving to a different subject, Cummington Fire Association, Inc. thanks everyone who generously supports our various fundraisers.  Don Pearce continues (even though he is presently out of action with a broken wrist) to faithfully provide much needed and valued assistance from operating our can and bottle collection site, to parking cars at the fair, and selling beverages at the Craft Fair.  Don we don’t know how you do all you do, but we appreciate all you do for us.

No report would be complete without saying the sincerest of thank you’s to our Ladies’ Softball team for their continued generous support.  Each year the women gather a group of dignitaries at the fair to take turns sitting in the Ladies’ BIG DIPPER dunking booth.  Many thanks to all who agree to sit because the women provide the Cummington Ambulance with a generous contribution from their profits at the Fair.  Thank you to everyone.

Many thanks to Sue Forgea and her crews running the Fair Raffle and the Craft Fair food and beverage booths.  Both, weather cooperating, are huge successes.  Room does not permit listing all of the contributors to our Fair Raffle, but there are many and we truly appreciate their support.  Thank you to each.

This year’s ambulance inspection turned up some issues with our vehicle which necessitated taking it out of service for several days, and several thousands of dollars.  It looks as though we will be putting together a committee to explore replacing our thirteen-year-old new ambulance.  Time flies, doesn’t it?

A special note of thanks to David Owen who religiously monitors the condition of the ambulance and the level of supplies contained thereon.  Dave has been able to combine and share with us the experiences and training he has obtained working for County Ambulance in Pittsfield.  At our most recent refresher David did an outstanding job conducting a backboard and collar class.  The author of this report, for one, learned methods and techniques he never knew.  That’s why it’s called continuing education.  Many, many thanks from all of us Dave.

Wally Granger, also training officer for the Fire Department, and responsible for a monthly 3 hour drill for the Fire Department, ahs continued her training with the Western Mass. CISD team and this year was a teaching assistant for the basic EMT course.  From her experience Wally brings many new and innovative ideas to our training as well as makes all arrangements for updates, such as the EPT pen and Aspirin Administrations.  Se continues to schedule the defibrillator recertification class held quarterly in our town.  The interesting concept with this is we are providing this service for the towns around us as well as our own responders.  Here is an interesting note – For the first time all Cummington Ambulance EMT’s and firefighters are defibrillator certified.  This came about because of a change in the way certification is not delivered (through Red Cross and American Heart instructors as part of CPR recertification).  Last year all of our CPR instructors underwent updating on their training which included their qualifying as defibrillator instructors.  Makes so much good sense!  Defibrillation is such a great life saving technique it should be made available to as broad a spectrum as possible.

Let us not forget to say thank you to Coffee Lady Martha Emerson who continuously provides scrumptious goodies for our training meetings and who has attended a Mass. Fire Academy class on “Rehabilitation of the Fireground.”  Martha now has some new plans for our health.  For instance, she now has us drinking plenty of water to prevent dehydration and medical casualties.

We also say a heartfelt thank you to Goshen Ambulance who continues to be our ever-present silent partner – covering us when our single ambulance is committed.

Rarely do we make a note of it but we should.  Plainfield EMT’s belong to and operate on the Cummington Ambulance on regular schedules.  To everyone who serves from Plainfield as well as those from Cummington, a very sincere thank you.  Members of the Cummington Fire Association are committed to providing quality ambulance service to the residents and their guests of Plainfield and Cummington.  We are only able to do this because we receive the unqualified support and assistance from these two communities.  Thank you to everyone who generously support us.” – Cummington Fire Association, Inc., 2002 Annual Report



Thursday, June 19, 2003, Country Journal article “Hampshire County EMS Awards Banquet Held” by Worth Noyes

“They save lives…they are called when no one else knows what to do… they help the sick get medical care.  Nearly 200 Emergency Medical Technicians, firefighters, and police officers from all over Hampshire County were recognized for their work at the recent EMS Banquet at the Elks Club in Northampton.

The 2003 Elks EMS Recognition was given to Deb and Mike Clapp, the directors of the new Hilltown Ambulance Service in Huntington.  The Board of Directors of the Hilltown Ambulance Service nominated the Clapps for this award noting they were doing so “on behalf of some 9,000resinets, spread out over more than 200 hilly (and sometimes snowy) miles.”  And they added, “this couple never faltered in their enthusiastic drive, commitment and unending energy that was necessary to build a first class operation.”

Among those who received “Save Awards” for saving peoples’ lives were Hilltown emergency people from Cummington and Plainfield honored for their efforts on two different calls.

Cummington and Plainfield emergency responders received “Save” pins for their very successful work of extricating, stabilizing and transporting the 86 year old victim of a mower rollover.  On July 14, 2002, around 4 pm Cummington Fire, Police, and Ambulance personnel were called to a lawn mower accident.  A neighbor heard his dog barking, investigated and found his 86-year-old neighbor lying in the road pinned underneath a 900 pound riding mower.  The neighbor contacted 911, reported the incident and returned to assist the victim.  The victim was not only pinned under the machine, but his head and upper body were pinned between two large boulders; and the end of shaft was imbedded in his leg.

Cummington firefighters began working to remove the mower from the victim, as the EMT’s monitored the patient, administered oxygen, watched vital signs, and cradled the victim’s upper body that was against the large stones.  Other emergency people lifted the mower slightly to enable still more responders to reach the shaft with a hacksaw and begin the length task of cutting through it.  As the time on scene stretched out and the saw made very slow progress, still other responders crawled under the overturned mower with blocks to lift it and stabilize it and to release the pressure on the shaft so the saw would not get pinched init.  After twenty minutes the patient was extricated and a Northampton AMR team of paramedics transported the patient to the landing zone for a Life Flight helicopter.  The landing zone was at the ball field in Cummington where a softball game was being played.  The umpire cleared the field and the Plainfield and Cummington Fire Departments set up fire protection for the medical helicopter.  The victim was flown to Baystate Medial Center.  The doctors at Baystate informed the patient’s son that the only thing that saved the man’s life was the care and handling by the responders on the scene.

Dr. Ray Conway, the Master of Ceremonies and doctor in charge of the Emergency Department at Cooley Dickinson Hospital said, “This story is true testimony that good training in basic skills does make a life-saving difference.”

The emergency responders who received “Save” pins for their efforts on this call were” Resident Responder Chris Robertson; Cummington Ambulance/Fire/Police: Brian Anderson, Sharon Cunningham, Dan Emerson, Bernie Forgea, Dennis Forgea, Susan Forgea, Eugene Granger, Wally Granger, John Lombardi, James Martin, Richard Meyer, David Rancourt, Christopher Robertson, Carrie Streeter; Plainfield Fire Department: Robert Shearer, Merton Taylor; Northampton AMR: Michael Roszko, Dave Saquet.

On September 20, 2002, in the early morning hours, emergency responders in Plainfield and the Cummington Ambulance were called for a man in possible cardiac arrest.  Upon their arrival, the first responders found that the patient was in cardiac arrest and CPR was begun.  The patient was loaded into the ambulance with CPR still being don on him.  The Cummington Ambulance headed out and later met up with a paramedic team with North Adams Ambulance.  Upon the intercept the patient was given medications and shocked three times with the defibrillator and his pulses were restored.

Receiving “Save” pins for the successful resuscitation were, from Cummington Ambulance: Carrie Streeter; Plainfield Emergency Medical Technicians: David Alvord, Stacy Magdycz, Joseph Sabourin, Merton Taylor, Jr., John Westwood; Plainfield First Responders: Bob Corash, Ed Morann, Andy Stevens; North Adams Ambulance: Rebecca Hall, Jane Soucie.

Years of Service pins were also given out at the Emergency Medical Service Banquet.  For the first time Hampshire County EMS awarded 5-year service pins.  In that this was the first time, recipients have served from 5 to 9 years were recognized.  Hilltowners receiving 5-year service pins included: Mike Derouin, Kyle Ducharme, Dennis Nazzaro, Chris Norris, John Shaw, and Carrie Streeter.