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Study will focus on county fire services

Fire services around the county will soon be studied by their peers.

The Franklin County Fire Chiefs Association, working with the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, is about to begin a grant-funded evaluation of the county’s 29 fire departments and districts.

“Our goal is to help the towns and other fire services see what they have now, and what their needs may be,” said Ted Harvey, regional project planner for the FRCOG.

A $20,000 grant has been secured from the state for the project. In addition to a snapshot of current fire services, the report will include possible options to meet their needs.

The report could also help the departments and districts secure future funding, as a resource for fire service grant writing.

Though there’s been a lot of talk about regionalizing municipal services, the study will focus on individual fire services.

“There may be a discussion on regionalization at some point, but this project is really an analysis,” said Harvey.

Though regionalization may not be on the table yet, cooperation is. The area’s emergency responders routinely work together through mutual aid, and the study will look at the way fire departments and districts work together.

“If there are areas where sharing (resources) could benefit, the study could make it clearer where those areas are,” said Harvey.

Though the needs of each fire service are likely to differ, there are also likely to be similarities. The study will identify those, and could recommend ways to capitalize on common needs.

“If it becomes evident that several departments need new fire trucks, for example, there could be potential for joint procurement” resulting in a group discount, Harvey said.

Harvey said all 29 Franklin County fire chiefs expressed interest in the study, and seven have volunteered for the task force that will coordinate and conduct the study. Leverett Chief John Muruzzi, Montague Center Chief John Greene, South Deerfield Chief Bill Swasey, Orange Chief Dennis Annear, New Salem Chief Joe Cuneo, Sunderland Chief Robert Ahearn and Gill Chief Gene Beaubien will have from now through December to examine the county’s fire services.

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