HANSON — The Board of Selectmen Tuesday, July 26 welcomed a new firefighter to the official ranks of the Hanson Fire Department, as well as new department chaplain.
Hired in July 2015, firefighter Eric Adams has recently completed his probationary period, Chief Jerome Thompson reported. Adams grew up in Whitman, graduating from WHRHS in 2006 and has been in the EMS field for seven years and a paramedic for two.
He graduated from recruit training at the Mass. Fire Academy with Class No. 237 in December.
“Out of the seven new members we’ve hired in the last 24 months, this is position number five,” Thompson said. “As with the others, he’s been a great addition to our department.”
Adams’ father Daniel pinned on his new badge after Town Clerk Elizabeth Sloan administered the oath of office.
“If I poke him, is there anybody here who can help us out?” Daniel Adams joked as he did the badge-pinning honors.
The Rev. Kwang H. Lee, vicar of St. Joseph the Worker Church in Hanson, was sworn in as chaplain. He had been awarded his helmet during Firefighter Memorial Sunday observances in June.
Thompson said Lee, who has been a priest for five years and assigned to St. Joseph for about a year, had expressed interest in the chaplaincy — a position he did not believe had been used at the Hanson Fire Department before.
“Looking at some the things we face today, we thought it would be a great idea to have that on our department,” Thompson said. “The fire department chaplain provides spiritual and emotional support to firefighters and their family members when necessary, but this service will also be available to our community members whether during a medical emergency or fire or maybe a natural disaster.”
He noted that Lee has been visiting firefighters at the station to talk with them and “kind of get to know the lingo.” He has also attended Barnstable Fire Academy to observe the training process.
Lee is also working with the Mass. Corps of Fire Chaplains to be trained in critical incident stress management skills.
Thompson presented Lee with his badge after he was sworn in by Sloan Tuesday night.
Thompson also briefed selectmen on the Fire Department’s recent operations and capital plans — including a request he is considering for the October special Town Meeting to transfer funds from ambulance receipts to pay for a new all-wheel-drive ambulance next year. That would also include a new stretcher system.
“We’re currently looking at different chassis for our next ambulance,” he said. “That makes the ambulance 4-wheel-drive, it’s more of a rugged chassis.”
Department personnel test-drove a model at the station Tuesday.
“Right now we’re weighing all the pros and cons,” he said, stressing that ambulance runs are paid for through patient insurance and noted there is a process through which indigent residents may apply for a waiver.
Current ambulances will be rotated into support services such as gear for the dive team and the oldest vehicle will be donated to the Highway Department.
“It’s a testament to your maintenance program,” said Selectman Bill Scott.
Work on the station’s septic system still needs to be done, with plans due for review by the Board of Health in August, with the aim of completing work in the fall.
“If we can get that completed in the fall, we can go ahead and the second capital plan we already have the funding for is the parking lot,” Thompson said.
The reconfiguration and renovation of the front of the fire station has been completed, Thompson said. That work, much of which was done by firefighters, helped improve department operations.
He also reported his department has responded to 1,109 calls for service as of 5 p.m., July 26 — 707 were EMS-related with 13 of those for opioid-related incidents in Hanson.
Total calls for service are down slightly over the same period last year, he said, but multiple calls are up.
Two important training programs for which Thompson credited funding from selectmen and the Finance Committee, were a May pump-operating training — designed to reduce risk of damage to trucks and the water supply system — and a live burn exercise in June at the Barnstable Fire Academy.
“Even though we’ve seen a decrease in fires, we still need that hands-on training to work on our techniques and look at fire behavior and keep ourselves as safe as possible,” he said.
The department also plans to stay involved in the community with non-emergency events.
Firefighters have trained Cranberry Cove lifeguards in waterfront safety and, through a grant will continue school fire safety programs. They also participated in water day at DARE Camp held at WHRHS this week.