The Barnstable County Fire Chiefs Association visited the Island Thursday for its monthly meeting and a training session with chiefs from the Island.
It was an auspicious occasion at the Edgartown Fire Museum, as members of the Barnstable association and the Dukes County Fire Chiefs Association met for collaborative training.
According to Edgartown Fire Chief Alex Schaeffer, the Barnstable association is centralized on Cape Cod, and is composed of all its fire chiefs.
For the past several years, Schaeffer said, he and other fire officials have been working to create a cohesive relationship between the two organizations, because they are able to draw off each other’s resources and each other’s experience so that they can better serve their communities.
Additionally, Barnstable is the Island’s support lifeline if there were to be a major event on-Island which necessitated additional support. Conversely, Dukes County fire departments can assist Barnstable if need be.
“This is the first time that the Barnstable County Fire Chiefs Association has been over here holding its monthly meeting, so we used it as an opportunity to test the response capabilities for mutual aid assets from their communities, so that outside of the regular operation hours of the Steamship Authority and such, they can get people over to help,” Schaeffer said.
He added that the cumulative knowledge between all the fire officials at the meeting was “impressive,” with experts in various fields of emergency response in attendance, such as those on the statewide hazmat team. “Being able to share with each other that institutional knowledge that we may not have over here or they might not have over there is huge,” Schaeffer said.
In the future, Schaeffer said, he hopes these kinds of collaborative sessions can become part of regular practice for both associations.
After the meeting, fire officials had the opportunity to participate in training sessions administered by William Greenwood, fire chief at T.F. Green Airport.
As part of a state-required credentialing process, officials were able to accumulate training hours they needed to retain certain qualifications and licenses, or apply for new ones. “Chief Greenwood is here today to do some training on mayday management, when someone is injured on fire ground, and really just how we as chief officers can better serve people in need during times of high stress,” Schaeffer said.