Leyden Fire Department rebuild making strides

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 07-11-2023 6:34 PM

LEYDEN — Once down to one man, the Leyden Fire Department is rising from the ashes to build a small, dependable department focused on emergency response.

As recently as February, the department was comprised solely of then-officer-in-charge and now Fire Chief Nikolas Adamski after former Fire Chief Brian Pelletier resigned and several part-time firefighters stepped away. Months later, Adamski and the town have recruited a captain and several other volunteers to staff the department.

The main challenge in this endeavor, Adamski explained, is that the demands of being a volunteer firefighter are difficult to juggle with a full-time job, a family and the extensive training that is required to become a firefighter.

“You have supper and just get ready to sit down and it never fails: the tone goes off and your wife is ready to hit you over the head with the frying pan,” Adamski joked, thanking his own wife for understanding the responsibilities. “It’s really difficult.”

Joining Adamski is Fire Capt. Tom Raffensperger, who will be undertaking administration, training and safety responsibilities. Several others, including former firefighter Carey Barton, and a junior firefighter also are expected to join the department.

Once training is complete in the next few weeks, the department will have grown to six people and will be focused on being the first personnel to arrive to an emergency, which can help stabilize a person or contain a fire while they await the arrival of mutual aid.

“Six will work; it gets us out of trouble,” Adamski said.

Concerns about mutual aid also helped spur the town to support the rebuilding of the department. After speaking with its consultant from the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management, which is helping the town re-envision its public safety departments, and other neighboring departments, the town determined its best move would be to maintain a small department that is able to be the first ones on the scene, according to Public Safety Advisory Committee Chair Elizabeth Kidder.

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“The best thing we could do is rebuild a small department in Leyden and that’s what we’ve been trying to do,” Kidder said. “The department is really focusing on quick response, to be the first people there and then the other towns can come over to help out.”

Adamski thanked all of Leyden’s mutual aid partners for their continued dedication and support throughout the rebuild and “being patient with us.”

While personnel is the most pressing challenge, acquiring new equipment is the second priority. Adamski said the department is in the process of searching for a new mini pumper to replace a 1987 Chevrolet brush truck. The mini pumper will serve as a quick-attack vehicle at house fires and can also work to quell brush fires.

“We’re about halfway there, we’ve got some money saved up,” Adamski said of the $150,000 in free cash that has been appropriated. “We’re looking forward to getting one of those, that would be pretty sweet.”

Kidder noted that state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, has submitted a $100,000 earmark in the state budget to help purchase the mini pumper, although there is the chance that line item will be removed during budget negotiations.

As he continues to learn the role, the 12-year veteran of the Leyden Fire Department said he stepped up because of the department’s critical role.

“I just couldn’t drop it and leave it,” Adamski said. “I knew it would be a lot of work … but I’m one of those guys where, if I start something, I don’t give up.”

Any Leyden residents who are interested in serving on the Fire Department should email Adamski at fire@townofleyden.com.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.

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