Numerous Mass. Brush Fires Putting Strain on Resources | NECN

Numerous Mass. Brush Fires Putting Strain on Resources



    Shrewsbury firefighters have been to Webster, Uxbridge, Northbridge and Milford to help fight brush fires, making a big hit on an already tight budget (Published Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014)

    (NECN: Katelyn Tivnan) - The calls for brush fires keep coming in, but Shrewsbury Fire Chief James Vuona says responding to the fires is putting a strain on resources.

    "Whenever there’s a big brush fire, there's a big cost along with it."

    Tuesday, the department responded to three fires in five hours.

    The town has 36 full time firefighters and 15 volunteers.

    But, bringing in on-call staff takes a big hit on an already tight budget.

    Vuona says manpower is also being sent to surrounding towns when they need assistance.

    “That doesn't stop other emergencies from happening like ambulance calls and car accidents that we need to respond to so we need to call in personnel to man the station."

    Firefighters from 10 towns helped put out a recent brush fire in Douglas.

    Fire chief Kent Vinson says a number of their firefighters are on call, leading them to rely heavily on mutual aid.

    The department also houses off road tankers and forestry trucks: tools that are often used by other towns lacking the equipment to fight brush fires.

    "If we send help, we foot the bill and when they send help, they foot the bill, so one hand washes the other and we take care of each other that way," says Vinson.

    The rising gas prices are also having an impact on departments, costing them more to operate their response vehicles.

    “Diesel fuel runs our all-terrain vehicles and gas is up. Anything to run a pump or generator, the fuel costs are crazy," he says.

    Vinson says his department is challenged with a tight fiscal budget: a problem departments across the region are facing.

    He says, however, the lack of cash doesn't stop the calls from coming in.

    "We've been to Webster, Uxbridge, Northbridge, Milford and we've had to receive aid as well,” Vinson says. “It’s proving to be a very difficult year."