Bernardston Fire Department


Peter A. Shedd, Chief

18 Church Street

Bernardston, MA 01337

Phone (non-emergency): (413) 648-9757

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In the event of an emergency, dial 911


February 16, 2018

Building Committee

The Building Committee continues to welcome your input as work continues on the proposal to upgrade or replace the Fire Station. The original proposal called for a land purchase and new construction of a drive-through station. While the Selectboard and many residents support the Fire Department and its members, they found the original proposal, estimated at $2.6 million, too costly. It’s time to take a different approach.

Our Selectboard advised us to revisit the idea of remaining at our current location, possibly by expanding into adjacent land that a resident has offered to donate. The concept is not as simple as it sounds due to environmental and historical concerns, as well as updated regulations for public buildings. However, our residents have spoken.

The Building Committee includes several members returning from last year along with new members. If you have thoughts to share, please contact the committee at our website, noted above, or Bernardston Fire Department, PO Box 504, Bernardston, MA 01337.


Strong Chief

A second issue related to the Fire Department is the proposed change in governance froma Weak Chief to a Strong Chief system. Under the Weak Chief system, the department has been led by the Board of Engineers, which elects the Chief and other officers.  Under a Strong Chief system, the Chief, appointed by the Selectboard, has authority over the department, and leads it with input from the members. This issue is slated to be addressed at the Special Town Meeting on May 9. We hope you will attend and make your wishes known.

There has been discussion in the media and elsewhere. Those of us who support the idea, including the Selectboard and myself, believe a Strong Chief arrangement for Bernardston would:

  • · Bring the department’s structure in line with all but a small handful of departments statewide,
  • · Improve efficiency and communication between the Fire Department, Selectboard, and other departments and agencies,
  • · Take into account the growing number of qualifications that the state requires of its fire chiefs, and
  • · Create a clear line of command and accountability in both emergency and non-emergency situations.

The key opposition so far appears to center on concerns from some members regarding the selection of a new Chief whenever the time comes. It’s hard to imagine any selection process in which the members would not be given input. If the proposal is approved by the residents and the state, the transition will take place in an orderly manner.

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