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Mass. fire chief resigns over town conflict; entire department follows suit

City officials said the town is protected by mutual aid and they’ll move forward with or without the firefighters

By FireRescue1 Staff

BLANDFORD, Mass. — Seven volunteer firefighters and a fire chief resigned Tuesday after they say city officials have been pushing to get rid of their chief.

WGGB reported that as of Tuesday night, the Town of Blandford does not have a staffed fire department.

“The chief has absolute power over the department. He gets appointed by the select board and gets authority from the State Fire Marshall and two members of the select board in town have been trying to usurp some of the authority from the chief,” said Capt. Tom Piper. “Every meeting they’ve had we’ve had some member of the department saying you need to follow the law and two of the members still felt obligated to get rid of the chief. They wanted to have control over who was hired. There was a personality conflict. Chief answers to the select board on a judiciary basis, but not a personnel basis.”

Members of the fire department have been trying to resolve the conflict since May, but they have not made any progress, according to the report.

Capt. Piper says they’ve contacted the town’s dispatcher and have notified neighboring communities who provide mutual aid to Blandford, according to the report.

“As far as the department goes, we were happy with the chief, and if you’re removing him because you don’t like him were obligated to support him and that’s what we’ve been trying to get across to them over the past four months," Capt. Piper said. "If we’re not broke why are you trying to fix us?”

City officials said the town is protected by mutual aid and they’ll move forward with or without the firefighters, according to the report.

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