Amherst to hire 3 new firefighters

Department has been understaffed for years

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Amherst Town Manager Paul Bockelman has committed to adding more firefighters to the town’s understaffed fire department. Bockelman has pledged to hire three full-time firefighters to replace those who are currently on extended absences, and plan on leaving.

Fire Chief Tim Nelson has made it no secret that his department is desperate to get more firefighters. He said that the three will go through training in September.

The Amherst Fire Department currently has 39 full-time employees. In two weeks, they will receive the results of a long-awaited staffing study to give them an idea of their staffing needs.

“It’ll tell us where we are, where we should be, and a little bit on how we can get to that point, because when you get down to it, it’s all about the money,” Nelson said.

Last year, Nelson applied for a $1.8 million grant that would have added six firefighters, but it was turned down.

Amherst EMS serves not only Amherst, but also Hadley, Leverett, Pelham, Shutesbury, and all five colleges. Their coverage area includes 125 square miles, and 80,000 people.