Car accident, brush fire strain Granby and S. Hadley fire departments

  • South Hadley Fire District No. 2 Chief Scott Brady. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 12/21/2017 10:38:31 PM

GRANBY — Two simultaneous incidents, a brush fire and a car accident, left both the Granby Fire Department and South Hadley Fire District No. 2 stations empty, if only briefly, late Thursday morning.

“This is a problem we frequently run into in the daytime, the lack of manpower,” Granby Assistant Fire Chief George Randall said.

The Granby Fire Department received report of a two-car accident at 11:25 a.m. on Amherst Street, and three minutes later received report of the fire along Route 116. Both fire departments responded to the fire, about three miles from each town center, while Granby requested support from South Hadley Fire District No. 2 in responding to the car accident.

The two fire departments have mutual aid agreements with overlapping coverage areas. The fire, at the intersection of Aldrich Street and Amherst Road, fell within the shared coverage area, while Granby requested backup responding to a two-car accident on Amherst Street.

“Its interesting because we’re both very small understaffed departments,” South Hadley Fire District No. 2 Chief Scott Brady said. “Incidents like these run us very, very thin.”

A combined three firetrucks and 10 firefighters from South Hadley and Granby responded to the brush fire on a steep hillside along a busy road. The flame covered approximately 40 square feet, and was likely started by a discarded cigarette, according to Randall.

Two ambulances responded to the accident on Amherst Street involving five people, one of whom was transported to Holyoke Medical Center with injuries there were not life threatening, according to Randall.

“The towns can only afford a certain number of full-time personnel,” said Randall. “The ambulance is the prime focus of most departments.”

The Granby Fire Department regularly keeps two firefighters, who double as EMTs, on staff 24 hours a day supplemented by volunteers. Fire District No. 2 has one firefighter on-site and one on-call at all times, supplemented by several paid on-call firefighters.

Both fire stations were left empty briefly before volunteer and on-call firefighters arrived while full-time, on-call, and volunteer personnel responded to the calls. Response to both incidents took about 20 minutes each, according to Randall.

“One of the advantages of having people in the station is that they can get right out the door,” said Randall, a volunteer who works as a regional director for Mass Mutual.

Neither road closed during the incidents, but the Granby Police did assist with traffic control around the fire on Route 116.

“In general, the fire service is understaffed in the United States,” said Brady.

Sarah Robertson can be reached at

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