|By Chris Maza|
EAST LONGMEADOW The Fire Department will be able to continue its fire safety education efforts in East Longmeadow Public Schools, thanks to a larger-than-expected Student Awareness of Fire Education (S.A.F.E.) grant award.
The Fire Department was given $5,225 in this year's round of grant awards, a number that was a pleasant surprise, Fire Chief Paul Morrissette said at the Jan. 22 Board of Selectmen's meeting.
"It was the largest [S.A.F.E. grant] ever [received by East Longmeadow]," Morrissette said. "They told us all at the beginning of the application period that it would be about the same that it's been, which is about $4,000."
Morrissette explained that the funding, which originates from the state fire marshal's office, allows the department to purchase supplies, such as informational videos, for the program in which firefighters appear in schools to discuss fire and life safety.
Board of Selectmen chair Paul Federici spoke to the effectiveness of the program.
"I remember last year, there was a 6-year-old, who lived in Springfield, but was a student in East Longmeadow schools and he woke up and basically rescued his family when there was a porch fire at his house," he said. "This stuff does sink in at as young as 6 years old."
Morrissette added that in the past, a firefighter was on duty when his house caught fire and that the firefighter's daughter remembered her training to help get her family out safely.
"The program is effective. If you look online, there are stories on top of stories [that demonstrate] that this program is paying off," he said.
The Board of Selectmen also approved the promotion of Ben Cote to lieutenant, at Morrissette's recommendation, to fill a spot that was vacated when Lt. Brian Hill retired after roughly 20 years to pursue a career in the medical field.
Morrissette told the board that in addition to his 10 years of service with the Fire Department and his experience as the department's fire inspector, Cote has demonstrated initiative in expanding his expertise.
"He's one of these guys who goes above and beyond when it comes to knowledge," Morrissette said. "He has taken an incredible amount of courses at the Massachusetts fire academy, both through the fire department and also on his own."
Morrissette went on to say that Cote has taken a part-time position at the fire academy as an instructor.
"He's teaching not only new firefighters, but seasoned firefighters," he said. "The knowledge that he brings back to us is incredible."
Selectman Peter Punderson added that in addition to his experience, Cote possesses the high character the town expects from its department members.
"He's a good man, too. He's a good person," Punderson said.
The selectmen also elected to keep Deputy Chief Stephen Rybacki, Shawn Minahan and Cote as the department's training officer, mechanic and inspector, respectively.
The selectmen also approved the budget and the addition of three new members of the East Longmeadow Medical Reserve Corps (MRC).
While the entire MRC budget is funded solely through a grant, the selectmen must approve the budget, Carleen Eve Fischer Hoffman, unit coordinator, explained.
Hoffman recommended the appointment of Kathy Doe, Rebecca Morrissette and Michelle Murray to the MRC.
She explained that Doe, the mother of Bryan Doe, who ran a write-in campaign for selectman against Selectman Debra Boronski, was already active with her son in educating residents on what to do in emergency situations.
"She is very active with Bryan in teaching the community about emergency preparedness," Hoffman said. "As you know, Bryan has been doing monthly meetings on that subject and Kathy has been there."
Murray, Hoffman said, is a licensed health care professional.
"She is particularly excited to be able to use her background, especially in a shelter situation," she said.
Hoffman referred to Morrissette as "a person of high energy and willingness to help."
She added that the MRC has an informational session planned for early February and is organizing a "meet and greet" that will take place in March. Exact dates were not yet known and would be announced at a later date.
The Board of Selectmen also acted upon the recommendations of two designer review committees.
The Board accepted Reinhardt Associates Inc. of Agawam as the firm to conduct the municipal space study at a cost of $29,400.
The space study, for which six request for qualification submissions were received, was approved at the Oct. 1, 2012 Special Town Meeting with a maximum price of $30,000. The purpose of the study is to determine the space needs of each municipal department excluding schools in order to develop a plan to streamline efficiency.
Bargmann Hendrie + Archetype Inc. of Boston was selected as the architectural firm for the rehabilitation of the pool at the Pine Knoll Recreation area at a cost of $35,000. Two bids were received.
Colin Drury, recreation director, explained that by winning the bidding, Bargmann Hendrie would conduct all design services needed for the project. He added that more news regarding the pool would be discussed at upcoming Board of Selectmen meetings.
The renovation project was also approved at the Oct. 1, 2012 Special Town Meeting with a total budget of $450,000.
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