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Williamstown Forest Warden Rick Daniels, left, helps load donated food into a van for storage until Sunday.

Williamstown Answers Call to Support Firefighters

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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Northern Berkshire EMS had personnel on scene all day Saturday at the firefighters' base of operations.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The brush fire that started on East Mountain on Friday evening produced a plume smoke that was visible throughout the town.
And people all over town joined the fight to put it down.
In addition to the call-volunteer firefighters from the Williamstown Fire District and Forest Warden and their brethren from departments throughout the region, plenty of "civilians" stepped up to do what they could to.
"I'm in my 19th year, and we've had a few forest fires, brush fires, and I gotta say this is probably the largest response we've had from our community as a whole," Williamstown Fire Chief Craig Pedercini said on Saturday afternoon. 
"The whole thing — the food, the drinks, everything, you name it. I know Andi Bryant did a good job putting the message out [on Facebook], and all of a sudden, people just wanted to help. So, it's awesome."
The community support began Friday when The Log by Ramunto's donated pizzas for the firefighters who worked into the night.
Bright and early Saturday morning, the crews were dining on breakfast sandwiches from the Spring Street Market and Cafe as more local businesses joined the effort.
The town's largest business, Williams College, kicked in with food but so did individuals.
"I have been absolutely out straight all day taking in donations of food, drink, sunscreens, hand wipes, dollars and Venmo donations," Bryant posted on Facebook on Saturday evening. Unbelievable response that has touched everyone to the core."
Richard Reynolds, who chairs the Prudential Committee that oversees the fire district, agreed.
"Some showed up with a car load of supplies and some dropped off one or two items," Reynolds said.
Late Saturday afternoon, with a decision pending on where Sunday's base of operations will be, leftovers were loaded into a van provided by Sand Springs Springwater for safe keeping and transport on Sunday.
All operations Saturday ran through the command center set up at the headquarters of the East Mountain Sportsman's Club, whose 102-acre property included most of the scorched areas.
Pedercini said the club's contribution went beyond playing host to all the first responders on scene.
"The people from the club here, they're very well versed in the trails, so they can give us a lot of insight," he said. "These guys go up there hiking, hunting, you name it. We have our own people who do hiking and trail riding and things like that, so we put all that talent together.
"We don't sit there and make our own decisions. We get a lot of information thrown at us and try to make a smart decision."
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Williamstown Fire District Looks at Recruitment Need

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Williamstown Fire District needs to work on the message it conveys to potential recruits and consider new models for service to make it a more attractive option for residents.
That was part of the message the Prudential Committee received last week from the community advisory committee the committee established last year.
Jeffrey Thomas, who chairs the advisory group, dropped by the Prudential Committee''s first in-person meeting since before the pandemic to share some input from his group.
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