But first – an island visit. In 1846, a fire broke out on Nantucket, then the whaling capital of the world. Many buildings, all made of wood, were storing significant amounts of whale oil. But in addition to flammable liquid in wooden buildings, there was a third factor that contributed to the devastation: there were ten fire companies, who were competitive, and not used to cooperating. This gave the flames an even stronger advantage. A third of the town was destroyed.

Frank Upton, Jr. (1920 – 2006) was a master mechanic who could fix anything, and was the only one who could make this recalcitrant four-cylinder pump run. The pump was retrofitted to sit on the back of Nelson’s first fire engine – a 1929 Chevrolet coupe.

Fire fighting has since become a more cooperative endeavor, but until you visit with a small town fire department, you might not realize the level of detail, and the amount of training, that goes into being prepared to do something that only happens rarely (and which we hope doesn’t happen at all). 

Nelson’s first fire department building was in Munsonville (where the building remains to house the forestry and utility trucks). In 2000 the current main station was added onto the Town Barn. This serves not only as the garage for three firetrucks, but also an incredible amount of paraphernalia needed so that fires can be fought safely and effectively. In addition to needing storage space, that gear also requires the fire fighters to become familiar with how everything works, how to use it, and critically – how to maintain it so that when it is needed, everything works as it should. Of course every situation is different, so in addition to knowing the equipment, training time includes rehearsing various potential scenarios. 

About 85% of the calls the Nelson Fire Department gets are for medical situations. At this time there are two EMTs on the department, but there are supporting roles for non-EMTs that are important in many instances.

Spending even a few minutes with department members down at the station, one picks up on the dedication and enthusiasm that these individuals bring to the job.

As you can see from this picture, it would require considerable education to understand, and to be able to operate under pressure. Many firefighters serve on more than one small town fire department, and controls like this are not standardized, so versatility is a must.

Chief Joe Sarcione has been on the job for a few months now. He has introduced several new initiatives, and one of the most important, he feels, is establishing an Incident Command System.  This is a standardized approach to the command, control, and coordination of emergency response providing a common hierarchy within which responders from multiple agencies can be effective.

When someone approaches the Fire Department about joining, they are subject to some serious questions about their motivations, as well as what skills they will bring (and willingness to learn new skills). This factors into an evaluation. When it comes time to officially accept a new member, the entire department votes on this, which seems like a pretty cool way to build the team.

If you have even a slight bit of geekness, you can appreciate the excitement of using Spotted Dog (now officially known as Rover Alert) . No, it’s not a micro-brew, it’s an app that allows first responders to get real time information about site details, incident severity, responders’ availability, qualifications, and estimated arrival time.  It’s a great tool, and combined with communication from Mutual Aid, it allows for effective collaboration, and also really enhances the camaraderie between fire fighters. 

Like everywhere now, the Nelson Fire Department would like to have more members, especially people with EMT certification (or willingness to pursue that).

The Nelson Fire Department is a dynamic, forward-looking organization of which we can all be proud.

To Join

Applicants  must be 18 years of age or older. Application for membership stays with the Town, and a background check sheet goes to the State (paid for by the Town).  Level of interest will be demonstrated by attending meetings, work details, training, and so on. After a month the department will interview applicants and vote on whether to accept the applicant. There is a one-year probationary period.

CALL 911

Interested in joining?
Contact Chief Joe Sarcione firefighter.station3@nullyahoo.com


Chief Joe Sarcione
Deputy Chief Andrew Ward
Captain Jeff Walter
Lieutenant Jeff Guyette
Rescue Captain Josh Howard
Rescue Lieutenant Jenn Wells


Michelle Babcock
Donald Gladu
Patricia Lamothe (EMT)
Katie Monroe (EMT)
Hayden Sarcione
Jason Walter

Hail to the Chiefs

Ray Huber, Bob West,  Rick Lothrop, 
Bud French,  Jason Walter

Chief Sarcione on the job