They might be far from their usual station, but four Dalton firefighters are still doing what they do best.
The Berkshire-based crew earlier this month traveled more than a thousand miles to back up local Louisiana crews dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida — mutual aid from half a continent away.
And, according to those Louisiana fire officials, the “Mass boys,” as they’ve been nicknamed, have been busy. In fact, there’s a house still standing and a Grand Caillou, La., family that still has a home thanks to them. This week, three of the Dalton firefighters — Nico Amuso, Zackary Morrissey and Jordan Anderson — responded to a blaze at a residence and put it out before it could raze the house. Meanwhile, the fourth Dalton crew member, Brian Sears, is attached to a group based in a mutual aid camp elsewhere in Louisiana doing cleanup and public outreach to assist some of the storm-battered state’s hardest-hit areas.
The Dalton crew make up four of 10 Bay State firefighters who went down to lend a hand; Massachusetts is one of 21 states sending help through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. These firefighters embody the best of what is asked of the men and women at the ready in stations across the country: They run from comfort and toward risk to help those in grave danger and desperate need. In a trying and divisive time, it is heartening to see Americans honor the instinct to pull together and help each other in disaster’s wake, even if that means going 1,500 miles from home to put oneself between storm victims and additional peril as these firefighters have.
It’s also a reminder of the caliber of courage and service here in our Berkshire community that many too often take for granted. That a Louisiana family’s home was saved with the help of a few Dalton firefighters is amazing — similarly so when Pittsfield firefighters extinguished a structure fire Tuesday evening, where their quick response to the second-floor blaze saved a major portion of the house and rescued the residents’ dog. Even more amazing was the massive mobilized effort earlier this year from more than a dozen regional fire departments, many of them volunteer squads, to curb the largest wildfire the Bay State had seen in two decades as it raged through hundreds of acres of Clarksburg State Forest. Our communities are safer because of these brave Berkshire men and women who risk life and limb to protect their neighbors and, once in a while, someone who needs help more than a thousand miles away.
“Apparently our teams are making a difference,” Dalton Fire Chief Gerald J. Cahalan Jr. told The Eagle after three of his firefighters saved a Grand Caillou family’s home from fiery destruction. “I’m very proud of them all.”
So are we — and we should show it more often.