Grafton Fire Department and Grafton Rescue Squad
711 Route 121 East
Grafton, VT 05146
Telephone 911 for Fire, EMS, and Police emergencies
Telephone 802-843-2401 for non-emergencies (please leave a message)
US Mail for Fire Department: P.O. Box 191 | Grafton, VT 05146
US Mail for Rescue Squad: P.O. Box 54 | Grafton, VT 05146
Facebook page for current activities and information updates: Grafton Fire and Rescue
Overview of Fire and Rescue Services
Both the Fire Department and Rescue Squad are volunteer organizations comprised of women and men trained and certified in various areas of emergency first response services. These volunteers are not stationed at the firehouse but respond when alerted on their pagers or cell phones (where service is available) from their homes, workplaces, or wherever they happen to be. They are dispatched by the Southwestern New Hampshire mutual aid system dispatch center in Keene, NH in response to calls made to 911.
Although legally separate organizations, Fire and Rescue share membership and space at the Firehouse just east of Grafton Village. In addition to serving the Grafton community, both groups have been contracted to provide Fire and EMS coverage to the adjacent Town of Athens. As part of the regional Mutual Aid network, both groups can also be called to assist other towns and likewise, Fire and Rescue services from other towns can be called to assist in Grafton. Being independent volunteer organizations, both groups are responsible for raising the majority of their operating funds. At Town Meeting each year, the voters are asked to approve significant allocations but additional fundraising is necessary which includes annual appeals, grants, and fundraising events. The most noteworthy event is the annual October tag sale conducted by the Fire and Rescue Auxiliary, held since 1981 to benefit the Fire Department. The Auxiliary also holds a popular Christmas Tree sale to benefit its Scholarship Fund.
Chief – Robbie Sprague
Assistant Chief – Nathaniel Noyes
Captain – Ivor Stevens
Lieutenant – Rob Hallock
Lieutenant – Matt Haseltine
GFA President – Bill Watson
Auxiliary President – Amber Stevens
In 1847 there were newspaper accounts of firefighting efforts in Grafton but it wasn’t until 1924 that the Grafton Fire Company was officially approved at Town Meeting. The following year a garage on Kidder Hill Road was acquired to house a hand-drawn and hand-operated pumper, and hand-drawn chemical tank. The pumper was built circa 1830 and may have been in town since then and is now on display along with the old chemical “engine” at the Grafton Historical Society. The first motorized vehicle was put into service in 1933 when a Cadillac touring car was converted for use as a fire truck. In 1938, the old schoolhouse on Main Street was converted into a firehouse and remained in use until 1992 when the present firehouse on Route 121 East, named in honor of longtime Chief Stanley Mack, was constructed.
At the present time, the Fire Department has a Pierce 2015 Freightliner FL80 4-door, 4-wheel drive engine with a single stage Waterous 1250 GPM pump, 1250 gallon quick dump water tank, and carries 1300′ LDH, 700′ 2 1/2″, and 500′ of 1 3/4″ hose which is designated 58 Engine One. The department also has a 2002 American LaFrance Freightliner FL80 with a Waterous 2 stage 1500/750 GPM pump, 400-gallon tank, 75′ aerial ladder, with 1000′ LDH, 500′ 2 1/2″, and 600′ of 1 3/4″ hose, and is designated 58 Ladder One. Other equipment includes portable pumps, portable lighting, forestry tools, Jaws of Life, a thermal imaging camera, gas meters, SCBA masks and air tanks, ladders, and a variety of other specialized equipment. The Department also has an enclosed trailer containing specialized technical off-road equipment used for water/ice and low ropes rescue, and backwoods search and rescue. A Polaris UTV, owned by Grafton Rescue, is also stored in the trailer and with its winter tracks is used throughout the year for wilderness search/rescue and wildland firefighting among other uses.
Membership and Organization
Currently, the membership consists of 18 active volunteers who respond to a three-year average of 53 calls per year. New members are encouraged and may join at any time. Training to meet all applicable fire service safety and performance standards is ongoing with an in-house training monthly at 7 pm on the third Wednesday. This is a great time for anyone interested in joining to learn more. Grafton Firefighters also train monthly with other Fire Departments from the West River area. The Department is organized into a fire company headed by a Chief, Assistant Chief, Captain, and two Lieutenants. The Department is under the general authority of the Grafton Firefighters Association whose executive committee is composed of community members as well as the fire company officers. Support for the Firefighters and Department activities are also provided by the Fire and Rescue Auxiliary which is comprised of people from the community.
Grafton Rescue Squad
President – Keith Hermiz
Vice President – Robbie Sprague
Treasurer – Maryann Kearns
Secretary – Jean Lix
Training Officer – Keith Hermiz
The Grafton Rescue Squad is a volunteer first response Emergency Medical Service (EMS) that responds to trauma and medical emergencies as part of the 911 system with a three-year average of 80 responses per year. The primary mission is to provide emergency care, stabilization, and preparation of patients for transport by ambulance or medevac helicopter to an appropriate hospital. This care may include airway management, control of bleeding, CPR, AED defibrillation, insertion of IV lines, oxygen therapy, splinting, and assessment of vital signs including electrocardiogram (ECG) and end-tidal capnography. The Squad also teaches community classes in Bystander CPR and Stop The Bleed. The Rescue Squad is responsible, in conjunction with the Fire Department, for the rescue and extrication of subjects from motor vehicles, snowmobile, industrial, farming, and logging accidents as well as wilderness search and rescue, swift and cold water rescue, and ski and mountain bike accidents. As a first response unit Grafton Rescue does not transport patients, however, the Town contracts an ambulance company, currently Golden Cross Ambulance, to provide this service.
History and Equipment
The organization was founded in 1981 as the First Aid Stabilization Team, FAST Squad, but with the increased sophistication of its training and equipment over the years changed its name to Rescue Squad as a clearer way to identify its role and abilities to the general public. Initially, Squad members responded solely in their personal vehicles until 1986 when a used 1978 Ambulance was acquired. This vehicle was in service until 1993 when it was replaced with a used 1986 four-wheel drive ambulance. In 2008, a new Ford F550 diesel four-wheel drive purpose-built rescue vehicle was put into service and is currently operated as 58 Rescue One. A Polaris Ranger UTV, specially equipped to carry a patient on a backboard, is also in service by the Squad and by the Fire Department for various off-road emergencies. Initially, the Squad was housed at the Grafton Cheese Company, then in a shed attached to the Highway Department Garage, and since 1992 at the Firehouse on Route 121 East. Highly regarded for its reliability and patient care, the Grafton Rescue Squad was named the Vermont Fire Responder Service of the Year in 2009.
Membership and Organization
Rescue Squad members are all volunteers who receive no financial compensation for their service to the community. The membership is composed of those certified to provide patient care and others who provide operational support. Officers are elected annually and there are currently 12 active members. New members are welcome to join at any time. All Squad members who provide patient care are certified nationally by NREMT and by the State and include Vermont Emergency First Responders, Emergency Medical Responders, Emergency Medical Technicians, and Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians. Such certifications require many hours of study, training, and testing with ongoing training occurring monthly as well as at specialized workshops to meet recertification standards. The Squad’s longtime Training Officer, Keith Hermiz, has twice been named the Vermont EMS Educator of the Year. Regular monthly training is at 6:30 pm at the firehouse on the third Monday and is a good time for someone interested in joining to stop by. New members are always welcome.