Turners Falls, MA 01376
By SHELBY ASHLINE
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
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TURNERS FALLS MA
TURNERS FALLS — John Zellmann, deputy fire chief of the Turners Falls Fire Department, will replace Robert Escott Jr. as fire chief on Aug. 28 following Escott’s early retirement.
Having been with the Turners Falls Fire Department for 32 years, Zellmann said it is a natural part of his career path to become chief. Escott has held the position for five years.
Zellmann, 52, became a full-time staff member in 1987 and deputy chief in 2014, when the position was newly instituted to lessen the increasing workload of the fire chief. He is formerly of the Lake Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department, like his father, John Zellmann Sr.
When he takes over as fire chief, Zellmann said he intends to continue the projects that he and Escott started together, such as implementing written standard operating procedures and various techniques to improve the health and safety of the firefighters.
In addition to the department’s standard practices of cleaning gear in a special washing machine after every fire and washing away soot using baby wipes, the Turners Falls Fire Department recently teamed up with the Melanoma Foundation of New England to install sunscreen dispensers at the Montague Public Safety Complex. The goal is to protect the firefighters from developing melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, as they are often overexposed to the sun.
“It’s all so these guys can have a long, healthy career,” Zellmann said.
Zellmann said he also wants to address the department’s “manpower issue.” The department has had a hard time attracting volunteers, and their volunteer staff is down to 10.
While Zellmann said he wanted the position of fire chief because he likes to challenge himself in everything he does, it will also be a big change for him.
“I enjoy being a firefighter,” he said. “Now as chief, you’re commanding (the firefighters) and making sure they’re safe.”
The formal swearing in ceremony will take place Aug. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Montague Public Safety Complex, located at 180 Turnpike Road in Turners Falls. The ceremony is open to the public.
Zellmann said he will promote a new deputy chief to fill his current position in October, for which three captains are eligible.