Partnership Results in New Bunker Gear Rack for Firefighters

WARE — One piece of fire station equipment used daily is the rack where firefighters store their gear between shifts. Bunker gear, also known as turnout clothing, consists of a combination of trousers with an overall strap attached, boots, and a jacket.

“This gear is crucial for protecting our firefighters’ safety,” said Daniel Danitis, deputy chief of the Ware Fire Department. “In terms of personal protection, a firefighter’s safety is only as reliable as his or her safety gear.”

When the newest recruits at the Ware Fire Department needed a place to hang their needed turnout gear, Bart Monopoli, manager of Engineering at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital, and Joe Tolley, carpenter at the hospital, responded.

“The hospital and the fire department often work collaboratively to serve the community,” said Monopoli. “Deputy Chief Danitis asked if the hospital had a coat rack in storage that he could temporarily use to house bunker gear for the newest fire department recruits. I talked to Joe, the hospital carpenter, and decided we could easily build them what they needed.”

After a visit to the fire department and some research, the hospital engineering team quickly drew up specifications for the project and built the bunker gear rack out of materials on hand.

“Because space is so tight at the fire department, we put the rack on wheels so it could be moved around and can also be easily brought to the new station when the time comes,” said Monopoli.

Danitis added that “the newest firefighters and EMTs have a greater connection with the hospital than where they hang their gear. They recently completed the EMT Basic Training program held annually at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital. Two of the newest members of the department come from the town of Ware, are knowledgeable about the town, know all the streets as well as the surrounding communities, and were trained at our hospital, right here in Ware.”

Added Monopoli, “our firefighters and EMS providers and the hospital work together to care for our community. We are a team and partners in care.”