Amherst Fire Department Swears In Christopher Bascomb As Latest Captain: Chief Tim Nelson Is Grooming New Leaders

Longtime Amherst firefighter Christopher Bascomb, 42, was sworn in as the department’s latest captain yesterday, in a ceremony at Town Hall attended by many of the town’s 45 full-time firefighters.

Fire Chief W. Tim Nelson said that about five years ago, he realized that several pending retirements would require him to groom younger firefighters for leadership roles, and Bascomb indicated he was capable and eager for bigger responsibilities. “Chris wanted to have a big part to play,” Nelson said. Bascomb, who has been an acting captain for the last year, also scored well in a promotional exam.

Other promotions in recent months have included Jeff Olmsted to assistant chief, joining Lindsay Stromgren in that role; and Steve Gaughan and Steve Chandler to captains. “We’ve got some really great people,” Nelson said, adding that additional leadership opportunities will arise in coming months.

The Amherst Fire Department is the main provider of emergency medical services for Amherst, Hadley, Pelham, Shutesbury and Leverett, covering 125 square miles inhabited by 80,000 people.  The department’s fire protection responsibilities in Amherst include the UMass-Amherst, Amherst College, and Hampshire College campuses.

Bascomb, who grew up in Amherst and attended its public schools, worked as park ranger for the National Park Service in Nevada, and then as an emergency medical technician, before joining the Amherst Fire Department 16 years ago.

“I love working with people, and I love being outdoors,” Bascomb said, adding that he was grateful for Nelson’s encouragement. He now lives in Easthampton with his wife Jill Bascomb, and their daughters Amelia, 5, and Ainsley, 3.

Bascomb, a son of Greg Bascomb and Bonnie MacCracken of Amherst, is also a paramedics instructor at Greenfield Community College.

Former captain Larry Tebo of Shutesbury retired yesterday after 30 years with the department.

Nelson said his vision for the department is to be the “go-to organization” for emergency and support services. “We take that on as a sacred trust,” he said.


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