A Chief is presented during his tenure with many unforeseen predicaments. Being a Chief can be something to take pride in and it can be also be aggravating. A Chief serves the entire community. What reward does the Chief receive? Pride in a job well done, prestige, the honor of being called "Chief", a Chief's car to drive to calls, a few fun parades , and an Installation dinner. This may seem to make it worthwhile to a select few people
A steady progression of training, courses, and responsibilities can eventually result in a person becoming a Chief in the Brewster Fire Department(BFD). The courses are relevant and usually have helpful recommendations to cover almost any situation.
Few people rise up to handle a job that is so unpredictable, with so little rewards and so many responsibilities. In the BFD, the Chief has many responsibilities. Some of these include:
a) Safeguarding millions of dollars worth of equipment. The new Ladder Truck alone cost over $1.2 million. The new Tanker-Pumper 11-4-2 was more than $800,000. (photos #12 & #14)
b) Reporting issues with the 1941 Main House or the 1999 Charles Doyle substation
c) The safety of the members of the BFD
d) Dealing with human relations among 125 members. (Sometimes a Chief wonders if he is a glorified babysitter!)
e) Maintain and/or enhance member skills through continuous training and drills
f) Select and train officers to assist him and who will hopefully rise through the ranks
g) Dealing with the BFD administration such as the President and Treasurer
h) Attend numerous conferences and meetings
In all these issues, he must comply with the directives and guidelines of the Brewster Southeast Joint Fire District. (photos #8 & #9)
A Chief expects to deal with all the above as well as emergencies such as fires, vehicle accidents, rescues, automatic fire alarms, and ambulance coverage. He frequently may have to respond at inconvenient moments. An emergency may occur when the chief is having non-verbal tactile communication with a significant other. He also knows that another significant problem is staffing issues. They arise because a spouse and their significant other usually work 9-5 Monday through Friday. This limits daytime response. There are some pleasant rewards for being Chief such as parades, a picnic, or some other celebration. The year 2020 was supposed to be the celebration of the Brewster Fire Department's 150th Anniversary. Numerous celebrations were planned for the event and Chief Michael Bizarro was supposed to play a significant role. A 150th Anniversary parade was planned and over fifty guest fire departments were expected to attend. A boat cruise was planned. However, as a line in "To a Mouse" by Robert Burns states :"The best laid plans o' mice" an' men" do oft go awry.
It seems as if every 100 years, a pandemic occurs but there are no courses on how to handle a pandemic.
Chief Michael Bizarro faced this situation. He had been a Second Assistant Chief for only one year and then became the First Assistant Chief due to a Battlefield promotion. He got elected to THE Chief of the Department for the years 2020 to 2021. Everyone expected him to be Chief of the BFD's 150th year celebration. Nobody could have predicted that instead he would become the COVID CHIEF. The dilemma was how to protect the people in the Town of Southeast as well as the members of the BFD from a highly contagious and sometimes deadly disease.. The Great Fear was the the fear of the Unknown. How is it spread? Who is most vulnerable? What about the older members of the BFD or the members with health problems? How does the BFD respond?
One of the immediate problems was the lack of Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) for the BFD responders. What was especially critical were N95 masks which were desperately needed by the ambulance crews. Life member and current Brewster Southeast Joint Fire District (BSEJFD) Commissioner Gerry Schramek, was very helpful in securing the masks as well as the Bureau of Emergency Services.
Another problem was what should be the COVID protocols? Using the best information available at the moment resulted in Standard Operating Guidelines (SOG) promulgated by the BSEJFD. They were posted in the firehouse and as well as on the BFD website . The first page of the first SOG is pictured in photo #9 .
Commissioner Gerry Schramek's of the BSEJFD quote on COVID Chief Michael Bizarro's performance elicited the following:
"As panic was setting in worldwide over Covid-19, Chief Bizarro worked collaboratively with his team and the fire commissioners. They developed a sensible approach aimed at maintaining fire and EMS services to our community while keeping our firefighters safe. He navigated department activities without a hitch . Several neighboring fire departments were plagued by a large number of their members being placed out of service due to COVID. Indeed we were fortunate to have Chief Bizarro in command during those trying times. Congratulations Chief Michael Bizarro on a job well done!!"