BARRE, Mass. - Firemen from the Massachusetts Army National Guard’s 179th and 180th Engineer Detachments (Fire Fighters) had been dispatched to Barre, to assist the town with clearing the roads of trees that had fallen in an early snowstorm that hit the state.
Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick mobilized members of the National Guard, both Air Force and Army personnel, to assist hard hit communities in recovering from the effects of the snowstorm.
For two of the Guardsmen, Staff Sgt. Robert Rogowski, who serves as a fire team chief, 179th Engineer Detachment (Fire Fighters) and Spc. Scott Fritscher, who serves as a firefighter, 180th Engineer Detachment (Fire Fighters), it was a homecoming. Both Soldiers are part-time firemen on the town’s fire department.
“It was kind of a shock to be told to come back to Barre,” said Fritscher, “the same person I’m working with as a civilian … I’m helping him now as an (Mass.) Army National Guardsman. It doesn’t get much more neighbors helping neighbors than that.”
Since the firefighters have been in Barre, they have helped to keep the roads clear by cutting down trees that are creating hazardous road conditions, answered seven emergency calls for carbon monoxide leaks, one fire alarm, three instances of trees/power lines catching fire and one car fire.
“We got a call that the Guard was on its way to help us out, which was an asset to us … we probably had only eight or ten people available to us during the day,” said Joseph Rogowski, fire chief, Barre Fire Department.
Rogowski’s is Staff Sgt. Rogowski’s father.
“It was great, we were able to put them on different crews,” said Rogowski, “They know the town … they know the layout … it was just an asset.”
For a small town like Barre, seeing the Guardsmen was uplifting.
“People can see that the National Guard can be used in a small town, not just the bigger cities,” said Police Chief Erik Demetopoulos, Barre Police Department, "To see you guys come out … it means that you guys really care about helping us out. It goes a long way with the residents."