Wayne Wood is currently employed as a full-time firefighter and emergency medical technician at Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, MA, and is a volunteer with the Whitingham Fire Department. He expressed interest in the position and presented his credentials.
Whitingham Selectboard member Greg Brown said, “He is outstanding, very well suited for the job, and we’re happy to have him.”
Wood grew up “a service brat” at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. “Dad left the Air Force after serving in the Vietnam War,” he recalled. The family eventually settled in Boston where Wood graduated from high school. He then served in the Army for five years as a paratrooper. After his military service, Wood became a civilian firefighter in Albemarle, NC. The department sent him to Fire Medic Academy in Fayetteville , NC, for 16 weeks. He remained in Albermarle for five years.
His interest in firefighting began early. “My mother was a fire buff. She had a scanner and she would take us to fires. I was 8 or 9 years old.” Wood originally became interested in becoming a firefighter while he was still in the Army. “I had a friend who took off on weekends and I asked him where he was going.” The friend was volunteering at a local firehouse and that appealed to him.
“One weekend, I went with him to the Bonnie Doone Fire District including Fayetteville and that was it, I was hooked,” he recalled.
Since moving to this area two years ago, Wood has been a volunteer firefighter in Whitingham. When asked how he chose to settle in Whitingham, Wood said, “My wife Tammy and I would travel to Vermont. We liked the vibe of Brattleboro and kept coming back.” They decided they loved everything about this area and finally found what they believed was the perfect house near the village of Whitingham. Between them, they have five daughters and one son, all grown, with some following in Wood’s footsteps to the military, emergency medical training, as well as policing. The Woods have four grandchildren.
Wood became intrigued by the position of emergency management director thanks in part to town clerk Almira Aekus.
“One day I went to the town office to buy a transfer station ticket and picked up the local newsletter,” said Wood. He read about vacancies in town offices and decided to apply for lister or property assessor.
Aekus asked him if he’d be interested in applying for the EMD position. Wood then had conversations with town administrator Gig Zboray and fire chief Stanley Janovsky.
“I took an eight-hour training course in emergency management,” said Wood, “but all the higher levels of training in firefighting I’d already had at Westover.”
The origin of emergency management began in the wake of 9/11. President George W. Bush authorized the creation of the National Incident Management System or NIMS. From that evolved the incident command system that led to the creation of emergency command directors. The incident command system was further broken down into local EMDs who set up jobs, handle public affairs, and create a span of control over personnel.
The rationale for having a national organization is to ensure uniform training and directives for all EMDs throughout the country, including rural towns such as Whitingham. Wood is pleased to serve the town he loves.