By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
Given the current circumstances, this is arguably not the best time to start a new job. There are new protocols to learn, new procedures, and, for many of us, the lovely task of learning to work from home.
Luckily, for Zachary Ward, the transition to chief of the Sherborn Fire Department has come with only a few hiccups.
Ward grew up in Upton and began working as a firefighter and EMT in 2008. Seven years later, Ward was promoted to lieutenant. In 2018, Ward shifted gears and started as a captain at the Sherborn Fire Department. Just months later, in November of 2019, he was appointed interim fire chief as the Sherborn Select Board and the department considered a replacement for Fire Chief Erron Kinney. In April, amidst the constantly changing COVID-19 situation, Ward’s promotion became permanent. The Sherborn Select Board voted unanimously to appoint Ward as the Fire Chief.
Chief Ward knows that teamwork is the best asset to every fire department. It’s what keeps Sherborn’s firefighters at the top of their game. “The best part of my job is being able to lead our personnel through some of the challenges that we face on a regular basis. As a department, we win together and we lose together,” says Chief Ward. “Luckily, because of the high quality of firefighters and EMTs, we usually win. We provide a wonderful service to Sherborn.”
In the months since the start of COVID-19, Chief Ward and his team have altered how they handle even the easiest of tasks. “Our department has changed dramatically since COVID-19 started. We first had to cancel all in-person training, which is the first time that has ever been done in Sherborn,” explains Ward. “Our responses have changed, due to the fact that we now wear personal protective equipment whenever we interact with the public. It may change the way we operate our EMS service forever. Only time will tell.”
Taking on the leadership position during COVID-19 hasn’t been easy. Spending hours in the fire house usually comes with its fair share of bonding moments. The dangers of COVID-19 have put them on a possibly permanent pause. “The hardest part of transitioning into the permanent chief's role has been not being able to connect with our personnel as we normally do. I believe our currently limited interaction as a group is the hardest part of navigating this crisis for us,” says Chief Ward.
For now, Chief Ward and his department have been given the monumental task of navigating firefighting and other emergency tasks while upping their precautions in light of the COVID crisis. While no one knows what the next challenge will be, the people of Sherborn can be assured that Chief Ward will have the situation under control alongside members of the fire department.