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Duracell challenges public to 'power those who protect us'

Date: 2/23/2011

Feb. 23, 2011

By Katelyn Gendron

Assistant Managing Editor

AGAWAM — Are you doing your part to "power those who protect us?" Duracell and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) want to make sure the public is chipping in to power the 23,000 volunteer fire departments across the nation.

Duracell began its "Power Those Who Protect Us" battery donation program this month with a goal of providing volunteer firefighters, like those at Agawam's On-Call Fire Department, with 10 million batteries.

"Any type of donation, be it money or batteries, helps us out tremendously," Senior Lt. Michael Nicora of the On-Call Fire Department, said. Members of the On-Call Department serve as volunteers supplementing the town's career force.

"Volunteer firefighters use batteries for a wide variety of crucial devices, such as personal alert systems, personnel location equipment, communication devices and flashlights," Philip Stittleburg, chair of the NVFC, said. "Funds are tight, so offsetting annual battery purchases provides local volunteer fire departments with genuine value, enabling them to reallocate resources to support the other areas of operation."

On-call firefighters in Agawam spend their own money to buy additional supplies such as backup flashlights, wire cutters and other tools, Nicora noted.

"Many members have purchased their own leather fire boots, which are much lighter than the department-issued rubber boots," he explained. "Another item most members have purchased are fire gloves; basic fire gloves don't fit very well and are cumbersome during a fire. Several of us just purchased new gloves that cost $80.

"Our association, through fundraising, purchases our pagers, portable [radios] and repairs. The association has also purchased in the past rechargeable flashlights and personal rope bags. Every call firefighter is issued a radio and a pager, that's well over $1,000," Nicora continued.

When asked about the benefits of being an on-call firefighter, Nicora replied, "For me, it's following in the foot steps of my dad who spent over 45 years as a call firefighter and the great feeling you get by helping people in the town. Many members use it as a stepping-stone to becoming a career firefighter.

"There is really no financial benefit to being a call fighter in Agawam. Privates get paid $8.50 per hour. With gas over $3 per gallon, a trip back and forth to the station eats up quite a bit of our hourly pay. We also have to purchase our own uniforms that we wear for parades and special events we are asked to participate in," he continued.

Nicora is the only volunteer firefighter in Massachusetts to share his department's story through the program at

Duracell has pledged one battery for every 10-pack and two batteries for every 20-pack of CopperTop AA or AAA batteries donated by consumers through the "Power Those Who Protect Us" program.

"Every department will receive a sizeable battery donation, in some cases the equivalent of a year's supply depending on department size," according to information released by Duracell.

To make a donation or to learn more about "Power Those Who Protect Us," visit

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