From left to right: Great Barrington Firefighter Robert Gaughran, Lt. Darrell Marks, Firefighter Justin Bona, Chief Charles Burger, and graduating Firefighters Michael Bissaillon and Iovan DeRis. (Courtesy Photo)

GREAT BARRINGTON -- Chief Charles Burger is pleased to announce that two Great Barrington Firefighters graduated from the Massachusetts Fire Academy's Call/Volunteer program.

At the ceremony on Monday, Oct. 29, Call Firefighters Mike Bissaillon and Lovan DeRis graduated alongside call and volunteer firefighters from throughout Massachusetts.

The Call/Volunteer academy program is a rigorous 240-hour course that is held twice per week as well as most weekends over a four-month period at the academy's Springfield campus. Time is spent in the classroom and on the drill yard where students acquire the basic knowledge and skills for firefighting. All of the training concludes with live firefighting in the burn building. Participants graduated with their Firefighter I & II and Hazmat – Operations Level Responder certifications.

The two newest members will now officially join the Great Barrington Fire Departmen.

“Both Mike and Iovan have been enthusiastic since they walked in the door," Chief Burger said. "They have shown great dedication and diligence over the past four months and excelled through the academy. They are fun to work with and the Fire Department and town are lucky to have them."

Bissaillon is a husband and father of four, as well as a personal trainer and owner of a CrossFit gym in Great Barrington.

“Joining the Great Barrington Fire Department and graduating from the Fire Academy have been two of my most challenging life accomplishments," Firefighter Bissaillon said. "It is very rewarding and I’m looking forward to putting what we learned to work.”

DeRis is a husband, father of three, and is a contractor who owns the Great Barrington Building Company in addition to his role as a call firefighter.

“Firefighting is mentally and physically demanding but we overcome those challenges through good training and teamwork," Firefighter DeRis said. "The academy training program has given me a basic foundation in firefighting and I look forward to putting my new skills to the test and being able to make a difference in our town.”

The Great Barrington Fire Department is always looking to add members, and anyone interested in joining can contact Chief Burger by phone at 413-528-0788, by e-mail at, or by stopping by the station.

(press release and article image sent to WSBS from The Great Barrington Fire Department for online/on-air use)

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