District 2 firefighters sign ‘vote of no confidence’ against prudential committee members

Dec 19, 2022

A majority of District 2 firefighters are calling on the newest members of its prudential committee — Bob Bouley and Bill Coutu — "to resign their positions effective immediately.”

In a letter submitted by Carolyn Abrantes last week on behalf of her fellow firefighters, the group indicated their disapproval for the recent decisions of the district’s governing prudential committee with a symbolic “vote of no confidence.”

The exact number of firefighters signing onto the letter could not immediately be determined, but the letter was confirmed to represent a clear majority of the stations call firefighters.

“This is a public Vote of No Confidence against Dartmouth Fire District 2 Prudential Committee members Robert Bouley and William Coutu,” the letter begins. “We, the majority of active members of Dartmouth Fire District 2, have no confidence with their ability to make decisions in the best interests of the Fire District, our membership or our residents.”

Bouley and Coutu could not immediately be reached for comment.

The move follows the committee’s decision to enter into contract negotiations for fire chief with Sergeant Scott Brooks of the Dartmouth Police Department — an experienced police officer who has not worked as a firefighter in quite some time.

In his public interview, Brooks said he had served with Fire District 2 for a “short time” early in his career and with district 1 for some time after, but indicated that he had little experience with fire fighting since becoming a full-time police officer in 2008.

He added that in 2000, he had taken the basic classes required to become a call firefighter, but acknowledged that safety standards had likely changed since then.

Brooks also has references from District 3 Fire Chief Richard Arruda and District 1 Deputy Chief Jake Bettencourt, according to committee members. However, he also reportedly listed a reference from District 1 Chief Peter Andrade on his resume, which came into question after Andrade denied being asked to give such a reference.

“The role of Fire Chief, in any community, comes with an implied level of trust and confidence in the position,” the letter reads. “By hiring the least qualified person, Bouley and Coutu erode that trust and are willing to gamble with the lives and safety of our membership and our community.”

The letter alleges that Bouley and Coutu “have never taken the time to meet with us or
understand what it takes to be a modern firefighter.”

Though the vote is mostly symbolic and the district firefighters have no power to recall prudential committee members or control their decisions, the letter does call on Bouley and Coutu to resign voluntarily.

“They do not have the best interests of our fire department or our community in mind,” the firefighters wrote. “We all deserve better than this. We deserve people who care about the lives they are impacting with the decisions they make.”

The prudential committee was scheduled to meet again on Monday, Dec. 19 to continue contract negotiations with Brooks, which began last Wednesday, but canceled the meeting shortly before it was due to begin.