Fire District 2 offers chief position to police sergeant
Dartmouth’s Fire District 2 may soon have a new permanent chief as a long and contentious hiring process came to a tentative conclusion at the district’s prudential committee meeting on Thursday, Dec. 8.
After interviewing two candidates for the position, the committee voted 2-0 to enter into contract negotiations with Scott Brooks II, a sergeant in the Dartmouth Police Department whose name had not been mentioned among applicants in previous meetings.
Member Ralph Medeiros abstained from the vote.
Committee member Bill Coutu said he was swayed by Brooks’s references, which were said to include recommendations from both of the town’s other fire chiefs, as well as former district 2 chief Tim Andre.
“He has excellent people management skills and he has the backing of the other chiefs,” Coutu said.
Though Brooks has a background in public safety — including roles as a detective, tactical commander of the SWAT team, and use of force instructor — he admitted he had not worked as a firefighter in quite some time.
He said that 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 be a call firefighter, but acknowledged that safety standards had likely changed since then.
The committee had advertised the fire chief position as requiring at least 20 years of experience at a professional fire department, with at least five years in a command role.
After the vote was cast, several audience members loudly protested the decision and were asked to leave the room. Police officers, who had been called to the meeting by District Counsel Anthony Savastano after prior outbursts, stood by to make sure the rowdy constituents exited peacefully.
Despite the committee’s vote to enter contract negotiations with Brooks, the move is not yet a sure thing.
When asked if he would be comfortable taking a salary in the advertised range of $85,000 to $95,000 a year — a major sticking point in negotiations with former acting chief Greg Edgcomb — Brooks was hesitant, but said he would at least like to sit down with the board to discuss it.
Committee chair Bob Bouley added that, unlike at his current job, Brooks would not have the opportunity to work overtime to boost his pay.
“I’m sure you work a lot of overtime hours at this point,” he said. “You won’t be doing that here.”
Brooks was paid a total of $111,529.54 by the Dartmouth Police Department in 2021, including a salary of about $80,000, $17,762 in overtime pay, $4,604 for third-party details, and $7,887 in non-pensionable pay, according to department records.
The only other candidate interviewed for the fire chief position was acting chief Wayne Thomas.
Thomas has led the department since Nov. 18, when Edgcomb was removed from the acting role after implying that he might take legal action against the district for alleged unfair hiring practices.
Thomas previously held the position of deputy chief under Edgcomb for about a year and has worked as a full time firefighter for the district for four years.
Though Edgcomb had also applied for the fire chief position, the committee voted 2-1 during the meeting not to offer him an interview. Another applicant, Kevin Harris, a captain at the Reedy Creek Fire Department in Florida, declined to be interviewed for the position.
The committee will meet in executive session to discuss strategy related to contract negotiations with Brooks, before calling another meeting to offer him the position.