Fire District 2 officials signal intention to seek new chief ahead of Monday meeting
Dartmouth’s Fire District 2 Prudential Committee will hold a meeting on Monday in which they will “review the employment status” of Acting Fire Chief Greg Edgcomb before discussing the search for a new fire chief, according to the meeting agenda.
The order and language of the agenda items — and the fact that Edgcomb’s name was misspelled as Edgecombe on the agenda — suggest that the committee may not be interested in extending the contract of the acting chief, who has led the department since former chief Timothy Andre resigned last November.
The public meeting, which will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, June 6 at the District 2 Fire Station at 1100 Russells Mills Road, follows a heated discussion at the committee’s previous meeting on May 24 between newly-elected prudential committee members Bill Coutu and Bob Bouley, and Edgcomb.
Edgcomb, who was supported by a large contingent of firefighters and former Prudential committee members, surprised Bouley and Coutu at the meeting by announcing that his contract had already been extended by the outgoing prudential committee at an April 11 meeting.
However, district counsel Anthony Savastano advised the board that the contract was invalid as its signing had not been listed on the agenda ahead of the April 11 meeting, in violation of state open meeting laws.
Though Coutu and Bouley insisted that they had no personal issues with Edgcomb or his leadership of the fire district, they objected to having his contract “dropped on [them]” and questioned whether the district could afford to pay his salary — which was approved at up to $115,000 by voters at the district’s annual meeting.
Edgcomb, though, questioned why they wanted him removed, asking them to state for the record where they were getting their information about him and suggesting a personal relationship existed between them and a small group of discontented firefighters in the district.
The firefighters in question were not named, but every firefighter that attended and spoke publicly at the meeting gave glowing reviews of Edgcomb, praising his leadership, skill set, and positive influence on department morale, among a host of other strengths.
“We don’t get paid much to do this; morale is everything — morale is how we get paid,” said Firefighter Eric Abrantes. “If I’m running into a burning building, I have to trust the guy that’s sending me in there. I trust [Edgcomb].”
The meeting ended with a postponement of any final decision on Edgcomb’s contract.
Also on the agenda is a “Strategic Planning” consultation with former Westport Fire Deputy Chief Sam Manley and the reorganization of the Prudential Committee, currently chaired by Ralph Medeiros.