Opinion: The $15,000 war

Sep 7, 2022

To the editor:

Acting Chief Greg Edgcomb was appointed to his position in November 2021 after the former Fire Chief,  Timothy Andre, resigned from his position. 27 years ago, Greg Edgcomb began his career at Fire District 2  as a call firefighter member of the Russells Mills Fire Company. Greg continued his career as a firefighter  and also became an EMT. He has made this work his career and has continually expanded his command 

of the body of knowledge required and necessary to operate as both a firefighter and in the handling of  medical emergencies. He augmented his knowledge and expertise of the best business practices for  managing a fire company and both technical and non-technical area regarding handling of personnel. He  also has learned what not to do or how not to act in times of stress. He is more than qualified to assume  the role of permanently appointed Fire Chief of Fire District 2. He and his family live within the District.  

During the month of August, at the Allen’s Neck Clambake, Greg saved the life of a person who had  suffered a cardiac arrest by being the first on the scene. So, another person whose life was saved,  benefited from his expertise and experience. 

At the Fire District Annual Meeting in May, the voters approved a $115,000.0 salary for the Fire chief’s  position. That salary was arrived at after extensive research, examination of the Chief’s position and job  description, and negotiations with the Acting Chief. Since that date, the two newly elected Prudential  Committee members have had one agenda, regardless of the cost: fix the chief’s salary below $100,000  on the pretext that they are saving the district money and “lowering the tax rate”. Neither of these two  fellows had ever attended a Prudential Committee meeting for as long as I had been a member. Nor had  one of them ever stepped into the firehouse for a visit. The second fellow had been a member of the fire  Company 25 years ago. Neither of these folks understand the complexities of running this fire district;  they do not understand the sophistication of the new engine and its components; the complexity of the  new communications system; the technical and other aspects of the new on-line reporting system; the  impact which the improvements to the District and the equipment suggested or implemented by Chief  Edgcomb which would, in the end, lower the fire insurance rates for everyone who resides in the District.  Finally, they absolutely ignore the changes which have been made in the fire company itself. When former  Chief Andre left, the department was down to 8 members. As of last week, there were 22 members. The  morale, esprit de corps and other factors which make this a successful call fire company were in place.  They were not there before. 

Finally, these two Prudential Committee members were elected based on a campaign of misdirection and  falsehoods which had been directed by folks from outside the district. Greg was overspending; the  committee wanted to build a $7.0 million addition to the firehouse; Greg was not qualified for the job; his  proposed salary was outrageous, etc. etc. These two prudential Committee members are still operating  under those pretexts. They ignore the wishes of the district residents and will not even permit comments  or questions at the Prudential Committee meetings. When the district members sent in letters, they ignored them. They have one agenda: eliminate Acting Chief Edgcomb. How many other committees operate in Dartmouth in this manner? 

They have advertised the position of Chief as being open. They have advertised salaries of less than $100,000 and they have asked for experience levels of ten years. They have also been told by their own  attorney that they cannot interview any candidates but stated at the last meeting that they would, in fact, interview the candidates. This may be a violation of the law. It certainly goes against the wishes of the  district members who have suggested that there should be an impartial selection committee. And it  certainly goes against common sense, since these two folks have not got any of the knowledge or expertise  required to interview a fire chief.  

These two folks are not serving the best interests of the residents of Fire District 2. They are operating on  an agenda that was written and directed elsewhere. Their excuses about lowering taxes are not true,  since the tax rate was set when the District Warrant was set when it was voted in May at the Annual  meeting. They have no control over that. 

It is time for these two Prudential Committee Members to either pay attention to the district members or  face a recall vote for their duplicity.

Bernard Giroux,