Opinion: Concerns about search for new District 2 fire chief

Aug 16, 2022

To The Editor:

As Fire District 2 residents we are writing to express our concerns about the process of selecting a new Chief. The following items describe the issues at hand:

1. Acting Chief Greg Edgcomb held two helpful educational meetings in advance of the Annual Meeting. Those two meetings were well attended and informative as preparation for the Annual Meeting Warrant. Therefore, it was more than surprising to discover that the strong support expressed at the Annual Meeting for the Acting Chief was seemingly disregarded altogether at the next Prudential Committee meeting, which followed the Annual Meeting. That meeting included the two newly elected Prudential Committee members, Bob Bouley and Billy Coutu.

2. We are confused by the lack of freedom for citizens to comment at the Prudential Committee meetings. We are the ones paying for the District expenses, which were approved at the annual meeting, and we ought to have input. “No taxation without representation.” Are there any other Boards or Committees in Town that operate in this manner?

3. Why is it necessary to have Town Counsel present at each meeting? Where is the money coming from to pay him? No such expense was approved for Attorney Anthony Savastano at the annual meeting and it is cutting into the annual budget.

4. The Prudential Committee Meetings are being held in a manner that is difficult for the public to hear. Since the public has not been permitted to comment, it would be most helpful if we could hear, and also see minutes from the meetings, which so far have been unavailable.

5. Initiating a search process usually includes a designated search committee and a rubric for evaluating applicants that is consistent and structured. Often times there is a professional in the field involved as either a volunteer or as a paid consultant. It doesn’t appear that these things are in place at this time. Having a transparent and fair process is essential. How and when will the Prudential Committee implement this?

6. We have been impressed with Acting Chief Edgcomb’s dedication and the years of experience he brings to the department. It appears that he has the support of many of the firefighters. He has brought in grant money that previous chiefs have rarely, if ever, been able to access. He is upgrading and maintaining systems and planning for the future of the district. He appears to be a problem solver. We have also been impressed with his patience in the face of the all that has changed since the Annual Meeting. Clearly he is a mature person who knows not to take these developments personally and is continuing to be helpful to the two new members of Prudential Committee as they navigate their new roles. We hope that the Prudential Committee takes note of the extra burden and tasks this ordeal is placing on him and appreciate this quality which is so important in a good leader.

7. We understand that Chief Edgcomb has invited the new members of the Prudential Committee to visit the Fire District #2 facilities to familiarize them with the workings of the district. We look forward to a positive response from the Committee in the very near future.

We hope that these concerns will be addressed in a timely fashion and that an equitable process for hiring a Fire Chief proceeds from now on.

Robert Anderson & Margot Hand
Amy Burnes & Andy Burnes
Deb Coolidge & Harvey Goldman
Fred & Kate Dabney
David & Kate Fentress
John & Tally Garfield
Tom Peters & Susan Sargent
Betsy & JP Powel
Bill & Dedee Shattuck