Opinion: We must remember to speak

Feb 23, 2023

To The Editor,

As a Fire District 2 resident in Dartmouth and a member of the Dartmouth Fire District 2 “100 Years Committee (1923-2023),” I am writing to let readers know of an important development in our Fire District. Our Committee has successfully filed over 230 petition signatures in order to trigger a recall of Prudential Committee member Robert Bouley. The petition was certified by the Town Clerk on Feb. 9 and has been presented to the Prudential Committee. The Prudential Committee must now set a date for a recall vote in Dartmouth Fire District 2. 

It is noteworthy that there has never been a recall of a Prudential Committee member in the 100-year history of our Fire District — or of any other Dartmouth Fire District. Although the town does not keep Fire District records, neither former firefighters nor the current Deputy Fire Chief have a memory of such a thing occurring in the past.

I, along with The 100 Years Committee, believe that Robert Bouley’s actions as a member of the Prudential Committee could result in undermining public safety. Last summer, his vote to remove Acting Fire Chief Greg Edgcomb lacked due process and violated the Open Meeting law. Mr. Edgcomb has many years of firefighting experience. He is a District 2 resident. In the time he was Acting Chief, he updated systems and records; saved the district over $65,000 through grants and the sale of equipment; increased the on-call force from 8 to 16, and boosted morale of the entire station.

Mr. Bouley has also suggested removing critical fire-fighting equipment that he claims is unnecessary and expensive to maintain. That equipment is necessary, and it includes the ladder truck that provides the safest working platform for firefighters when they’re doing any roof operations; the multi-purpose, all-terrain vehicle known as the mule, which can go down narrow walking trails bearing a stretcher and a pump for brush fires; the airboat for accidents on Slocums River, and other associated items used to fight fires and preserve lives. 

For me, the most infuriating and disturbing aspect of Mr. Bouley’s behavior has been his stated wish to save us money, yet he has invited our District 2 attorney to sit in on almost all Prudential Committee meetings at great expense. Between July and the end of December, those legal fees were $38,000. In past years, legal fees ran only a few thousand dollars a year.  There is something wrong with this picture!

Our situation in Fire District 2 is a shout out to the importance of paying attention to what is happening in our own backyard. Our voting rights give us a say — we must remember to speak!

Kate Fentress ,


P.S. For more on this story, I recommend reading the reporting by Morgan Beard online at Dartmouth Week.