Groton has received more than two dozen resumes from people interested in trying to fill Fire Chief Joe Bosselait’s boots as the town’s next fire chief.
Bosselait has been chief for 14 years. He announced his retirement in December, 2013, to begin at the end of his current contract this June. In recent years, the department has faced controversy over scheduling and high overtime costs for paid firefighters, water delivery problems to a house fire last May, continued controversy over siting and building a new central fire station, and some growing pains after merging the fire department and emergency medical services squads.
The search for a new chief “.. will be an open and transparent process… ” Town Manager Mark Haddad told firefighters at a meeting the Board of Selectmen held at the Lost Lake Fire Station on January 27 in an effort to reach out to fire department members and address their concerns before the search and selection process began.
Despite Haddad’s assurances, a couple discordant notes have already surfaced: limited advertising announcing the vacancy and omission of a reference to the Massachusetts state Fire Chief Credentialing program in the job description.
In January, Board of Selectmen Vice Chairman Josh Degen asked that the opening be widely advertised to each a broad pool of applicants across New England and into New York. Beginning in March though, the town limited ads to The Lowell Sun, the Fire Chef’s Association of Massachusetts web site, and the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s web site.
Although job postings for a Library Shelver in the Library and an Equipment Operator for the Department of Public Works, are listed on the town web site, the Fire Chief’s position was not listed. Its omission would mean that the opening would be less likely to appear in web search engines and would not be available to anyone looking on the town web site for information about the job.
The job posting was made on March 5, and the application period closed Friday, April 18. Resumes have been filtering in for six weeks, but Haddad only recently formed the search committee, which reports to him. According to BoS Chairman Peter Cunningham — Haddad did not return several phone calls requesting comment — the committee members are:
- BoS Chairman Peter Cunningham
- Fire Captain Susan Daly
- BoS Vice Chairman Josh Degen
- Fire Captain James Emslie
- Connie Sartini, Senior News Reporter for The Groton Herald
Daly represents the department’s full time firefighters, Emslie the department’s call personnel, and Sartini is a “citizen representative,” Cunningham said. The committee’s first meeting is next Tuesday, he said, and he was optimistic about finding good candidates because, “It looks like we’ll have a good pool to choose from.”
Haddad is required to provide at least two potential candidates to the Board of Selectmen for final consideration.
Although Degen and other members of the board of selectmen discussed including a job requirement that the new chief either be enrolled or become enrolled in the state Fire Chief Credentialling program, a voluntary program launched in 2012, that was not included in the job description:
The town of Groton (pop. 10,922) seeks qualified candidates for the position of Fire Chief (non-civil service). The Fire Chief serves as a “strong chief” in accordance with M.G.L. Chapter 48, Section 42. The Chief works under the policy direction of the Board of Selectmen and the daily administrative direction of the Town Manager and manages a current budget of $852,175. The chief supervises a department consisting of five career firefighters/EMTs (including a Captain and Lieutenant), up to 35 call firefighters/EMTs, and an administrative assistant. The preferred candidate will possess a bachelor’s degree in fire science or related field; MA certified EMT; 10 years of progressively responsible related experience including experience with a combination full time/on-call-volunteer department, experience in fire code compliance and life safety activities, five years of experience in a supervisory position, and five years of command experience within an emergency services organization; or any equivalent combination of education and experience and abilities to perform essential functions of the job. Salary and other benefits will be negotiated, commensurate with qualifications and experience. Applicants should send a cover letter and resume via email to email@example.com or to the Town Manager, Town of Groton, 173 Main St., Groton, MA. 01450 no later than Friday, April 18 at 1 p.m. (posted 3/5 exp. 4/18)
About the State Fire Chief Credentialing Program
The Massachusetts Fire Service Commission started the state’s fire chief credentialing program in 2012,