Jun 182014

The Groton Board of Selectmen, trying to get a new fire chief in place by July 1, the day after 14-year veteran Joe Bosselait retires, unanimously selected Acton Deputy Fire Chief Robert Hart as its choice for the town’s next chief during its Monday evening meeting.

Chairman of the BoS Josh Degen and several other town officials met with Hart Tuesday afternoon. “We negotiated a contract and made an offer, and he said he’d get back to us by tomorrow (Thursday, June 19). I think he wants to run the contract by some people before accepting,” Degen said.

Hart was one of a pool of just 25 candidates who applied for the job, which was advertised in local news media and one state website. A search committee headed by Town Manager Mark Haddad included selectmen Peter Cunningham and Degen, Fire Department captains Susan Daly and James Emslie, Police Chief Donald Palma, Personnel Board Chairman Bud Robertson, and The Groton Herald senior news reporter Connie Sartini. The committee narrowed the field to seven, and two of those candidates withdrew their applications. The remaining five were through a group interview with the search committee, and the field narrowed to Hart and Littleton Deputy Chief Steele McCurdy.

The Board of Selectmen interviewed Hart and McCurdy during its June 9 meeting, and then held a special session Tuesday, June 10 with the Mark Morse Associates consulting group. The consulting group put Hard and McCurdy through a series of simulations designed to see how the candidates reacted to and resolved real life “stressful” situations.

Based on the interviews and the simulations, the BoS required just a few minutes of discussion during its Monday June 16 meeting to agree on Hart.

Hart, who lives in Shirley, has 20 years of firefighting experience and runs his own carpentry business. During the interview with the selectmen, he said that he saw his role as a team player and coach, and that the fire chief needs the resources of the town behind him to fulfill his roll as a “strong chief.”