Board balks over assistant fire chief stipend

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Selectmen are reluctant to keep $4,100 in funding intact for the assistant fire chief position, even though the other chiefs have taken on the extra jobs that position requires without pay.

Assistant Deputy Fire Chief Todd Perreault said the four deputy chiefs “stepped up to the plate” following the retirement of former Assistant Fire Chief Tim Cook earlier this year. “These jobs have to be done, whether it’s four or five people,” he said.

But Selectmen Doug Taft said he wanted to see the plan for restructuring the department in the wake of Cook’s departure before committing the funding.

“We don’t have the job descriptions. We did this once before, with the fire inspector,” said Taft, budgeting for a position before the position was in fact created. “And it was two years before something was done.”

It was well-known that Cook put in many hours and was responsible for many important jobs within the department. Some of the jobs he did will not be easily replaced at the same level of funding, since he often took care of things on his own time.

Perreault said the stipend funding will still be needed whether four or five persons do the work, “unless you think the assistant chief was a superfluous person.”

The board tabled a decision until its meeting next Tuesday, April 23. On another recommended budget cut in the department, however, the board voted to uphold cutting $33,000 in funding from the West Bridgton Fire Station. Perreault said the money would be used to build office and storage space on the back of the station, thereby allowing fire trucks to be worked on inside the truck bay with the doors closed.

“In order to do anything in there, we need to pull the truck out,” he said.

Selectman Woody Woodward said the trucks could be taken to the Central Station if they needed to be worked on.

Again, Perreault, who spoke on behalf of Fire Chief Glen Garland who could not attend, defended the need for the funding. He said the station is old and deteriorating, often experiencing frozen water pumps and furnace breakdowns.

“Some point in time, you’ve got to start putting money aside,” Perreault said.

Not this year, selectmen said.

 

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