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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Litchfield has started search for new fire chief

LITCHFIELD – Selectmen have started accepting applications for a new fire chief as part of a pronounced shift in the way that position is filled.

Residents have traditionally elected their fire chief. Thomas Schofield, the current chief, has been elected to the three-year post several times.

Last March, residents voted to change the fire chief position to become an appointed job. When residents vote again at Town Meeting on March 13, that will not just be the end of Schofield’s term, but the end of an era in which townspeople chose the fire chief.

On March 14, a new chief should be in place. The town has started accepting applications, and about a dozen prospects have applied so far, town administrator Jason Hoch said.

Selectmen will end the application process at the end of the month, and will then sift through resumes and interview candidates, Hoch said.

Schofield has not applied so far, Hoch said.

The elected fire chief job has been an on-call position.

The new appointed position will be part time.

Salary for the new position will depend on experience.

The town has budgeted about $26,000 for 2012, and is anticipating the chief to work an average of 24 hours a week, Hoch said.

The chief will oversee a department with a $500,000 budget, two full-time firefighters and 30 active call firefighters.

Selectmen are looking for someone with a bachelor’s degree in fire science or a closely related field. Interested candidates must have 10 years fire or emergency medical service experience, and five years experience in a supervisory capacity, or an equivalent combination of experience and education, according to the job posting.

Candidates should also have knowledge of modern fire fighting and medical services techniques and procedures, as well as be familiar with laws and regulations and proficient in administering budgets and staff.

Once a new chief is in place, selectmen will start working with that person in reviewing the structure of the fire department, Hoch said.

“This will be engaging selectmen a little more actively in the process,” Hoch said. “They’ll work with the members of the department and say, ‘What’s the configuration that works the best?’”

Albert McKeon can be reached at 594-6528 or amckeon@nashuatelegraph.com. Also check out McKeon (@Telegraph_AMcK) on Twitter.