Friday, October 4, 2002
Fire chief suggests search process
At their September 24 meeting, the Carlisle Board of Selectmen discussed how best to search for a replacement for fire chief Bob Koning, who will be retiring January 1. They felt Koning's job leading an on-call fire department was complex and not fully understood by the selectmen. Town administrator Madonna McKenzie had spoken with Koning who said that usually in smaller towns someone is promoted from within the department. He added that often a group of fire chiefs from other towns is brought in to help interview and test candidates. These tests would be more technical than the questions asked by the search committee, who would then interview the finalists recommended by the fire chiefs.
The search committee would include the town administrator and representatives from the board of selectmen and the personnel committee. The selectmen were interested in asking the police department and Koning to also help the search committee, perhaps on a consulting basis.
If the search process is lengthy, the selectmen will appoint an interim fire chief. Selectman John Ballantine thought an interim chief might help in the transition, after Koning's 23-year tenure, but board chair Doug Stevenson disagreed. Stevenson, a member of the fire department, worried that the longer the department was in flux, "the more chance there is to upset the apple cart." He expressed concern that transition problems might lead to a decline in the department's membership.
While most towns in the area hire full-time firefighters, Carlisle firefighters work as needed or on-call. They are paid only a small stipend, and are essentially volunteers. One of the selectmen's concerns is that the next fire chief preserve the on-call system.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito