Fire Chief Search Committee handles heavy lifting for the town
A decision that will affect the town for many years will be made in the coming days as the Fire Chief Search Committee and consultants review applications, conduct interviews and choose a final candidate to be brought to the Board of Selectmen. The Fire Department is at a crossroads with the retirement of long-time Chief David Flannery at the end of the month. Flannery has led the Fire Department since 2002 and has served as a firefighter since 1973.
A fire chief needs a wide assortment of attributes—from technical knowledge, to interpersonal and leadership skills, to planning and number crunching, to name a few. Will the new fire chief continue Carlisle’s “on call” Fire Department staffed by local residents who train and serve while holding down other jobs? Or will the new chief lead a transformation to fulltime firefighters and emergency medical technicians? Carlisle is unusual among towns east of Interstate 495 in retaining the on-call structure rather than the fulltime personnel common in larger, more urban communities. There are significant differences between the two approaches, with advantages and disadvantages to each system.
The Selectmen have the responsibility for hiring the Fire and Police Chiefs and created a Fire Chief Search Committee to help them, assisted by the consulting firm Municipal Resources Inc. What do Carlisle’s current firefighters recommend? Their views were gathered early in the search process during a brainstorming session facilitated by Chief Fisher and are also represented on the Search Committee by two members, Interim Deputy Chief Burt Rubenstein and firefighter Matt Herweck. What are the factors to consider and what are other towns doing? The consultants have knowledge and experience to tap. Which candidate will be the best fit for Carlisle?
Carlisle relies on the members of the Search Committee to draw upon their knowledge of the town’s priorities and current and future needs as the committee evaluates the field of candidates. While most of the work is being done quietly behind the scenes, it is a time-consuming effort and committee members deserve our thanks for their work on this important task.
The Board of Selectmen are to interview the candidate selected by the Search Committee, after which the board has three options: to restart the search process; to ask for more information; or, hopefully, to offer the job and welcome a new Fire Chief. ∆