Interim Wilton Fire Chief named at Select Board meeting

WILTON – Veteran firefighter Scott Thomson has been name Interim Fire Chief. At their regular session on Monday, the Select Board met with retiring Fire Chief Jim Cutler and accepted the recommendation of the Fire Department. Cutler’s last day is Friday.

“The Department is behind him,” Cutler said. “The choice is up to them.”

Thompson said he works third shift “and will be in town during the day, but” he added, “I’m not 100 percent sure I want to be chief.”

Cutler said Thompson would carry out the required inspections assisted by Deputy Fire Chief Ron Caswell, who has made many of the inspections in the past. Caswell declined the chief’s position.

Later in the evening, the Board discussed the process for hiring a Fire Chief. Among the considerations was making it a paid position. “To do so, Chairman Kermit Williams said, “would require a vote of the town.

Selectwoman Kellie-Sue Boissonnault said she was opposed to the idea because “no town our size has a paid position and it would lead to (everyone else on the department being paid).” She preferred the current stipend. “Taxes would go through the roof.”

Cutler said he had researched other towns of similar size and most are “on call” departments, with firefighters paid for time spent. “Towns around us are changing. Some are combining. Could we combine with Lyndeborough?”

The question of inspections was raised. “We did 32 inspections last year,” he said. Schools, churches, any public place, apartment buildings, are supposed to be inspected every year.”

The department also inspects home heating system, currently being done by the Building Inspector.

At Williams’ suggestion, the board will hold a work session to determine the next steps. “We need to put a plan together.”

Firefighter Don Nourse said there already is such a committee, the Public Action Committee, named over a year ago. “We could have an outside service come in to evaluate the department and by-pass all the emotion. We are trying to put ourselves in the best position to help the town we love.”

During the public comment part of the meeting, Emergency Management Director David Boissonnault said, while he has always supported the department – he was a member for years – they lack training. I give you credit for volunteering, but you ought to be trained on the equipment on the truck.”

He also said he had submitted a resume to be considered for Fire Chief.

Cutler disputed some of his comments, but agreed that there had been a couple of calls when there was no one available.