TOWNSEND -- Three finalists have been selected for the Fire-EMS chief position in Townsend.
Amherst, N.H., Fire Chief Mark Boynton, Dracut Fire Department Captain Gregory Gagnon and Ayer Fire Department Captain Timothy Johnston will be interviewed by the Board of Selectmen in early April.
The candidate who is chosen by the selectmen will replace outgoing Fire Chief Donald Klein, who will be retiring March 28.
"These people really shined," said Deputy Police Chief David Profit, who served as the chairman of the screening committee that reviewed applications for the position. "I think we have some very viable candidates here to consider."
The screening committee received 24 applications for the position. The committee then interviewed nine of those candidates before narrowing the field to three finalists.
The new fire chief could lead the department through the building of a new fire station headquarters, which is expected to go before voters in May at the annual Town Meeting.
Mark Boynton has been the fire chief in Amherst, N.H., for four years. He began his career in Walpole, N.H., where he grew up, as a volunteer firefighter. He then worked in Keene, N.H., for more than 20 years, working his way up to deputy chief.
Mark Boynton took the fire chief job in Amherst so that he could both lead a department and return to a small town like the one in which he started his career.
"I wanted to get back toward my roots like Walpole and be back part of a smaller community, where it's not just a job but you're part of the community," Boynton said.
Boynton said that in Keene, he led a project similar to Townsend's efforts to build a new fire station headquarters.
"I have 25 years in fire service even though I'm only 45 years old, so I have a lot of experience, but also a lot of years in me to make an impact on this community," Boynton said.
Gregory Gagnon has served with the Dracut Fire Department since 1996, when he began as an on-call firefighter. He has been a captain for nearly six years, and said he is excited about the prospect of leading a department.
"I've had a career that progressed through the ranks within the town of Dracut, so it just seemed like a natural progression to eventually lead a department, and Townsend seemed like a good opportunity. They have some challenges ahead with the new fire station, but seem to be in a good position," Gagnon said.
Prior to working with the Fire Department, he was in the Coast Guard Reserves for eight years. He is pursuing a master's degree in public administration.
"I think I'm a well-rounded individual, having come through as a call firefighter that became a permanent firefighter. So I have experience dealing with those sorts of scenarios, and I think my education, military background and training will all be benefits," Gagnon said.
Timothy Johnston has been an Ayer firefighter for his entire 32-year career. For the last 12 years, he has served as a captain.
Johnston said the fire chief position in Townsend seemed like a natural progression from his current role.
"I think it finalizes the end of my career. You kind of work your way up and that's the final spot," Johnston said.
Townsend, he said, is similar to Ayer while still giving him room to grow in the position.
"I thought it looked like an attractive position. The towns are similar demographic-wise, and the new fire station is definitely a positive, so hopefully on the financial end things will work out," Johnston said.
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