TOWNSEND — There is some quiet excitement building in Townsend’s Fire-EMS Department and Chief Donald Klein believes there is good reason for it.
At the most recent Board of Selectmen meeting, Klein delivered required job descriptions, part of the reorganization of the EMS side of the operations so that it matches the Fire Department’s structure.
To the selectmen, it was further evidence that they made the right choice when they removed the “interim” tag from Klein’s title on Oct. 30, naming him the 18th fire chief in the department’s history.
For Selectmen Chairman David Chenelle, Klein’s service has been a stark contrast to the troubled tenure of former Chief William Donahue.
“In my eyes, (Klein) has done a tremendous job bringing the department together. It’s like night and day.”
Chenelle applauded Klein’s initiative and his willingness to meet head-on the various conflicts embroiling the department when he took over as chief.
“There was a small, vocal group of citizens who were critical of not just Chief Donahue, but past chiefs as well,” Chenelle said. “The current chief has squelched, for various reasons, those critics.”
According to the chairman, the entire department was viewed with a jaundiced eye by the townspeople for quite some time, making for a “very divisive” period.
Klein’s vision for the department is already being realized. Along with the reorganization of the EMS Department, Klein wishes to cross-train all personnel for maximum versatility. He also established a repair priority schedule for the department’s various rescue vehicles.
The chief has also made himself accessible to the selectmen and other municipal boards, something that has gone a long way toward bridging the earlier divide.
Selectman Robert Plamondon is among those willing to accept the olive branch. He noted his pride in renewing a once-shaky relationship with the Fire Department, after Klein took the helm.
“Chief Klein is not afraid to think outside the box. It’s what the department needs, the biggest bang for the buck,” Plamondon said. While the department’s odyssey is far from complete, Plamondon believes it is moving in the right direction.
“The forecast for the department looks good for 2008” and beyond, Chenelle said. “The horizon looks clear.”