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Chief, selectmen put finishing touches on Fire-EMS rules


TOWNSEND — The Board of Selectmen held a special, non-televised meeting to discuss the final revision of the rules and regulations for the Townsend Fire-EMS Department.

Fire Chief Donald Klein has been working on the document for some time, having recently received it back after a second review by town counsel. He incorporated all the recommended changes, but the selectmen last week had a few minor points to address before giving it their final seal of approval.

Board members had only a few critiques, all of which will be addressed in a revised preamble, or with a “To Be Determined” designation for missing job descriptions.

“Some of the positions don’t currently have descriptions,” town administrator Greg Barnes explained at the Tuesday, April 1 meeting. “You need some sort of qualifying statement.”

“I’m writing the actual job descriptions now,” Klein said. “This is not static; we’ll be reviewing it every year.”

The selectmen also asked Klein to add a clarification statement regarding the designation of duties under the “Chief of Department” section. The chief is the only member of the department who can sign payroll and the selectmen wanted that stated clearly in the regulation.

“I think that would be a good idea,” Barnes agreed; in the event the chief is unable to do so, the town administrator will sign the payroll.

Selectmen Chairman David Chenelle inquired about advancement within the department, asking if there would be a set of guidelines dictating how much time, training and skill would be required before department personnel may be promoted.

“I put together something just to get through the testing process for the officers,” Klein said. “I’m working on a policy.”

“Is there a minimum length of service before someone can be promoted?” asked Selectman Robert Plamondon.

The chief said years of service, along with proficiency and knowledge, would be used as a measuring stick, but the chairman cautioned him to not make the policy too restrictive.

“You need to be able to bring someone up that has shown excellence, a certain skill level, whatever you call it,” Chenelle said. “You have to be able to make exceptions.”

Beyond those few items, the board praised the chief’s work and dedication to the project.

“It’s a tremendous amount of work a great effort,” Barnes said.

“The chief has gone through a substantial amount of time and effort on this,” Chenelle agreed. “It’s very appreciated.”

Klein said he would make the requested edits and e-mail the document to Barnes for final review. He said he would have the document ready for official approval and signing next week.

The selectmen ended their special session by approving two permits for the installation of gas service — to a home on New Fitchburg Road and to a home on Ash Street — each allowing Unitil to cross, alter and/or construct within a town way for the excavation.

The members also approved a project request for the reclamation and resurfacing of a one-mile section on Dudley Road, at an estimated cost of $164,820. Chenelle said he was particularly happy to sign the work order, given how often he personally used the road.

“You can lose your front end on it,” Plamondon agreed.

Finally, the board named two members — Laura E. Shifrin, of the Board of Assessors, and Kim Brackett, of the Finance Committee — to the Town Properties Committee for terms through Feb. 28, 2009.

There is still one at-large spot open on the committee. Selectmen ask anyone interested to come forward.