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Richard Patterson
Richard Patterson

DRACUT — The fire department will have a new fire chief effective Sept. 30 after the Board of Selectmen unanimously confirmed current Deputy Chief Richard Patterson to the position.

Town Manager Ann Vandal recommended Patterson for the position at Tuesday night’s selectmen’s meeting.

Patterson, who has served as deputy chief for two decades, was selected from among three candidates after completion of an “assessment center” and a series of interviews.

An assessment center presents candidates with challenges that include role modeling, group exercises, emergency simulations and oral presentations.

Candidates then had one-on-one interviews with Vandal, Assistant Town Manager Victor Garafolo, Human Resources Director Christine Lindberg and Pelham, N.H., Fire Chief James Midgley, who is a Dracut resident. All agreed on Patterson.

“He has the education, work history and the ability to communicate,” Vandal said. She also cited his “strategic vision” and commitment to the highest standards of professionalism.

Retired Fire Chief Joe DiRocco, now a selectman, said, “I recommend him too. I think he’ll be a great one (fire chief) and I look forward to working with him.”

DiRocco said he felt honored by the appointment because he “had a role” in Patterson’s hiring as a firefighter. He also praised the other contenders for the position, Deputy Chief Tom Mackey and Capt. Alex Voulgaris, both of whom he also helped to hire.

“They are the cream of the crop,” DiRocco said of all three men.

Retired Police Lt. Tony Archinski, also now a selectman, speaking to the town manager, said,  “Ann, this is one of the biggest appointments you’ll make. I would certainly not want to take that power away from you. We’re here basically to strengthen what you want to do. Rich has been around for 20 years, so I’m happy with the appointment as well.”

Patterson is a lifelong Dracut resident who was appointed a call-firefighter with the Dracut Fire Department in 1988. After a nine-year career in emergency medical services, he became a full-time firefighter for Dracut in March of 1995.

Patterson was promoted to lieutenant in 2000 and captain in 2002. He has been a deputy chief since October of 2002, overseeing most facets of the department. Shortly after 9/11, he was appointed as the town’s emergency management director.

In addition to that role, he now serves as the chair of the Greater Lowell Emergency Planning Committee and is vice chair of the Northeast Homeland Security Interoperable Communications Committee. He is also an appointed member of the Massachusetts 911 Commission and a Massachusetts credentialed fire chief and emergency manager.

He holds an associate degree in fire science and a bachelor’s degree in health science.

Patterson is replacing Donald Brouillette.

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