BY DYKE HENDRICKSON
---- — NEWBURYPORT — The fire chief of Portsmouth, N.H., has been chosen from 47 applicants to serve as Newburyport’s new chief.
Mayor Donna Holaday yesterday said that Christopher J. LeClaire will assume the top spot about June 1.
“Chief LeClaire has years of experience, and leadership roles in local and regional associations,” said Holaday, who had convened a screening committee to identify top candidates.
“There’s a compatibility between Portsmouth and Newburyport, in terms of being on the Seacoast, having many old buildings and serving a historic area.”
City officials say there were four finalists — from Texas, Montana and southern New Hampshire in addition to LeClaire. No local firefighters were among the finalists.
The salary for the position is listed at $115,000 to $120,000 per year. LeClaire was making about $120,000 in Portsmouth and will be retiring from his position there to assume the Newburyport post.
LeClaire’s resume indicates he has more than two decades of firefighting experience. He served as chief in Portsmouth from 2002 to the present.
During his 13-year tenure there, he served as acting chief, assistant chief and deputy chief. He served as emergency management coordinator in Portsmouth since 2001.
Prior to joining the Portsmouth force, LeClaire served as a firefighter and officer at the North Hampton Fire and Rescue in North Hampton, N.H.
LeClaire, a 47-year-old native of Agawam, was educated at New Hampshire Community Technical College, where he earned an associate degree in fire science. He also attended Anna Maria College in Paxton.
He was a staff instructor at the New Hampshire Fire Academy in Hampton, N.H. from 1997 to the present.
LeClair is a member of the New England Association of Fire Chiefs, and has served as president of the New Hampshire Association of Fire Chiefs. He is a member of numerous other professional associations.
“Newburyport is a great place, and when Chief Cutter told me he was retiring, I was interested in applying,” LeClaire said.
“I’ve enjoyed my time in Portsmouth, but this is a new challenge in a community that is dedicated to a good firefighting department. I am looking forward to starting.”