NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 26, 2014

Fire engineers unhappy with reappointment process

(Continued)

Knowles noted that under the chain of command, a fire engineer over 65 years old could wind up being in charge of a fire scene. He referenced a time back in 2009 when selectmen forced the mandatory retirement of three veteran firefighters, disqualifying the men from serving on the Board of Fire Engineers.

By today’s standards some of those men might still be on the board, Knowles said.

But when he tried to amend Kemper’s motion to stipulate that the fire board’s only responsibility is the administration and supervision of the department — meaning firefighters could no longer serve on the board — the response from the engineers was swift.

“That’s not acceptable,” said Fowler.

“That’s not acceptable,” repeated her colleague Mark Hemingway.

And Janes added, “I’d quit before you did that.”

Anderson then made a motion to appoint all engineers except Fowler, saying her lack of participation remained an issue for him. Fowler said she wasn’t going to say she would participate more just because that is what Anderson wanted to hear. Her attendance might “ebb and flow” but even if it were a year of missed calls and drills, “it’s a small snapshot of my dedication,” she insisted.

With the three selectmen at a clear impasse, Knowles reminded his colleagues that under state law, the term of the current fire board runs until successors are appointed and qualified. Hearing that, selectmen took no action on the appointments — and all five engineers retained their seats.

But as she exited the meeting room, Fowler commented that “with all due respect,” the board’s lack of action didn’t exactly exude a vote of confidence for the current Board of Fire Engineers.

Following the meeting, Anderson stressed that his position wasn’t personal. He just felt that when someone in a leadership position fails to participate in tasks required of the rest of the department, “it sends the wrong message.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Port Pics
AP Video
13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp
Special Features