The purpose of the Fire Chief Review Committee is to advise the Town Manager on the selection of the next Fire Chief for Norwich. The composition of the committee has raised concerns. During public comment at the Selectboard meeting on March 7, Acting Town Manager Phil Dechert reported that he planned to add two more representatives from the Norwich Fire Department to the committee.
Mr. Dechert indicated that the committee had been constituted by Town Manager Herb Durfee, who is recovering from an auto accident, but that Mr. Dechert understood the public’s concerns. The committee already includes the fire chiefs of Hanover and Hartford and two members of the Fire Department. However, public comment suggested the members of the department had the most at stake and would bring additional ’energy’ to the process.
The Fire Chief is hired by the Town Manager, without any official role for the Selectboard to play. The committee reviews candidates and makes suggestions to the Town Manager. For his part, Mr. Dechert acknowledges the limits of his expertise and hopes the committee finds an ‘obvious’ winner among the candidates.
While Mr. Durfee recovers, Acting Town Manager Dechert will likely hire two department heads — the Fire Chief and Mr. Dechert’s replacement as Director of Planning & Zoning.