Reminder Assistant Editor
WILBRAHAM With three veteran firefighters retiring in the past year, Fire Chief Fran Nothe has been busy looking for and interviewing replacements. A candidate for retired firefighter Karl Nelson's position was interviewed by the Board of Selectmen at their Dec. 10 meeting.
Jason McNeany interviewed twice with Chief Nothe before appearing before the Board of Selectmen. Originally from Brookfield, Mass., McNeany is carrying on the firefighting tradition in his family. His father was a 30-year veteran of the Brookfield Fire Department and he has five uncles who were involved in firefighting at some point in their lives.
"I grew up in the fire house," McNeany said.
Currently a full-time firefighter in Ware, McNeany has firefighter I and II certifications and is trained as an emergency medical technician (EMT) paramedic. Nothe said McNeany had many good credentials.
He has also served as a full-time firefighter in Warren and as a call firefighter in Brookfield.
When asked why he was pursuing a position with the WFD by Board of Selectmen Chair James Thompson, McNeany replied, "I've heard good things about Wilbraham. I've been looking to make a move and Wilbraham sounded like a good opportunity." He added that he thought Wilbraham would be a bit busier than Ware.
"I had to move to Ware for that position," McNeany told the selectmen. "I like to keep busy and Ware just isn't the setting I was looking for. I like to get my hands dirty."
He also said he believed the hours and pay would be better in Wilbraham.
Selectman Patrick Brady asked what the applicant liked best about being a paramedic.
"It's challenging and it's different everyday," McNeany replied. "What I do isn't just a job, it's a lifestyle."
It truly is a lifestyle for McNeany. When Selectman David Barry asked what his long-term goals were as a firefighter, McNeany said he'd like to return to college to receive a degree in fire sciences.
"I'd like to go back to the Firefighting Academy [in Stow] to teach," he continued.
McNeany left the room for Nothe and the board to confer. "I've received good reports from Warren and Ware," Nothe said. "And I like that he came up through the volunteer ranks. He has the right qualifications and certifications. I think he'd be a good fit for our organization."
The Board of Selectmen approved of Chief Nothe's choice and, once the CORI checks and physical are completed, McNeany will begin his one-year probationary period with the Wilbraham Fire Department.
Nothe also wants to make sure he's not creating a hardship in Ware by taking McNeany from their department.
Brady commended Nothe on bringing forward "such a great candidate."