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Longmeadow’s search for new department heads underway

Date: 6/11/2015

LONGMEADOW – The town has initiated the process of looking for new heads for the Police and Fire Departments as well as the Department of Public Works (DPW) to replace the current and soon-to-be retiring department heads.

Town Manager Stephen Crane told Reminder Publications the process for hiring a new fire chief is nearing its final stages. Municipal Resources Inc. (MRI) screened 28 applicants, which have been narrowed down to six finalists. Crane would conduct in-person interviews of the finalists in mid- June.

“What I’m looking for is someone, obviously, who is very experienced in all phases of fire services, which includes emergency management, managing fire scenes, managing an [emergency medical] service, which is essentially like running an ambulance company – it’s a business function,” he added.

Crane said he is also looking for someone who is a seasoned administrator. The initial pool of 28 applicants yielded candidates from across the country.

A proposition of employment would be offered to one of the finalists by the end of June, pending approval by the Select Board, he added.

The new fire chief would replace retired Chief Eric Madison who celebrated his last day with the department on May 22 after 15 years as the chief and almost 30 years of service to the town’s Fire Department.

The town has also received nine applications for DPW director to replace Michael Wrabel, who will retire this July after serving in the position for a decade, Crane said.

“We will be interviewing six applicants the week of June 15,” he added. “I’m going to put together an interview panel for at least the first round … with myself, a DPW director from a neighboring community, a representative of the schools because the DPW works closely with the schools, especially on capital planning, and our Parks and Recreation Director [Bari Jarvis]. Those are some of the core stakeholders for DPW operations.”

Crane said the town’s new DPW director should be a strong administrator, but he is also placing a “high value” on business experience with background in the private sector.

“I do believe strongly that we need to take a business approach with how we run our water and sewer utilities because they are in effect businesses,” he added. “So, I want someone who can lead a strong business approach towards our utilities and then take some of those same philosophies and techniques and apply it to municipal operations as well.”

The chain-of-command structure in the Police Department lends itself to internal promotions, much more so than other departments, Crane said.

 “Right now our intent is to do an assessment of the superior officers that we have with an eye on promoting from within,” he added.

Capt. John Stankiewicz would likely serve as the interim police chief after Police Chief Robert Siano retires on June 30, Crane said.

Siano has been served within the department since 1975.

On July 30, the town will host a retirement party for Madison, Wrabel, and Siano at the Twin Hills Country Club from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The event is open to the public and tickets are $20 per person, which are available in the Select Board’s office. Aloha shirts are optional.

“What has made all of those guys really good is that they’ve never viewed themselves as bigger than their departments and that humility has carried over to their desire to not have a special celebration just for them,” he added. “While I respect their individual wishes to not have a separate party, I really wanted to give the community a chance to express their gratitude for the years of service.”

The group of department head retirees thought of the idea for a shared retirement party, Crane said.