Fire chief nominee: No thanks

By PATRICK McARDLE
Staff Writer

The city is continuing to look for a fire chief after a candidate for the position withdrew his nomination.

Mayor David Allaire told the Board of Aldermen, during its regular Monday meeting last week, that a search committee had chosen Mark T. Munroe of Derry, New Hampshire, as their nomination for the city’s new fire chief.

The following Sunday morning, Allaire posted a message to Facebook saying he had recently received a short email from Munroe. “Gentlemen, I will be pulling my nomination for the Fire Chief’s position in Rutland,” the email stated.

Calls to Munroe on Feb. 20, Sunday and Monday were not returned.

Allaire called the email “disappointing.”

The Fire Chief Search Committee met again Monday, but chairman James Cruise said because the committee was discussing personnel, he was asking for a motion to go into executive session. The motion was made and approved. The committee convened behind closed doors.

Munroe may have backed out of another New England fire chief position with little notice. A Jan. 13, 2015, article in the Bangor (Maine) Daily News said Munroe quit two days after filling out paperwork to take a position as the chief of the fire department in Lebanon, Maine.

The article stated Munroe was coming from the South Hampton (New Hampshire) Fire Department. A resume Munroe submitted while applying for the Rutland job stated he was working with the South Hampton Fire Department in 2015.

Munroe’s decision was not the only setback in the fire chief search in Rutland.

In June, then-Rutland City Fire Chief Michael Jones, who recently became town manager in Castleton, and the city reached a separation agreement under which he left the position about four months early.

William Lovett has been serving as interim fire chief since Jones left.

Allaire said in January that two finalists had been identified as candidates for fire chief, but both had turned down the job for different reasons. He said the search process was entering “Round 2,” which identified Munroe as the candidate to recommend to the Board of Aldermen.

Alderman William Notte, who sits on the committee, said he believed the panel should go back and look at some of the other applicants rather than beginning a third round of searching.

Notte said he hoped Munroe’s decision would not create the perception that people were not interested in coming to Rutland, or that the Rutland City Fire Department was troubled.

Allaire said he also expected the committee would look first to candidates who already had shown interest in the position.

“There were several we identified that had some potential,” the mayor said.

Allaire said, “Obviously, there was a certain level of frustration” that the search process that he and the committee had thought was complete remained open.

“At the same time, we’re committed to finishing the job and finding the right person to be the chief,” he said. “If that takes longer than anticipated, then so be it.”

Notte and Allaire said the process had been open both to internal and external candidates for the chief’s position.