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Hopkinton selectmen decide to begin search for fire chief

HOPKINTON - After receiving feedback from members of the fire department, the board of selectmen has decided to move forward in its search for a new chief and is posting the position this week, said Chairman Jim O'Brien.

In September, the town lost its first full-time fire chief when Rick Schaefer suffered fatal cardiac arrest while on the job. Schaefer had held the position since 1999 and had been a member of the department for 32 years.

Shortly after Schaefer's death, the board promoted Deputy Chief Jeff Yale, a 20-year veteran of the department, to the position of interim chief.

Last month, the board discussed waiting until December to post the position for a new chief, but after having conversations with some of the members of the department, the board decided Monday night to start the process rolling.

'The feedback from some people in the department was that we should move forward,' said O'Brien. 'They want some finality to all of this.'

O'Brien also said the board is concerned that they are over-burdening Yale, who only works for the department part time and has another full-time job.

'It's a lot of responsibility to put on a person who's only working part-time,' O'Brien said.

The board has modified the job description of fire chief with some minor changes, said O'Brien, and will be advertising the position starting this week. Then work will begin on assembling a committee to oversee the hiring process.

'A search committee will be formed including a former fire chief from town and a fire chief from a local community who will help us through this process,' said O'Brien.

The board will also be asking members from the fire department and the community at large to join the search committee as well.

O'Brien said the position will continue to be advertised through November, and the committee will be formed before the closure of the posting.

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Nancy Bean Foster may be reached at nfoster@newstote.com.

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