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January 06. 2013 10:40PM

Rental in Tilton saves fire chief's job

TILTON - Tilton-Northfield Fire Chief Brad Ober ended the controversy over his residency last week by renting an apartment in Tilton.

Ober now has to pay the costs of his home in Ashland, which he's been trying to sell since 2011, and his new apartment.

"I'm pretty sure I would have been (fired), so I had no choice," Ober said.

The district's fire commissioners have said Ober is doing a great job.

"It's beyond me how anyone could consider firing him; he's loved by his men and by the community, he's at every community event, he's been working through his vacations, he's been an ideal fire chief," said Patricia Consentino, the chair of Tilton's board of selectmen.

"He's been a victim of the bad housing market, he hasn't been able to sell his home, and that is not his fault," she said. "I am deeply saddened that now he has an additional financial burden of having to pay the costs of two homes."

When Ober was hired in 2010, he agreed to move to the Tilton-Northfield district from Ashland, where he had been serving as chief.

He put his Ashland house up for sale in 2011. Last August, the fire commissioners granted him an extension, saying that he needed to be a resident of the district by this month at the latest.

"The house just hasn't sold," Ober said. "I've been preparing to move, but it just hasn't sold."

Fire commissioners said they have accepted his decision to rent an apartment as fulfillment of his contract obligation.

Consentino said town officials understand the wish by the fire commission to have an in-district chief. But the town has not had such a chief in recent history, she said, noting recent chiefs have lived out of town.

Tilton's police chief, its highway department manager, and several other top-level town officials live in other towns, she said.

"We've never had a chief live in the district, but this chief was trying," she said. "I'm thrilled that (Ober) will continue to be our chief, but it didn't have to be this way."

dseufert@newstote.com


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