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April 21. 2014 2:52PM

Resigning Amherst fire chief recommends his deputy to succeed him

AMHERST — Fire Chief Mark Boynton, who is leaving the department next month, says he will be recommending Deputy Fire Chief Matt Conley to fill his position.

Although the final decision will be up to Amherst selectmen, Boynton said Monday that Conley will be a good fit for the department’s head role.

Boynton’s last day will be May 13, as he has accepted a job as chief of fire and EMS in Townsend, Mass. He is scheduled to begin that role later in May.

“This is a little bittersweet,” Boynton said of his departure from the Amherst Fire Department. “Amherst is a great department, and the guys do a great job here.”

Boynton, who lives in Amherst, says he will continue residing in town while commuting to Townsend.

He plans on formally recommending Conley to serve as his successor during the selectmen’s meeting April 28.

“He has been here for 20 years and is a competent deputy that I trust to take over in my absence,” Boynton said of Conley. “He is more than willing and capable to take on this role.”

In a letter to town administrator Jim O’Mara, Boynton said he set various goals for the department when he started as chief four years ago, and many of those goals have since been accomplished.

New fire equipment was purchased for the department, and a replacement plan for safety equipment was initiated. In addition, the department’s on-call staff has increased by about 65 percent and is now at a high of 50 members.

In the past four years, the department has secured more than $500,000 in combined state and federal grants used to upgrade the town’s emergency communication system, install emergency backup generators and more.

“Chief Boynton has been very progressive in his view of how fire protection should be delivered in town, and it is always important to be looking ahead to future needs,” selectman Dwight Brew said in a statement, thanking Boynton for his service and helping to save taxpayers money through various grant initiatives.

Boynton was also instrumental in helping the fire department become one of the first in the nation to utilize mobile technology in fire apparatus using iPads, according to a release.

“I would be remiss if I did not publicly thank the brave and dedicated men and women of the Amherst Fire Department. They do so much for the town, for so little,” said Boynton. “Rarely do you see people putting it all on the line for the satisfaction of giving back to a community they love.”

Boynton said his life has been enriched by the friendships he has made within the department.

“We all wish him well in his new position,” said Brew.


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