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Derry hires 3 new firefighters

Union Leader Correspondent

April 20. 2016 2:09AM

DERRY — Three new firefighters have been hired by the town and will be starting orientation early next month, Fire Chief Michael Gagnon said Tuesday night.

Following a contentious budget season last year that resulted in cuts, the department will be back up to 15 firefighters per shift, Gagnon said after the regular council meeting adjourned.

Last year, four firefighter positions were cut and the Hampstead Road station was closed. The cuts were later overturned and the fire station reopened after a petition drive and special election on Oct. 13.

“We have four stations open,” Gagnon said. “We have enough staffing to keep four stations open. What a difference a year makes.”

The firefighters are being hired at salaries of $87,500 each, Gagnon said.

“Right now we are authorized for 15 people each shift,” Gagnon said. “I’m hoping by the beginning of June all currently authorized positions on the fire department will be filled.”

It is unknown if four additional firefighter positions will also be filled. Those jobs were recently removed by interim Administrator Steve Daly as part of the budget process, Gagnon said.

He said the four additional positions would allow the fire department to employ shifts of 16 firefighters each — the same staffing level in place last year before the budget cuts.

The decision to remove the jobs was made in an effort to meet the council’s budget goal of $9.15 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Councilors will still have to vote on the proposed fiscal year 2017 budget before any cuts are finalized.

“It’s in the council’s hands now,” Gagnon said, adding, “We are still working toward it, but things have certainly improved.”

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