DERRY — After 33 years in the Derry Fire Department, Scott Jackson retired as assistant chief at the end of February. Last week, James Richardson was promoted to step into a newly restructured assistant chief position.
Jackson’s long firefighting career included a focus on fire prevention, education and communication, so his position as assistant chief for nearly the past three years focused a lot on those priorities.
Since Jackson’s retirement, Richardson says the department has altered the assistant chief position to be the head of operations at the department and to perform all duties as fire chief in his absence. As head of operations, Richardson said it’s his job to make sure the department’s fire safety apparatus runs smoothly and efficiently and he prepares and manages its operating budget.
“I oversee the day-to-day operations of the organization,” Richardson said.
He said Lt. Mike Stanhope has been named the director of fire prevention and Lt. Chuck Tinkham has been named director of communications.
Moving forward, Richardson said he plans to be at the forefront of efforts to help prevent cancer — a high-risk disease among firefighters — and build one or two new fire stations in the next five to seven years, he hopes.
He said the locations of the current stations are “strategically inefficient.”
“Fire accreditation is something that is on my radar,” Richardson said.
He said Derry’s EMS and some individual officers are already accredited by the Center for Public Safety Excellence.
Richardson began working for the department in 1992 and has worked every position over the years, including dispatch. He’s been a battalion chief since 2015.
Jackson said he joined the department in April of 1986 and worked his way up through the ranks. He said he’s particularly proud of the work they did to streamline the fire inspection process, institute fire prevention public education programs and construct a new digital communications system.
Now, he plans to take some time to travel with his wife and focus on his hobbies.
“My side passion, if you will, is chainsaw carving. So, I’m going to start doing that more than just on the weekends and nights,” Jackson said.
He said he first learned how to do chainsaw carvings about three years ago and he’s begun to take commissions.
“I don’t consider myself an expert, but what I do make, people enjoy and they purchase it,” Jackson said.