MANCHESTER — The town of Manchester, searching for a new fire chief, will likely have an interim chief for months after Chief Andrew Paskalis' June 30 retirement, town officials said Monday.
Town Administrator Wayne Melville said that he expects an interim chief to head the Fire Department for three or four months while the search and hiring process continues.
Paskalis gave 60 days notice of his retirement, twice the required 30-day notice. But, Melville said, it takes about six months to hire a new chief; the ongoing search for a new Gloucester fire chief has taken 10 months — with a City Council confirmation vote slated for next week.
"Two months is not enough time to hire a chief," Melville said. "It's probably going to take us another three or four months to get another chief in here, but that's just how it is."
Paskalis, who has worked as chief at the Manchester Fire Department for 10 years, came to the department after retiring from a fire chief position in New Hampshire. Melville said Paskalis stated from the beginning that he would work at the department for 10 years — the minimum number of years required to collect a pension — then retire, receiving pensions from both Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
"He's been very clear all along," Melville said.
Selectmen have not decided whether who they will hire as Paskalis' interim successor — a temporary replacement from within the department or from outside.
Selectmen are expected to make that decision this week, according to Melville. If they decide to hire an interim chief from outside of the department, it will likely to turn to the New Hampshire-based Municipal Resources Inc. — the consulting firm that served as an initial clearing house for applicants seeking the Gloucester job, then steered the city to its acting chief, retired Needham Fire Chief Robert DiPoli.
"I know MRI is under fire in Gloucester, but I've had pretty good experience," Melville said.
About 20 to 25 people have applied for the fire chief position, according to Melville. The position requires a bachelor's degree in fire science, business, public administration or a related field, with 10 years related work experience, and a minimum of five years in a command or supervisory position, according to a job posting on the town's website.
The posting also specifies that "any equivalent combination of education, training and experience which provides the required knowledge, skills and abilities to perform essential functions of the job," will be adequate, opening the door to applicants who do not meet all of the specified qualifications.
The town will be receiving applications until July 2, according to the posting.
Gloucester's deputy fire chief, Steve Aiello, said Monday that he may become a candidate.
"I haven't given it any thought yet," Aiello said in a telephone interview Monday.
"I might apply. I was going to think about it this weekend and make a decision," said Aiello, who had been a finalist for the permanent Gloucester job and was serving as Gloucester's acting chief until Mayor Carolyn Kirk ousted him after a controversial Memorial Day firefighters' protest.
Melville said that, as of Monday, the town had not received any chief applicants from within the town's own department.
Selectmen will decide on the formal search and hiring process this week, according to Melville. But selectmen are already planning to use an initial applicant screening committee, consisting of only people outside the Board of Selectmen, he added.
Selectmen also intend to include members of the Fire Department and the community in the decision-making process, Melville said.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3451, or at email@example.com.