Rockport fire chief on administrative leave following letter controversy 

Rockport fire Chief James "Jim" Doyle was placed on administrative leave after Rockport firefighters sent a letter to selectmen demanding changes in oversight of the department by the town emergency services director.

ROCKPORT — Throughout the ongoing controversy regarding the Rockport Fire Department, fire Chief James Doyle has been on administrative leave.

Selectmen and Town Administrator Mitch Vieira confirmed the news in a press release sent Friday night.

"There certainly is a lot to evaluate given the nature of the demands and allegations made in that letter, which come on the heels of certain personnel actions involving the department, including the placement of the chief on administrative leave," the release read. "We ask for the public's patience in allowing us to do the work required to properly, fairly, and thoroughly review the allegations — a rush to judgment without that opportunity does a disservice to us all."

Capt. Frank Favaloro of Rockport’s Pigeon Cove fire company said Doyle was placed on leave shortly after members of the Rockport Fire Department issued a letter Nov. 9 to selectmen. In the letter, firefighters threatened to walk off the job Friday if oversight of the department by the town emergency services director was not ended and control returned to Doyle, among other issues. Selectmen agreed to meet with department representatives Tuesday evening for an open discussion on current matters regarding the all-volunteer department and the walkout was averted.

"They didn't tell us why, so officially I don't know (the reason)," said Favaloro said Tuesday afternoon of Doyle's placement on leave. "We're going to bring it up at tonight's meeting that we want him reinstated."

At the time of publication, it is unclear how long Doyle's administrative leave is expected to last. 

"It is a personnel issue and the town is not able to comment further," said Selectwoman Ruth George in an email. 

Vieira, and Selectmen Paul Murphy Don Campbell did not respond to requests for comment. 

Doyle could not be reached by phone Tuesday afternoon. At his home, a woman answered the door and quickly turned down any questions from the Gloucester Times.

Assistant Fire Chief Kirk Keating also declined to comment.

In the hours leading up to the selectmen meeting Tuesday evening, Favoloro said he hoped for a productive discussion with town leadership.

"I've been contacted by other fire chiefs, national volunteer organizations," he said. "They gave me numbers to call if things don't work out. But everything is still up in the air right now. I'm looking for the best outcome tonight."  

Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or mcronin@gloucestertimes.com.

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