The search for a new Braintree Fire Chief has pushed into February as the vetting of five internal candidates prompted a more comprehensive evaluation of the department.
Mayor Joseph Sullivan said last month that he hoped to select a chief by the end of January, but in an interview Wednesday he said that the hiring process has created an opportunity to examine areas such as overtime expenses, the 24-hour shift and even explore the possibility of regionalization.
"We’ve got five good candidates, and I’ve done one-on-one interviews with each of the five," Sullivan said. "I’m looking for a chief who wants to make a long-term commitment to the town."
Currently, the department is being run by Acting Chief Robert Dyer, sworn-in last month after Kevin Murphy's retirement took effect. Sullivan declined to give a concrete timeline for the chief selection, but said he has confidence in the existing leadership as he moves forward in the process.
"Chief Dyer has stepped up and is doing a very capable job," Sullivan said.
Each of the five candidates for chief offered insights into how the department is being run now and the future of fire safety in Braintree, Sullivan said. The mayor said the key question is how to create efficiencies while maintaining a high level of performance.
With collective bargaining negotiations approaching this summer, a number of areas are worth looking into this winter and spring, Sullivan said, including ambulance and fire safety regionalization.
"I’m not sure that will work here, but I do think it’s part of the discussion of the future of fire service," Sullivan said. "We all want a strong, capable, on-the-ready fire department. We have that now in Braintree."
By the end of April, the fire department will welcome a new addition – the platform ladder truck that Chief Murphy ordered before his retirement and that was paid for in part by Clean Harbors settlement money.
The truck is slated for the East Braintree Fire Station, but due to its size the station must be expanded for it to fit into the building. While the town performs renovations there, the truck will be housed in the Highlands, Sullivan said.
"We're working at it," the mayor said.