Selectmen grilled about replacing chiefs

Police and fire chief positions both need to be filled

by Tim Croes
Staff Writer - The Baysider
January 15, 2014
BARNSTEAD — During it's meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 7, the Barnstead Board of Selectmen discussed the plan to hire a new fire chief and it looks like the board is still finalizing a plan for the transition.

Fire Chief Mark Tetreault met with the board and discussed his last couple of weeks in his position. He announced that he would use up his remaining vacation starting on Jan. 14 and would be coming in to do some paperwork and complete payroll information. While Tetreault is on vacation, Deputy Chief Shawn Mulcahy will be the acting chief.

Tetreault talked about a recent accident that an ambulance got into. He said a full report would be coming once the accident report comes from the State of New Hampshire Police Department. He also talked about the Barnstead Business Park and said many improvements have been made and new businesses are getting closer to opening and that some final inspections still have to be completed.

Tetreault requested that his cell phone number be transferred over to his personal account. He voiced support for keeping the same schedule of 24-hour shifts, pointing to Pittsfield as an example of a department that lost personnel after changing over to 12-hour shifts.

A question was raised about forming a search committee to hire a new fire chief. Chair Priscilla Tiede said a committee would need to be set up to search not only for a new fire chief, but also a new police chief.

It was brought up that agreement signed in 2010 with Barnstead Fire Rescue Inc. guaranteed representation on a search committee for a full-time fire chief.

During public input, Jack O'Neil voiced concern about the police department having enough staff to police the town properly. There was a question about replacing the position left vacant previously held by Jake Webber. Tiede said the fire department budget hasn't been finalized.

Member Gordon Preston talked about the next fire chief being a "working fire chief." Tetreault felt that he has been a working fire chief by responding on a regular basis to routine fire calls.

Eileen Murley suggested that if the board thinks a new fire chief is going to work regular shifts that they have no idea what the position entails. Preston talked about an incident commander split between a few towns as an option. Input from the public questioned Preston and his knowledge on how the fire department works.

Carol Locke talked about a letter to the editor talking about the creation of a new position in town. She said a person doing accounting went from full-time to part-time. A position was created that combined the full-time job and part-time job and that information in the letter was incorrect.

The December building permit report was reviewed. One new home permit was applied for and there were a total of 33 permits applied for.

Karen Montgomery, the selectmen's secretary, said work is scheduled to begin on replacing the flooring in the town hall in the offices. The board approved purchasing paint and rollers, and volunteers have agreed to help paint parts of the town hall that are being renovated with new floors.

The board approved spending $1,100 on new cutting edges for trucks for the highway department as recommended by the road agent. There was some concern from members of the board about scrap metal and getting money and accounting for it when scrap metal is turned in. The board discussed possible increases in electricity and factoring it into next year's budget.

The board held a public hearing and accepted a total of $39,309.21 from the State of New Hampshire for the Hannah Nutter Bridge project.

The topic of the fire chief came up again, and member Jim Barnard suggested setting up a special meeting to properly set up a search committee and discuss the position of fire chief. Member Dave Kerr suggested that the topic of making the position full-time or part-time should also be discussed.

Mulcahy talked about the ambulance that was in an accident on Dec. 17. He reported that the total amount to be paid is $5,790.90. He explained that only certain companies are certified to do work on the ambulances. He pointed to a past repair that was done out of state that messed up the lifetime warranty on another ambulance. The board approved completing the needed repairs to get the ambulance back in service.

Sergeant Joseph McDowell, the acting police chief, met with the board and discussed budget issues. He asked that the amount for record keeping, the CAD system and imaging be increased to $19,640. This also provides new computer systems for the police department.

He questioned the amount budgeted for the part-time officers in town for next year. He reported that currently there are four part-time officers working 16 hours a week with an estimated cost of $42,000 a year. For next year a total of $50,000 is budgeted for six part-time officers.

McDowell is concerned with the police department is being supported by the town.

"There is much more in this town that we don't address," McDowell said. "We are just treading water right now."

He suggested budgeting for four full-time officers and five part-time officers to overlap, with the option of adding a fifth full-time officer in the future. McDowell also suggested more money in the budget for uniforms and to change to different type of shirt in the future. He suggested a total of $10,000 for uniforms for the entire department.

The Barnstead Board of Selectmen meets every Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the Barnstead Town Hall.

Tim Croes can be reached at or 569-3126

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