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Carrier leaving TNFD to return home to Gilford

August 18, 2010
TILTON —Tilton-Northfield Fire Chief Stephen Carrier tendered his letter of resignation to the Fire Commission last week after accepting a job as deputy fire chief for the Gilford Fire Department.

Carrier, who has been TNFD's chief since 2003, said it was an opportunity he just couldn't pass up for many reasons. He had previously worked for the Gilford Fire Department in the '80s where he rose to the rank of lieutenant, and said his ears perked up when he heard the position was open. He had left Gilford in 1996 to become deputy of training and operations with the Laconia Fire Department and the chance to now return as deputy chief was something he couldn't pass up.

"It was a great opportunity, and after a lot of thought I decided to pursue it," he said.

The application process began in June when Gilford asked the Local Government Center to assist in their search for a deputy. Carrier underwent three different interviews, polygraph and psychological testing and a background check before being offered the position. He said he didn't want to disrupt things in his department so he had kept his interest in the Gilford job to himself until he learned the outcome.

"I think people were pretty surprised, but once they learned why I wanted to go to Gilford they all understood and everyone has wished me well," he said.

Besides the chance to work once again with Chief John Beland and other fire fighters who were at the Gilford department earlier in his career, a new training facility being developed for the town also attracted him to the job. Part of his new role will be to help with the design and management of the facility, something he said will present him with new opportunities to help enhance services in Gilford.

Carrier said the move was not just a professional decision for him. A 25-year resident of Gilford, he and his wife Vickie have a son, and he is looking forward to spending more time with his family.

"My son is 11 now so it'll be great to become more involved in the town where he goes to school and be able to do more things with him."

Fire Commissioner Pat Clark said Carrier will be missed in the two communities he has served for over seven years.

"People might not really know the depth of his knowledge and experience. He's going to really be missed, but I'm always happy for someone who makes a move they feel good about," Clark said.

The commissioners called a nonpublic session Tuesday, following a workshop they had scheduled for the wage and benefits package they have been working on. The session would be used to discuss Carrier's departure and presumably, Clark said last Friday, to accept his letter of resignation. The commissioners would look to "cross their T's and dot their I's" before doing so, but Clark said he could not foresee anything that would get in the way of the chief's departure.

"After that, the three of us (Clark and Commissioners Tom Gallant and Paul Auger) will be sitting down to decide what our plan is going to be to move forward," said Clark.

Clark said Carrier would most likely be consulted in the process of seeking candidates for the position, but he hopes to hear from residents in the two towns as well.

"Anyone with any questions, concerns or desires should contact the commission as soon as possible as we move to find a new chief," he said.

Carrier's last day with TNFD is scheduled to be Sept. 3 and he will assume the role of deputy chief for Gilford on Sept. 7. He said he feels he is leaving TNFD at a good time and is proud of all he and his staff have accomplished over his tenure with the department.

"I learned a lot being here and we've come so far since 2003. I think the level of service has really ratcheted up, and the two communities are so much better off today. I'll leave here proud of all we've done," said Carrier.

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