February 25, 2024

Seekonk Appoints Retired Fire Chief as Interim

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The Seekonk Select Board recently voted to appoint former Falmouth Fire Chief Michael Small as the town’s Interim Fire Chief.

“His approach to coming in as an interim is putting both feet forward,” Town Administrator Shawn Cadime said of Small, who retired in 2020.

Chief Sandra Lowery, who has been on sick leave since mid-September,

will be retiring in February. Lowery has been serving in the position since October 2021.

Cadime said Small will be paid at an hourly rate of $75 with no benefits.

Former Select Board Chair Michael Healy criticized the board for hiring Small as Interim Fire Chief. Healy, a former Seekonk Fire Chief, resigned from the board on November 13.

“We hire a Fire Chief (from outside Seekonk) when we have someone internally who could be the Interim Chief,” Healy said. “(The firefighter) wasn’t even considered for anything for personal reasons. I will no longer sit here and watch public safety be destroyed in the town of Seekonk. There isn’t one ounce of safety anywhere in the fire (department) in the town of Seekonk right now.”

Cadime said Healy’s comments were filled with “inaccuracies” but did not specify what those were.

The Fire Department has had three fire chiefs in the last five years. Healy retired in 2019.

Lowery’s predecessor, David Rave, served as Chief for two years before his termination in 2021. Rave had previously served with the East Providence Fire Department.

The Board agreed to launch a search for a permanent Fire Chief by looking for candidates within the Fire Department as well as outside the department. The vote was 3 to 1. Chris Zorra, Michelle Hines, and Justin Sullivan were in favor, with Pam Pozzi in opposition.

Hines will serve on the five member search committee, which will also include Cadime, the town’s Human Resource Director, and two retired Fire Chiefs.

“There may be some (firefighters) who are qualified for the position and don’t want it, and there may be some firefighters who want it but aren’t qualified,” Hines said.

“If we have a candidate (within the fire department), that’s who we should go with,” Pozzi said. “Just because a person hasn’t taken a test to be a Captain, doesn’t mean they don’t know the department inside and out and how to run it. Let him be the Interim and let him show us that he can do it.”

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