With Chief Jim Payeur’s retirement looming, the Chelsea Area Fire Authority (CAFA) board will begin the search for his replacement.
“The chief is retiring and obviously needs to be replaced. This is going to be a big job. It’s going to be very time consuming,” Board Chairman Tom Osborne said at the June 21 CAFA meeting. “We have to get rolling on this immediately.”
Initially, Osborne proposed the idea of forming a small committee to spearhead the search for the new chief. “My personal opinion is that we put a two-person committee together so that we can meet and talk without violating the Open Meetings Act and start the process,” he said.
However, Board Member Peter Feeney, who represents the City of Chelsea on the board, would like to include broader input from the community throughout the process. “I think we supplement that two-person committee with members at large in the community,” he said. “I think right now we need a little bit of healing in the community about the fire authority. We need a sense that the process is open and that the community is part of it.”
Feeney, who assisted in the search for the new director at the Chelsea Library, recommended a similar process in the search for the next chief. “I was very fortunate to participate with the Chelsea Library search for the new director, and it was great at mixing a lot of different types of people. It was very inclusive. I learned a lot in the process,” he said.
After 10 years as the chief, Payeur announced his retirement in May 2016, with his last day on the job coming in the end of November 2016. However, Payeur has accumulated approximately three months of paid time off, so his effective last day could come much quicker.
“The real transition is some day in advance of November. Part of the process would be understanding that day and understanding when we would have to appoint an interim. It’s going to be a pretty involved thing,” Feeney said. “The search process could be a few months or as long as a year. We have to not only prepare ourselves for that, but the community is watching. I think the community’s acceptance of whatever that process is would be better if there was broader participation.”
Osborne then agreed with Feeney. Osborne said he will meet with Feeney this week to start the process to find the new chief. “Peter and I will meet, get some criteria going and get the ball rolling,” he said.