Topsham reboots search for next fire chief

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TOPSHAM — The town will reopen its search for a fire chief after no one in the first pool of candidates fully satisfied the town’s requirements.

Brian Stockdale, Topsham’s fire and rescue chief for seven years, resigned in July to fill that role in Lewiston. Deputy Chief Mike Labbe has since served as acting chief.

The town received 17 applications for the position, mostly from Maine residents, with others from as far away as Virginia and Washington state, Town Manager Rich Roedner said Oct. 11.

The candidate selection panel composed of Roedner, Police Chief Chris Lewis, Fire Capt. Tom St. Pierre, firefighter Bill Larrabee, and Durham Fire Chief Bill St. Michel interviewed seven candidates, and narrowed the pool to two last month.

“We ultimately decided that of the final couple of candidates that we interviewed, we didn’t have any that fit everything we were looking for,” Roedner said. “… It wasn’t that we were dissatisfied with any of the qualities that they had.”

A range of experience between emergency medical services and firefighting, and management as well as front-line work, are among the various qualities the town seeks, he said.

Roedner said some candidates were strong on some of the qualities, but no one had all four.

He said he expects to re-advertise the position later this month.

“We’ll probably have it out there for a month,” Roedner said. “… People can request a job description or read it online. There’s a municipal application package to fill out.”

The town will also be updating its job description for the fire chief’s position, in order to “try to capture all of the traits and skills that Brian has given us,” such as his wealth and breadth of experience, Roedner said.

The position pays between $60,000 and $75,000. Advertising for the first round of candidates cost about $1,500, Roedner said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.