TOPSHAM — The Board of Selectmen March 15 unanimously selected Chris McLaughlin of West Gardiner as the town’s next fire and rescue chief.
McLaughlin, West Gardiner’s deputy fire chief, replaces Brian Stockdale, who resigned last July to become Lewiston’s fire chief. McLaughlin’s first official day is April 2, although he may cover some shifts in advance, Topsham Town Manager Rich Roedner said March 16.
Nearly 20 people applied for the position. A staff committee that included an outside fire chief interviewed five people and reported its top candidate to Roedner, who then interviewed McLaughlin.
Roedner,in a March 7 memo to selectmen, said he found McLaughlin to be “a person ready to take on the challenge of a bigger department and to assist in our transition to more full-time firefighters. His leadership style was described as participative, not authoritarian, which I believe is what our Department needs and wants.
“His ability to listen to his subordinates, and then use that knowledge to formulate policies was highlighted, as was his congenial approach and manner,” Roedner added. His skill at using current technology was also mentioned as one of his attributes.”
McLaughlin, also a full-time firefighter in Augusta and a licensed paramedic, served as chief in West Gardiner from 2010-2015 before stepping down to a deputy role after the birth of his three children.
“I did a lot of research before I applied,” he said in an interview March 16. “I know that Chief Stockdale did a great job … in the seven years he was there, so I was coming into something that was progressing and moving forward.”
“It was a good fit for me personally, and my family as well,” the 34-year-old added.
McLaughlin’s starting salary will be $73,000. He said he and his wife plan to continue to live in West Gardiner.
He said recruitment of volunteer firefighters, per diem employees, and call crews will be a focus, and he hopes to foster a work environment that attracts job seekers.
“I strive to create a working atmosphere (where) people say, ‘I love working there; you should come apply,'” McLaughlin said.