LaRose seeks new term as Bristol fire chief

BRISTOL — The Bristol selectboard is accepting applications for chief of the Bristol Village Volunteer Fire Department. It’s a three-year term beginning Jan. 1, 2019.
They’re not expecting to get many applications, though.
One applicant, current Chief Brett LaRose, has held the top spot since 2014 and was the first chief to be appointed by the selectboard when the town updated its personnel policy in 2016.
“I fully don’t expect anybody (besides LaRose) to apply, but we’ll put it out there,” said selectboard chair Peter Coffey at the board’s Nov. 5 meeting.
For decades the fire chief was elected annually by the department membership. It was LaRose, himself, after having won his second election in 2015, who suggested to the selectboard a more formal appointment process.
“We’re in the lifesaving business,” LaRose told the Independent. “We shouldn’t leave it up to a popularity vote.”
Good firefighters have sometimes left the department, he added, after election losses they didn’t see coming and which at times felt personal.
“The Fire Department is the largest department in town, and I felt we needed to develop a policy for appointing the chief based on qualifications, certifications and experience,” LaRose said. “The chief is (now) responsible for a $3.2 million building, $1 million in apparatus and is also the head of human resources, managing 35 people.”
The selectboard had the option of reappointing LaRose to his current position, but decided for the sake of transparency to advertise the position.
Only three current firefighters possess the qualifications to apply.
LaRose feels good about his record, and he’s proud of his department, he said.
“We have 10 members who have completed (200 hours of) Firefighter I training, and 16 have gone on to complete (an additional 150 hours of) Firefighter II training. That high level of training reflects a real climate of commitment.”
If reappointed, LaRose hopes to establish a more formal process for reporting to the town, perhaps on a quarterly, rather than an annual basis.
The bottom line, though, is the safety of the firefighters.
“That’s the number one priority,” LaRose said. “Equipment can be replaced. Firefighters can’t.”
Applications are due Nov. 28. More information can be found at bristolvt.org/employment-bid-and-for-sale-opportunities.
Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected].

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