2018-04-20 / Front Page

New fire chief named

By Duke Harrington Staff Writer


Jim Burrows, one of three district chiefs in the Kennebunkport Fire Department, pins the command insignia on the uniform of new Fire Chief Jay Everett, following confirmation by selectmen to his new role, April 12. (Courtesy photo) Jim Burrows, one of three district chiefs in the Kennebunkport Fire Department, pins the command insignia on the uniform of new Fire Chief Jay Everett, following confirmation by selectmen to his new role, April 12. (Courtesy photo) KENNEBUNKPORT — Following what Town Manager Laurie Smith has acknowledged to be “a tough couple of years,” Kennebunkport has a new fire chief.

At their April 12 meeting, selectmen confirmed Smith’s choice of John “Jay” Everett to the post, made vacant late last year when the town’s longtime chief, Allen Moir passed away at age 63.

Everett is a 35-year veteran of the fire service, currently serving as a deputy fire chief in Portland. He also works as a district fire chief in Kennebunk, where he lives with his wife and children.

“Jay’s leadership skills, dedication to the fire service, understanding of the needs of a small call/volunteer force, and ability to work with a wide variety of people set him apart from other applicants,” Smith said. “We are very fortunate to have attracted a candidate with Jay’s caliber of skills and relationships. It is a time of transition and growth, and Jay is poised perfectly to take the helm.”


Leaders of the Kennebunkport Volunteer Fire Department, from left, include District Village Chief Scott Lantagne, new Fire Chief Jay Everett, Cape Porpoise District Chief Jim Burrows, Goose Rocks Beach District Chief Noel Graydon and senior firefighter Freeland K. Smith. (Courtesy photo) Leaders of the Kennebunkport Volunteer Fire Department, from left, include District Village Chief Scott Lantagne, new Fire Chief Jay Everett, Cape Porpoise District Chief Jim Burrows, Goose Rocks Beach District Chief Noel Graydon and senior firefighter Freeland K. Smith. (Courtesy photo) Smith said Everett was “the unanimous choice” of two separate interview boards that vetted the candidates. According to town Human Resources Director Jennifer Lord, nine candidates submitted applications for the job.

In Kennebunkport, the chief’s job is a stipend position, paying $23 per hour for roughly 25 hours per week.

In what may be an indication of the general support for Everett regionally, several firefighters from Kennebunk attended the April 12 ceremony in which Kennebunkport three district chiefs pinned the command insignia on Everett’s uniform.

“He is very highly thought of in the fire service,” Smith said.

“I think we’re in a great place right now and we have a great future in Jay,” District Chief Jim Burrows said.

“I’m happy to be here. I appreciate the faith you have shown in me,” Everett told the crowd.

For the firefighters of Kennebunkport’s all-volunteer crew, Everett’s hiring represents something of a transition, with still more change in the offing.

The department has a chief, an assistant chief and three division chiefs in its operations division, all stipended posts, as well as one full-time salaried employee, Dick Stedman, who acts as fire administrator.

Following Moir’s death, Division Chief Scott Lantagne, who works full-time for the town’s public works department, stepped up as acting operations chief of the 60-member department.

On Oct. 26, Assistant Fire Chief Paul Chisholm also passed away. At the time of Chisholm’s death, Smith said, she and Moir agreed the assistant chief position should remain. However, the spot has not yet been filled following Moir’s death.

“Our plan now is to take a little time to again examine the organizational structure of the department and then make a determination about the best way to move forward,” Smith said, in a January interview. “What we are looking at is what makes the best sense moving forward.

Smith said changes could involve whether the assistant chief job remains, how many division chiefs and officers are retained in the chain of command, who, if anyone, becomes a salaried employee of the town and even how the administrative duties now covered by Stedman are handled.

“I’d say everything is up for discussion,” Smith said. “Our fire department is very team oriented and supportive. The offices have all stepped up and everybody is working in continuity to keep operations moving. The issue is just looking at where the department is moving forward.”

Many of those decisions will now fall to Everett.

Throughout the past couple of years there had been much work within the Kennebunkport Fire Department to determine the best organizational structure going forward, especially in light of the service “greying out,” with fewer and fewer new members joining up. Much had been settled when the deaths of Chisholm and Moir hit, throwing everything back into flux.

However, Smith was quick to point out during the April 12 selectboard vote that the entire department had shouldered the burden, never faltering to keep things on track and town protected, particularly the district chiefs, Scott Lantagne (Village area), Jim Burrows (Cape Porpoise and Wildes District) and Noel Graydon (Goose Rocks Beach).

“They and all the officers really stepped in and never asked, ‘Why me?’ or ‘How much more do you need done?’ but, ‘How can I be of help? and, ‘How can we work together to get us to the other side?’” Smith said. “Without them we would not be where we are today.”

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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