WESTBROOK – City councilors met in executive session Monday night to consider contracts for hiring an interim leadership team for the city’s Fire and Rescue Department.

Mayor Colleen Hilton asked the City Council to consider hiring Central Intelligence, a management recruitment firm in Kennebunk, to provide the city with a fire chief.

The council will consider hiring Municipal Resources Inc., of Meredith, N.H., to provide a deputy fire chief.

City officials have scheduled a news conference Wednesday at the Public Safety Building to announce who will lead the department temporarily.

“This leadership team will be expected to focus exclusively on improving the leadership, and policy and operations of the department until long-term solutions are in place,” Hilton said in an interview before the meeting. “It’s one more step toward rehabilitating the fire-rescue service operation and its image.”

The Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence will start working with members of the Fire and Rescue Department this month to address sexual harassment. The education program follows a harassment lawsuit by two female firefighters and administrative action against several firefighters.

A report by the center released in February said communication in the department is “seriously deficient and in some cases nonexistent.”

Under the plan considered Monday, the fire chief would work full-time and be paid $70 an hour to manage the day-to-day operations of the department, which include personnel, scheduling, payroll and budget issues.

The deputy chief would work part-time and be paid $450 a day to assist in managing administrative duties.

Hilton said the positions will be temporary, and the city will continue to explore ways the department can consolidate services with nearby communities.

Police Chief William Baker stepped in on Jan. 4 to oversee the Fire and Rescue Department, after Hilton decided not to reappoint Daniel Brock as fire chief.

Baker said Hilton’s decision was the result of a thoughtful and deliberate process intended to give the department the leadership and direction it needs to become a successful and well-respected organization again.

“It’s clear the department needs full-time attention,” Baker said in an interview before Monday’s meeting. “As hard as I have tried to give them the leadership they deserve, I have another full-time job.”

“This next phase is not going to be a question of what the management consultants can do, but what the employees can do under their direction.”

The council did not vote on the contracts. City Administrator Jerre Bryant said the council will vote at an upcoming meeting.

Central Intelligence has provided management and evaluation services to public safety departments across the state, including Kennebunk, Falmouth and Richmond.

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: mcreamer@pressherald.com