Fire chief says mandatory three-year delay in promotion process hampers department

176
Photo by/Laura Hayes
The Hudson Fire Department

By Laura Hayes, Contributing Writer

Hudson – The Hudson Fire Department is asking to reconsider a state provision that requires it wait three years before promoting a new “on-call” hire to a position on the full-time force. 

During the March 22 Select Board meeting, Fire Chief Bryan Johannes told the board that several of those on-call firefighters have resigned and/or taken jobs in other communities, in part because of state mandated delayed promotions. 

“One of the reasons why people get involved with the fire service, or they want to become part of the Hudson Fire Department, is essentially to have the opportunity for full-time employment,” Johannes said. 

Under current law, he noted, he can’t always offer that immediately.

This came to a head recently, as the Northborough Fire Department hired one call firefighter. Northborough, Johannes said, operates differently and can hire someone as long as they meet qualifications.

“Essentially, I could not get to the last hire because that three years hadn’t been exhausted. Of course, I did not want to violate Massachusetts general law that the Town of Hudson had accepted,” Johannes said.

According to the town website, including the chief, there are a total of 41 firefighters in the Hudson Fire Department. Of those 41, seven are callmen. 

Johannes said, March 22, that the last hire was about five years ago.

Talking about recent resignations, Johannes said that some of those people who resigned had not been attending call firefighter drills or were inactive in the call department.

These firefighters had progressed in their private careers to receive better compensation than what they would as a Hudson Fire Department recruit, Johannes said.

“I’m at a crossroads with our call department on whether it’s effective for us or not, because essentially, I cannot afford, or the town can’t afford to train these guys and not have them come back for drills, not come back for calls,” Johannes said.