Peterborough

Town introduces new fire chief

Ed Walker will join department on May 5

  • Ed Walker, hired this week as Peterborough's new fire chief, talks with current chief Joe Lenox after the town's Deliberative Session on Tuesday.
  • Ed Walker, hired this week as Peterborough's new fire chief, talks with current chief Joe Lenox after the town's Deliberative Session on Tuesday.
  • Ed Walker, hired this week as Peterborough's new fire chief, talks with current chief Joe Lenox after the town's Deliberative Session on Tuesday.
  • Ed Walker, hired this week as Peterborough's new fire chief, talks with current chief Joe Lenox after the town's Deliberative Session on Tuesday.

PETERBOROUGH — A 23-year veteran of the Weston, Mass., Fire Department was introduced Tuesday as the new head of the town’s Fire and Rescue Department.

Edmund “Ed” Walker, 49, who joined his hometown fire department in Weston as a firefighter/EMT in 1984 and rose through the ranks to become the town’s fire chief and emergency management director in 2002, will be starting work on May 5. He’ll be replacing Chief Joe Lenox, who will be retiring on May 31.

After leaving his position in Weston, Walker served as director of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy in Stow, Mass., where he also worked as a program coordinator and fire instructor since 1992. At the academy, he developed and managed a $3.6 million operating budget and supervised 13 full-time and more than 300 part-time staff.

Walker lives in Natick, Mass., and is planning to move to the Peterborough area. He is divorced and has two daughters, ages 12 and 14, who he said will be spending lots of time in New Hampshire.

The opportunity to get back to more direct interaction with the public attracted him to the Peterborough job.

“I’ve spent my whole life in the public sector,” Walker said on Wednesday. “In my current job, what I’ve really missed is dealing with and working with people. As an administrator, I’m spending a lot of time dealing with organizations. Here it will be far more personal.”

Walker said he’s familiar with Peterborough. A college roommate is a lifelong resident of town and Walker worked part-time for Jim Grant at SDE in the late 1980s, doing conference setups and registrations.

“I love being outdoors. The setting and the rural nature of the community is a draw for me,” he said. “It’s an incredibly gorgeous area.”

Walker first became a volunteer firefighter when he was a student at the University of Maine in Orono. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of Maine and a Bachelor of Science degree in fire and safety engineering technology from the University of Cincinnati.

“In all honesty, the psychology degree comes in quite handy as a fire chief,” he said.

Walker also has a Master of Science degree in Business Administration and a Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems, both from Northeastern University, and is working on a second Master of Science degree at Boston University.

At Tuesday’s Deliberative Session, Select Board member Barbara Miller introduced Walker, noting that he was the unanimous choice of the search committee that interview four finalists for the job after getting 70 applications.

On Wednesday, Peterborough Town Administrator Pam Brenner said Walker is highly qualified both as a fire chief and as a strong administrator. It’s a combination that will be valuable to Peterborough, she said, where management of the ambulance service and ambulance transfer program have become key parts of the job.

“We’re very excited,” Brenner said. “He has large footsteps to fill following both Chief Lenox and Chief [Steven] Black. We’ve had a wonderful tradition of picking up great chiefs from our southern neighbors.”

Walker will be earning an annual salary of $74,500, according to Brenner.

Walker said one of his goals will be to ensure that the department continues to recruit qualified firefighters and EMTs, who all hold part-time positions without health benefits.

“Peterborough Fire and Rescue is a standout organization in this area,” he said. “They’ve always had the ability to muster a solid crew to respond to fires and emergencies. Nationally, issues of recruitment and retention are a challenge. We need to stay in front on that. You have to make sure you have the coverage you need and balance that with the need to have more people who have high level of skills, as they are working less hours.”

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.