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Candidate profiles: New Ipswich Fire Chief

David Leel

Occupation: Fire Chief

Time in town: 57 years

Previously elected offices: Fire Chief

Other qualifications: 40-plus years on department, town fire warden, life safety inspector, NH-certified firefighter, 7 years as chief.

What are two issues you feel are important and how do you plan to address them?

The two most pressing issues facing the fire department are permanent housing and continuing tight budgets.

Continuing with tight budgets is making it harder and harder every year to maintain a high level of training and improving equipment. In New Ipswich we have not only been able to maintain, every year we have been able to improve our training albeit in very small doses, but we are continually improving. The issues are the same with equipment. We have been able to improve our equipment slightly every year but everything is getting harder as prices keep going up. We will continue, with the help of the voters, to make small improvements, increase membership and provide the best possible service.

James N Feldhusen

Occupation: General Manager for Demo-Core LLC

Time Living in town: 13 years

Previously elected offices: Captain for New Ipswich Fire and Rescue 7 years.

Other Qualifications: Firefighter for 29 years New York State certified and academy trained. New Hampshire fire continuing education. National Ski Patrol, EMT. B.S. in Management, Marketing, and Industrial Relations, Wilkes University.

What are two issues you feel are important and how do you plan to address them?

We need to reestablish the rescue side of our department. Under the prior chief, 50 percent of our firefighters had EMT medical status while currently less than 15 percent do. Due to the high volume of rescue calls that we respond to each year, it is important that we have properly trained personnel on each piece of equipment. Our new water rescue program is a good start, although this is a very small number of calls annually.

Assisting other town agencies with properly trained personnel remains imperative to the safety and welfare of our community. Formal training and required continuing education is inexpensive and easily obtained. Approximately 70 percent of our calls involve a patient, and 100 percent of our calls could potentially involve a person whose life may depend upon us. The town pays for a fully stocked Heavy Rescue, it is time we put it to proper use.

Personnel management is a concern. Our firefighters deserve fair and equal treatment, standard operating guidelines properly crafted and enforced, and leadership to keep them safe while performing their duties. Safety is my No. 1 priority. This includes maintaining the trucks, gear, and the station properly

We have not received substantial Federal monetary grants since the prior chief, and the management of those funds has not been maintained. This is imperative to reestablish. In order to properly clothe, train, purchase and maintain equipment for a department, funding has to become a priority. The town cannot and should not have to pay for this entirely out of taxpayer dollars if federal funding exists.

It is more important than ever to keep up with the changing environment. Our town deserves the best. My pledge is to continue my lifelong calling of the last 29 years. I am “A Firefigher for the Firefighters” and a servant to my community.

Timothy Johnson II

Occupation: Priest, emergency dispatcher

Timing living in town: 5 years

Previously elected offices: Appointed Emergency Management Director, Greenville

Other qualifications: 14-year veteran of the fire service, Level 1 firefighter, former EMT-basic, search & rescue, critical incident stress management, former deputy commander for the Greater Nashua Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol

What are two issues you feel are important and how do you plan to address them?

One issue that is important to me is the lack of response to medical calls. It is imperative to get first responders on scene and to patients as quickly as possible to administer care. We should be responding with SVAS, to offer any assistance that is needed, (lifting, additional personal, etc.) Citizens should not be required to wait for patient care, especially if our ambulance is on another call and a mutual aid ambulance is required. New Ipswich Fire EMT’s should already be on scene administering patient care. Responding to medical calls will be added to the New Ipswich Fire Department, should I be elected. In 2011, SVAS reported that they responded to 337 patient requests, for New Ipswich.

A second issue that is important to me is the budget. There is a cost of running any department, but it is the way the money is spent, that is important. The budget should not be spent wastefully. Personnel should be compensated for their response and activities on the department, not for just being on roster. Training & Safety should be a top priority of members. As EMD for Greenville, I have had a surplus in the budget for the past 2 years, and in 2013 I was able to lower the budget.

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