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Lenox tells board he’ll resign as fire chief in May

Former Concord fire chief came to Peterborough in 2004; credited with changing pay structure, expanding ambulance services

PETERBOROUGH — After nearly a decade at the helm of the Peterborough Fire and Rescue Department, Fire Chief Joseph Lenox has announced plans to step down next year.

In a letter to Town Administrator Pam Brenner, Lenox said he would retire on May 31.

“I achieved completing 10 years, which had been my original plan, and they were exceptional for me,” Lenox wrote.

Lenox, 60, began his career working part-time at the Concord Fire Department in the late 1960s. He was appointed to a full-time position in 1979, became a lieutenant in 1991, deputy chief in 1996 and chief in 1998. He stepped down from the job in Concord in 2003 and was hired as Peterborough’s chief in May 2004.

He is a fourth-generation firefighter, whose father was a retired fire lieutenant and whose grandfather and great-grandfather served on the Medford, Mass., Fire Department.

Under Lenox, Peterborough Fire and Rescue shifted to an on-call pay structure, with some firefighters paid to work shifts at the station every day rather than responding from their homes or workplaces. The change provided quicker response time as Peterborough saw a steady increase in the number of calls.

In 2012, according to an article Lenox wrote for the Ledger-Transcript earlier this year, the department responded to 2,576 emergency calls — more than double the number from 2004 — and 8,145 non-emergency responses, which averages just over 29 calls per day.

The department also expanded ambulance services and now has two ambulances staffed daily, with a third ambulance available as needed and at least one paramedic on duty 24 hours a day. As a result, the department is now able to provide ambulance transfer services for Monadnock Community Hospital that have generated revenue for the town.

The Fire Department has a roster of about 70 people, including about 15 paramedics.

Lenox’s current salary is $84,074.

In his letter of resignation, Lenox wrote, “Peterborough Fire and Rescue is a great fire department and has highly skilled and dedicated members. I am very proud of them and their achievements. I also want to express my appreciation to the town, which has been a great town to work for. I have enjoyed my tenure here and will miss working with my fellow town employees.”

The Select Board accepted Lenox’s resignation “with regret,” and Chair Joe Byk said Lenox will be missed.

“There’s no question in my mind that Fire and Rescue is stronger than when he took over,” Byk said.

Brenner said she would plan to discuss the process for replacing Lenox with the Select Board at an upcoming meeting.

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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