Letter: Town needs a new fire chief

To the editor:

This letter may cost me my membership in the New Ipswich Fire Department, but we need change, and you need to know why. I joined the department in 1993, am a Level II Firefighter, Fire Inspector, am HazMat Certified, and an EMT-I, and have served as Fire Inspector and Department Administrator. I am committed to my community and I know whereof I speak.

We need a chief who is committed to educating himself and the firefighters in new hazards and best practices; who is concerned with safety; willing to work alongside the membership to maintain our equipment and facilities and not sit in his office; willing to take a stand on code compliance and public education; who doesn’t restrict access to permits and services; who will apply rules and policies equally to all members; and who will not seek to punish those whose only crime is to try to make improvements.

Chief Leel has failed to adequately budget for maintenance of equipment (cheaper to fix than replace). He has failed to close grant documentation making us ineligible for future grants, and failed to investigate the costs of a diesel exhaust removal system, adamantly backing an outdated proposal ($64,000) even after receiving a $10,000 alternative (result: warrant was defeated, station condemned by DOL for administration use). He rushed us into occupancy at the doomed Building 2 prior to re-evaluation for mold (result: fit out costs wasted, furnishings contaminated and now using old modular classrooms purchased from the school). Despite being advised his proposed changes to the stipend system would be problematic, Leel made changes the DOL cited as violating the law, and the town has been fined. Morale is down, membership is down, many members have concerns they are afraid to bring up for fear of retribution. Please, vote for Jim Feldhusen for Fire Chief on March 12.

Mary Fish

New Ipswich

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