Felner’s contract extended till new fire chief is hired
The commission, in a move many had anticipated, voted 5-1 to extend Felner’s contract Thursday night.
Those voting in favor of the contract extension indicated it made sense to keep Felner on the job until a new fire chief is hired to ensure managerial continuity.
But Chairman Frank Cieplinski broke ranks, casting the dissenting vote.
“In my 35 years with the town, I have seen two acting chiefs, one after Chief David Russell and one after Boone Gardner, with no disruption to the department,” Cieplinski said. “We went through an exhaustive search for the deputy chief and I think we’ve found a qualified individual. All the reports I’m getting say (Deputy Chief Kyran Dunn) is an exceptional officer.”
Dunn was hired as deputy chief in March of this year to replace Art Reid as deputy chief. Reid’s contract was not renewed last year.
“My own feeling is that following normal fire service protocol would mean to appoint the deputy as acting chief,” Cieplinski said.
“I think we need both,” Commissioner Barbara Rifkin said. “We want to have a chief and deputy chief all the time.”
Under the motion approved by the commission, Felner’s contract will be extended through Sept.30. According to an update from Chief Fiscal Officer Bob Mayer, a new chief is expected to be in place by Oct. 1.
Mayer said there was “considerable discussion” about the idea of extending Felner’s contract. “We looked at continuity of operations, without interrupting staff assignments,” Mayer said.
As for Felner’s replacement, the cut-off date for candidates to submit resumes was June 12, and as of last week about 26 resumes had been received, including several internal candidates.
“Given the resumes we have, I’m pretty confident,” Mayer said. “We have a good batch of applicants.”
Felner has been with the department for more than 50 years. He was the subject of an investigation several years ago into allegations that he slapped Assistant Chief George Gomola in the face. The investigation concluded that Felner “more likely than not” slapped Gomola, but the commission took no disciplinary action against Felner.