Fire Dept. to hold elections in Jan.
The Block Island Fire and Rescue Department will hold its annual election of officers at its next meeting, scheduled for Monday, Jan. 13.
The department is taking nominations for the following officers: Fire Chief, Fire Captain, Rescue Captain, Treasurer and Secretary. Only members of the department can nominate and vote.
At a departmental meeting on Monday, Dec. 10, Peter Greenman nominated Rick Batchelder for Fire Chief. Batchelder was not present to accept or decline the nomination.
The current Fire Chief, Tristan Payne, is running for re-appointment.
“The thing about Rick is interesting,” said Payne. “Some of the membership must not be pleased with how [I am] conducting business.”
Payne added: “If I was to stay in, a few things would be changing, some administrative things, and there are a lot of people who are rogue members. I would like to bring back the team aspect.”
Payne also suggested that in the future, the chief’s position be a two-year or longer term, because the current one-year term is too short. Other members, including Rescue Captain Bryan Wilson, agreed.
Wilson has been nominated for re-appointment as Rescue Captain. Fire Captain Joe Sprague is running for re-appointment.
Peter Greenman and Howell Conant have been nominated for the role of treasurer. Current treasurer Mike Lafaro is not running for re-appointment. At the meeting, Greenman delivered a brief speech about why he feels he should be the treasurer.
Also, Secretary Sara Sprague has been nominated for re-appointment.
A department nominating committee is taking names, and verifying that all who are suggested are indeed interested.
Treasurer Mike Lafaro was not present at the Dec. 10 meeting. Assistant Treasurer Peter Greenman delivered the treasurer’s report.
This prompted Payne to comment, “I was not aware we had an assistant treasurer.”
Greenman said he had been serving as assistant for the past six years, tasked with filling in when the treasurer is not present. This was the first time he had to act in this role, he added.
Some members of the Fire Department expressed concern over the assistant treasurer role. Chris Hobe noted it was not on the department’s list of official positions.
Peter McNerney, questioning its necessity, said, “The town doesn’t have an assistant finance director.”
Greenman reported that in November, the department experienced a loss of $14,000. This amount included a one-time payment of $5,500 to the rescue department, said Greenman. He predicted that the department will end up in a loss of income for this year.
Also at the meeting, the fire department voted to spend a maximum of $20,000 on repairing the fire vehicle “Engine 1.” According to McNerney, the vehicle is being serviced by a mechanic off-island because there are various repairs needed, including the water pump, the brakes and the doors.
Also discussed was sending several department members to a training conference off-island early next year; at least four members have expressed interest.