We welcome Fire Chief Jason Cleary to Town this week. A formal swearing in ceremony takes place Thursday, July 2 at 11:30 a.m. at the Fire Station. The event will be streamed life on the Town’s Facebook page.
Chief Cleary comes to us from Durham, NH where he served as Assistant Fire Chief. He is a paramedic and is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer Program sponsored by the National Fire Academy, the premier program for the fire professional executive. His background includes serving as a fire instructor, a call firefighter as well as a police officer. He received high praise from his colleagues and former supervisors. His past work includes working with multiple public safety agencies forging new collaborative efforts – experiences that will be useful as we look toward greater regional sharing. And his extensive experience in training and building a leadership team from within will enable us to enhance further the professionalism of our department, including new leadership training for future in-house promotions.
He has begun the process of purchasing a home in the area and will be relocating in the coming months.
Choosing a new Chief encompasses many factors. The search process solicited a good number of applicants, locally as well as from further afield. Each applicant brings a unique set of skills and experiences. It is always a challenge to decide who is best suited to lead a department and the search committee was pleased to receive a talented field of applicants. But in the end only one person can get the nod. Weighing all the factors, including experience, formal and informal training, personality and career goals with an eye toward stability for the department, we believe Chief Cleary to be our best choice.
As we move into this next chapter of leadership for the Fire and Rescue Department, many important challenges lay ahead. Obviously, continuing to deal with the pandemic and all that entails, particularly for the ambulance service, remains. Continuing the upgrades to our public safety communications systems (radios and dispatch), ensuring the readiness of our equipment and infrastructure to deal with fires and other emergencies and, most importantly, making sure sufficient staffing is in place to respond to medical, fire and other emergencies will require strong leadership from our new Chief.
We were fortunate to have the services of Interim Chief Al Beardsley. This was the second time Al was able to step in to assist us while we took the time to assess our needs and undertake a search process for a successor. Al once again brought a steady hand in managing the department – candidly if Al was not past the mandatory retirement age, we would have been very happy to keep him with us!
Chief Cleary and Chief Beardsley have similar attributes. They are both engaging and approachable, quite skilled in the technical aspects of fire and rescue and have a real passion for their chosen profession. After a week overlap Chief Cleary will be well positioned to take the department forward. Please join me in welcoming our new Fire Chief to Manchester.