LINCOLN – Phil Dawson, Howland’s volunteer fire chief and a Maine State Police trooper, is the Fire Department’s new chief, town officials said Tuesday.
The Town Council unanimously voted on Monday night to hire Dawson after an almost hour-long executive session. Council Chairman Stephen Clay said he hoped that Dawson’s hiring would provide stability to a department that has had two chiefs in two years.
“He can do the job,” Clay said after the vote. “I am very satisfied with what I heard. He has a lot of experience dealing with people and that should help him a great deal.”
The fire chief’s position has been something of a revolving door since Joshua Williams replaced William Lee in early September 2005. Lee abruptly resigned his position in February 2005 after about four years on the job.
Lee and Town Manager Glenn Aho said their differing management styles were at the root of Lee’s resignation. Lee joined the department as a chief on May 15, 2001.
Williams, 31, an Oregon native, abruptly resigned the position in February 2006, citing friction with Police Chief Hank Dusenbery and Aho, discomfort with the department’s management structure, and changing career goals among his reasons for leaving.
Dawson, 50, of Howland will work 32 hours a week at $21.12 per hour, or about $35,000 annually. He declined to use town health insurance. A full-time firefighter also will be detailed part time to help Dawson manage the department’s bureaucracy, Aho said.
“I really wish we could have gotten him at 40 hours a week,” Aho said. “I admire his confidence and the fact that he can establish management authority there. He is very passionate about what he does.
“The department is running very well right now,” Aho added. “The engineers over the last four months have been extremely helpful in making the department run better, and I am very appreciative of the help they have given me to keep the department moving forward.”
The department has hired two new engineers to fill vacant positions, Aho said.
Dawson will assume control of the department of 45 part-time, or call, firefighters plus seven full-time engineers on or about Aug. 1, he said. He is submitting papers to retire from the state police after 24 years. He needs time for that and to make the transition to his new job, he said.
As a Howland volunteer and state police officer, Dawson is familiar with Lincoln’s fire department and procedures and has a wide variety of experiences that should help him in his new job, he and Aho said.
Dawson spent 27 years as a military firefighter, had been a volunteer firefighter since he was 14, and also has done ambulance service work, he said. He has been a good friend of Dusenbery’s for 27 years, he said.
“He has a long history of public service,” Dusenbery said.
“This is a chance to try something new and move into another field that I have some background with,” Dawson said.
Howland Town Manager Glenna Armour said Tuesday she wasn’t aware Dawson had taken the job. She wasn’t sure what steps Howland officials would immediately take to replace him.