MWDN: Southborough selectmen hire consultant for chief search

I wasn’t able to attend last night’s Board of Selectmen meeting, but the Metrowest Daily News reports the board approved $7,300 for a consultant to help search for a new fire chief to replace current Fire Chief John Mauro Jr. who will retire in September.

The contract was awarded to MMA Consulting Group of Brookline. Assistant Town Administrator Vanessa Hale said MMA assisted the town when it promoted William Webber to police chief in 2004 and is one of the most widely used companies in the state for these kinds of searches.

The firm’s prime responsibility will be to help the town conduct an assessment center – a comprehensive screening technique that involves written and oral exams as well as simulated real-life situations.

Selectmen also decided the new chief must live in a town whose borders lie wholly within a 15 mile radius of Southborough. That’s the same requirement applied to candidates for police chief in 2009. Towns that meet the requirement are show in green in the map below.

(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)

You can read more about last night’s discussion on the fire chief search in this article by the MWDN.

Many of you have expressed opinions in the past about where our public safety heads should live. What do you think about the fire chief residency decision? Are you comfortable with a chief living up to 15 miles away? Or would you like to go back to a time when the chief was required to live in town? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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13 years ago

Ever hear the term “commmunity policing”? Why not community Firefighting? The main reason is the police have to be ingrained in the community to be productive and proactive. The Fire service is different. Aside from fire prevention (pertmits, educations) the fire deprtment does not have to be ingrained in the community. All they have to do is show up when called and be able to handle the situation.
Keeping this principal in mind the Pocile Chief should be a resident as the position has a more political tone. The public is more apt to share info and interact with the chief if they see him/her at the store, delli, gas station , ball game, ect. The fire chief could really live anywhere as long as he has set up the department properly.

Donna McDaniel
13 years ago

Fifteen miles didn’t sound too bad until I looked at the map… looks a lot farther, especially considering that some times of day those would be a longer drive. Sure, a well-trained department can do their job even without the chief, but assuming he/she’s a chief paid more because he/she has special leadership skills and a combination of skills that I might find quite signficant if my house was the one burning down… How about the towns that are a different color on my map but not as far out as touching that circle?

I do agree that the police chief should live in town for many reasons, though if his/her house was a mile or two across the border into another town, it could be considered.

Al Hamilton
13 years ago


I think we need to be realistic about what we demand from our managers in town. These are jobs with substantial responsibility and like any other employee these people are entitled to take vacation, days off, visit their out of town family, go to the doctor etc.

If my house catches fire, I want the first firefighters who arrive to know what to do and take appropriate, professional action not sit around waiting for the Chief to arrive to tell them what to do. If a fire dept (or any other for that matter) is dependent on the Chief’s presence to operate at a high state of professional competence then that Chief has failed and should be dismissed. It is what the Chief does before my house catches fire that is important, the training, equipping and preparing his/her dept to do their jobs whether he/she is present or not that is the real work of a Chief in my opinion.

Making it a requirement to live in town just reduces the pool of qualified applicants at a time when, with the challenges we face, we need the best managers available.

John Kendall
13 years ago
Reply to  Al Hamilton

Well said Al. I can also assure you that the officers of the Southborough Fire Department are very well trained and have the ability to operate without the chief being on the scene immediately, in a para-military fashion.

As for the committee put in place to handle selecting the next chief, kudos to grabbing Framingham Fire Chief Gary Daugherty. He’s quite intelligent, progressive, and is highly respected among his peers. Pay attention to what he suggests.

Living the dream
13 years ago

I wish they had done a bordering town if they did not require the chief to live in town. I prefer the chief (especially the police chief) to live in town. I think a 15 mile radius was a little too much. Also, if there is a fire, the Chief should be there. Pudge is always there. Although I agree that the firefighters should be prepared, I don’t think it hurts to have additional leadership on scene. The police chief is rarely seen in town (at least by me) and as a matter of fact I rarely see her at all. She should definitely be more visible.

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