Searsport fire chief resigns for ‘personal reasons’ after public criticism

Posted June 22, 2012, at 2:27 p.m.
Last modified June 22, 2012, at 3:29 p.m.

SEARSPORT, Maine — Searsport has a new fire chief after former Fire Chief Jim Dittmeier’s resignation was accepted earlier this month by the Board of Selectmen, according to Town Manager James Gillway.

Dittmeier submitted his resignation in May for personal reasons after serving as chief for nearly five years, Gillway said Thursday. He had asked that town officials allow him to stay on as chief until September so he could finish some projects, but after meeting in executive session June 5 the board decided to accept the resignation effective immediately.

Andrew Webster, who had been the assistant fire chief for a number of years, is the community’s new interim fire chief.

Dittmeier had attracted criticism for making public remarks in support of a proposed liquid propane gas terminal project that has generated much debate and disagreement in town. He also had criticized opponents of the project.

Gillway said that many residents made negative remarks about the former chief during the public comment portion of the selectmen’s meeting earlier in June.

Some alluded to a rumor they had heard that Dittmeier said he would not put out fires at houses with “Thanks But No Tank” signs outside.

Gillway said that the rumor was nonsense and wanted to put a stop to it.

“Jim Dittmeier, if nothing else, was always professional and responsible at all hours of the day and night,” he said.

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