Medway names McLaughlin new fire chief

Posted March 01, 2013, at 2:50 p.m.

MEDWAY, Maine — Brian McLaughlin is the town’s new fire chief.

The former assistant fire chief began his new job on Friday, earning a $2,000 annual stipend, said town Administrative Assistant Katherine Lee.

He succeeds Fire Chief John Lee, who retired for the second time earlier this week. John Lee informed the Board of Selectmen and other town officials and residents in an email on Saturday that he would be leaving the position, thanking everyone for their assistance.

The board voted 4-0 on Monday to appoint McLaughlin as the new chief, upon the recommendation of Chief Lee, who is not related to the administrative assistant. The vote followed a brief executive session with McLaughlin. Selectman Rob Farrington was absent, Katherine Lee said.

“He is dedicated, he knows the fire station inside and out, and he has over 10 years’ service,” said Katherine Lee of McLaughlin.

McLaughlin did not immediately respond to messages left Friday.

He was the only candidate considered. As part of his agreement with the town, he will serve six months’ probation. Selectmen will review his performance at the three-month mark, Katherine Lee said.

Several Medway firefighters met with selectmen a few weeks ago to endorse McLaughlin for the job, Katherine Lee said.

Selectmen voted 5-0 in April 2012 to immediately rehire John Lee, then 55, as the town’s top firefighter after more than 30 years on the job and his retirement from the position in November 2011.

Selectmen had considered several options, including consolidating departments with East Millinocket, and had hired a consultant to find a permanent replacement for Lee and interim replacement Adam Brackett.

But the consultant, former Brewer Fire Chief Rick Bronson, expressed reservations about the candidates for the job, so selectmen opted to seek Lee’s return to the job, which paid a $4,000 stipend, during a meeting with him in executive session on April 9, he said.

The endorsements expressed by town firefighters for McLaughlin effectively answered Bronson’s concerns, clearing the way for McLaughlin’s hiring, Lee said.

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