The Town of Weathersfield has had division in the fire services for many years. That not only has caused issues in the fire services, but has also added to the division of the Town. In 2015 safety and operational concerns lead to the hiring of a consultant to review and make recommendations on how to improve the Town’s fire services. John Wood, who had a 33+ year career in the fire service (19 years as the Chief of the Hartford Fire Department, 7 years as the Deputy Director of VT Public Safety, and 3 years as the Deputy Commissioner of VT Public Safety) was hired to conduct this study. As part of his report John made it clear, that “the single department concept is the best practice for fire protection in the community. The Select Board and the two fire Associations should move to identify the best approach to create a single department”. In the report, John Wood also stated, “In summary, the most important reason for creating a single fire department is to reduce the risks of injury and death to firefighters, while enhancing fire protection in the community”.
Many discussions ensued over the next two years, until the West Weathersfield Volunteer Fire Department asked the Selectboard to explore what a municipal fire department would look like. In August 2018 the Fire Commission and Selectboard held a joint meeting where a large cross section of firefighters discussed the possibility of a municipal fire department with a single fire chief. In September 2018 the Town Manager presented his report, recommending a move to a single municipal department and hiring a full-time fire chief. The report showed that this move would solve or address every recommendation of the consultant. In October 2018, the Selectboard suspended the Fire Commission and has held two public municipal fire meetings each month to discuss what a municipal fire department should look like as well as what is needed in a fire chief. On November 5th,2018 the Selectboard decided to enact the board's statutory authority pursuant to 24 VSA §1951 to create a municipal fire department, and on January 3rd, 2019 the decision was unanimous that a full-time fire chief is what is needed at this time.