Eastwood gets nod for Windsor fire chief's job at loud meeting
WINDSOR -- Selectwoman Erin Kirschner's resignation in the middle of a Select Board meeting was one of several flare-ups that occured during Monday's meeting that concluded with the selection of the town's next fire chief.
Following the interview of two candidates, longtime volunteer firefighter Scott Eastwood was appointed as the full-time fire chief over the Firefighter's Association's first choice, Charlie Sturtevant.
The decision was made after an acrimonious exchange of charged words between Selectmen, and between the Selectmen and Sturtevant, according to people who attended the meeting.
Kirschner said her fellow Selectmen fostered a "hostile atmosphere" with "accusatorial" questioning during Sturtevant's interview.
Kirschner said she resigned because of the disrespectful actions of Selectmen Pete Fusini and Brian Costello. Fusini evoked Robert's Rules of Order to abruptly cut off Kirschner's discussion during Sturtevant's interview, which prompted Kirschner later in the meeting to write her resignation letter on printer paper and handing it to the town clerk.
"The behavior toward Sturtevant was unprofessional and that's not how you do things when you're in a position of authority," Kirschner said.
Fusini had no comment when specifically asked about Kirschner's resignation, but he said "people are blowing this out of proportion."
No decision has been made on whether there will be a special election or the town will operate without a third Selectman until next year's town election.
The Windsor Fire Department has been without a chief since the start of the fiscal year on July 1 after former fire chief Michael Tirrell's appointment was not extended. A Select Board majority of Fusini and Costello said Eastwood was choosen for being even-tempered and having an extensive knowledge of the department. They also expressed confidence about repairing the town's relations.
Eastwood has served as a fire lieutenant for about a half-dozen years and had served as a firefighter since 1993.
Town Firefighter Association President Don Allard on Thursday said he was "satisfied" with the selection and ready to move on.
Sturtevant also has impressive credentials as the former assistant chief with more than 20 years of experience. Sturtevant and Kirschner accused the Select Board majority of accusational questioning from the start.
"There was a pervasive disrespect and unprofessionalism throughout the first interview," Sturteveant said.
Costello described Sturteveant as someone with "an axe to grind with the board" and he didn't believe the town would be able to work with him.
Near the end of his interivew, Sturtevant suggested the town should pay for firefighter turnout gear. Tensions escalated from there.
Fuisini said "his insinuation was that it was our goal to send the firefighters into duty inadequately supplied."
Fuisini evoked Robert's Rules of Orders to end Sturtevant's interview, even though Kirschner had an additional comment.
"It might have been abrupt, but it was getting out of hand," Costello said. "I don't see him ever invoke that."
Kirschner said her fellow Selectmen provoked the tension.
"If it appeared to get out of control it had more to do with the tempers of my fellow Select Board members rather than anything in the audience."
To reach John Sakata: firstname.lastname@example.org, or (413) 496-6240. On Twitter: @jsakata
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