Stockbridge names Becket EMT Vincent Garofoli as new fire chief
STOCKBRIDGE — The Select Board has chosen Richmond native Vincent J. Garofoli as the new fire chief for Stockbridge.
Chairman Donald Chabon and Selectman Terry Flynn announced on Monday they will offer a contract Garofoli, who is serving as an advanced EMT in Becket. After the brief public session, the two selectmen held a closed-door meeting, with Town Administrator Danielle Fillio participating, to discuss strategy for contract negotiations.
Garofoli was selected over the second finalist, Courtney Manning, 43, a fire department captain and EMT in Lancaster, a town of about 8,000 in Worcester County. The two had been nominated by the Select Board's appointed search committee out of 19 initial applicants, two of whom dropped out, and four semifinalists.
"We had two good candidates to choose from," Flynn said. "I've decided that Vincent Garofoli is the one who's the most viable," noting "his volunteer service and experience in training. and a lot of expertise as an EMT and firefighter."
Chabon agreed, citing positive discussions with references and neighboring fire chiefs, as well as public reaction to last week's televised interviews with the two finalists.
Garofoli, 38, will succeed former Fire Chief Ernest "Chuckie" Cardillo, who's also a selectman but not participating in the search for his own replacement.
Cardillo was terminated by his two Select Board colleagues on Feb. 5 for accepting excessive, overpriced supplies, costing the town an estimated $23,000. He is suing the town, Chabon and Flynn for reinstatement, back pay and legal expenses in federal court.
At the time of his dismissal, Cardillo's annual salary was $63,273.
During a pre-election campaign forum at the Town Offices on Saturday, Chabon, who's seeking a second term, was asked what would happen if the former chief's lawsuit prevails.
"This is not a unique situation in industry and in government, though it is for us, where a severed employee sues to regain their job and the company or the organization needs to appoint somebody in the interim or along the way," said Chabon.
"The Select Board is interested in developing a long-term relationship with its fire chief and is committed to take appropriate steps to protect the successful applicant through proper contractual terms," he stated, referring to guidance from town attorneys.
"We are confident that the decision we made [to terminate Cardillo] is enforceable, we have been working from the start with town counsel on this matter," Chabon added, "and we feel we're in good stead legally."
During the public candidate interviews last week, Garofoli voiced confidence that he could unify the town's volunteer firefighters following the turmoil surrounding Cardillo's ouster. As many as 15 volunteers resigned in a show of loyalty, but the department's interim chief, Neil Haywood, and deputy chief Peter Socha brought in a comparable number of replacements, some of them former members of the force.
Garofoli said he would take a "clean slate" approach in which he would "unify the members, talk with each individual privately, tell me where you want this to go, what's your vision. You take notes and take everybody's opinion into account."
He said that if chosen, he could begin as full-time chief in about a month, but since his on-duty 40-hour schedule in Becket runs from Monday through Wednesday, he could begin working in Stockbridge on Thursdays and Fridays.
Garofoli graduated in 2000 from Taconic High School in Pittsfield, worked briefly on the Lenox Ambulance Squad, joined the Richmond Fire Department as a volunteer, became an EMT within two years and rose to captain and training officer. He's a fourth-generation firefighter and third-generation EMT.
In 2015, after moving to Becket, Garofoli joined the town's ambulance squad while also volunteering in the fire department.
He pointed out that he applied for the chief's post in Stockbridge "because I saw the potential to do something with a dedicated and capable department, filled with great men and women, that got negative publicity that it doesn't deserve. If the opportunity is afforded to me, I'm really looking forward to taking it to the next step in a great town."
Clarence Fanto can be reached at email@example.com, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.
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