Fire Chief Dana Pendergast Resigns
[See update below.]
Breaking news is that Dana Pendergast, who had been the town Fire Chief since 2013 and part-time building inspector, resigned on Monday, July 31, 2017. There are no real details as to the reasons for this, but some sources point to possible ongoing friction between the former chief and the town administrator. Pendergast was reappointed as Fire Chief just this past May 8th. (See the May 8, 2017 highlights)
Other details have come to light as of August 2nd. The Fire Chief was apparently put on Administrative Leave on July 25th, implying that the decision was possibly made at the July 24th BOS meeting by the Selectmen present (Tardiff and Eaton) during one of the non-public sessions that night.
Shawn Murray, a retired fire chief from Hudson, is to serve as interim Allenstown Fire Chief, but it was not clear how this came about so suddenly or how much this will cost the town compared to Pendergast's salary. One source stated that the interim chief may be collecting $80/hr. until a new chief is hired, while the interim building inspector may be receiving $65.00/hr.
Mr. Murray is also a safety consultant for MRI, which is the company that performed the risk assessment of the fire and police departments last year and generated a report of deficiencies needing to be remedied. This report was discussed at the Sept. 26, 2016 Selectmen's meeting. (See the Sept. 26 highlights)
Is Murray and MRI some sort of coincidence or what? In the months since the chief was reappointed, it seemed that steady progress was being made to rectify the deficiencies in the MRI report. Then BAM, we get this bad news. The town web site does not mention anything, not even a job posting for Fire Chief as of Aug. 2nd. But it's typical that you shouldn't expect the real story from that source.
The Union Leader posted an article discussing the resignation:
The Concord Monitor also posted an article:
Aug. 26 - The subject of replacing the fire chief/building inspector/health officer was discussed at the Aug. 7 selectmen's meeting. The Town Administrator (TA) had prepared four options for the selectmen to consider but also mentioned that Pembroke might be willing to talk about sharing one or more of those positions with Allenstown. The BOS told him to make contact and see what interest there was. At the August 21 selectmen's meeting, the TA reported that only Epsom and Deerfield were interested in discussing the sharing of those positions.
Of the four options presented to the selectmen, the first was the most outrageously expense: hiring one person again to fill all three positions for a cost of $106,700 a year, plus health and dental insurance. For more details on all the options, see the Concord Monitor Follow-up Article.
What You Can Do
How can one person possibly perform all three functions weekly, and why does the TA think that's worth $2,050.00 per week? Now that the positions are open again, you need to ask why was the original situation allowed to come into existence?
Maybe residents should attend the next selectman's meeting and ask some probing questions.