Fire chief appealing town manager’s decision to fire him

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Bangor Daily News

CARMEL, Maine — Former fire chief Mike Azevedo said Wednesday that he was abruptly fired by the town manager on July 21 and he has yet to be told why.

“I have appealed the decision,” Azevedo said, who since has been tapped to serve as a firefighter for nearby Levant.

Azevedo said that in his appeal to the Board of Selectmen, he isn’t seeking reinstatement but rather hopes to be given a reason for his dismissal sometime within the next 30 days so that he can inform the firefighters he has trained over the years.

Walter Hall, who was appointed Carmel Fire and Rescue’s chief of emergency medical services in June of 2010, has been named the volunteer department’s acting chief.

The annual stipend for the chief position is $5,000, Town Manager Thomas Richmond said.

Azevedo, who works full-time as a dispatcher with the Penobscot Regional Communications Center, said this week that he had been a member of the Carmel department for 10 years, the last six of them as chief and the two before that as assistant.

He said that he had planned to leave the position at the end of last year but decided to stay on “as a favor.”

When contacted on Thursday, Richmond confirmed that it was his decision to dismiss Azevedo.

“It was not the selectmen,” he said. He declined, however, to say why he dismissed Azevedo, saying it was a personnel matter.

Suzan Rudnicki, chairman of the town’s Board of Selectmen, also declined Thursday to comment on the dismissal.

“It is a personnel matter and if Mike wants to share the reason, that’s up to him,” she said.

As it stands, Carmel Fire and Rescue has only one full-time firefighter-emergency medical technician, a position funded by a two-year $87,325 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to Azevedo and Richmond.

The grant will expire at the end of the year, they said.

“We would like to keep that full-time position,” Richmond said, adding that it has proven its worth on numerous occasions. “My hope is that it continues right along.”

Carmel Fire and Rescue, which has an annual budget of $103,000, has about 30 volunteer members, most of whom have full-time jobs, which can be a problem during the daytime, when many are not available to respond to emergencies, a common problem among rural communities.

Richmond said the town is seeking volunteers for its ambulance service.

Azevedo, who said he has put as many as 80 hours a week into the fire chief position, said his dismissal was a relief, in some ways.

“I haven’t slept so well in years,” he said.

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