At last week's Board of Selectmen meeting, the Board discussed bringing an article to the Town Meeting on Nov. 15 to rescind the "strong chief" statute in Norwood.
The "strong chief" law in Massachusetts gives the fire chief sole control over hiring and firing in a department, as well as all fire department operations. According to the Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 48, Section 42:
Towns accepting the provisions of this section... may establish a fire department to be under the control of an officer to be known as the chief of the fire department.... He shall have full and absolute authority in the administration of the department, shall make all rules and regulations for its operation, shall report to the selectmen from time to time as they may require, and shall annually report to the town the condition of the department with his recommendations thereon....
If rescinded, Town Manager John Carroll would become the direct supervisor of the Norwood Fire Chief, under Section 42A.
Last week the Board of Selectmen announced an agreement with Norwood Fire Chief Michael Howard that places him on Inactive Status pending his separation from employment with the town. Deputy Chief Ronald Maggio will serve as acting chief until the town decides on further action.
Twice before this proposal has been brought to Town Meeting, and it failed both times.
Whether you are a Town Meeting member or not, we want to know: Would you support the rescission of the "strong chief" statute in Norwood?