New Goffstown fire chief has plenty of on-the-job experience
When the town went looking for a new fire chief several months ago, the best candidate turned out to be someone who already lived in Goffstown.
Richard O'Brien has been a Goffstown resident for 16 years, but until last week, he was working for fire departments in other towns.
For the past three years, he has been the fire chief in Rye. Before that, he was a firefighter in Derry and Hooksett as well as a paramedic for Tri-Town Ambulance.
In Rye, O'Brien was at the helm of a 35-member department comprised of call and full-time firefighters in a town of about 5,000 people. During his tenure, O'Brien presided over the construction of a new public safety building that opened last fall.
Now in Goffstown, he has a department nearly double the size and expected to grow, as town officials maintain the goal of full-time fire service.
"It was a career move for me, being able to lead a bigger department into the challenges that lay ahead," O'Brien said.
Those challenges include finding ways to add more firefighters without raising taxes too high and figuring out if the town needs a new centralized fire station, according to a recent report from the Local Government Center.
Selectman Scott Gross said town officials are confident O'Brien can steer the department where it needs to go.
"The board of selectmen and the town of Goffstown are very fortunate to have Chief O'Brien be the new leader of our fire department," Gross said. "I am very confident that Chief O'Brien is the right person at the right time for this position."
Gross praised O'Brien as a humble, mild-mannered and articulate person who takes a thoughtful approach to working out problems. Even before he officially began working, Gross said, he helped the town in negotiations over a new firefighter contract.
And although he has been on the job for just one week, O'Brien said he is already drafting a short-term plan for the growth of the department, hoping to get a recommendation to the selectmen in time for the start of the budget season later this year.
Despite the demands of work, O'Brien said he still makes room for some hobbies. "I kind of tinker with growing some apple trees," he said. "I like to do something different."
Reproduced by the Goffstown