BURRILLVILLE – A firefighter who began his career in Nasonville and rose through the ranks to eventually become acting chief in the city of Warwick has been named chief of the Pascoag Fire District.
Marcel Fontenault replaces former Chief Harold Carter, who was terminated from the position in November after some three decades of service in the village district.
The appointment was unanimously confirmed during a virtual meeting of the Pascoag Board of Fire Commissioners on Tuesday, May 26.
Chairman Chris Toti said the hiring subcommittee received around a dozen applications for the position, and Fontenault was their first choice.
A Burrillville resident and volunteer for the Nasonville Fire District, Fontenault began his career in the neighboring village, eventually serving as Nasonville’s chief. He served for the Smithfield Fire District before taking a job in Warwick in 1992.
He was a leader in the firefighters’ union for about nine years beginning in 2000, according to The Providence Journal.
Fontenault was promoted to the rank of captain in Warwick in 2016. He retired from the role of acting chief for the same department in March of last year.
“He’s got some experience,” Toti said.
Toti noted that one thing that makes Fontenault a good fit for the part-time role leading the village is his experience in both paid and volunteer service.
“I think that’s an advantage where we are – the ability to understand and balance both perspectives,” the chairman said, noting that Pascoag operates with a mix of paid EMTs and volunteers. The hiring committee included three local former chiefs who had all led departments with a similar mix.
Toti noted that they had hoped to have the position filled by April, but were delayed as concerns over Covid-19 halted activity.
“I think they had a few hurdles, but I think they did a great job in continuing the process,” Toti said.
Pascoag Deputy Chief Richard Peck and Business Manager Mark St. Pierre –the former chief in Harrisville – worked together to fill the role of interim chief since Carter’s departure last November. Carter’s termination was labeled a “change of direction,” and “restructuring,” for a department that had seen some conflict over the previous two years, including decisions from the state Ethics Commission and the Attorney General’s office.
The chairman noted that more decisions will be made at an upcoming special meeting of the district, scheduled for Thursday, June 11. The agenda includes potentially amending the district’s operational bylaws, the sale of Tanker 4 and a vote on whether or not to reimburse Carter for legal fees incurred during his employment. Residents who would like to submit comments for the meeting are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fontenault will begin work in Pascoag on Monday, June 1, although his precise hours are not yet known.
“It’s very flexible,” Toti said of the role.