Fontenault named deputy chief of Harrisville Fire District

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BURRILLVILLE – A longtime firefighter and Burrillville resident, who has served as chief of the Pascoag Fire District for the past seven months, has taken a position as deputy chief of the Harrisville Fire District.

Marcel Fontenault will serve as second-in-command for the village district, in a new position created to work beside Fire Chief Michael Gingell.

And in Pascoag, where the chief role is part time, an interim chief will likely be appointed to take Fontenault’s place.

In Harrisville, Fontenault will focus on administration, emergency response team and all other aspects of the fire department operations, according to a release from the district’s governing board.

Fontenault began what would become a life-long career as a firefighter as a volunteer for the Nasonville Fire District, eventually serving as Nasonville’s chief.

He served for the Smithfield Fire District before taking a job in Warwick in 1992, and was promoted to the rank of captain in Warwick in 2016. He retired from the position of acting chief for Warwick in March of 2019.

He was a leader in the firefighters’ union for about nine years beginning in 2000, according to an article in The Providence Journal.

Fontenault began the part-time job as chief in Pascoag last June, filling the vacancy left after Chief Harold Carter was terminated.

Pascoag Fire Commission Chairman Chris Toti said that discussion of an interim chief is on his board’s agenda for the monthly meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 10.

“When you have someone as talented as he is, with the management and leadership skills he has, those folks are in high demand,” Toti said, noting that the district went six months with leadership of an interim chief without issue last year while searching for a replacement for Carter. “We were working very closely in a number of issues, but he had a better opportunity.”

The fire commission in Harrisville approved the position of deputy chief as part of the 2019 budget, allocating $75,000 for the job.

“Deputy Chief Fontenault is a Burrillville resident and has a lifelong career history serving in the state of Rhode Island in fire and emergency medical services,” noted a release from Harrisville Fire District Chairman Ronald Slocum.

Gingell said that Fontenault was recruited through the district’s hiring process.

“It’s a career switch for him,” Gingell said. “We’re glad to have him… he’s a really nice guy.”

Fontenault will begin serving Harrisville on Sunday, Feb. 14, and will be based out of the station on Callahan School Street.

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