As January draws to a close, we look forward to the remainder of 2010 with cautious optimism. We're cautious, because we are concerned what the poor economy will mean for the services we provide. We optimistic because we have a new form of government and fresh faces in the Town Hall. The Town of Windham has transitioned to a Town Manager/weak Mayor/Town Council form of government--and so far it looks like it's going to work well.
Speaking of change, our department is undergoing significant change as well. Peter Smat was recently promoted to Captain, replacing Captain Jim Jensen (Ret.). Chief Palmer is retiring at the end of March, and the Deputy Chief will be serving as Acting Chief for the foreseeable future. Once the Chief departs, all of our officers will be between 36 and 44 years old. We've become a very young department.
Peter Smat was serving as Training Instructor and Public Education Coordinator prior to his promotion. Bob Golas has assumed the Training Instructor role now, and he's assisted by Natalie Siebecker. Bob also teaches for the Hartford County Fire School as an Adjunct Instructor, so he's well-qualified. Natalie is also assuming the role of Public Education Coordinator.
Our number one goal for 2010 is to go through a seamless transition to an interim Chief and continue to provide quality services to the Service District and the Town of Windham.
Second, and concurrently, we need to look at quality of life issues for our staff. We will ask ourselves, Are there any adjustments we can make--within our budgetary reality--that will make things better for our staff?
Third in this list, but not third in importance, we will need to continue to evaluate safety. What can we do to improve the safety of our firefighters? There may be some opportunities for changes in our operations, which will create a safer work environment. As the nation continues to see infrastructure deterioration from the recession, we need to work even harder to ensure all of our people go home safe and whole at the end of the day.
The remainder of the year looks like it will be a challenge for many reasons, but I think we're up to it--and we certainly must be...as people will need our services more than ever.