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Allenstown fire chief placed on paid leave prior to resignation



Monitor staff
Thursday, August 03, 2017

The Allenstown fire department will be overseen by interim leadership for now after its chief, Dana Pendergast, was placed on administrative leave last week and subsequently resigned.

Pendergast, who had been with the department for a little over four years, tendered his resignation July 27, effective at the end of the month, town administrator Shaun Mulholland said. Three days prior, the select board had placed him on paid administrative leave and voted to contract with Municipal Resources Inc., a Meredith consulting firm, to temporarily fill Pendergast’s duties with the town.

Mulholland declined to say why Pendergast had been placed on leave.

“That would be a personnel matter I wouldn’t be able to get into,” he said.

Shawn Murray, a retired fire chief from Hudson and MRI consultant, took over for Pendergast at the fire department July 25, Mulholland said.

Pendergast was also the town’s health officer and building inspector, and another MRI consultant, Ken Paul, is expected to come in a few days a week for code enforcement duties.

MRI has worked for Allenstown before. The town hired them to conduct risk assessments of several departments, including the fire department.

A report submitted in 2016 by the firm found that the department sometimes struggled to answer calls quickly – or at all – mostly because of too few people volunteering to be oncall. The consultants suggested some recruitment and retention strategies, but noted a dearth of volunteer firefighters is a national trend.

“Overall, the department is viable, and when personnel are available, they produce a well-trained and effective response,” the consultants wrote.

The board will likely discuss how to fill Pendergast’s former responsibilities long-term at their next meeting Aug. 7.

Pendergast, who lives in Gilford, was first hired by the town in June 2013 as an on-call firefighter and EMT, and appointed chief by the board that October, according to meeting minutes. He was reappointed unanimously this May.

He had previously worked for the Gilford and East Derry fire departments.

 

(Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)