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Belchertown Fire Capt. John Workman to start job as Southampton fire chief Oct. 15

SOUTHAMPTON — John C. Workman, now a captain in the Belchertown Fire Department, is scheduled to start as Southampton’s fire chief Oct. 15.

The Select Board voted to hire Workman at a special meeting Wednesday after reviewing his background check.

Workman, 52, of 44 Park St., Belchertown, had negotiated a contract with the Select Board Sept. 24 for an annual salary of $70,000. Interim Town Administrator Regina Shea-Sullivan said the board at that time voted to approve the contract contingent on the background check.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Workman said of his new job. “Southampton is a great community. There’s a great group of firefighters there, which will make my job as chief easier.”

He has been a firefighter in Belchertown for 24 years and has served as the department’s second in command for the last 17 years. His last day in that town’s department is Oct. 14.

“It’s a good move for me professionally,” he said. Since Belchertown Fire Chief Ed Bock is not near retirement age, Workman said he had no choice but to look outside of the department to achieve his goal of becoming a fire chief.

He said he and his wife, Sharon, look forward to moving to Southampton. His new job requires that he move to within five miles of the town’s fire station within a year of his hiring.

A screening committee reviewed the 28 applications for the job and conducted preliminary interviews this summer before recommending three finalists to the Select Board: Workman; Robert W. Church, a former deputy fire chief in Portsmouth, R.I.; and retired fire chief Daniel J. Gaumont of Ringgold, Texas.

The board interviewed Workman and Church on Aug. 29. Gaumont declined to make the trip for the interview, according to Select Board member Edward J. Cauley.

Workman was the Belchertown department’s head grant writer, fire prevention officer and did all the inspections and code enforcements. He is also a certified EMT and told the board he plans to finish his degree in fire science from Greenfield Community College at the end of the fall semester.

Former Highway Department employee William B. Kaleta had served as interim chief since June 2012 before retiring Aug. 31. He stepped into the role when the board voted not to renew the contract of former Fire Chief Stephen P. Hyde Sr.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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