Rick Scott named Worthington fire chief

  • Rick Scott was appointed Worthington’s fire chief on Tuesday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 6/23/2022 3:16:08 PM

WORTHINGTON — The Select Board has appointed a familiar face to take the helm as the town’s new fire chief.

Rick Scott, 71, a former member of the Fire Department who has also served with the Cummington Fire Department, will start the unsalaried position on July 1.

Scott stopped being an active firefighter in 2017 following a medical procedure. He said he applied for the chief’s position because he saw that the department “needed a little direction in order to move forward.”

“I’m certainly looking forward to the challenge,” Scott said. “I know that the membership is looking forward to turning over a new leaf.”

Select Board Chairwoman Amy Wang noted the support Scott has on the department.

“The fire department themselves are thrilled,” she said. “They’re very happy with Rick’s appointment.”

Select Board member Charley Rose said Scott received support from the Chesterfield fire chief, as well as the current and former chief of the Cummington Fire Department.

“I think we’re relieved to finally have somebody in the position who has a lot of experience,” he said.

Wang said the board had limited choices for the position and that “we feel that we made the best one.” She’s waiting to hear some of Scott’s ideas for moving the department forward.

Scott said that he wants to increase the department’s reliability and membership base, and he said that its reputation has suffered with its mutual aid partners.

“They need a response they can depend on,” he said.

The new chief wants to recruit younger men and women to get involved in the department, and that he’s talked to younger members already about reaching out to their friends.

Rose said that Scott will not take a salary for the position, and because of this the town will not petition the state to waive the age 65 retirement requirement for public safety officers.

A Longmeadow native, Scott returned to western Massachusetts in 2006 after retiring from the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver following a three-decade career. It was at this time that he became interested in firefighting and joined the department, although Scott previously became a Red Cross CPR instructor in 1978.

“I feel very passionate about the fire department and about volunteerism,” Scott said.

Bernie Forgea is the former fire chief in Cummington, and he described Scott as “eminently qualified.”

“He could see the big picture when the rest of us couldn’t even see the small picture,” he said. “He was a tremendous help to me.”

Forgea also said that Scott will serve the Worthington Fire Department well.

“He’s got the skills, knowledge and abilities to help them,” he said.

The former fire chief, Kyle Challet, tendered his resignation to the Select Board in March. Challet, however, has been serving as interim chief as the search has been ongoing.

A proposal to make the fire chief’s job a full-time position was defeated overwhelmingly at this year’s annual Town Meeting.

Scott said that he thinks the chief’s position is more inspirational as a volunteer, and that volunteer members wouldn’t respond well to having a full-time paid chief.

“It’s a matter of walking the walk,” he said.

Scott’s appointment is for a year, and he expressed hope for serving for three.

“I’m hoping that in three years that we’re able to find the next chief,” he said. “For right now we have to get our feet firmly planted on the ground.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.


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