RUMFORD – Selectmen didn’t make a deal to share a town manager with Mexico, but they have sealed a deal to share a fire chief.

Longtime Mexico Fire Chief Gary Wentzell was offered the shared job last month, and told the Mexico Board of Selectmen that he needed some convincing before taking it. On Thursday, in a closed-door session with the Rumford Board of Selectmen and interim Rumford Fire Chief Richard Coulombe, Wentzell agreed to a six-month deal, and further agreed to revisit whether to extend the deal at the end of that term.

It is not a consolidation of the neighboring town departments, but a shared administrative role between departments, saving each town some salary cost that would come from maintaining full-time positions in each town.

“We’re looking forward to having Gary come aboard to work with us to build the best fire department in Maine,” interim Rumford Town Manager Len Greaney said Friday. “We’re going to work hard to make that happen.”

Greaney said the deal was “very highly supported by the selectmen in Mexico and Rumford, and John Madigan and I, as the two town managers, are working well together.”

Wentzell will assume his new role Monday. He will replace former Chief John Woulfe, who left his position several months ago to take a fire service administrative job in Washington, D.C.

In the past several weeks, as he considered whether to accept the shared-chief job, Wentzell said one of the biggest issues facing both towns was the number of abandoned or unsafe buildings, some of which have been recent targets of vandals and arsonists.

He will likely work two to three days a week in Rumford, and would maintain the towns’ respective fire departments as separate entities, with on-call members deciding which department they would prefer to serve.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.