PARIS — At Monday night’s meeting, two selectmen accepted Fire Chief Brad Frost’s challenge to follow him around for a day to see what the service entails after it was announced two “experienced firefighters” took other jobs.

Frost said before the meeting that his two employees didn’t leave the department completely, but gave up one or two days they normally work each week.

Together they covered up to three shifts a week, Town Manager Amy Bernard said at the meeting.

Frost gave some background on the employees’ decision.

“They went to work with some other outfit in the same business making $2 to $3 an hour more,” he said before the meeting. “The other reason is with all the negativity going on in the town of Paris, they don’t feel like they’re wanted. If it calms down then they’ll come back. Morale isn’t very good.”

The chief said he is unsure how this will affect fire department coverage since he’s waiting for next month’s availability schedule. He said he has to keep employees at or below 36 hours, or full-time work, under the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

“I might be all right. I don’t know. . . . If I can fill the shifts without hiring someone else, I will do it,” Frost said. “All these people they work at least two other jobs if not three so they work what they can for me plus a full-time and a part-time. They’ve got family so they have to spend time with their families, too.”

Bernard said to replace both firefighters will cost the town roughly $6,200. In October, the board voted unanimously for Bernard to approach selectmen before filling any positions for the next six months, given they’re looking at cutting $500,000 from the current budget.

Selectman Vic Hodgkins wanted to know what the $3,100 to replace each firefighter entailed. Frost said the money covers turnout gear, boots, one day of orientation, a background check and medical insurance.

“I think we also need to realize this isn’t the first loss to the department in the last four or five months,” Bernard said. “We’re reaching that limit . . . we’re having a hard time filling shifts.”

She said that two weekends ago there was no one willing or available in town to cover the department’s 10-hour weekend shifts. “That’s where we’re headed here. I think it’s important for the board and the community to know that.”

Resident and Budget Committee member Katherine Mitchell said she’s lived in town for 10 years and doesn’t remember ever seeing a call for people to join the Fire Department. She suggested putting up signs to alert the community of the need and Board of Selectmen Chairman Robert Wessels agreed a more concerted effort could be made.

Frost invited Wessels and another member of the board to sit down with him and go over what he does and to see how the service operates.

“And that’s a challenge,” Frost said. “I’ve offered before and no one took me up on it.”

Hodgkins accepted Frost’s challenge and Selectman Sam Elliot volunteered to spend time with the chief as well. The plan is for the trio to meet before Christmas.

No action was taken regarding the two firefighters obtaining other jobs Monday night.

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