PARIS — After 53 years in the fire service, Chief Brad Frost will retire — albeit a little earlier than he intended — and he “might” turn off his fire pager at night.

Frost becomes the latest department head who cited lack of support from the Board of Selectmen and negativity in town as reasons to take jobs elsewhere, or in his case, to retire. His last day is Wednesday, Aug. 31.

“I can remember that years ago the selectmen used to come by and see how they could help, see what was going on, work as a team,” Frost said. “It’s been a long time since people have come here and asked questions or done anything like that.”

He added, “There certainly used to be a lot of respect for the employees back then. There is absolutely no respect for the employees now, none whatsoever.”

Frost said he has invited selectmen to Fire Department events, including numerous lifesaving award ceremonies, and none have attended.

“These groups of dedicated (Fire Department) members perform time and time again with little to no recognition. Their motivation comes from within as a caregiver; they seek nothing more than to help people in a time of need or crisis,” Frost wrote in his retirement letter.

“I am truly saddened to see the lack of support and respect from our selectboard for town employees,” he wrote. “It appears that there could be personal agendas involved that have gotten this town off course, which is creating a hostile work environment for all employees.”

He said morale for town employees is at an all-time low.

“One thing that really brought the morale down was any pay raises for employees was off the table this past year,” Frost said, “and the new town manager gave himself a pay raise after six months. That really upset people.”

Frost is referring to incoming Town Manager Vic Hodgkins, a former selectman. He begins work Tuesday, Sept. 6, with a starting salary of $65,000. After a six-month probationary period, Hodgkins’ salary will increase to $67,600.

Frost, who is 77, said he had planned to remain fire chief through the fall.

“Yes, this board has made me retire a little bit earlier than I wanted to,” he said. “I can’t put up with this bashing and negativity anymore. Working with this type of dysfunctional government here is not good. It’s counterproductive.”

Former Town Manager Amy Bernard left Paris in December 2015. In April, former Detective Richard Belanger and former Interim Police Chief Jeffrey Lange handed in their resignations. And a week and a half ago, Code Enforcement Officer Fred Collins announced he was leaving for Mechanic Falls. All four cited negativity in town as reasons for leaving.

Frost, a Norway native who has lived all of his adult life in Paris, began his career with the Fire Department in 1963 as a firefighter. He has served for the past 16 years as fire chief and before that was deputy chief for “a long time,” he said.

His time with the department began when there were only four air packs available to fight fires.

“If you got there first, you got an air pack. If you didn’t, you used your handkerchief,” Frost said. “Believe it or not, those were the good ole days.”

During his 16 years at the helm, Frost has accomplished much, including securing more than half a million dollars in grants and donations. During his tenure, the Paris Fire Department received the SHAPE Award and the town’s Insurance Services Office rating was lowered.

The department received $650,000 in federal grants and donations, which included a tank truck, with the town’s share of $44,700. He credited these funds with helping bring the department up to code with the Bureau of Labor Standards.

In 2010, Paris Fire Department was one of the first in the state to receive the Safety and Health Award for Public Employees through the Bureau of Labor Standards. This exempted the department from programmed inspections. In 2014, Paris received a four-year exemption for these inspections because of the department’s commitment to safety.

But Frost doesn’t want to take all of the credit.

“It’s a group effort,” he said. “By having that SHAPE Award, we saved premium payments on our workers’ comp.”

In 2009, the ISO inspected Paris Fire Department and reduced its ISO rating from 6-9 to 4. Paris is one of 28 fire departments of the current 657 in the state that reduced its rating to 4. This equated to an 8 percent decrease in homeowners insurance and even more for businesses, Frost said.

“We have accomplished a lot,” he said. “I am proud of this Fire Department. It’s been my life. All the accomplishments that these guys have made, it’s not just one man. You can’t get nothing done unless they all work together.”

Interim Town Manager Bill Guindon announced Frost’s retirement with “much sadness.”

“Chief Frost’s contributions and dedication to the town of Paris and surrounding communities is a testament of sincere passion, love for mankind, duty, dedication and compassion,” Guindon said in an email. “Please join me in not just congratulating Chief Frost for this milestone in his life and fire service career but more importantly thank him for his service.”

Board of Selectmen Chairman Mike Risica said Frost would be “sorely missed. His experience and years in the department are invaluable.”

Norway Fire Chief Dennis Yates, who has worked with Frost over the years, said he had the highest respect for his fellow chief and noted Frost’s dedication to Paris.

“They are losing one heck of a fire chief,” Yates said. “He has done so much for the town of Paris over the years and brought the Fire Department where it is today. I am going to miss working with him. It is going to be a sad day for the town of Paris.”

As for his retirement, Frost said he was unsure of what he would do first.

“I am sure I will be busy,” he said. “I will find something else to do.”

As for his replacement, Guindon said no decision had been made.

“I’m looking (out) for the best interest of the town and the residents,” Guindon said. “I am considering several options.”

In Paris, fire chief is an appointed position.

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