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Fire chief named Sumner's EMA Director
SUMNER — Fire Chief Bob Stewart, who has been appointed as Sumner's Emergency Management Agency Director, says he is looking forward to fulfilling his duties over the next year.
"I think it's a great thing to help people in need," said Stewart, about what appeals him to the position, which pays $900 a year.
"It's great to work with volunteers and I really enjoy it," he added.
After a 30-minute private interview during their regularly-scheduled meeting November 13, Sumner Selectmen appointed Stewart to the position.
Stewart will replace Tom Standard who resigned from the post last summer. Standard was the EMA Director for Sumner for 16 years. He also serves as EMA Director in Hartford and Buckfield.
Stewart is entering his seventh year as Sumner's fire chief and has served in fire departments for 15 years, he said.
He also owns Valley Road Repair garage in Sumner and has been in the car repair business for about 38 years, he said.
He believes what qualifies him for the position as EMA Director is the working relationships he has with local and state emergency personnel.
"I've worked with state police, the sheriff's department, game warden service, forest rangers and the fire marshal's office ... for a long, long time," he explained.
"It's really important to have good communication with your neighbors," said Stewart. "We have really good mutual aid in the area and we are really lucky to have that."
He said he is well aware of the many resources available in an emergency on a local, county and statewide level.
"He is very well-connected with mutual aid services with the towns around us," said Sumner's Chairwoman Mary Ann Haxton. "He has served well as the command officer of the fire department," she added.
His experience in the fire service has allowed him to become highly-trained to deal with a wide variety of disasters, he said, such as house and woods fires, floods, tornadoes, ice storms, blizzards, downed power lines, vehicle fires and more.
In addition to his Firefighter-I certification, Stewart said he has completed all his training in NIMS (National Incident Management System) required to serve as Sumner's EMA Director.
Some of the typical duties of EMA Director include directing, planning and carrying out all of the local emergency management activities; filling out and reviewing Federal Emergency Management Agency paperwork for declared disasters and other emergency situations involving FEMA as well as at the state level; and researching and recommending grant options to fund local projects.
As EMA Director, Stewart will also be required to set up training programs to prepare emergency management for emergency operations and secure and maintain information regarding facilities and resources of the town and neighboring towns for use during emergencies.
To meet minimum state standards, Stewart will also attend EMA training courses and workshops at the county level.
Stewart said he supports the work and further development of the Neighbor's Care Committee – a group of volunteers who help out in time of need and provides the town's newsletter, he said.
"The idea is to get them back in business ... If something in town were to happen, they would help out neighbors, check on them, make sure they have water and food and make sure their health is good," he explained.
He is also looking to improve communications with Oxford County EMA, he said.
"I sense that he will work hard to communicate often and clearly with the selectboard," said Haxton, which is an important part of the job, as well as communicating with the fire department.
"He feels the selectboard needs to work through the EOP (Emergency Operations Plan) and clearly understand the roles each of us have with regards to an emergency," she explained.
"Bob also supports the perspective of the selectboard to focus the EMD activities at the local level and be fully aware of the connections with county, state and federal counterparts."