Oak Bluffs officials stood in a semi-circle on Monday, shovels ready, to mark the beginning of a major construction project. They faced a gray structure that’s been home to the fire department since 1973, but will soon be razed to make way for a new station.
Appointed acting chief 10 months ago, John Rose now has a permanent place as head of the town fire department. The vote by the five town selectmen was unanimous on Tuesday night, amid praise for Mr. Rose.
The Oak Bluffs selectmen Tuesday unanimously approved increased annual stipends for the fire department.
When requesting the increase, acting fire chief John Rose said the new stipends are more comparable to the pay scale in other towns.
Traci Monteith is afraid of heights but she loves depths. She’s been diving in Vineyard waters for more than 10 years, but only recently has she been working toward certification as an advanced diver on the Oak Bluffs fire department dive team. On a recent Thursday evening, she wet-suited up alongside two other members of the team for their first night dive.
An independent review of the Oak Bluffs fire department turned up a series of needed improvements, including better record keeping, clearer policies and procedures and improved communication between town and fire authorities.
The Oak Bluffs fire department received a $65,500 grant this week through the Department of Homeland Security to install a new ventilation system at the fire station that will remove toxic diesel exhaust from emergency vehicles inside the station.
Oak Bluffs fire chief Gilbert (Peter) Forest said the funding will be used to install the much-needed system. The grant was secured through the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters program with the assistance of U.S. Sens. Edward (Ted) Kennedy and John F. Kerry and Rep. William Delahunt.