Hampton Fire Chief Hank Lipe Announces Resignation

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Lally: Plans for New Station Will Move On

By Annie Hamilton

Hampton Union, Friday, August 1, 2008

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Hampton Fire Chief Hank Lipe speaks about the outdated conditions of fire department facilities during Hampton's town deliberative session last February. Lipe announced his resignation Thursday. [File photo]

HAMPTON -- Hampton Fire Chief Hank Lipe announced his resignation Thursday, July 31 and has accepted a position as fire chief in Vashon, Wash. He has given no specific date for his last day in Hampton.

Lipe said he has traveled to that part of the country with his family and, after discussing it with them, believes it will be a great opportunity to relocate to another area of the country.

"It'll give them a better quality of life," said Lipe. "I've enjoyed my time here and I've been able to make a lot of accomplishments," he said. "It's time to move on to another direction and another chapter in life."

Selectman Rick Griffin wasn't surprised by the news of Lipe's resignation. Lipe had told Acting Town Manager Michael Schwotzer Thursday morning of his decision.

"I'm not surprised," said Griffin. "I think there was a certain pressure on him here, and I wish him well."

Griffin said he appreciates Lipe's efforts to keep overtime costs down and work, along with other firefighters and police officers, without a union contract. "I know he was trying hard to make it work. It's been very hard for him."

Griffin hopes that with this change, Hampton can "rally the troops" and get something positive done about the lack of a contract for union workers.

Lipe's resignation comes in the midst of the conflict surrounding the multiple proposals for a new fire station in Hampton but he said that is not his reason for leaving.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Bill Lally, who had not heard the news about Lipe's resignation until contacted by the Hampton Union, said Lipe's had many accomplishments while in Hampton, despite the circumstances under which he operated.

"He had tough shoes to fill when Skip Sullivan left," said Lally. "It's tough to replace someone like that, but he did it."

Lally said it is unfortunate that Lipe was here at a time when the budgets weren't in his favor, and he didn't have a lot of resources.

Despite these setbacks, Lally said, "he got things done."

Lally said Lipe's leaving will not affect the planning for the new fire station.

"It's with most of his information that we'll go forward," said Lally. "It's too bad he won't be here to see those buildings done."

Lally hopes that Lipe will have more resources to work with in Washington.

"We'll miss his expertise on (the fire station)," said Lipe. "I wish him the best."

Hampton Fire Capt. Dave Lang is well aware of Lipe's hard work in Hampton. Lang said Lipe had a difficult time after September 11, then had to deal with the budget cuts and was forced to lay off firefighters. Lipe had to make some very tough decisions as the Hampton fire chief.

Lang is very appreciative of the services and commitment from Lipe and his wife, Marianne Metz-Lipe.

"Obviously I've very much enjoyed working under the leadership of Chief Lipe," said Lang.

Schwotzer, who is filling in for Fred Welch while he's on vacation, said the move will be a great change for Lipe and wishes him well.

"He's going back to where he started from," said Schwotzer, mentioning that Lipe started his career at a volunteer fire department and is going back to one. He supports Lipe's big decision to change his path, Schwotzer said.

"They're very lucky to have him."

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