From Paramedic to Fire Chief

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Silver Says He's Ready for Next Challenge

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Friday, September 26, 2008

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Fire Chief Christopher Silver
[Courtesy photo]

HAMPTON -- Christopher Silver will be officially sworn in Monday night, Sept. 29, as the next fire chief of Hampton. The ceremony is scheduled to occur during the regularly scheduled selectmen's meeting.

"I'm very excited," Silver said. "I've spent my entire career as a full-time firefighter here in Hampton and I consider it an honor to be promoted chief of the department."

The 18-year department veteran was appointed as chief last Friday by Town Manager Fred Welch. Silver, who was promoted from one of the town's two deputy fire chief positions, said he has little time to celebrate.

Silver, along with Deputy Chief Steven Benotti have been taking part in an "incident command" training class at the New Hampshire Fire Academy in Concord all week long.

"The one thing that has been comforting is the number of phone calls that I got from the community and fire chiefs across the state," Silver said. "It's been very comforting to hear their words of support."

Welch said Silver was one of three in-house candidates who applied for the job to replace former chief Hank Lipe. All three candidates were qualified for the position, Welch said.

"I ranked all the candidates equally when we started and that is why I had a panel of fire chiefs come in to interview them," Welch said.

Welch said Silver stood out during the interviews and left "a better impression" in the minds of those chiefs who conducted the interview.

"They felt he was the best candidate for the job and given the interviews, I agree with them," Welch said.

Two ranked Silver as "outstanding" while the third chief said he was "very good."

"They all felt he would make a good chief," Welch said.

Silver joined the Hampton Fire Department in 1993 as its first paramedic. Over the years, he has served as a firefighter, fire lieutenant and finally, as deputy chief responsible for safety and training, emergency medical services and technical rescue. He has an associate degree in fire science and is a graduate of the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officer Program.

Selectmen Chairman Bill Lally said he was pleased with Silver's appointment. "I called him yesterday to congratulate him," Lally said. "Chris is a very knowledgeable guy in the fire service and he's been a real asset since he came on in 1993."

Lally said the new chief will have a lot on his plate. Silver begins his tenure as chief as the town continues to work toward upgrading the town fire station and constructing a new Hampton Beach fire station.

"He assured me that he's up to the challenge," Lally said.

Silver said he's well aware of the challenges ahead.

"There is a lot of work to be done in the fire department," he said. "We have to continue developing responsible budgets that still deliver the service the community needs and still provide the equipment and personnel the department needs.

"We also have two fire stations that are grossly in need of being replaced."

The fire chief position has been vacant since August when Lipe resigned to take a fire chief job in Vashon, Wash.

Currently, there are no plans to fill the open deputy chief position.