Rye Names Sullivan Fire Chief

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Former Leader of Hampton Department Sheds Interim Tag

By Karen Dandurant

Hampton Union, Friday, December 7, 2007

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Rye Fire Chief William "Skip" Sullivan
[Courtesy photo not in original article]

RYE -- He was hired as interim fire chief but now he's the "real deal."

William "Skip" Sullivan, who arrived in June to fill the position vacated when Fire Chief Rich O'Brien left, signed a one-year contract on Nov. 27, making him the town's official fire chief.

"I didn't want to go too long," said Sullivan about the contract. "One year gives me and the town the option to continue on or not."

Because Sullivan retired in 1999 as Hampton Fire Chief, he cannot work more than 32 hours a week without affecting his pension. "When I saw that Richie (O'Brien) was leaving to go to Goffstown, I thought it would be a good fit for me," said Sullivan. "It feels good to be back in the fire business. I missed the camaraderie, the action. It's fun to come to work in the morning."

A Hampton resident, Sullivan is only eight miles away, so he is available for emergencies.

Town Administrator Alan Gould said the experience Sullivan brings is a good enhancement to what O'Brien brought to the town. "Skip has a ton of experience fighting fires," Gould. "I think we can use that over the next year or so. Chief O'Brien left us in a great position administratively and now we can follow up with Skip's experience."

Gould said the town might eventually want to go to a full-time chief again, but for now this is working.

"It gives us time to take a bit of a breath then start the process next summer for a permanent, full-time chief," Gould said. "I think the town eventually wants someone to develop some long-range goals in Rye."

Sullivan said the challenge he sees at the Rye department is that it's not very busy, in terms of fire.

"We just lost three good call firefighters," he said. "We're trying to hire a paramedic and beef up our call firefighters. They come here expecting excitement and they might get bored. It's important to keep our staff aware that it could happen at any moment. So we keep training to be ready."

That state of readiness, the ability to react at a moment's notice, is what Sullivan says is the measure of the productivity of a fire department.

Rye Fire Department is ready, he said.

"It's a great staff and I am enjoying working with them," said Sullivan. "I love having Kevin (Walsh, police chief) next door and Alan Gould, the former police chief, is great to work with, as are the selectmen."

With 30-plus years of experience under his belt, Sullivan said his goal is always to try and make any department a little bit better.

To the residents, he says be careful with fire danger this winter.

"Use common sense and if you suspect there is a problem, give us a call," he said. "We'd rather come to your house and find nothing than to respond an hour or two later for a fire."

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