Murray inks contract to become fire chief

Then-Naugatuck interim Fire Chief Ellen Murray, center, talks with firefighters Ethan Gagnon, left, and Kevin Gorman in December at fire headquarters on Maple Street. The borough and Murray have reached terms on a four-year contract that makes her the department’s next chief. –FILE PHOTO

Then-Naugatuck interim Fire Chief Ellen Murray, center, talks with firefighters Ethan Gagnon, left, and Kevin Gorman in December at fire headquarters on Maple Street. The borough and Murray have reached terms on a four-year contract that makes her the department’s next chief. –FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — Ellen Murray is no longer the interim chief of the Naugatuck Fire Department. She is now officially the chief.

Murray and the borough have reached an agreement on a new four-year contract that makes her the department’s first female chief.

“I’m thrilled to have been chosen,” Murray said.

Murray, who was hired in 2011 as the deputy chief, has been serving as the department’s interim chief since last August when former Chief Ken Hanks retired.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses approved Murray’s contract last week.

“I’m happy to be presenting this contract to Ellen Murray. I’ve been very happy working with her and I look forward to the next four years,” Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said.

The contract is retroactive to March 27 and runs through June 30, 2020.

Under the contract, Murray will make a base salary of $97,000 the first year and $99,425 in the second year. The agreement does not list Murray’s salary for the third and fourth year, but states that it cannot be lower than the previous years’ salaries.

The contract also names Murray as the department’s training officer, which carries a $5,000 yearly stipend.

Murray will receive a $2,000/$4,000 high deductible health care plan, under the contract. In addition, Murray also receives a uniform allowance of $1,300 and a “suitable vehicle” for business and personal use.

According to the contract, the mayor will evaluate Murray’s performance once a year on eight areas, including fiscal management, day-to-day operations and public relations.

Murray was the only candidate considered for the job.

Fire Commission Chairman John Ford said the commission decided not to search for any other candidates after seeing how well Murray did as interim chief.

“We have, as a commission, worked with her directly on a day-to-day and month-to-month basis. We felt she was doing such a good job we would offer her the job instead of spending the time and money looking for another candidate,” Ford said.

Ford said the commission will conduct a nation-wide search for someone to fill the deputy chief position.

“We are trying to find someone who will be a successor to her when she retires. We want to groom somebody capable of stepping right in instead of going through a whole other process,” Ford said.

Murray said the department will continue to serve the borough as best it can.

“We are going to continue to give the best customer service we can and keep everybody safe,” Murray said.