Naugatuck OKs contracts for fire chief, deputy

NAUGATUCK — A period of turnover at the highest levels of the fire department officially ended Tuesday when the Board of Mayor and Burgesses approved four-year contracts for Fire Chief Kenneth Hanks and a new deputy fire chief, Ellen E. Murray.

Starting Monday, Murray will fill the spot vacated by Hanks when he moved up to replace former Chief Charles Doback, who retired in September after failed contract renewal negotiations.

“I’m thrilled to be working here,” Murray said. “I’ve met a lot of the firefighters and they’ve been nothing but gracious to me, and I can’t wait to start.”

Murray, who lives in Shelton, was a lieutenant and then an assistant fire chief in the Stratford Fire Department, where she worked for 28 years before retiring. She is the first woman in the fire department’s history to hold a position other than dispatcher or secretary, although the borough’s now-defunct volunteer department had a female deputy chief.

Murray is also the first deputy chief in department history to be hired from outside the department.

“I think it’s very exciting to have a new deputy chief,” said Mayor Robert A. Mezzo, who sat in when the fire commission interviewed applicants for the job. “She was selected in a very competitive interviewing process that included some very strong candidates.”

Hanks said he was relieved Murray will help oversee the department’s daily operations, filling a position that has been vacant for nearly eight months.

Murray’s base salary will be $68,000 a year until June 30, 2012, after which point the borough will revisit the figure annually, although her salary can never be decreased from the previous year under the contract. Her workweek is 35 hours and she is not eligible for overtime.

She will receive the same medical, dental and vision insurance options as other borough non-union personnel, and life insurance equal to two times her base salary. Murray can drive a department-owned 1995 Ford Crown Victoria and can participate in the borough’s defined contribution pension plan or any other plan that she and the borough agree to in writing.

From June 9 of this year until June 30, 2012, Hanks will make $87,173, and the following fiscal year he will make $84,890. His salary will be reviewed annually thereafter.

He will also receive a $5,000 annual stipend for serving as the borough’s training coordinator. He will participate in one of the pension plans also offered to the firefighter’s union.