Nantucket Fire Union President Has "Fantastic" Meeting With Cranson

Jason Graziadei •

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Nantucket Fire Union President Jeff Allen travelled to Rhode Island earlier this week to meet with new Nantucket fire chief Michael Cranson. Despite all the hard feelings that were on display last month when Cranson’s new three-year contract was approved by the Select Board, Allen described the two-hour sit down with Cranson as “fantastic.”

While he didn’t want to share too many details, Allen said he was very much encouraged following the meeting, and especially after two months of acrimony over the search process that produced a community outcry when Cranson was selected over current Nantucket Fire Department Deputy Chief Sean Mitchell.

“We had a fantastic meeting,” Allen said. “Without giving anything away, I think he’s going to be great. I think we all have some adjustments ahead. He’s a firefighters’ chief. We’d heard words that he was supportive of his members as chief (in Portsmouth, Rhode Island). But to sit down with him and have a really good conversation with him over coffee, he’s a great communicator. I think it’s going to work out. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I’m looking forward to him starting.”

Allen has been among the most vocal critics of the town's search process for the new fire chief, and while his concerns remain valid, he said the department was prepared to work under Cranson professionally.

"If we had our choice, it was Sean (Mitchell), but that was taken out of our hands and we didn’t have a seat at the table," Allen said. "Our members will remain as professional as we are, and do our job under a new chief."

Cranson is set to start in his new role on Oct. 1. From his home in Rhode Island, Cranson watched the intense meeting last month when community members and firefighters assailed the Select Board over its decision to move ahead with hiring Cranson over Mitchell. But he was unswayed by the comments.

“There’s some controversy surrounding everything,” Cranson told the Current last week. “I’m going to do my best to go in there and see what we have going on in the department and come up with a plan with the help of the firefighters on the department. We’re not going to be successful unless we’re all working together. I’m looking forward to it.”

Town manager Libby Gibson this week published a 2,800-word defense of the town’s fire chief search process, as well as a rebuttal to many of the criticisms lodged by the Nantucket Fire Union Local 2509 over equipment and staffing. Stating “Here are the facts,” Gibson believes that “false and misleading claims and allegations are being circulated throughout the community regarding the recent Fire Chief search and hiring process. Town Administration is compelled to set the record straight with accurate information and data to dispel any notion of wrongdoing.”

Read the full statement by clicking here.

Allen said he had seen the statement put out by Gibson and the town administration, but didn’t want to “relitigate” all the issues the fire union has raised over the past two months.

“We’re clear where we stand,” Allen said. “Come by the station, find me, and I’ll give you a tour and show you first-hand what’s going on. They make it sound as if things are so great, and I can tell you things aren’t that great. But we’re looking ahead. Like our Sconset resident Bill Belichick, we’re not looking in the past.”

In the meantime, interim fire chief Martin Greene has arrived on island following outgoing fire chief Steve Murphy’s final day on the job last Friday.

Greene is the the former Bourne fire chief who recently served as interim chief for Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard. The town’s contract with Greene runs from Aug. 26 to Oct. 15, and will pay him $600 per day, plus expenses.

Allen said the department was also off to a good start with Greene.

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