Select Board To Vote On Contract For New Nantucket Fire Chief

Jason Graziadei •


Michael Cranson is expected to be named as Nantucket’s new fire chief as the Select Board will vote on a three-year contract with the former chief of the Portsmouth (Rhode Island) Fire Department on Wednesday.

The terms of the contract, which would pay Cranson an annual salary of $165,000, will require him to make Nantucket his primary residence. While it does not include any specific provisions for housing assistance, previous Nantucket fire chiefs - including Paul Rhude - have utilized town-owned housing.

Read Cranson's employment contract

Cranson, 50, has been in the fire service since he was a teenager, and retired as the fire chief in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, in May 2018 after 27 years with the department.

Read Cranson's resume

He was the lone finalist to emerge from a search process that has been marked by controversy and discontent following the town’s decision to eliminate current deputy fire chief Sean Mitchell from contention for the job.

Cranson will take over command of a department that has been deeply critical of the town and its hiring process for the fire chief position, with the fire union going as far as considering a vote of no confidence in town government.

Despite those conditions, Cranson told the Current in a recent interview that he was prepared to lead the Nantucket Fire Department following current fire chief Steve Murphy’s upcoming retirement on Sept. 1.

“All I know, and what I can tell you, is that I’m prepared to step in and calm things down and provide some stability for the department,” Cranson said late last month. “And level the playing field.”

The employment contract with Cranson that the Select Board are expected to approve on Wednesday was shared with the Current by town manager Libby Gibson over the weekend. It includes a three-year term, running from Oct. 1, 2022, through Sept. 30, 2025.

The contract also includes the following provisions:

  • Prohibits Cranson from business ventures that could be considered a conflict of interest
  • No overtime
  • Four weeks of vacation per year
  • 15 sick days per year
  • Two personal days per year
  • Use of a town-owned vehicle
  • Reimbursements for professional development including conferences

Meanwhile, the town is also prepared to hire an interim fire chief to bridge the gap between Murphy's retirement at the end of August and Cranson’s start date of Oct. 1.

The Select Board recently approved a contract with Martin Greene to serve as interim chief of the department. Greene is the former Bourne fire chief who recently served as interim chief for Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard.

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