IPSWICH — Greg Gagnon started his career in 1996 as a call firefighter in Dracut. On Monday, he officially became the Ipswich fire chief.
The climax of his first day was an appearance before the selectmen, where he was warmly received.
“We’re very happy to have him on board,” said Selectman William Craft.
A former fire captain in Dracut where he grew up, Gagnon, 38, is a graduate of Lowell Catholic High School and Rivier University. He has two children with his wife, Amy. He said that it takes him up to 45 minutes to get from Dracut, where he lives, to Ipswich, and he’s looking into moving.
Gagnon joins an Ipswich department including both call and career firefighters. He told the board he’s always been intrigued with the prospect of running a department that combined both.
“We’re currently in the process of recruiting more call firefighters,” he added, citing the efforts of former acting Chief Jack Parow.
In an interview prior to the meeting, Gagnon acknowledged some of the challenges around the call firefighter system. Attracting good people can be difficult, he said, “because people aren’t working as much in the communities where they live.” On the other hand, he told the board that there are currently openings for next January and applicants with experience.
Regarding the current staff, Gagnon told The News, “I want to make sure we’re all on the same page.” He added quickly that he has no reason to expect problems. As of Monday he had yet to meet all of his crew.
Gagnon also served as a Coast Guard reservist, which he said makes it “nice to come to a coastal community.” He served mainly in Boston, concentrating on law enforcement and environmental hazards. His experience in the Coast Guard counted in his favor as officials whittled 30 applicants down to five finalists, according to Town Manager Robin Crosbie. The decision to hire Gagnon rested ultimately with her.