Town Clerk Leigh Carney swears in Kevin C. Robinson of Marshfield, Mass., as interim East Greenwich  fire chief.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

The Town Council voted 3-1 to approve the appointment of Kevin Robinson of Marshfield, Mass., to serve as interim fire chief Monday. This follows the recent departure of former interim Fire Chief Christopher Olsen, who was appointed following the dismissal of Fire Chief Russell McGillivray on Nov. 6.

Council President Sue Cienki, Vice President Sean Todd and Councilman Andy Deutsch voted in favor of the appointment; Councilman Mark Schwager voted against.

Robinson served as fire chief of Marshfield for 12 years. He resigned days after being placed on administrative leave after a three-month investigation into alleged impropriety and ethics violations, according to a statement by Town Administrator Rocco Longo and reported in the Wicked Local Marshfield.

Town Manager Gayle Corrigan, who recommended Robinson’s appointment, released this statement in response to questions about his past work history:

“We are aware of his departure from the Town of Marshfield, where he climbed the ranks of the Fire Department over the course of his 37 year tenure. Chief Robinson comes highly recommended to us and his experience and credentials speak for themselves.”

Before the vote, Town Councilman Mark Schwager explained why he would be voting no.

“We’re now about to appoint our second interim fire chief in three months. Chief Robinson seems a reasonable candidate for the position. I have no ill will against the chief. But I have not been presented before tonight the chief’s credential’s or CV. The council did not interview the chief. We have not had a chance to review his references. At the present time, I have not seen the contract that he may sign tonight. So … I don’t have adequate information to make an informed decision and therefore will be voting no on this decision.”

Corrigan said she used the search firm Municipal Resources Inc. (MRI) out of New Hampshire to conduct the search – the same firm that located Chief Olsen. Corrigan said it had always been the plan to have two interim fire chiefs and that the search for a permanent chief would take place during the second interim chief’s four- to six-month tenure.

Later in the meeting, Council President Cienki conceded that they had asked Olsen if he could extend his stay but that he had declined.

Robinson steps into the position at a difficult time for the fire department. The town has blamed financial difficulties on high firefighter overtime and recently filed suit against the firefighters in an effort to change the platoon structure.

The Town Council meets again on Wednesday, Jan. 24, in executive session only. All seven items on the agenda regard current litigations facing the town.