SULLIVAN — Jeremy Ogden, deputy chief for Sullivan Fire/Rescue, resigned Nov. 23, effective immediately, following a shakeup at the department that occurred Nov. 22, when the town’s Select Board voted 2-1 to remove Fire Chief Ben Gilley.
“The past couple of months have shown the true colors of the town’s elected officials,” Ogden wrote in his resignation letter. “The fire chief was ultimately removed from his position because a couple of people did not agree with a promotion that was made, despite the fire chief following all of the town’s procedures and rules when making the decision.”
Town Manager Stacy Tozier has since appointed Michael Pinkham II as the interim chief.
Pinkham II was the department’s deputy chief until his most recent term expired. He remained with the department after his term expired, but then decided to leave, and subsequently became a firefighter in neighboring Franklin.
His father, Michael Pinkham, is the chairman of the town’s Select Board. Chairman Pinkham and Rusty Gordon voted to remove Gilley from his post as fire chief following two letters of complaint submitted to the town. Roger Wakefield opposed the measure.
In his resignation letter, Ogden wrote, “I am not comfortable with working under the leadership of the interim Fire Chief Michael Pinkham II, who also happens to be the son of the chairman of the Board of Selectmen. I cannot, in good faith, continue to stand by the recent actions of the town’s elected officials. The citizens of the town of Sullivan should be very concerned with who is governing and managing their town.”
Chairman Pinkham said Gilley was removed after two letters had been submitted to the town expressing a lack of confidence in Gilley’s leadership. One was from current firefighters and firefighters who left the department “because of the way it was being managed.” The other letter was from residents and businesses who also expressed concern with the department’s leadership.
Chairman Pinkham said he represents taxpayers, not himself or his son, when he makes decisions as part of the Select Board.
“I conduct business as a representative of the taxpayers of the town of Sullivan,” he said.
Pinkham II said a new deputy chief will not be named until a chief is confirmed.
In his letter, Ogden noted the work he has done with the department over his eight-year tenure.
“I have sought all of my energy and determination to serve the people of the town of Sullivan by continuously improving the fire department’s abilities and level of service that can be provided,” he wrote. “Throughout this time, I have been a vital asset to both the fire and the emergency medical service (EMS) sides of the department. I always have done my very best to use my wide range of knowledge, education and expertise to better the town.”