SKOWHEGAN — Fire Chief Richard E. Fowler Jr. was fired Friday by the town manager after just three months on the job.

Town Manager Christine Almand said she met with Fowler in her office Friday morning and fired him.

Almand wouldn’t say what prompted the move.

“At the end of the meeting I told Mr. Fowler that his employment was terminated,” Almand said. “Things didn’t work out during Mr. Fowler’s probationary period. Therefore, I decided to terminate his employment with the town. Beyond that, this is a personnel matter and I cannot comment further regarding Mr. Fowler.”

Contacted by phone Sunday, Fowler declined to discuss his firing.

“Things just didn’t work out between us,” he said.

Fowler, 47, came to Skowhegan from Farmington, N.H., where he had been the fire chief.

A firefighter who answered the phone at the fire station in Farmington, N.H., referred all questions Sunday to the current fire chief, Peter Lamb, on Monday and all legal questions concerning Fowler to the Strafford County attorney.

Fowler took over in May for longtime firefighter and fire chief Tom Keene, who was terminated Dec. 30 by then-Town Manager John Doucette Jr.

Keene, 58, had been a firefighter for more than 40 years and chief for 21 years. In the last two years, both his legs were amputated because of complications from diabetes. He went on medical leave Sept. 19 after his most recent surgery.

Fowler’s starting salary in Skowhegan was $56,000, about the same as he was earning in Farmington.

Almand — who took over as town manager the same day that Fowler took over as fire chief in May — said she has appointed Fire Department Capt. Shawn Howard as interim fire chief. The town will advertise the open job of the chief position within the next couple weeks, she said.

“We have an excellent department of full-time and call firefighters that work well together in order to keep our citizens, businesses, and property safe,” Almand said. “They will continue with business as usual. The Board of Selectmen has been informed of the situation and has been supportive of myself and the fire department during this time.”

The fire chief interview committee earlier this year included the Board of Selectmen — Betty Austin, Newell Graf, Don Lowe, Steve Spaulding, and Paul York. Skowhegan Road Commissioner Greg Dore, who was interim town manager during the hiring process, also served on the search committee as did Howard and Almand, then the town’s human resource director.

“As with all full-time hires, a thorough background check was performed, which included checking references,” Almand said.

Contacted Sunday, Dore and Graf echoed Almand’s comment on vetting the new fire chief before he was hired.

“We did everything that we should have done,” Dore said. “I was very surprised when Christine told me … he had done a very good job and just seemed like the perfect fit for Skowhegan.”

Graf, the current chairman of the Board of Selectmen, agreed, saying the search committee did everything it could have done at the time.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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