Hampton fire chief terminated

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Silver had been on leave since September

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union , December 16, 2014

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Chief Chris Silver HAMPTON — Chris Silver has been terminated from his position as fire chief for the town of Hampton, according to financial information received by the Hampton Union.

The town issued Silver a check on Dec. 2 in the amount of $57,030.12, listing the payment as "employee separation costs."

Silver, who was placed on paid administrative leave by the town on Sept. 24, was also paid his normal weekly salary (Nov. 25-30) of $1,830 that day.

He received another check for eight hours ($366) for the following week (Dec. 2-9) and has not been paid since.

Town Manager Fred Welch said he could not comment on the employment status of Silver. However, he did confirm that Silver did not submit a letter of resignation.

The above financial information was in response to a Right to Know request by the Hampton Union seeking the amount of money paid to Silver since he was placed on paid administrative leave. The request also sought the date any such payments stopped and if there was any vacation or sick pay or any other financial settlement that was paid on behalf of the town.

The request also asked if there has been a change of status in his employment and if there have been any votes by the board regarding that status.

According to the reply, selectmen have not taken any votes concerning Silver.

The town manager oversees department heads such as the police and fire chief.

Officials have been mum since an internal notice was posted in the fire stations on Sept. 24 to inform department members that "Effective immediately Fire Chief Silver is on administrative leave."

Silver was paid his normal salary — approximately $1,830 a week — from the date that document was posted until Dec. 2, bringing the total to $18,666.

A previous Right to Know request showed the town also spent $3,805.50 on labor and employment attorney Tom Closson to evaluate the personnel matter and prepare a report.

It appears that report is what led to the termination of Silver.

The Union was told the findings of the report will not be made public, as Town Attorney Mark Gearreald had said the New Hampshire Supreme Court has "very clearly spoken" that "investigative reports concerning allegations as to employee conduct are exempt from disclosure" under the Right to Know law.

Gearreald confirmed the existence of such a report but declined to disclose details.

Deputy Fire Chief Jamie Ayotte is currently overseeing the department, in accordance with the Fire Department's chain of command.

Welch said the senior captain in the department has taken on the responsibilities of deputy chief.

Selectmen Rick Griffin said the board has been directed not to comment about the situation on the advice of legal counsel.

Silver has not returned requests for comment. Silver has only said, via text shortly after the leave began, that he "cannot comment now" and that "it would be better to make such inquiries to the town manager."

Silver was a 20-year veteran of the Hampton Fire Department. He began his career in the department in 1993 becoming the department’s first paramedic. He has served as a firefighter, fire lieutenant and a deputy chief responsible for safety and training, emergency medical services and technical rescue.

He was appointed chief in 2008, replacing Hank Lipe.

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