Acting fire chief appointed in Phillipston while chief on medical leave

Staff Writer
Published: 12/6/2018 10:00:38 PM

PHILLIPSTON — Town officials have approved two measures that will provide the town more consistent service when employees are sick or unable to work.

The Select Board approved the appointment of deputy chief Lawrence Bankowski to the position of acting fire chief while chief Richard Stevens is on medical leave. Select Board chief administrative officer Kevin Flynn said the Board expects Stevens to make a full recovery and return to work in the coming months.

“We fully expect him to recover at this point,” Flynn said. “Our thoughts are with him and prayers are with him and his family.”

Donald Smith, an EMT, will be taking over as the acting emergency management director in Stevens absence as well. Typically Stevens serves dually as Phillipston’s fire chief and emergency management director. Town personnel declined to comment on the nature of Stevens condition, but said he chief will be out for a number of months.  

Also on Monday night the Select Board approved a “Sick Leave Bank” policy that will allow town employees to donate their unused sick time to co-workers in need. The town is seeking a medical professional to volunteer to sit on the new committee that would advise the town on the medical matters related to the use of the bank.

“If they run out of their own sick leave they can always draw from the bank a certain amount of time to cover that,” Flynn said. “We don’t expect a whole lot of requests out of the bank, but we are looking for someone to volunteer.”

A nurse, physician, physician’s assistant, doctor or related medical professional would help the Sick Leave Bank Committee review and determine how the donated sick leave time will be used. According to the town website, the Sick Leave Bank would provide “additional income security to town employees who suffer a serious medical illness.”

The idea came up during discussions about Chief Stevens extended medical leave, Flynn said, and is a policy adopted by other public institutions, such as school departments. The committee would meet as needed two to three times throughout the year.

Before Stevens went on leave, he recommended appointing one on-call firefighter position and an on-call EMT position. The Select Board approved the appointments of Emily Thibeault as an EMT and Samantha Geyster at Monday night’s meeting.

Sarah Robertson can be reached at

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