June 12, 2023
New Fire Chief for Manchester
By Gregory Federspiel
At this past Monday’s Select Board Meeting, June 5th, 2023, the Board approved the hiring of James “Jake” McNeilly as the Town’s next Fire Chief. Chief McNeilly will take over from Chief Jason Cleary who decided not to enter into a new contract with the Town. The transition will be completed by early July.
Jake currently serves as a Lieutenant for the Belmont Fire Department where he also serves as their EMS coordinator. Prior to working for Belmont, Jake worked for the Manchester Fire Department. He lives in Essex where he also serves as a volunteer fire fighter.
McNeilly has an impressive list of credentials to be Fire Chief. He has earned his Massachusetts Fire Chief credentials, has completed three levels of Fire Officer training, has his Fire Instructor and Inspector credentials along with his Fire Fighter I & II training. He is a Paramedic and founded a successful EMS training company. Jake has his bachelor’s degree in Fire Science and a master’s in Public Administration.
With his past experiences in Manchester and his on-going service to Essex, the new Chief knows the unique challenges of providing first class emergency responses in a small community. Manchester voters have generously supported the Fire Department, adding four additional career firefighters to the ranks in the past three years. The new Chief will be working to integrate the new hires into the Department as well as pursuing strategies to ensure additional resources for larger emergencies that occasionally occur.
Another priority will be to secure and maintain a fleet of vehicles that serves the needs of the community. Voters will be asked to appropriate the funds we have been setting aside for a replacement ladder truck.
Being a small-town Chief means being equally comfortable doing administrative tasks as well as providing emergency response services, working side by side with other staff whether on a medical or fire call. Chief McNeilly has purposely kept active in Essex and as a fill-in Paramedic/Firefighter in Middleton to keep his emergency response skills current.
As we bid farewell to Chief Cleary, we welcome Chief McNeilly back to town and the start of a new chapter for the MFD.