Todd Baker

As Hinesburg’s volunteer fire chief, Todd Baker plans to continue as a full-time paid firefighter and paramedic in New Hampshire.

The word interim has been dropped from Nick Baker’s title as Hinesburg’s fire chief, but the word volunteer remains.

Town manager Todd Odit named Baker the department’s official fire chief, but it remains a volunteer position reimbursed by a stipend.

Baker will not become Hinesburg’s full-time paid fire chief, a switch that former fire chief Al Barber had advocated when he retired July 1.

At that time Barber said he planned to retire in October but moved his retirement up so that a change to a full-time paid chief could happen when the new fiscal year began. He had hoped his stipend as volunteer fire chief would be used to help fund the budget for the department to make the change.

Barber’s retirement also came after the revelation of some of his social media posts were criticized by some in town as homophobic, racist or sexist.

In early October the department added two full-time fire fighter emergency medical technicians — Dan Macaig and Erik Short. This was seen as a necessary step as the department transitions to also providing ambulance service to Hinesburg.

In less than two months, the addition of two full-time positions has already paid dividends in knocking a couple of minutes off the response time in getting to incidents.

Baker said incidents when the department had full-time staff on duty the response time averaged just over five minutes. When the department wasn’t staffed, the time getting to an incident was over eight minutes.

Although Baker said the department doesn’t need to switch to a full-time paid fire chief at this time, he said in his budget request for the upcoming fiscal year he’s asked for funding for a part-time paid fire chief.

If that is approved, he doesn’t know if he would be the person to fill the position.

Baker and his wife moved to Hinesburg a year ago from New Hampshire and he joined Hinesburg’s fire department as a volunteer in March. He continues to commute to New Hampshire where he works as a full-time paid firefighter and paramedic in Tilton.

Baker said he and his wife are enjoying Hinesburg. “It’s great. We’re really settling in.”

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