Tuesday’s Select Board meeting started with a surprise, as Fire Chief Steve Slaman took the microphone during the public forum to announce that he planned to resign after five years leading the department.
“Hopkinton is a great community, and the Hopkinton Fire Department is poised to serve it well,” Slaman said. “The women and men of the Hopkinton Fire Department are well-trained professionals that embrace our caring philosophy. Against that backdrop, I would like to brief you on my 2021 retirement plan.
“I have known this day was coming for a while, which made a transitioning plan easy to talk about early on with my officers. I can proudly report to you that the organization is ready. You have an outstanding pool of firefighters poised to advance. Finally, I have a grumpy hip that’s telling me I’ve run out of time and it’s time to retire.
“You have an in-depth look at the organization at your fingertips, which includes budget proposals, annual reports and my self-evaluation. All of these documents are meaningfully developed and supportive of the plan.
“I came into this position with quite a bit of attention, and now I hope to transition out with little fanfare. I can’t start to thank you enough tonight — I’m not ready. But it’s time for everyone to know that it’s time for me to move forward with the transition.”
As Slaman’s announcement came during public comment, during which time back-and-forth discussion is discouraged, the board did not directly address the situation, aside from a couple of brief comments that reflected Slaman’s popularity.
“Chief Slaman, I think you cannot expect little fanfare,” Select Board chair Irfan Nasrullah said.
“I don’t want to accept the resignation,” lamented board member Mary Jo LaFreniere.
Slaman, who started with the Hopkinton Fire Department as a call firefighter and worked his way up, was promoted from deputy chief in 2016, taking over on an interim basis that January and then given the position permanently three months later.