ARLINGTON – Arlington Fire Commission Chairman James Beretta, who led the charge to remove the American flags from the district’s fire trucks this past summer, was re-elected to the position of chairman on Tuesday night.
Later in the evening, the five commissioners were to vote to accept the department’s election results for the 1st and 2nd assistant chief positions. The department’s firefighters had voted to re-elect John Richardson as 1st assistant chief and Eric Phillip as 2nd assistant chief on December 8.
The commissioners, in a 4-1 vote confirmed Richardson. Chairman Beretta made a motion not to re-appoint Eric Phillip as 2nd assistant chief. That motion passed in a 3-2 vote with Commissioner Seco and newly elected Commissioner Blake Williams opposing the motion.
The failure to appoint a 2nd assistant chief potentially created a break in the chain of command until District Chief Tory Gallante produced an opinion from the state comptroller that suggested that Phillip remain in the position until a new election could be held. Chief Gallante was instructed by the commissioners to seek the advice of legal counsel to determine the proper course of action.
When asked why he opposed the reappointment of Eric Phillip, Chairman Beretta responded with “no comment.” Asked whether he thought failing to name a 2nd assistant chief would possibly jeopardize the district’s ability to perform as required, Beretta once again responded with “no comment.”
Chief Tory Gallante and Phillips were unavailable for comment after the meeting. First Assistant Chief John Richardson was not present at the meeting due to a previous engagement.