Skip to main content

Hopedale - Local Town Pages

Fire Department request to leave civil service will likely be denied

By Theresa Knapp 

At November 2022 fall Town Meeting, the town voted to petition the State Legislature to exempt all positions in the Hopedale Fire Department from the civil service system. Leaving the system would allow the town to hire from a more diverse pool of applicants, not just candidates who have passed a state test. 

After the 2022 vote, at the town’s request, State Representatives Brian Murray and Ryan Fattman filed Bill H.2615 to present the request to the Committee on Public Service to which it was referred in February 2023. A hearing was held in October 2023, and the reporting date has been extended to June 30, 2024. 

At a meeting of the Select Board on March 12, Town Administrator Mitch Ruscitti said the bill is not expected to pass, along with similar requests from several other towns in the Commonwealth. Instead, state officials are expected to propose a 10-year hybrid model under which some towns can have up to 50% of its staff outside civil service as long as it meets certain parameters, including diversity, equity, and inclusion requirements. 

“There has been pushback at the state level from organized labor and veterans groups because of the benefits the civil service, rightfully, provides to those populations,” said Ruscitti, noting this is not the decision the town was hoping for. “In speaking with the [Fire] Chief, we’re optimistic it will be an improvement. It will be a little bit more difficult to manage but I think that we can certainly work with it and get through. It will be a 10-year pilot program. If it doesn’t work out, I think the Legislature will then reassess their decision.” 

Select Board member Scott Savage said he was disappointed by that decision. 

“It continues to disappoint me how the State Legislature refuses to identify the impacts of all these decisions in small communities with limited financial means. Prioritizing other issues, other than the best interest of the community as a whole, is really disappointing.”