East Providence has a permanent fire chief once again.
Acting Fire Chief Oscar Elmasian was approved by the East Providence Budget Commission as fire chief in one of the board’s final acts in the city on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 12.
“My father would be awful proud,” said Elmasian, whose late father, Arthur, was a principal at East Providence High School for 15 years.
“When I made captain,” Emasian said, “he asked me what I would do now. He’d be proud that I went as far as I could.”
Elmasian has been acting chief since the end of last year, when he replaced former fire chief Joseph Klucznik, who retired. He took over the position after serving as the city’s fire marshal and head of the fire prevention department for more than 5 years.
Elmasian said he is very pleased that “I will end my career on top of the game.”
Elmasian is in his 27th year in the East Providence Fire Department. He was hired in March, 1987, promoted to lieutenant in November, 2003, and named captain in February, 2008. He also served as the union president for 10 years.
The Seekonk native also was a part-time firefighter in Seekonk for 7 years and served one year in Barrington before moving to East Providence.
Elmasian said he never looked at the permanent fire chief position as something that was expected or anticipated, especially when the East Providence Budget Commission asked that a search be done to fill the post.
“It’s a relief that it’s over,” he said of the search. “I really never expected it at all.”
Elmasian said he plans to “stay the course” as fire chief, although he has three priorities: work with human resources to fill 12 probationary firefighter positions – his top priority; replace the older rescue vehicles, and bring the overall staffing level back up to the minimum of 120 personnel.
The department is down 15 firefighters right now, he said. And he expects another four or five retirements in the near future.
City Manager Peter Graczykowski made the request to hire Elmasian as permanent chief to the
budget board, which exists in the city until Monday to deal with personnel
matters only. It then dissolves when a finance advisor starts serving in the
city to handle financial issues only.
Graczykowski said Elmasian was one of three finalists for the position and emerged as the top candidate.
"He has done a remarkable job since taking over the position," he said. "I have full confidence in him."