The chief of the Bedford Fire Department for the past 15 years announced his retirement Monday.
David Grunes, who turned 55 a few months ago, is the senior municipal department head in terms of longevity. Grunes grew up in Bedford and worked his way up the ranks after joining the department as a firefighter in 1994. He was appointed chief in 2008.
Interim Town Manager Colleen Doyle announced the impending retirement at Monday’s Select Board meeting, noting that the chief first indicated to her office last spring that he would be stepping down. Doyle said that Grunes’ last day will be Aug. 17, though in his letter to his staff the chief said only it would be before the end of August.
Doyle said she will appoint an interim chief immediately and issue a request for proposals from professional search firms. The chief wrote to his staff that “the plan is to begin the process shortly after Labor Day and review applications through the fall and coordinate the final evaluation process to occur after the new town manager has been brought on board. I would expect the interim to be in the role for approximately four-to-six months.”
Grunes’s retirement is the fourth major senior management departure in 2023. Former Town Manager Sarah Stanton departed for an undersecretariat position in state government in late April. Facilities Director Taissir Alani’s last day was June 16, followed by former Superintendent of Schools Philip Conrad two weeks later. Conrad announced his retirement last fall.
“We will miss him greatly. He deserves as wonderful retirement,” Doyle said of the fire chief. Select Board member Paul Mortenson said, “He is a class act and is going to be sorely missed.” His colleague Shawn Hanegan added, “Absolutely.”
In a telephone interview Monday night, Grunes said he thinks a change at the top is “best for the department right now,” as it prepares for “some pretty significant changes.”
Not only are there plans for a new fire station, now in the design stage, but also a staff reorganization will result in three new captains and additional firefighter paramedics.
“We need new energy to set the game plan for the next 10 years,” said Grunes, who turned 55 several months ago.
“The new station has finished program review and has moved to the design team,” Grunes wrote in his letter to firefighters. “We have the upcoming reorganization, including the pending promotions. We have several new hires coming on board, and hopefully the momentum allows us to continue to recruit. Sometimes change is good and it feels right for the new chief to build the next chapter of the department with all of you.”
His letter was replete with gratitude to the staff.
“The community is fortunate to have such a group of caring and skilled individuals that have come together as firefighters,” he wrote.
“Over the years, the department has responded to calls for my own family and friends, and I have seen first-hand the skill and compassion of the members as they do their job and serve the community. With the support of the members and town, we have accomplished several important projects, identifying our staffing needs and building our advanced life support program, which has now saved numerous lives in the community.”