Hanson Names Arlington Deputy as New Fire Chief

February 2, 2024

Bedford’s new fire chief is a 13-year deputy chief in the Arlington Fire Department with a master’s degree in public administration and a 20-year career in the Marine Corps Reserve.

James L. Bailey, Jr., 53, of Wilmington will begin on Feb. 26, according to Town Manager Matt Hanson, the appointing authority. He will present the appointment for ratification by the Select Board on Feb. 12.

Bailey succeeds David Grunes, who retired in August. The interim chief, Paul Sheehan, completed his contract on Jan. 31.  

“Deputy Bailey brings exceptional experience and leadership that will be a tremendous asset to the Bedford Fire Department and will complement the experience and talent of our current staff,” Hanson said in his official announcement Friday morning.

Acting chief until Bailey arrives will be Capt. Mark Sullivan, who was one of four internal finalists for the position. Six finalists were recommended by an assessment center and interviewed individually by Hanson this week.

Bailey became an Arlington firefighter in 1997. He was appointed lieutenant in 2002, captain in 2008, and deputy chief in 2011. The new chief served as departmental training officer and fire prevention officer and was a member of the district hazardous materials team.

In August 2020 Bailey was named chief of the Lowell Fire Department, but withdrew acceptance after a few days.     

Bailey joined the Marine Corps Reserve in 1988, and was deployed to Iraq in 1990-91, 2003, and 2006. He was commissioned a chief warrant officer in 2011 and is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Bailey received an associate’s degree in fire safety and technology from Middlesex Community College in 1998 and a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire in 1992, with a major in history and minor in education. He earned his graduate degree at Framingham State University in 2011.     

“The next fire chief has the important responsibility of building upon the great foundation we have here in Bedford,” Hanson said. “This includes fostering a department that already provides top-quality fire suppression, fire prevention education, and basic life support and advanced life support ambulance service.” 

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