Jillson retires, Chartier takes over as town fire chief

Jillson retires, Chartier takes over as town fire chief

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Chief Joel Jillson may have been a fixture around town as chief of North Smithfield Fire and Rescue Services for the past 18 years, but as of June 30, he is officially retired, and says he looks forward to a smooth transition to a new generation of leadership.

David Chartier, a town resident and deputy fire chief of the Smithfield Fire Department, will take over, having been officially named chief by the organization’s board of directors last week.

“Change is good for everybody. Time for a different voice, different face. I’ve loved every second of it,” Jillson told The Breeze. “If I had a chance, I’d do it all again tomorrow.”

Jillson, a career firefighter, began his career in 1972 in Woonsocket, where he served for 28 years and retired from that department as deputy chief before taking a position in North Smithfield in 2000. Well-wishers and fire service members in attendance at a retirement party at Primrose Fire Station last Friday noted Jillson’s long dedication to the job, particularly during the merger of the St. Paul Street Station with what was then the Primrose Volunteer Fire Department in 2002.

“He was what was needed to bring the two departments together,” said Daniel O’Brien, treasurer of the board of directors of North Smithfield Fire and Rescue. “He was the right person at the right time. He’ll be sorely missed.”

Replacing the 46-year firefighter was no easy feat. According to board of directors Chair Brian VanHouwe, an independent search committee reviewed applications from 36 candidates. While most of the candidates were qualified in fire and EMS background, VanHouwe said he asked the committee to consider the public speaking and administrative skills that would be useful during negotiations between the department, an independent corporation that contracts with the town, and town officials.

“We’re unique in that way, and it brings a whole range of things with it,” said VanHouwe.

Chartier, the final selection, comes with 34 years of experience in the Smithfield Fire Department and an associate’s degree in fire science from Providence College. In 2017, he was named one of four deputy chiefs in the department.

“I was surprised and then elated to have been named the chief. Then it became a little bit of a roller coaster ride for me,” he said. “When you work somewhere for 34 years and you establish relationships and you work with people for that long, it becomes emotional.”

Chartier will take over in North Smithfield July 16, with Deputy Chief Brayton Round heading the department in the meantime. Chartier said he has already met with Round to discuss department goals related to training and technology and hopes to form a positive relationship with the town administrator and the Town Council to secure his own goals for the department, which include an eventual gradual staffing increase.

“The emergency runs that they go on certainly at some point is going to warrant eventually putting more people on a little bit of the time,” he said.

Chartier and his wife, Donna, live in North Smithfield. He graduated from Smithfield High School and has three daughters.

Asked whether he is leaving the department in good hands, Jillson noted that regardless of who takes over, department staff will continue to provide a high level of service for the town.

“The true testimony of any organization is the rank and file, not who heads it,” he said.

Retiring Fire Chief Joel Jillson , center, stands with members of North Smithfield Fire and Rescue Services at a retirement party at Primrose Fire Station on Friday, June 29. David Chartier, currently a deputy fire chief at Smithfield Fire Department, will take over as chief on July 16. From left are Private Eric Lambert, Private Tom McCooey, Deputy Fire Chief Brayton Round, Chief Jillson, Fire Marshal Brian Gartland, Lt. Bryan Lowe, Private Andrew Dybala and Private Paul Levreault. (Breeze photo by Lauren Clem)


Why did the deputy chief that was on board NOT get the promotion AGAIN ? Thank you North Smithfield for hiring OUTSIDE the Department once AGAIN !!!!!!

Thank you Chief Jillson for everything

Why we as taxpayers allow that bs that goes on in the Fire Dept board of directors is plain stupid. The town pays for fire service and should control it.Very Disapointed

Hey Rockyhill....sounds like you would LOVE to be part of a municipalization committee! Let me know if you are interested....

Another committee is not what we need. We need a council who pays the bills to step up and oversee the fire department just like the police and highway.We just wasted eighteen years and still haven't reorganized that department.

Wow, you people whine and complain about EVERYTHING in this town. In case you forgot, we have a PRIVATELY-run fire department, and as such, they handle their own internal matters. We are fortunate to not have a municipal, unionized, over budget fire department. Unless, that's what you all are looking for. You want to change everything about this town, then when it changes, you want to change it again, 'cause you will never be satisfied!

Congratulations to Chief Chartier, an excellent choice. We worked together on the North Providence call system, and over his 34-year career in Smithfield he has proven himself to be a great firefighter and administrator.

They are Union.