Burlington deputy hired as Williston fire chief

Observer staff report

Williston Town Manager Erik Wells has hired Aaron Collette to succeed Ken Morton as Williston fire chief. 

Collette, a deputy fire chief in the City of Burlington, was selected out of 15 candidates following a nationwide candidate search. He has been with the Burlington Fire Department for roughly 25 years. Collette’s start date is planned for Sept. 14, when a swearing-in ceremony will be held.

The applicant pool was narrowed to four for interviews, then to two finalists, according to Wells. Collette most closely matched a position profile created by members of the fire department, Wells said. Members of the fire department along with fire chiefs from other Vermont communities participated in the interview process.

“Mr. Collette has the leadership skills, experience and personal qualities that will serve our combination career and volunteer department of dedicated firefighters very well,” Wells said. “He will be a valued addition to our management team, and I’m excited to work with him to lead the fire department forward and continue its proud tradition of serving our vibrant and growing community.”

Collette holds a bachelor of science degree in fire science from Columbia Southern University, along with an associate of applied science degree from New Hampshire Technical College. He completed the FEMA National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program in 2019 and has served as an instructor at the Vermont Fire Academy the past 25 years.

Collette will become the third chief of the Williston Fire Department since it was established in 1949. The department began as a volunteer fire service and has grown into a combination career and volunteer company that responds to roughly 2,000 calls annually for fire and emergency medicine service and transport.

“I am humbled and honored to be chosen as Williston’s next fire chief” Collette said. “The department and its devoted firefighters have a reputation of emergency services excellence. I look forward to serving the community of Williston and building upon the progressive foundation that Chief Morton has built during his tenure.”

Morton will officially retire on Collette’s first day after nearly 39 years with the department, the last 28 years serving as its chief. 

“I am thrilled for Chief Collette, the Williston Fire Department and the Town of Williston,” Morton said. “His training and experience will enable him to continue to move the department forward and serve the residents of Williston in the manner they have grown accustomed to. I am happy to support him in his new position.