With the impending retirement of longtime Edgartown fire chief Peter Shemeth, the town is starting the process of appointing a new leader for the fire department.

Chief Shemeth told selectmen Monday that he is facing mandatory retirement next January, when he turns 65. He has been with the fire department for more than 40 years,

Finding his replacement would likely take awhile, he said, noting that replacements are rare. Mr. Shemeth has served as chief since 2006, when he replaced Antone A. Bettencourt, who retired after 18 years on the job.

Chief Shemeth said he wanted to start the search process soon, noting that if someone from the department is named chief, others also will end up changing ranks. “It probably ends up changing four or five different positions in the department,” he said. He suggested that the town should come up with criteria for chief candidates and a plan for the transition in conjunction with the board of fire engineers.

Edgartown police officers Kyle Altieri (left) and Alex Guest received commendations for quick emergency response that saved a life. — Sara Brown

Selectmen agreed that Mr. Shemeth and town administrator Pamela Dolby would flesh out a plan, similar to the recent search for a new police chief. Mr. Shemeth said he envisions promoting from within the department.

“There’s a known quantity out there as opposed to bringing someone from off-Island that you’re not sure about,” he said.

“That’s basically how Edgartown tries to operate,” board chairman Arthur Smadbeck said. “We’ve been very lucky over the years, where we’ve had a good crew that has been around for a long time, that know everything. So I don’t think that concept is different from what I think we would want to see.”

The fire chief is a full-time paid position.

In other business, police chief David Rossi presented a commendation to two special police officers, Kyle Altieri and Alex Guest, for their response to a medical incident last Wednesday at The Port Hunter restaurant.

Officer Altieri said that a man fell on the floor and lost consciousness. Officer Guest called 911 while Officer Altieri did chest compressions. “When the gentleman was wheeled out he had regained consciousness,” he said.

“So you guys saved his life, basically,” Mr. Smadbeck said.

The officer received a round of applause and commendations from the board of selectmen and the police chief.

Selectmen also approved a request to excavate part the road at Pease’s Point Way and Summer street to connect to the town sewer. Highway superintendent Stuart Fuller said the roadwork falls within the town’s summer moratorium on construction, but it should be allowed because it is an emergency situation. Selectmen requested police detail for the project, which will take place June 22.

The board also approved common victuallers licenses for Tropical Bakery and for the Food Truck, which will operate at the Airport business park over the summer.

Selectmen also heard an update about Vineyard Power and offshore wind from Vineyard Power president Richard Andre. Mr. Andre said an export cable survey of waters south of the Vineyard will take place this summer, and fishermen’s notices will be placed around the Island, including at Edgartown Harbor.

Selectmen also sent a letter to the Katama Airfield commission warning them that airport manager George Smith has not been present every day at the airfield since it opened on May 15, in violation of the airport lease.

According to the June 19 letter sent to airport commission chairman Harold Findlay, selectmen were told that Mr. Smith is a captain for a charter plane company and was recently gone for nine days for a charter air trip. The board was told that the assistant airport manager, Alex Torres, is present full-time. Mr. Torres is working toward receiving a state license as an airport manager.

The airport is located on town-owned land and leased by Mr. Smith’s company, Gentle Wings Aviation.

Selectmen said that the assistant manager is not currently a licensed manager, and selectmen have not agreed to the airport being managed by an assistant airport manager.

“It is a serious violation of the lease for George Smith to be absent as manager,” the letter states. “It is an additional violation and very serious liability issue for the airfield to be run by an individual who is not a [state licensed] manager.”

Selectmen said Mr. Smith must be present between May 15 and Sept. 15, and if he cannot be onsite during that time, selectmen will terminate the lease. Selectmen also said Mr. Torres cannot fill in as assistant manager. The board asked Mr. Findlay to notify selectmen within five days whether Mr. Smith will be present as airfield manager.