PORTSMOUTH — Fire Chief Steve Achilles has been offered a job as the next fire chief in Southborough, Massachusetts, after a unanimous decision by the town's Board of Selectmen, has accepted, but not yet signed a contract, he said Friday.

The news was first reported by the the Metrowest Daily News, which is affiliated with the Portsmouth Herald. Lisa Braccio, chairwoman of the town's Board of Selectmen, told the newspaper Friday morning, “For me, Chief Achilles met the goals and the vision that I myself was looking for in the department.”

Braccio said she appreciated Achilles’ honesty about making a decision to part ways with a grant-funded rescue boat in Portsmouth, despite it being an unpopular decision. Achilles told the Metrowest Daily News he will make "measured and appropriate" changes to the department after listening to firefighters and other staff.

Achilles told the Portsmouth Herald he was interviewed in Southborough Friday morning, was offered and accepted the job, but still needs to negotiate and sign a contract. He said he plans to return to Southborough next week and if the contract is finalized, he will give Portsmouth at least 30 days notice. He said he would retire from the New Hampshire Retirement System, before working full-time in Massachusetts.

Achilles called the likely move "bittersweet," noting Southborough's "strong commitment to public safety" made his decision easier.

A posting for the Southborough fire chief job states the salary is "up to $150,000," the town is building a new $20 million public safety complex and the fire department has a $2.1 million annual budget. Achilles was paid $148,032 in Portsmouth last year.

Fire Commissioner Richard "Dickie" Gamester said said he's not surprised Achilles was selected because, "He's a well-qualified fire chief."

Gamester said if the contract is finalized with Achilles next week, "The whole city is going to miss him, his gentle and easy-going attitude and his professionalism." He said if and when that occurs, the Fire Commission will put together a search committee for a new chief and internal and outside candidates will be considered.

City Manager John Bohenko called Achilles, "a very good chief for the city of Portsmouth."

"I really enjoyed working with Steve," Bohenko said. "He is the consummate professional and he has a very cooperative spirit. He has helped with communication and he's easy to work with."

The Portsmouth fire chief told the Portsmouth Herald last week, “I have been in fire service in New Hampshire for 34 years. There have been some lifestyle changes for myself and my wife and it was time to look around. Our kids are grown. The opportunity presented itself unexpectedly and I decided to go for it.”

He has been with the Portsmouth Fire Department for almost 19 years, the last six as chief.

“My decision to look elsewhere has absolutely no reflection on the people here,” Achilles said. “This is where my kids grew up and graduated from high school. I have strong ties here. If this job does not work out, I am no worse off. I do not envision myself staying here forever, but my time here has been really good, to me and to my family.”

Four city firefighters were promoted during a March 12 ceremony, due to vacancies created by the recent retirements of Deputy Fire Chief Carl Roediger and Capt. Richard Murphy.

Patrick Howe, a 19-year veteran of the Fire Department, was promoted to deputy chief from fire inspector. Rick Condon, a 25-year veteran of the department, was promoted from lieutenant to captain. Firefighter Garrett Miller was promoted to lieutenant, and firefighter Shawn Wheeler was promoted to the rank of fire prevention officer.