LINCOLN, Maine — Fire Chief Phil Dawson has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of a personnel investigation, Town Manager William Lawrence said Tuesday.

Lawrence declined to comment on why Dawson was on leave or for how long the leave would continue. Dawson has an unlisted number and could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Town Council Chairman Steve Clay declined to comment on the matter, saying it was a personnel issue.

As town manager, Lawrence is the town’s Personnel Department director and handles all town disciplinary matters, Lawrence said.

Until the issue is resolved, Lawrence said he will manage the administration of the Fire Department and longtime Deputy Chief Hervey Clay, Steve Clay’s father, will handle the department’s responses to emergencies.

The town’s police chief, Lawrence serves as interim town manager as councilors search for a replacement.

Dawson gets paid about $38,000 annually as the town’s fire chief, Lawrence said. Dawson typically works four-day weeks and does not use the town’s health insurance plan, officials have said.

A former state trooper who also serves as Howland’s fire chief, Dawson was 50 years old when he was hired to replace Fire Chief Joshua Williams in June 2006.

Williams, 31, an Oregon native, abruptly resigned the position in February 2006, citing friction with Police Chief Hank Dusenbery and then-Town Manager Glenn Aho, discomfort with the department’s management structure, and changing career goals.

Williams replaced William Lee in early September 2005. Lee abruptly resigned his position in February 2005 after about four years on the job.

Dawson also served occasionally as Lincoln’s police chief.