HAVERHILL — A Haverhill firefighter who allegedly collected money from and obtained the signatures of colleagues who were then recertified as emergency medical technicians without taking the required training has been placed on paid administrative leave.
Mayor James Fiorentini said yesterday firefighter Jeffrey Given will be on leave until the city's investigation of the EMT recertification controversy is completed. Given is one of 30 Haverhill firefighters who had their EMT licenses suspended by the state Department of Public Health for obtaining recertification without taking the proper training.
In another matter, Fiorentini said he has asked the Police Department to investigate why apparently no one in the Fire Department knew that another firefighter, Kevin Thompson, was in jail in New Hampshire for four months after pleading guilty to driving after license suspension as a "habitual offender."
Greg Roberts, president of the local firefighters union, declined to comment.
Last week, the Department of Public Health suspended the licenses of 207 EMTs statewide who were improperly recertified. Thirty-five of the EMTs were employees of Trinity Ambulance, which serves Haverhill and many other Merrimack Valley communities.
"The public has every right to believe that firefighters who receive a stipend to be an EMT have received the proper training and are qualified to be EMTs. We intend to take this very seriously," Fiorentini said.
Firefighters receive an extra $1,500 per year if they are EMTs. Just about every Haverhill firefighter is an EMT, and Fiorentini has said public safety will not be compromised because of the suspensions.
Trinity Ambulance has hired 18 EMTs and has offered overtime shifts to employees to avoid any interruption of service, according to Chris Dick, marketing director.
Given, who began working for the Haverhill Fire Department on Oct. 20, 2002 and was also employed by Trinity Ambulance, has had his EMT license suspended for two years, according to a report obtained by The Eagle-Tribune under the state Public Records Law.
Given, according to authorities, collected money and sample signatures of his EMT colleagues and passed them on to another person, who then would provide the recertifications. Unknown at this time is the amount of money collected and passed on in the scheme.
Suspended for nine months as EMTs were Haverhill firefighters Jeff Akstin, Joseph Cahill, Timothy Duff, Alexander Fredette, Robert Gariepy Jr., James Graham, James Hinds, Peter Humphrey, Robert Irvine, James Jardine, Andrew Lafferty, William Laliberty, Christopher Link, Jeffrey Moriarty, Stephen Ryan, George Sarrette, Scott Stempien, Paul Weinburgh, Brian Wildes, Marc Wunderich, Mark Young and Michael Zaino.
Scott Batchelder, Keith Grant, Lance Pettis, Justin Poore, Timothy Riley, Michael Sullivan and Eric Sullivan received 45-day suspensions.
City Solicitor William Cox is conducting a local investigation of the EMT controversy. Asked if other firefighters besides Given will face disciplinary action, Cox said, "We will conduct a full and fair investigation. We'll go wherever it leads."