HAVERHILL — Firefighters and Mayor James Fiorentini have to come an accord — the jakes will have the rescue truck fully staffed until June 30 and the mayor got an apology from one of the ranks who said he should be charged with murder in the death of an elderly woman in a fire yesterday.
Haverhill firefighters have agreed to have two of its men volunteer to work the rescue truck for free for the next weeks. When the two weeks are up, firefighters who accepted unpaid punishment duty for their role in last year's EMT certification scandal will serve their hours on the rescue truck. The punishment hours should cover the extra two men on the rescue truck until June 30.
The first firefighter to volunteer his time on the rescue truck was Firefighter Todd Guertin, who is second-in-command of the Haverhill firefighters' union. In an exclusive interview with The Eagle-Tribune yesterday, Guertin said Fiorentini "should be charged with murder for taking the rescue truck out of service over a dispute with the union."
Today, he told Fiorentini he was sorry.
"I deeply regret the comment. It was an emotionally charged statement and I am deeply sorry," Guertin said.
Guertin will work the rescue truck tonight for free.
The accord comes on the heels of yesterday's fire at 477 Washington St. which killed was 84-year-old Phyllis Lamot. Within hours of the deadly blaze, firefighters held a press conference to say Lamot may have survived the fire if Fiorentini had not cut two men from their rescue truck last week. The mayor made the cut to cover a $200,000 deficit in the department's overtime budget.
Public safety officials and the mayor maintain the cuts to the rescue truck had nothing to do with Lamot's death.
Firefighters and Fiorentini agreed to have a detailed, internal investigation of the response to yesterday's fire done by fire Chief Richard Borden.
Last year, 27 Haverhill firefighters agreed to work hours of unpaid punishment duty using falsified records to obtain state-required emergency medical technician recertifications and accepting the extra pay that goes along with being certified as an EMT. Firefighters in Haverhill and other communities in Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire were involved in the scandal,
More on this story in tomorrow's The Eagle-Tribune.