HAVERHILL (CBS) – On Thursday, Todd Guertin, a Haverhill Firefighter and representative of Local 1011, apologized to the mayor for saying that he should be charged with murder.
“I want to start off by saying to Mayor Jim Fiorentini personally I deeply regret the comments I made, ” said Guertin
He says they were emotionally charged. “The comments I made were untrue, and I would like to apologize to the Mayor and I hope he accepts my apology.”
The Mayor responded, saying, “The statements last night hurt, they were painful.” But he says this apology is a step in the right direction.
The comments were made just hours after 84-year-old Phyllis Lamot died in a fire at her home on Washington Street. Firefighters were angry that the mayor had recently cut staffing to their rescue truck, from three to one firefighter, as part of the budget crisis in the city.
Union representatives say the firefighters never wanted to cause more pain for Lamot’s family.
Ed Kelly, the President of the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts said, “If we could trade places with their mother we would.”
The Mayor and firefighters announced that going forward the rescue truck will be fully staffed, without cost to the city, with firefighters serving their punishment duty. Nearly 30 had been caught in an EMT certification scandal last year.
The mayor said the union stepped forward and he is grateful for their solution.
Firefighters will volunteer to staff the Rescue truck for two weeks until the new system is in place. The punishment duty is expected to fill shifts until July 30th, when the city says they will come up with a more permanent solution.
The Mayor and Haverhill Firefighters have been embroiled in a contentious battle for years. Recently an arbitrator sided with the Union in the contract talks. That led the Mayor to make the cuts.
Why did it take a tragedy to reach a compromise? Greg Roberts, the President of Local 1011 said, “I don’t think this approach was thought in anybody’s mind. I may be wrong, but it wasn’t in my mind.”
Kelly said, “What came from that unfortunate tragedy is that we have a staffed rescue company in the city of Haverhill. Thousands of residents are better protected tonight than they were last night.”