Haverhill Firefighter Apologizes For Saying Mayor To Blame For Death

By Karen Anderson, WBZ-TV

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.”

  • Brian

    Cities and Towne always waste our twypayes like mayors getting six figures during tough economal times. We should not face a higher risk of death whenever our house goes up in flames. Police but esp firefighter should never cut back, ever. Now poor woman is dead from Haverhill fire, it well likely be faced w lawsuits to come to help pay for her funeral costs. My friend Gladys house totally distroyed by a fire because Lawrence, MA firefighter budget cuts closed a so near one in her location off Prospect Hill. Recently it is now running for that neighborhood. Firefighter should not be cut, Firefighters should not make habital unnessessary trips like the supermarket so much as we taxpayers with rising costs of gas, Fire engines should really be driven for real emergencys.

  • firemanmark

    Me should learn inglish and propa syntax or no communt bout stuff i don’t know

    • dan

      100%agree..Brian should learn or take a class on how to write or type

  • Charlie

    In a way, it’s too bad he apologized. Hopefiully, though, it’ll give other cities and towns pause before staffing reductions in fire/EMS service. Why don’t we cut some of the bloat in the other parts of the town governments?

    On a positive note, I like the solution proposed, and perhaps it’ll stop another tragedy.

    • blackbear1

      Of course he should apologize!! That was a terribly inflamarory, unprofessional remark. Have you ever dealt with a FF union? Try it!! Of course there is bloat in ALL aspects of town government, but you don’t think there is in Public Safety? Go to s fire station, observe, check it out.
      Also, this proposed “solution” is strictly band aid variety. A bunch of guys who “owe” the city time for scamming their EMS certifications.
      What other units besides the rescue truck, such as multiple engines, ladder trucks, mutual aid from other communities either to the scene or for station coverage responded??

      • laughathaters

        And I’m pretty sure you have never dealt with a FF union either, other than rejection. I hope that I am not being too “terribly inflamarory”.

  • blackbear1

    laughathaters, I have and still deal with a FF union. Most rejection is recieved on their part, often because of their demeanor and tone.

  • Pat

    The firefighter definately should have apologized, he should have never said those things. This is why people are tired of union thugs. The Haverhill fire department tried to politicise this poor womans death, even to the point of trying to hold a press conference in front of her house! The mayor is not to blame for this and people are smart enough to know it. I hope this guy is ashamed! I also see a lawsuit in the future…rightfully so imho

  • web

    There are budget issues..one major issue is fraud and abuse. Overtime pay, abusive sick pay, abuse of disability…the firefighters themselves are to blame for the budget problems. The mayor can’t make money just appear. It’s not just the fire department, but they claim to be ‘victims of budget cuts’ while accusing the mayor. Every day in the news we hear of more fraud…(today, Lynn VFW). Maybe if the different agencies actually scrutinized their budgets better, we wouldn’t have cuts but a surplus.

  • http://theemtspot.com/2012/03/10/firefighter-apologizes-for-holding-mayor-responsible-for-victim-death/ Firefighter Apologizes For Holding Mayor Responsible For Victim Death

    […] the death of an 84 year old citizen in a house fire. Today, that firefighter offered his apology. [Read the whole story here…] Filed Under: Everything […]

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