HAVERHILL (CBS) – The Haverhill firefighters union met with the city’s mayor Thursday afternoon, a day after a firefighter said the mayor should be charged with murder for department cuts that he claimed led to the death of an elderly woman.
84-year-old Phyllis Lamot died in the explosion and fire in her first floor apartment on Washington Street early Wednesday morning.
The fire union said Mayor James Fiorentini reduced the number of men on Haverhill’s rescue truck from three to one last month.
They claim when that truck got to the fire, the one firefighter on board had to wait for backup before going into the burning house.
“We feel very strongly that that woman would have survived (yesterday) had this rescue truck been adequately staffed,” said Edward Kelly, president of the Professional Firefighters Union of Massachusetts.
One firefighter, Todd Guertin went as far as calling the mayor a murderer.
He was quoted in the Eagle Tribune as saying:
“The mayor should be charged with murder for taking the rescue truck out of service over a dispute with the union.”
He later backed away from that comment but he stood by his claim that the mayor’s decision caused the victim’s death.
Fiorentini said staffing had nothing to do with Lamot’s death and called the murder allegation “reckless.”
A woman who lived on the third floor of the home and escaped safely with her family isn’t placing blame.
“I don’t think they should be attacking the mayor,” Mia Ward told WBZ-TV Thursday.
“Maybe it should make him think. I don’t think people should be calling him a murderer or anything like that. It’s wasn’t his fault.”