Haverhill Firefighters’ Union President to City: Add Manpower So Public Safety Isn’t at Risk

Local 1011 Union President Timothy Carroll during an earlier appearance before the City Council. (WHAV News photograph.)

Members of the Haverhill Fire Department appeared before the City Council Tuesday, imploring City Councilors to advocate on their behalf to Mayor James J. Fiorentini for an increase in staffing, warning that the safety of city residents and first responders is at stake.

Firefighter Timothy Carroll, who serves as the president of the local 1011 union, joined his department colleagues to pack the Council chambers at City Hall as he presented their case for a gradual increase in the minimum number of firefighters on shift from 19 to 25 over five years.

If that doesn’t happen, said Carroll, a public safety crisis could result. “This department has been working with good skill and a lot of luck. We’re tasked with a lot to do for this community and these guys show up every day and do it with no questions asked,” he said. “They’re here tonight because they know it’s their safety and the public’s safety at hand.”

The department—headed by Fire Chief William F. Laliberty—aims to respond to 90 percent of calls within four minutes, but the staffing crunch Carroll spoke about prohibits that in some areas of the city.

To bolster his argument, Carroll noted that Haverhill’s staffing levels greatly lag behind other communities. Haverhill has only one firefighter per 700 residents, well behind any other city in the state.

Ideally, the Haverhill Fire Department would have six engines, two ladder trucks and one rescue truck minimum to adequately serve a city with a population Haverhill’s size, Carroll said. He also hopes to hire four additional firefighters. Three are currently working their way through the state firefighting academy, he said.

On a motion by Councilor Melinda E. Barrett, the council voted to send the proposed plan to the Public Safety Committee for further review.

The Council was sympathetic to the plight of Carroll and his brother firefighters, reasoning that while they support the department’s effort to man up, it is Fiorentini who can ultimately make staffing decisions.

Carroll didn’t mince words when pleading with the city’s top leader: “It’s time that the Mayor steps up,” he said.

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