Haverhill Council Wades Into Mayor/Firefighters’ Water Street Tiff; Chief Says Leaks Fixed Last June

Water Street fire station during a Sept. 11, 2019 memorial service. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Click image for Haverhill City Council agenda.

It will be up to Haverhill city councilors to decide for themselves Tuesday night whether the city is on top of maintenance issues at the Water Street fire station or if the building is an example of what firefighters recently called “poor work conditions” going in to last Tuesday’s elections.

Individual firefighters repeatedly called attention to collapsing ceilings at the main fire station, but Mayor James J. Fiorentini is pointing to a Sept. 24 letter from Fire Chief William F. Laliberty that leaks were fixed last June. The mayor, re-elected last week, sent the letter to councilors for a second time, accompanied by strong words.

Fiorentini wrote, “There has been a lot of information, and a lot of misinformation, about the conditions of the Water Street Fire Station. The fire chief, working with the joint maintenance department, is working regularly to maintain the building.”

WHAV first learned of the existence of the letter a week ago from a city councilor. According to information submitted to the radio station, Fiorentini’s Chief of Staff Allison Heartquist forwarded the same letter to all city councilors the day Laliberty wrote it.

In the letter, the chief said the city hired a roofing contractor last May, but work was delayed until June 18 because of the rainy weather. He wrote, “Since the roof repairs of the June 18th date, there have not been any reports of water leaking into the building and now the interior areas affected by the water infiltration can be repaired.” He added, city maintenance staff planned to install or replace ceiling tiles and the Essex County Sheriff’s Community Service Program would undertake repainting. An outside vendor was also asked to submit a quotation on repairing plaster walls and ceilings.

City councilors who were contacted by WHAV said they do not recall fire station maintenance issues being raised as a cause for concern during last summer’s budget deliberations.

Haverhill City Councilors meet Tuesday, at 7 p.m., at the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. City Council Chambers, room 202, City Hall.

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