Costa, Head of Firefighters’ Advocacy Group: ‘$6 Million Will Not Be Nearly Enough’

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

Haverhill firefighters are not being equipped with everything they need to do their job. That was the essence of an address to Haverhill City Council members at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Stephen Costa, founder of the group “Citizen’s for Haverhill Fire” spoke passionately about the need for Haverhill to provide more money for equipment and personnel. He said that based on the growth of the city and the deteriorating condition of some equipment, the approved budget of $6 million will not be nearly enough.

“We are going to end up like the city of Boston. After 20 years of mismanagement by the administration, the next mayor has to come in and commit at least $20 million to straighten out the demands of the department,” Costa said.

Costa said the city moves too slowly when it comes to meeting the needs of the fire department, As an example he referenced a report from 2011 which cited needed repairs to the Water Street Fire Station then—repairs that took nine years to be completed.

Costa also brought up the problem of increasing cancer rates among firefighters due to toxins used in building materials and the need for state and local health benefits for those affected. He cited the case of Boston Fire Lt. Glenn Preston, who contracted lymphoma from breathing in toxic smoke while battling fires. Preston has since been declared cancer free after treatment.

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