Haverhill Deputy Fire Chief O’Brien Succeeds Laliberty; Mayor Asks Him to Hire Women, Minority Firefighters

Incoming Haverhill Fire Chief Robert M. O’Brien. (Courtesy photograph.)

Haverhill Deputy Fire Chief Robert M. O’Brien will succeed William F. Laliberty as fire chief.

O’Brien was appointed by Mayor James J. Fiorentini and has already been asked to hire women and recruit minorities. He is scheduled to be sworn in during a ceremony Monday morning at the Water Street Fire Station. The mayor said he believes O’Brien will continue the progress on upgrading fire stations, replacing fire trucks and other equipment and lifting firefighter morale.

“After spending many hours in interviews, I am confident that Deputy Chief Robert O’Brien has the necessary skill set to continue this progress and move the department forward. He is already familiar with every man in the department, and with the fire plans for every large building in the city. He is ready to go on day one. He fully understands the Fire Department and firefighting and will fight to keep the people in the Department safe. I have asked him to pay particular attention to recruiting more minorities and women.”

WHAV first reported Laliberty’s plan to retire last November. At the time, Haverhill Firefighters Local 1011 called on the mayor to hire from within.

O’Brien has been a member of the Haverhill Fire Department for 28 years, joining in 1994 and serving in every rank and in every fire station in the city as well as the fire department’s Inspection and Prevention Unit in City Hall. O’Brien was also injured in a serious blaze that took place in Bradford about 14 years ago. O’Brien has a bachelor’s degree in Fire Science and a master’s in Public Administration.

Fiorentini said an outside assessment center, operated by former interim Fire Chief John E. Parow was interviewed by a number of current and retired fire chiefs.

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