Haverhill Receives $4 Million Federal Grant to Fully Staff Bradford Fire Station Ladder Truck

Haverhill Fire Chief Robert O’Brien told councilors in May of 2022 he is not “getting everything I want” in the fire department budget. Firefighter Ryan Fairbanks is seated behind the chief. (WHAV News file photograph.)

A long-sought second Fire Department ladder truck to be based in Bradford will become a reality thanks to a $4 million federal grant.

The Haverhill Firefighters Grant Writing Team said yesterday it secured a SAFER—Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response—grant that will pay for 16 additional firefighters over the next three years. As late as this past spring, Fire Chief Robert M. O’Brien made the case that Bradford requires its own ladder in light of plans to replace the Pfc. Ralph T. Basiliere Bridge over the Merrimack River. He was thankful for a budget that allowed for four-person crews at Water Street, but called for more help.

“That will staff a ladder. That will carry us through the Basiliere Bridge construction project. Is that the end of it? No. I’m not going to lie to you. We need a second ladder in this city. Period. I’m sorry that offends people or people think they know better. I’m the expert in the room on this. Sorry. I am,” O’Brien said.

Haverhill Firefighters Local 1011 credited the grant team led by Capt. Richard Shellene and written and supported by Brian Ray, James Bizeur, Michael Foustoukos, Ryan Fairbanks and Timothy Carroll. The grant was awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“A lot of work was done to setup the HFD for success in this grant category, including previous department landmarks and staffing increases. There will be a lot of people to thank in time, but without these dedicated individuals and the integral help from Fire Chief Robert O’Brien, the Haverhill Fire Department would not have been able to fund these positions so quickly,” the union said in a statement.

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