(Additional photographs below.) In a ceremony at the Bradford Fire Station, Haverhill and state officials joined with Congresswoman Lori Trahan Monday to celebrate a $4.1 million federal grant to hire 16 firefighters and permanently add a second ladder truck.
As WHAV reported first in September, a grant writing team led by Capt. Richard Shellene and written and supported by Lt. Brian Ray and firefighters James Bizeur, Michael Foustoukos, Ryan Fairbanks and Timothy Carroll secured the award from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Trahan, speaking directly to firefighters noted Haverhill’s application rose to the top on its own merits.
“When you all make the brave decision to serve your community as a firefighter, you know what it requires and we know what it requires. You put your lives on the line each day to make sure every single person in this community is safe and secure and we are grateful,” she said.
The congresswoman also noted why increased staffing—particularly in Bradford—is critically important. “It’s not just important that Haverhill is going to have 16 new firefighters as mayor-elect said, we’re going to have a permanent, full ladder truck at the Bradford fire station. That means shorter response times, more lives saved—particularly as we deal with the weight restrictions on the Basiliere Bridge pending its reconstruction. It’s no secret that the Basiliere project is still two years away from starting which is why this investment is so important to keep us safer now,” she added.
Mayor-elect Melinda E. Barrett opened the ceremony by thanking Fire Chief Robert M. O’Brien and firefighters who prepared the successful grant application. She summarized the net benefit of the SAFER—Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response—grant, saying, “More firefighters on the scene leads to safer citizens and safer firefighters.”
O’Brien emphasized the connection between having more firefighters and increased protection. “Those of us who work in the fire service understand the importance of adequate staffing. Simply stated, proper staffing increases our ability to keep the public and our firefighters safe. Bottom line,” he said.
Sen Pavel Payano related a story going back about 15 years when his father was being checked for a heart attack. It was then he realized firefighters do much more than put out fires.
“He said he was alone at the house and the first people at the scene was Engine 5 in Lawrence. Thinking about it gets me teared up sometimes, but I realized the importance that you guys do out in our communities, in our cities,” Payano said.
State Rep. Andy X. Vargas took time to acknowledge longtime allies of the fire department, thanking Barrett, City Council President Timothy J. Jordan, Melissa J. Lewandowski and Joseph J. Bevilacqua, who were all present at the ceremony. Jordan said, referring to many presentations by Local 1011 Firefighters Union President Timothy Carroll, “it was a long road to get here.”