Haverhill Swears in New Firefighters, Newly Promoted Officers as Surge in New Recruits Begins

Fire Chief Robert M. O’Brien, left, and Mayor Melinda E. Barrett, right, welcome new Firefighters Nicholas O’Neill and Paxton Lee. (WHAV News photograph.)

(Additional photographs below.)

For the first time in at least many years, the Haverhill Fire Department is enjoying the beginnings of a surge in new recruits—both to replace retiring firefighters and fill 16 new federally funded positions.

Mayor Melinda E. Barrett and Fire Chief Robert M. O’Brien late Thursday afternoon presided over the swearing in of two new recruits and three others being promoted. Assistant City Clerk Rose Leonard-Flynn administered the oath to officers Capt. Thomas Helps and Lts. Evan Kelleher and Robert Miles and Firefighters Paxton Lee and Nicholas O’Neill who graduate today from the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy. O’Brien was beaming.

“We’re very proud to have all the additions to the Fire Department in terms of Nick and Paxton—our new firefighters to the Haverhill Fire Department. They’re graduating from the Academy tomorrow. They did very well there, in the high percentage of their class. Very proud of them,” O’Brien told WHAV.

The chief also praised the newly promoted officers, explaining their experience and skills were on display in completing the “very competitive test—the promotional exam.”

“They’ve all worked very hard. They’ll all very good, long-term, longtime employees of the Fire Department, so we’re happy to see the promotions come to fruition and, as important, that we actually get to celebrate as we’ve done tonight because this has not been done in a long time. We’re very happy to do it,” he added.

One of the newly promoted officers, Lt. Kyle Kimball was unable to attend the ceremony as he just became a new father. Kimball will join the next large group to be sworn in.

Barrett welcomed the officers, recruits and their families and friends in the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. City Council Chambers.

“We’re happy to have you in the city and we look forward to all having really successful careers here and keeping us all safe,” she said.

Other elected officials cheering on the growth of the Fire Department were City Council President Thomas J. Sullivan and City Councilors Melissa J. Lewandowski and Catherine P. Rogers.

O’Brien will be in attendance in Stow today when Haverhill firefighters are among 35 graduates of the Career Recruit Firefighter Training Class #319, representing 21 fire departments.

Fire Chief Robert M. O’Brien, left, and Mayor Melinda E. Barrett, right, congratulate Capt. Thomas Helps. (WHAV News photograph.)

Fire Chief Robert M. O’Brien, left, and Mayor Melinda E. Barrett, right, congratulate Lts. Robert Miles and Evan Kelleher. (WHAV News photograph.)

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