HAVERHILL, MA Firefighter Todd Guertin had to do more than just apologize to Mayor James Fiorentini for calling him a murderer — he must work 72 unpaid hours as punishment for those comments, The Eagle-Tribune has learned.
Guertin made the comments Wednesday morning, just hours after 84-year-old Phyllis Lamot died in a house fire on Washington Street. He said the mayor should be “charged with murder for taking the rescue truck out of service over a dispute with the union.” He also said the victim’s family should file a wrongful death lawsuit against the city.
Guertin’s punishment duty is part of a deal the mayor and union announced Thursday to fully staff the rescue truck until June 30 at no cost to taxpayers, City Solicitor William Cox said.
Guertin, a member of the union’s leadership board, served his first punishment shift Thursday night on the rescue truck.
“He was aware the city was contemplating discipline for his comments about the mayor, so they came in and worked out an agreement,” Cox said of Guertin, local union president Greg Roberts and Edward Kelly, president of the state firefighters union.
Cox said he does not believe the mayor or Public Safety Commissioner Alan DeNaro considered firing Guertin, as far as he knows.
Cox also said Guertin’s decision to apologize to Fiorentini for the comments at a press conference covered by a throng of media was voluntarily.
“I deeply regret the comment,” Guertin said. “It was an emotionally charged statement and I am deeply sorry.”
Firefighters have agreed that two of their men will work the rescue truck for free for the next two weeks. After that, firefighters who accepted unpaid punishment duty for their role in last year’s EMT certification scandal will serve their hours on the rescue truck. The mayor said he is hopeful the city will be able to find money to fully staff the rescue truck with paid time in the fiscal year that begins July 1.
The rescue truck accord was struck 15 minutes before Thursday’s 2:30 p.m. press conference in the mayor’s office at City Hall, Fiorentini said. The press conference was originally scheduled to be held in front of the burned-out Washington Street home where Lamot died.
The union met and voted Wednesday night to call for Fiorentini’s resignation at the press conference, but all that changed when the two sides reached the agreement on the rescue truck and Guertin’s punishment.
Hours after the deadly blaze, firefighters said Lamot may have survived if Fiorentini had not cut two men from the rescue truck last week. The mayor made the cut to cover a $200,000 deficit in the department’s overtime budget.
Public safety officials and the mayor maintain the cuts to the rescue truck had nothing to do with Lamot’s death.
From The Eagle-Tribune.