Mass. firefighter fired, two others suspended

The separate incidents in which all three firefighters were arrested

By Peter Francis
The Eagle-Tribune

HAVERHILL, Mass. — One city firefighter has been fired and two others have been suspended from their jobs.

City officials said the termination of firefighter Scott Graham stemmed from an arrest last fall. Firefighters Todd Guertin and Daniel Goudreault have been placed on unpaid leave while the city investigates alleged improprieties.

A resident of North Andover, Goudreault, 53, was arrested at his home on June 30 and charged with assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest. He was reported by a family member to be "highly intoxicated" and "aggressive" that evening, according to a police report.

Goudreault hit Officer Thomas Driscoll in the face while struggling with police, according to the report.

Goudreault continued to wrestle with officers who were attempting to take him to a cruiser, and refused to put his hands behind his back, police said. Officers warned him they would use a Taser to subdue him, police said. Officers Tased him and used pepper spray to subdue him, the report said.

Officers initially intended to bring Goudreault to his parents' home in Haverhill, but decided instead to place him in protective custody. He was held overnight at the police station and arraigned in Lawrence District Court on June 3. Judge Michael Brooks released Goudreault on his own recognizance and ordered him to abstain from drinking alcohol.

He is due back in court for a pretrial hearing on Aug. 8.

Mayor James Fiorentini said Guertin was arrested in July for an undisclosed reason and has since been placed on unpaid leave. Due to the state's domestic violencel Law, Haverhill police said they could not provide any details about the arrest.

A former secretary of the city's firefighter union, Guertin was disciplined in 2012 when, after the death of an 84-year-old woman in a house fire on Washington Street, he said Fiorentini should be "charged with murder for taking the rescue truck out of service over a dispute with the union."

Guertin also suggested the family of the woman, Phyllis Lamot, should file a wrongful death lawsuit against the city. He was later ordered to work 72 hours of unpaid time.

Less than a month into his tenure as fire chief, William Laliberty faces these personnel issues in his department, which was marred by a 2008 scandal involving firefighters using sick time to attend to personal matters, and a 2011 scandal in which 28 firefighters were charged with lying about receiving EMT training, which brings firefighters extra pay.

When asked for comment on the status of the investigations into the conduct of Guertin and Goudreault, Laliberty said he would defer any comments on the investigations to Fiorentini.

The mayor has taken measures over the years in attempting to reform the Fire Department, most notably by creating the position of public safety commissioner in 2011 to oversee both the fire and police departments.

He appointed former Central Falls, Rhode Island, police Chief Alan DeNaro, a former firefighter and arson investigator in Florida, to the position. DeNaro currently serves as police chief and public safety commissioner.

DeNaro is on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment on the status of the investigation involving the two suspended firefighters.

Asked what he would do to ensure firefighters behave properly, Laliberty said he will continue leading by example and will institute a stronger code of conduct.

"We're developing a program to let them know what is acceptable and what won't be tolerated," Laliberty said. "It seems like common sense, but we want to praise them when they do well and want to address things before they become public."

Fiorentini said the investigations into the conduct of Goudreault and Guertin are ongoing, but that the vast majority of the city's firefighters "do not need any coaching" on how to behave.

"They understand full well and are very good people," said Fiorentini, adding Laliberty suggested a conduct program during his interview for the position of fire chief. "He wants everyone to know what is expected when they're working and when they're not."

The mayor said the hiring of Parow as an interim replacement for Chief Richard Borden, who died last May of natural causes at age 56, was a "turning point" for the department.

"There are always going to be things that come up," Fiorentini said of the recent arrests. "But overall, we have a very good Fire Department."


(c)2016 The Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Mass.)

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