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Mass. city receives $4M grant to hire up to 16 firefighters

The Haverhill Fire Department’s SAFER grant will also cover 100% of the new members’ salaries and benefits for three years


Photo/Haverhill FD

By Mike LaBella
The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.

HAVERHILL, Mass. — Residents and businesses in Bradford can expect to receive an added layer of protection during emergency situations when the Bradford Fire Station receives additional firefighters needed to man a ladder truck.

Haverhill Firefighters IAFF Local 1011 announced the Haverhill Fire Department has been awarded a $4 million FEMA SAFER staffing grant that will allow the city to hire as many as 16 additional firefighters to staff a second ladder truck, with 100% of salaries and benefits covered by the federal government for three years.

Mayor James Fiorentini noted the city has not yet received the official announcement of the grant.

“We are aware that we did not get everything we asked for, so it is not yet clear to us how many firefighters this adds,” he said. “We will have additional comment once we get that official announcement.”

With plans to replace the Basiliere Bridge starting in 2025, city officials say a fully manned ladder truck at the Bradford station will mean faster response times.

Fire Chief Robert O’Brien has said that for Ladder 1 from the Water Street fire station to reach Bradford requires traveling down Merrimack and Washington streets, then crossing over the Comeau Bridge.

“It can be difficult to navigate because of traffic and there’s an extra distance to travel depending on the location of a fire,” he has said.

Although Ladder 4 is sometimes housed at the Bradford Fire station, it is not a manned vehicle so the department relies on Ladder 1, O’Brien has said.

“We thank the federal government for this grant,” Fiorentini said. “We particularly thank U.S. Senator Edward Markey and Congresswoman Lori Trahan for their steadfast advocacy for this.”

Fiorentini said the city has been seeking the grant for a number of years.

“This year we asked our new professional grant writing company in Washington DC, Merchant McIntyre & Associates, to assist the fire department in writing the grant,” Fiorentini said. “We want to thank the fire department and our professional grant writers for a very well-done grant application. We thank all who lobbied for, or wrote this grant, for their hard work.”

Fiorentini said the grant should help carry the city through the completion of the new Basiliere Bridge and allow it to station more firefighters in Bradford while the new bridge is being constructed.

“This gives us additional protection while it will be difficult to get fire vehicles over the bridge,” he said.

In a social media posting by Local 1011, it was noted the Haverhill Firefighters Grant Writing Team was composed of firefighters, including Capt. Richard Shellene and grant writers Brian Ray, James Bizeur, Michael Foustoukos, Ryan Fairbanks, and Timothy Carroll, union president.

“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 posting said.


(c)2023 The Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Mass.)