VALLEY PATRIOT EDITORIAL
Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini is planning to close the Bradford Fire Station in June and we find that unacceptable. Even more unacceptable is how Fiorentini blames the firefighters for racking up overtime and exhausting the city budget. But the firefighters we talked to showed us hard facts and figures proving that the fire department has not yet exhausted their budget and will most likely have a budget surplus of $200,000-$250,000 at the end of the fiscal year.
We are sure Mayor Fiorentini cares as much about public safety as everyone else in Haverhill, but his actions over the last five years show a clear bias against Haverhill firefighters.
Fiorentini has kept the fire department woefully understaffed since 2004, reducing the number of firefighters from 104 in 2004 to 90 firefighters today. That means the firefighters left on the job are forced to cover shifts for the fourteen missing men he refuses to replace. When you add injuries, sick time, vacations, or major emergencies to that equation it is easy to see why firefighters who have been working without a contract for so long are frustrated and burned out.
Instead of closing the Bradford fire station, Mayor Fiorentini should adequately staff the fire department, driving overtime down, response time up and saving a few bucks in the process. This seems like a no brainer for a mayor who is keenly aware of the stakes.