firefighters

Wayne Alarm: Fire system up to code?

SAFETY TIP OF THE DAY

SPONSORED BY WAYNE ALARM AND HONEYWELL.

At Wayne Alarm, we always make sure our customers and clients are fully prepared in case of any emergency. And with warmer weather fast approaching, it is important to make sure your fire system is still reliable, inspected, tested and maintained. A quarterly check on your system can make a huge difference in your safety. So how can homeowners or business owners keep their systems updated? Follow these tips below:

  • Make sure Wayne Alarms fire system is up to date with its detection alarm. Without this feature, the system would fail to notify you if smoke appears or to dispatch the firefighters to save your home and evacuate your family.
  • Check your fire exits to make sure doors easily open and no objects are blocking the exits. It’s also important to ensure that it is properly marked and everyone will have no trouble finding it.
  • Make sure there are no flammable objects or substances in or near the exits. If so, it is best to store them away in the right place to prevent any fire.

On average, there are over 374,000 residential fires and over 2,000 deaths. Don’t let yourself become a statistic. These additional tips could make a huge difference to avoid any fire.

  • Smoking – If you smoke, make sure you do so in areas where it is not prohibited. Or if you smoke, make sure it is only fire-safe cigarettes. Since fires and deaths result from fires that have started in a living/family rooms, or bedrooms, it is better to smoke outside instead. Most importantly, keep lighters, matches and cigarettes out of reach of children.
  • Electrical – When using electrical kitchen appliances make sure they are put into a receptacle outlet one at a time, as the outlet can dangerously heat up.

Call us today to schedule for a free in-home consultation.

Item live-3

“Here yesterday… Here today…Here tomorrow.”

www.waynealarm.com

Wayne Alarm: Fire system up to code?

SAFETY TIP OF THE DAY

SPONSORED BY WAYNE ALARM AND HONEYWELL.

At Wayne Alarm, we always make sure our customers and clients are fully prepared in case of any emergency. And with warmer weather fast approaching, it is important to make sure your fire system is still reliable, inspected, tested and maintained. A quarterly check on your system can make a huge difference in your safety. So how can homeowners or business owners keep their systems updated? Follow these tips below:

  • Make sure Wayne Alarms fire system is up to date with its detection alarm. Without this feature, the system would fail to notify you if smoke appears or to dispatch the firefighters to save your home and evacuate your family.
  • Check your fire exits to make sure doors easily open and no objects are blocking the exits. It’s also important to ensure that it is properly marked and everyone will have no trouble finding it.
  • Make sure there are no flammable objects or substances in or near the exits. If so, it is best to store them away in the right place to prevent any fire.

On average, there are over 374,000 residential fires and over 2,000 deaths. Don’t let yourself become a statistic. These additional tips could make a huge difference to avoid any fire.

  • Smoking – If you smoke, make sure you do so in areas where it is not prohibited. Or if you smoke, make sure it is only fire-safe cigarettes. Since fires and deaths result from fires that have started in a living/family rooms, or bedrooms, it is better to smoke outside instead. Most importantly, keep lighters, matches and cigarettes out of reach of children.
  • Electrical – When using electrical kitchen appliances make sure they are put into a receptacle outlet one at a time, as the outlet can dangerously heat up.

Call us today to schedule for a free in-home consultation.

Item live-3

“Here yesterday… Here today…Here tomorrow.”

www.waynealarm.com

Signs of the times in May Day march

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Marchers move down Andrew Street.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — In what was described as the city’s biggest May Day rally in years, more than 200 protesters lined City Hall Square on Monday to support immigrant and workers rights.

As Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” blared over speakers, activists held signs that read: “Everybody is an Immigrant,” “Nobody is Illegal,” “Housing is a Human Right,” and “No to Gentrification.”

“We have an administration in Washington who does not treat us with respect,” said Maria Carrasco, a Lynn School Committeewoman. “Silence is not an option. We must demand respect with dignity. We are human beings who are here and we are staying here.”

The annual May Day celebration had its roots in Chicago in the late 19th century, as unions lobbied for fair working conditions, better wages, and the eight-hour work day with strikes and demonstrations nationwide. People from all backgrounds celebrated Lynn’s history as a home for immigrants and as a leader in the fight for dignity, respect and a living wage for workers.

Carrasco said without immigrants, many service industry jobs would go unfilled.

“Nobody will do the jobs that we do,” she said. “Nobody will clean hotels or work in restaurants if we don’t do it. At the same time, we must demand that employers respect us with good pay.”

Jeff Crosby, president of the North Shore Labor Council, told the crowd that today’s worker challenges are about fair wages and embracing immigrants.

“In Chicago in 1886 workers dreamed of justice and eight-hour day so they could have time for their families and church,” he said. “Today, workers dream of a $15 minimum wage and a city without hatred where everyone is welcome regardless of where they’re from. We dream of fair pay for our teachers who educate our kids. They should not have to compete with police and firefighters for crumbs.”

Bettencourt announces re-election bid

Among the marchers were dozens of Lynn teachers who protested the lack of a contract.

The three-year deal, which expired last summer, called for a two percent raise annually for the last three school years.

“We are celebrating our students and protesting the lack of progress in the negotiations,” said Brant Duncan, president of the Lynn Teachers Union.

He acknowledged that these are tough times for the city as Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy has asked department heads to trim their budgets.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing different organizations in the city being pitted against each other,” Duncan said. “The city is obligated under law to meet the minimum spending requirements and we are very mindful that the city has reached agreement with other unions this year with raises of between 2 and 2½ percent.”

In February, the firefighters reached a $2.5 million deal that provides a retroactive 2 percent raise for each of fiscal years 2015 and 2016, a 2.5 percent hike for 2017, another 2 percent for 2018 and on June 30, 2018 they will collect another 1 percent.

Last year, the $2.2 million four-year police contract called for an 8 percent retroactive pay, a 1 percent boost for 2014, a 2 percent increase for 2015, 2016 and 2017 and a 1 percent raise for 2018.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Bettencourt announces re-election bid

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Peabody Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr. is pictured in a file photo.

By ADAM SWIFT

PEABODY Recent Peabody mayors have a habit of sticking around awhile.

Edward A. Bettencourt Jr. recently announced that he is seeking a fourth term as the city’s leader.

Bettencourt is only the fourth mayor Peabody has seen since Nicholas Mavroules was elected in 1966. Since then, mayors’ tenures have been more likely to be measured in decades than terms, with Peter Torigian serving for 23 years followed by a decade of leadership by Michael Bonfanti.

Bettencourt said he is proud of what he has helped the city accomplish in his first three terms and looks to continue to move the city forward.

“Our focus on economic development, education, public safety, quality of life and affordability has helped make Peabody one of the most desirable cities to live in all of Massachusetts,” Bettencourt said.

In a re-election statement, Bettencourt pointed to several accomplishments that have taken place during his administration, including the construction of the new Higgins Middle School and the redesign and beautification of Peabody Square.

Do you recognize this ID theft suspect?

Other highlights of his first three terms include the completion of the South Peabody Trail Network, the dredging of Crystal Lake, taking over the management of Tillie’s Farm on Lynn Street, and an increase in the number of firefighters assigned to the city’s neighborhood stations from two to three.

“I am committed to maintaining Peabody’s affordability while still investing in our future and delivering the core services that residents expect,” Bettencourt said. “I love this city and I love this job. If the voters see fit, I will continue to give it my very best every single day.”

Bettencourt, who ran unopposed in 2015, has yet to see any challengers take out papers to run against him this year. Potential candidates have until July 21 to take out nomination papers, and those papers must be filed by July 25 with at least 50 certified signatures. The preliminary election is slated for Tuesday, Sept. 12 and the final election is Tuesday, Nov. 7.

There’s already been a good amount on interest in City Council seats, both in several of the six wards and for the five at-large positions. There will be at least two new faces on the council come 2018, as Councilor-at-Large Tom Walsh will be focusing on his position as a state representative, and Ward 6 Councilor Barry Sinewitz has said he will not be running for re-election this year.

Potential at-large council candidates who have taken out nomination papers as of Monday morning include incumbents Tom Gould, David Gravel, and Anne-Manning Martin. School Committee member Tom Rossignoll, Ryan Melville, Stephen Collins, and Peter Bakula have also taken out papers.

In the wards, incumbents who have taken out papers include Ward 1 Councilor Jon Turco, Ward 2 Councilor Peter McGinn, Ward 3 Councilor James Moutsoulas, Ward 4 Councilor Ed Charest, and Ward 5 Councilor Joel Saslaw. Michael Geomelos and Margaret Tierney have taken out papers to replace Sinewitz in Ward 6. Other potential challengers for the incumbents include Bukia Chalvire in Ward 4 and James Jeffrey and Andrew Diamond in Ward 5.

 

Firefighters defend ambulance proposal

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Members of the Nahant Fire Department: Josh Mahoney, Nick Papagelis, Lt. Dave Doyle, and Austin Antrim, feel the Finance Committee is inaccurate with its information.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

NAHANT — The Nahant Firefighter’s Association is knocking down the Finance Committee’s opinion that an Ambulance Enterprise Fund is not necessary.

Fire Chief Michael Feinberg submitted a Town Meeting article to adopt an Enterprise Fund to defray the cost of operating an ambulance service. Feinberg said the account is designed to capture the revenue from ambulance transports and use it directly to offset the operating cost of providing the service.

But the Finance Committee is not recommending Town Meeting support the article, stating that the town “should not act in haste” and recommending indefinite postponement.

According to the Department of Revenue, an Enterprise Fund “establishes a separate accounting and financial reporting mechanism for municipal services for which a fee is charged in exchange for goods or services. Revenues and expenses of the service are segregated into a fund with financial statements separate from all other governmental activities.”

“Rather than provide Nahant residents with enough information to make an informed decision for or against the establishment of such a fund, they provided incomplete, and in some instances, incorrect information,” Austin Antrim, president of the Nahant Firefighter’s Association, wrote in a letter to town residents.

The revenue has already been captured by the town since the fire department resumed emergency ambulance services about 20 years ago, he said. But Selectman Richard Lombard expressed concerns that passing the article would make an ambulance ride more expensive.

“What is proposed is the creation of a fund that would take all the medical billing revenue collected by the Town of Nahant and use it specifically to offset the costs of providing the service. Currently, the line items in the Nahant Fire Department budget that relate to the ambulance service are funded through the general fund. With the establishment of the Ambulance Enterprise fund, the majority of those line items will be funded directly by medical billing revenue instead of the general fund.”

Malden looks out for those at risk

The Finance Committee also stated in its recommendation that  “revenues aside, the benefit to residents of an Ambulance Enterprise Fund is questionable, and there is no urgency to doing it now.”

The document said that in 2016, the Fire Department responded to 18 fires, 360 ambulance runs, and 62 assists to invalids, “a pattern that has been consistent for years.”

In his response to the panel’s decision, Antrim said the numbers were inaccurate.

“In 2016 the Fire Department responded to 708 emergency calls of which 49 percent were emergency medical calls,” he wrote. “For three consecutive years the overall emergency call volume has increased, with 2015 and then 2016 setting new records for the most emergency calls handled in a year by the Nahant Fire Department.”

The committee members added they had concerns with the department’s “acquisition of unplanned and unbudgeted assets (i.e. a drone),” which raised concerns about making additional funding available outside Proposition 2 ½ protections.

The Annual Town Meeting begins at noon on Saturday at Nahant Town Hall.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

Police and fire chiefs ask for more resources

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN —  The city’s police and fire chiefs sounded the alarm Tuesday night about the budget crunch that is impacting public safety.

“The police and fire departments have been ignored money-wise for years,” said Fire Chief James McDonald.

“The schools are not the only city department experiencing growth, what about us? We are doing what we can with less, but it’s not safe.”

Police Chief Michael Mageary said his department is operating with 181 officers, down from the peak of about 193 in 2010. Based on next’s year’s budget that include contractual obligations for raises, he said they will continue to move in that direction.

“We’ve already had to absorb $1 million worth of cuts, reduced many of our preventive programs, cut our investigative services to the bone and reduced patrol officers to maintain our budget,” he said. “There’s no money to be found. Given retirements coming up this year, we could be down 24 officers and that’s significant.”

The chiefs appeared before the City Council’s Public Safety and Public Health Committee.

McDonald said the cuts are not just impacting firefighters. He said Lynn’s eight fire stations need work and some must be replaced. The most recent fire station was built in 1968 and the oldest was constructed in 1898, he said.

“Any repairs or improvements that have been made in the stations, like fixing leaky roofs, have been done by the firefighters on their own dime,” he said.

Mother to mayor: Your comment was hurtful

McDonald said he has sent letters to Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy and Peter Caron, the city’s chief financial officer, about the state of the fire stations, and has not received a response.  

“It’s time for them to get off their ass and do the right thing,” McDonald said. “Someone has to say we can’t fix the city’s financial troubles by taking from public safety.”

In response, Kennedy said she has been urging lawmakers to change the rules on Beacon Hill about school spending to allow more money to go to police and fire.

“Every department head in the city has know for years that I have been asking for support to put an effort together to get the net school spending formula changes because it’s inequitable in the way it impacts cities like Lynn that have a growing school population,” she said. “This year, I am required by law to commit another $3.4 million to the schools. I can’t spend it on any other department. It is beyond my ability to give more money to public safety.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com

 

Lynn planning for emergencies

PHOTO BY ALENA KUZUB
Lynn firefighters set up a mass decontamination unit during a joint training exercise.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — Dozens of first responders gathered at Union Hospital Thursday to simulate a response to something they hope will never happen — a hazardous leak of a deadly chemical.

“You never know when this kind of thing will happen,” said William Klag, emergency preparedness coordinator at the North Shore Medical Center. “But we still have to be ready.”

A team of five dozen firefighters and emergency medical technicians quickly set up a 12 by 18 foot contamination unit in the hospital’s parking lot.

In an actual emergency, the yellow tent outfitted with showers would be used to remove chemicals from patients before they enter the hospital. For victims who cannot walk, there’s a conveyer belt in the tent for stretchers.

“We have not had a major incident in Lynn and that’s how we like it,” said Klag. “But there could be a chlorine leak and if so, we need to be able to handle it, make sure our staff, patients and the people who are coming in are kept safe.”

Paul Ricchi, Lynn’s emergency management director, said should a chlorine tanker crash or a spill occur at a public pool, first responders would be activated.

“We’d be at the scene and send casualties to the hospital,” he said.  

For patients who have to be taken to the hospital by ambulance, EMTs would wear protective suits, boots, and facial shields.

The drill is a key component to make sure emergency responders are ready to act quickly, Ricchi said.

“This is the place to make mistakes so they won’t happen in a real emergency,” he said.

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The key to keeping the public safe is routine training and the drill is a good way to do that, according to Fire Chief James McDonald.

“The decontamination unit is used to remove chemical exposure from victims because once they enter the ER the whole building is at risk,” he said. “It’s complicated and if people don’t get hands-on training, when it’s really needed it could cause delays and potentially further problems.”

John Coulon, Nahant’s health agent, said the parking lot would be the first stop for anyone in need of treatment from chemical exposure.

“It’s something that could happen at a public swimming pool if there was an accidental mix of chemicals that creates a gas that could cause harm if breathed or exposed to skin,” he said. “Once they are rinsed off and given a preliminary triage, then they enter the hospital for further treatment.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

They earned it, chief says of new firefighters

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

SAUGUS – The Saugus Fire Department has appointed four new firefighters to its crew.

Matthew Smith, Joshua Mullen, Sean Bohannon, and Martin Hyppolite were sworn into their new roles on Monday at Saugus Town Hall by Saugus Fire Chief Michael Newbury and Town Manager Scott Crabtree in a ceremony observed by their friends and family, members of the fire department, and Town Hall employees.

“All four of them deserve the job,” said Newbury. “They earned it.”

Both Smith, a Norwich University graduate, and Bohannon are U.S. Army veterans. Bohannon was a heavy duty equipment operator and served more than one overseas deployment, said Newbury.

Mullen was a firefighter in the U.S. Air Force for the past four years and is working on his master’s degree in Fire Science.

“He will be one of the most educated guys we’ve had right off the bat,” said Newbury.

Hyppolite recently graduated from the University of Connecticut, where he played football for four years.

Newbury said the four men, all with different backgrounds, will each be an asset to the crew.

“It’s always exciting to have new department members,” said Newbury. “It always brings a new enthusiasm, so having four new firefighters on at the same time is a good feeling.”

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Newbury said he is looking forward to working with the new firefighters and seeing them serve the community. They will fill the roles of three retirees and one firefighter who is expected to retire this year, he said.

“I am proud to appoint firefighters Smith, Mullen, Bohannon and Hyppolite to the Saugus Fire Department,” said Crabtree in a statement. “These men will be a great asset to the town and I wish them the best success in their new roles.”


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

‘Welcome to Student Government Day’

PHOTO BY SCOTT EISEN
Lynn District Fire Chief Stephen Archer leads a training session as students Gabby Graham, left and ElizabethWeeks listen.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — High school students were handed the keys to the city on Tuesday, when they were able to take over roles such as the fire chief and superintendent, or assume a place on city council.

“Welcome to Student Government Day,” said EDIC/Lynn Executive Director James Cowdell to the participating high school students. “This is one of our favorite days of the year. We hand over the keys to the city to the students, the future leaders of our great city.

Participating schools included Lynn Classical High School, Lynn English High School, Lynn Vocational and Technical Institute, St. Mary’s High School, KIPP Academy and Fecteau Leary Junior/Senior High School.

“Whatever school you’re from, we’re all from Lynn and sometimes outside of Lynn, people look at us in a negative light,” Cowdell said. “Wherever you go, be proud of your roots. You’re from Lynn, Mass. Say that with pride.”

Gabby Graham, 18, a senior at Fecteau-Leary, was district fire chief for a day, pairing up with District Fire Chief Stephen Archer. She was shown a rapid access mass decontamination drill at the former Thurgood Marshall Middle School on Porter Street, which simulated a situation where there is a large number of people exposed to some contaminant, Archer said.

Archer said in that situation, firefighters would get exposed people quickly hosed down and thoroughly decontaminated before they could be taken to the hospital. Water volumes and pressures are played with until the effective washdown is achieved. The drill showed how people are instructed to walk through a massive stream of water.

“It only takes one contaminated person to shut down a hospital and that’s what we’re trying to avoid,” Archer said.

Graham said her eyes were opened to see how much firefighters do, rather than just go into burning buildings.

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Fire Chief James McDonald was paired with his niece, Elizabeth Weeks, 18, a senior at St. Mary’s High School. He said he took her to his office, fire stations, and then to the 911 call center, where she learned what calls needed to be dispatched.

Weeks said it was interesting to see how government affects everyday life.

“You can (only) learn so much in a classroom, but having that firsthand experience gets you so much more immersed,” she said.


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

Mayor: All departments should be level funded

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — Chief financial officer Peter Caron appeared before the City Council’s Budget Committee Tuesday night to explain how the city found itself $8 million in the hole.

“The fiscal year 2017 budget was about $4 million out of balance because expenditures exceeded projected revenues,” he said. “That budget did not reflect pay raises. So we started the fiscal year 2018 budget with a structural deficit in that expenditures exceeded revenues.”

The bottom line, he said, was that to fully fund all city positions with raises would be a 7 to 8.5 percent increase in payroll line items.

“We are not in a position to do that,” Caron said. “So, the mayor has asked all departments be level funded. We are encouraging managers to be creative and we’re looking for suggestions. Once we get those budgets, we’ll see how the department heads will address their shortfalls.”

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Ward 1 Councilor Wayne Lozzi wanted to know why Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy failed to anticipate the pay hikes and figure out how to pay for them.

Earlier this year, firefighters won a new four-year contract with a 9.5 percent raise, costing $2.5 million. Last summer, the police received $2.2 million over four years.

“These raises were anticipated,” Lozzi said. “When you settle a contract, it calls for pay raises in a certain time frame with retroactive pay.”

Lozzi asked what assurances the city has if department heads overspend and ask for supplemental cash later.

Caron said, “There is no additional money for supplement budgets.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tigrillo@itemlive.com.

Saving lives in Peabody

Firefighters in Peabody and communities across the country save lives in many different ways. They rescue people from burning buildings and bring them back to life from drug overdoses.

The role firefighters play in battling addiction has prompted Peabody Fire Department members to take a bold and humane step to help addicts. Armed with statistics and information about overdoses in the city, firefighters are reaching out to addicts and urging them in face-to-face conversations to get the help they need.

This type of outreach is not a new concept. Police officers and firefighters historically have approached people they see in the course of fighting crime and fighting fires and urged them to take a straight and narrow road for the sake of their health and their families.

Healthy Streets ready to help

Addiction is a national problem that touches every family directly or indirectly. Few, if any, Americans don’t know a family member, neighbor, co-worker, casual acquaintance or good friend who is in the grips of addiction or has a loved one plagued by addiction.

Firefighters who spend a few minutes or, maybe, hours talking to an addict or the relative of an addict about opioid abuse are sharing knowledge, empathy and sympathy with someone who is suffering.

It’s compelling to visualize a firefighter knocking on an addict’s door and telling the person who answers the knock, “Listen, I’ve saved addicts’ lives. I’ve also seen addicts die. I might save your life someday or witness your death. But today can be the day you take the first steps to saving your own life.”

Public attention has been focused at the state level and nationally on the war on opioid addiction. There is a universal consensus over the severity of the addiction problem and its human toll. There is less unanimity over how to end addiction. Substance abuse prevention advocates call for more detoxification and rehabilitation beds. Law enforcement proposes new sentencing or arrest protocol suggestions and legislators draft proposals aimed at cracking down on how opioid pain medication is dispensed in hopes of narrowing the gateway leading to addiction.

All of these approaches are well-meaning and usually well thought-out. But the direct approach to talking to addicts injects a degree of honesty into combating addiction. Addicts who have overdosed know a police officer, paramedic or firefighter was most likely the person who saved their lives. They know they can’t hide from or fool someone who is paid to fight on the front lines of addiction.

Peabody firefighters and counterparts across the country may never know if they save a life by knocking on an addict’s door. But that won’t keep them from continuing to try.

Lynn firefighters settle on contract

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — It took nearly five months of arbitration, but city firefighters won a new four-year contract that calls for a 9.5 percent raise, sources told The Item.

The $2.5 million deal was settled late Wednesday by the Joint Labor-Management Committee, a quasi-public agency that negotiates collective bargaining disputes between municipalities and public employees. Under the terms of the agreement, the firefighters will receive a retroactive 2 percent raise for each of fiscal years 2015 and 2016, a 2.5 percent hike for 2017, another 2 percent for 2018 and on June 30, 2018 they will collect another 1 percent.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy had offered firefighters 8 percent last year, similar to the police contract that was settled last summer. But Lynn Firefighters Local 739 sought a 10 percent increase over the the life of the four-year contract.

While the firefighters got less than they asked for, they received a better deal than the $2.2 million four-year police contract that was settled in August.

The 8 percent retroactive police agreement provided a 1 percent boost for 2014, a 2 percent increase for 2015, 2016 and 2017 and a 1 percent raise for 2018.

Kennedy declined to comment.

“I am still crunching the numbers and reviewing the decision,” she said.

Arbitration rules do not allow the mayor to reject the settlement.

The city council is expected to take up the matter next month. The panel is free to deny the deal and send the parties back to arbitration, but it is unlikely the 11-member board will do so, say observers.

The decision is likely to put more stress on an already tight city budget.

Peter Caron, the city’s chief financial officer, said it’s unclear how these raises will be funded. The mayor has 30 days to submit the contract to the city council for their approval.

None of the leadership of either union were willing to talk about the new contract. Michael O’Connor, the firefighter’s union president, did not return a call seeking comment. Vice President Mario Lopez and former president Matthew Reddy also declined to comment.

Lt. William Sharpe, president of the Lynn Police Association, could not be reached for comment.

Photos: Snowstorm smacks North Shore


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Investigators: Fire fatality had stabbed himself

PHOTO BY KEITH VIGLIONE
A firefighter is pictured at the scene of a Jan. 29 fatal fire on Beach Road in Lynn.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — Investigators have determined that the early morning Jan. 29 fatal fire on Beach Road was intentionally set by the victim, Alexander Joshua, according to the Essex County District Attorney’s office.

“The fire was intentionally set, we believe by the deceased,” said Carrie Kimball Monahan, spokeswoman for the Essex County District Attorney’s office. “He had some self-inflicted injuries in addition to having set the home on fire. I don’t know if the injuries killed him or the fire. But we know that Mr. Joshua took his own life.”

Monahan said Joshua, 41, had self-inflicted stab wounds.

Joshua lived in the third floor apartment of the 20-unit building at 11 Beach Road. The three-alarm fire started in the apartment’s living room.

The blaze displaced 26 people. There were no other injuries.

Lynn fire victim identified


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley

Residents could get burned by false alarms

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN Crying wolf could get more expensive.

If the city gets its way, it will cost more when your alarm brings firefighters and there’s no fire.

Under the amended ordinance that will be considered at a public hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 10 at City Hall, fines for false alarms will be increased for the first time in seven years.

If approved by the city council, the first two false alarms are forgiven. But a third will cost home and commercial property owners $100, up from $50. And it increases from there with $200 for the fourth, up from $150, and $300 for five or more.

“It makes sense, the people who have malfunctioning fire alarms should be held accountable,” said Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy. “Any time firefighters or police respond to an emergency, they run the risk of accidents and could be tying first responders up on a nonsense call when something important could be going on.”

Officials hope that the fines will encourage home and building owners and managers to improve the maintenance of their fire alarm systems.

Peabody fire leaves 10 homeless

In 2014, the most recent data available, fire departments in the U.S. responded to nearly 2.5 million false alarms, five times the number of structure fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. That’s up from nearly 900,000 false alarms in 1980.

About one-third of these alarms are caused by problems in the fire alarm system itself.

Many of these were triggered by commercial monitored connections, including apartment buildings, hotels and dormitories, NFPA said. The share of alarms coming from occupancies with automatic fire alarms has increased as these systems have become more common.

Unwanted alarms have also taken an increasing toll on the nation’s fire service in the form of fuel costs, apparatus wear and tear, risk of collision and injury during response, and a growing complacency when responding to automatic alarms, NFPA said.

Lynn District Fire Chief Stephen Archer referred questions about the ordinance to Lt. Israel Gonzalez in the fire prevention division, who said he was unaware of the proposal.

Kennedy did not know how many false alarms occur in Lynn or how much money is lost annually by them.

“It’s difficult to quantify,” she said. “But nothing positive comes out of responding to a false alarm.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Firefighters earn Medals of Valor

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND SECURITY
Gov. Charlie Baker bestows the Medals of Valor on Lt. William Fritz and three other Lynn firefighters for their heroic acts of bravery at a fatal fire on Bruce Place last year. From left: Joseph Fannon, Brett Johnson and Lt. David Stanley.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — One year after a three-alarm fire killed four people, the pain still lingers for the family and at least one firefighter.

The state’s single deadliest blaze last year at 24 Bruce Place claimed the lives of Yasmin Cruz, 20, a Lynn English High School graduate and a student at North Shore Community College; her mother, Maritza Cruz Vizcaino, 42, a home caregiver; Sonia Cruz, 36, Maritza’s sister, who was pregnant; and Rodolfo Cruz, 28.

“It’s been hell,” said Tomas Cruz, who lost four cousins in the tragedy. “It’s so sad, the family doesn’t like to think about it. We support each other and rely on our church to help us get through.”

Lynn fire kills 4

Lt. William Fritz of the Lynn Fire Department was one of the first firefighters on the scene at 12:46 a.m. on Dec. 4. When engines arrived, a woman was jumping from a second floor window onto the roof of a car to escape while the others were evacuating the three-family home. Flames were blowing out the windows and bystanders said people were trapped on the upper floors.

Fritz, a 20-year veteran of the department, said firefighters couldn’t get in the front door because of the heavy fire on all floors, so they grabbed the hose and entered through the rear.

“We walked up to the second floor landing, opened the back door and the heat threw us down,” Fritz said.

The crew, that included Joseph Fannon, Brett Johnson and Lt. David Stanley, was forced to crawl through the rooms with zero visibility.

“The minute we got in the door, I thought I heard someone moaning so I said, ‘I hear somebody, I hear somebody,’” Fritz said. “I grabbed onto something, I don’t know whether it was an arm or a leg, I couldn’t tell because it was too dark and I couldn’t see, and we pulled the first unconscious woman out who was trapped under furniture in the living room.”

Fritz heard another voice. Stanley entered the kitchen area to continue the search and with conditions rapidly deteriorating, Fannon and Johnson found a second unconscious victim with burn injuries and brought her down the rear staircase and outside.

While the crew was able to save the lives of two women, they could not reach the four others because of the heavy smoke and fire.

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The four firefighters were honored for their bravery with the Medal of Valor last month at Mechanics Hall in Worcester by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.

“You go in, you put your mask on, you stay low and it’s just luck whether you find someone or not,” said Fritz. “I feel bad. I wonder what I could have done differently that would have helped save the others, but you realize sometimes there’s not a whole lot you can do.”

Three dozen firefighters battled the blaze at the house where reportedly more than 20 people lived.

The state fire marshal said the cause of the fire is unknown. They suspect it was electrical, but arson and smoking could not be ruled out as a possible cause.

Officials said the fire started in the front stairwell of the triple-decker that was used by the second floor tenants to get to their units. The back stairs were used by the first floor tenants, and they were able to escape this way. The four people who died lived on the second floor and were trapped by the fire. The other second floor tenants managed to escape using the rear stairs, not their usual way out, underscoring how important it is to have a home escape plan with two ways out, the state fire marshal’s report said.

Witnesses said the exterior door to the front stairs was not securely shut, which allowed air from the outside to fuel the fire and the stairwell to act as a chimney. This is where most of the fire damage was and much of the evidence of where the fire started, according to the report.

Examination of the rear stairwell found motion-detection lights with bulbs that were meant for exterior use only, inside the building. These lights draw a heavy wattage and could have caused an electrical fire, the report said. On the building’s exterior, one of the motion-detection lights had left scorch marks on the siding. If the same situation existed inside the front stairwell, it is a possible cause of the fire, the report said.

Investigators found no obvious signs of arson, but since the hallway door was unsecured, they couldn’t rule it out. The accelerant detection dog used in the investigation didn’t find any evidence of arson. The only smokers in the building did so outdoors or in the basement accessed by the back stairwell, not the front stairwell where the fire started. Occupants said that the front hallway was free of trash, leaves, or stored items that might have been easily ignited by smoking materials, or used by someone to intentionally set a fire. There is no evidence smoking started the fire, but it cannot be completely ruled out either, the report said.

Witnesses said they never heard smoke alarms from the hallways, only from inside the apartments. This leads investigators to believe there were no working smoke alarms in the front hallway either, allowing the fire to get a head start before anyone was alerted. The smoke had to enter the individual apartments where those smoke alarms gave people the first warning signs of danger, leaving them little or no time to escape.

For Cruz, he is still haunted by the deaths.

“We don’t like to remember that night,” he said. “We all miss them so much.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

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Mass. graduates 200th firefighting academy class

STOW, Mass. (AP) — Nearly two dozen new firefighters will be working to save lives after the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy recently held a graduation for its 200th class of recruits.

State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan says 17 fire departments around the state will be getting rookies from the class of 23 new firefighters, which included 21 men and two women.

Their nine-week training program included practice fighting flames, classroom instruction and physical fitness training.

Coan says they also learned about responding to hazardous materials incidents, making rescues in confined spaces, and managing stress.

Recruits had to show proficiency in search and rescue techniques, pump operation, and ladder operations to graduate.