Firefighters Matthew Gambale, Michael Lausier, Sean McGovern, Michael Salsgiver, and Justin Ramstine were sworn in with high remarks from Fire Chief Kevin Breen on Wednesday night. (Bella diGrazia)
News, Police/Fire

Swampscott swears in five firefighters — finally

SWAMPSCOTT — Five firefighters administered their oath Wednesday evening, some having been on the job for a number of years.

A "collection of bad luck" led to a four-year delay in swearing in new members, according to Fire Chief Kevin Breen. Along with the five firefighters being sworn in, there were two promotions announced during Wednesday's Board of Selectmen meeting.

Justin Ramstine, Michael Salsgiver, Michael Lausier, Matthew Gambale, and Sean McGovern were the five sworn in. Joseph Gambale was promoted to captain and James Snow was promoted to lieutenant.

"It's a very exciting time to bring in a lot of new blood," said Breen.

A combination of scheduling conflicts, including storms and vacations, played a role in the long-awaited ceremony, said Breen. The arrival of Sean Fitzgerald as the new town administrator in 2017 also had an impact.

The ceremony was held in a packed room at the high school with family members and friends waiting to pin the newest department members before they administered their oath.

Ramstine was appointed to the department in 2014 and was one of five new hires brought on between 2014 and 2015, according to Breen. The lifetime Swampscott resident missed the ceremony in 2015 due to an injury during training at the academy.

After working for two years on the Winthrop Fire Department, Salsgiver re-took the exam to apply to Swampscott and was appointed in 2016. Breen said he has been a great addition to the department, spearheading a project for the department to adopt an island in town as a community service project.

Lausier, an Air Force veteran who served in active duty from 2007 to 2013, was appointed in 2017. He recently got his master's license in plumbing and lives in Swampscott with his wife, according to Breen.

A Swampscott resident, Matthew Gambale was appointed in 2017 and is a new hire from the 2016 eligibility list, along with Lausier. As the department's only current active duty member, he is a reservist in the U.S. Marine Corps as a field radio operator, according to Breen.

McGovern, the department's most recent hire, was brought on in 2018 and is beginning his one-year probationary period. The Swampscott resident worked as a police officer at North Shore Community College and, in 2013, took an incident safety officer course at the National Fire Academy in Maryland.

Captain Joseph Gambale, who has been with the department since 1997, gained the rank of lieutenant in 2014 and was promoted to captain in April 2018, according to Breen. Lieutenant James Snow was ill and unable to attend Wednesday's ceremony. He has been with the department since 1983 and was given the permanent rank of lieutenant in April 2018.

In the 10 years Breen has been fire chief, he has had to replace 11 out of 34 firefighters in the department due to retirement. The number of replacements he needed to hire was crowding in on half of his entire department, he said.

"With any new group, they bring a lot of vitality and fresh perspectives to the department," said Breen.


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