, Newburyport, MA

May 8, 2013

Selectman's criticism unwarranted

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

Fortunately, serious injuries during last week’s fire on Main Street in West Newbury were averted.

As a retired West Newbury firefighter I witnessed, and participated in, a collaborative effort to assist active duty firefighters during the size up and preliminary stages of the firefighting effort.

Many retired West Newbury firefighters and active duty firefighting personnel from other communities were instrumental in assisting the arriving crews to establish water supplies and provide other logistical assistance.

Unfortunately, a member of Board of Selectmen who was a casual observer at the scene chose to single out retired West Newbury firefighters as “liabilities to the town” due to our efforts to actively assist at the scene.

The initial responders were presented with a multiple structure fire. Two structures, a barn and an adjacent house were involved in fire.

Concomitant issues involved multiple brush fires, which threatened other homes contiguous to the fire buildings.

Not speaking for the entire group of retirees, I feel that we effectively assisted the extremely competent, albeit understaffed, group of active duty personnel, in bringing the fire under control.

The selectman in question, Glenn Kemper, rather than help in any substantial way, stood on the sidelines berating retirees for jumping in to help when help was clearly in need.

I feel strongly that in a time of crisis, as this clearly presented to be, good citizens, particularly those with skill sets that directly correspond to the obvious needs before them, would be malfeasant not to assist. This is an applicable tenet both in a small town or large city.

In light of recent events at the Boston Marathon where hundreds of volunteers ran into danger to assist those in need, I wonder if Selectman Kemper, had he been present, would have presented similar criticisms as those he levied at the West Newbury retirees?

Some of us stand and fight, while others cower and criticize!

Jack Connolly

West Newbury Fire (retired)