Belmont, Firefighters Agree To Five Year Contract

Photo: Select Board OKs five year contract with Belmont Firefighters.

The Select Board voted Monday, Jan. 9 to approve two contracts that will cover approximately 50 firefighters, paramedics and EMTs until June 30, 2026.

“This is a reasonable agreement for the town and for the union as well,” said Select Board Chair Mark Paolillo.

The first of two Memorandum of Understanding with the members of the International Association of Firefighters Local 1637 runs from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2022 includes a two percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) as well as annual stipends of 1.5 percent for paramedics and EMTs.

The second agreement between town and employees is a series of four annual contracts begin on July 1, ’22, ’23, ’24 and ’26 with a two percent COLA each year with a paramedics and EMT stipend of 1.5 percent in the first three contracts than falling to one percent in each of the remaining agreements.

Firefighters will also receive a $2,000 one-time payment funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The town was able to negotiate biweekly pay schedule which will add efficiencies with the payment department and adding the Juneteenth holiday to the package.

The Police Officers union is the final labor contract of town employees currently being negotiated. According to Belmont Town Administrator Patrice Garvin, who had helmed the contract negotiations for the town, a final contract for the police public safety should be presented before the Select Board “in the next couple of weeks.”

Belmont Fire Holding Open House On Saturday, Oct. 1

Photo: The open house is this Saturday

The Belmont Fire Department will be holding an Open House at its headquarters located at 299 Trapelo Rd. on Saturday, Oct. 1 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Join members of the Fire Department for demonstrations and hands on activities. Visitors of all ages will enjoy checking out various firefighter equipment, a friendly dose of fire safety education, and much more. Pizza and soda will be available. Come and join the department’s firefighters and fire department staff for this community event.

Belmont Fire Pins Newest Member

Photo: New Belmont Firefighter Mike Nolan has his badge pinned by his wife, Brittney.

Belmont Fire added its newest member – for a second time – to the force at a pinning ceremony at the Select Board’s meeting Monday, Sept. 12.

Three years ago, Mike Nolan joined the Belmont Fire Department before heading off to another department a year-and-a-half ago, according to Belmont Fire Chief David DeStefano.

“He has since decided that the Belmont Fire Department is the place to be and we’re glad to have him,” said DeStefano.

Nolan had his badge pinned for the second time by his wife, Brittney. The pair was married just five weeks before – honeymoon in St. Lucia – the event at Town Hall.

Nolan will be a “proby” for the next year.

From left: Belmont Fire Chief David DeStefano, Asst. Chief Andrew Tobio, BFF Mike Nolan, Select Board member Roy Epstein, Brittney Nolan, Select Board members Adam Dash and Chair Mark Paolillo, Brian Nolan, Terrie Nolan and Ashley Tworig.

Welcome: Belmont Fire’s Newest Jake Pinned At Board Ceremony

Photo: Mark Thompson (right) pinning his son Alex’s firefighter’s badge during a Town Hall ceremony Aug. 15

With fellow firefighters, family and friends and town officials in attendance, Alex Thompson joined the Belmont Fire Department at the Select Board’s meeting on Monday, Aug. 15 at Town Hall.

A former Marine who completed his certificate at the Massachusetts Firefighters Academy, Thompson recently completed several weeks of evaluation, orientation, and training in Belmont and was recently added to the operation division and was assigned to Unit 2.

Fire Chief David DeStefano presented Thompson with his probationary helmet shield which will donate him as a probationary firefighter – or ”probie” – for the next 12 months and his father, Mark, affixed his badge on his son.

“As I’ve said before, a firefighter’s badge should be earned and pinned by a person is important to that firefighter’s life,” said DeStefano.

Welcome Firefighter Thompson: (from left) Asst. Chief Andrew Tobio, Fire Chief David DeStefano, Beth Thompson, Mark Thompson, Firefighter Alex Thompson, Caroline O’Leary, Select Board’s Roy Epstein, Adam Dash and Chair Mark Paolillo.

Belmont Fire’s Recruitment Open House: Tuesday, Aug. 16 At 6 PM

Photo: If you had a dream to become a firefighter, come by the Fire Department’s HQ on Tuesday.

Learn about how to become a Belmont Firefighter at a Recruitment Open House on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 6 p.m. at the Belmont Fire Department Headquarters 299 Trapelo Rd.

Learn more about …

  • Tour our headquarters station, view our apparatus and equipment, and talk with our firefighters.
  • Our modern apparatus, equipment and stations,Exemplary Advanced Life Support Services
  • Advanced training opportunities in Haz Mat, Technical Rescue and other skills,
  • 24/72 shift schedule,
  • Competitive compensation and benefit package

An innovative fire department where you can make a difference.

With Concerns Heightened, Belmont School Committee Will Host Community Safety Forum Tuesday, May 31

Photo: The Belmont School Committee will host a virtual community safety forum on Tuesday, May 31

After a pair of alarming incidents directed at and in Belmont schools and the recent mass murder of students and teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, the Belmont School Committee will host a virtual community safety forum on Tuesday, May 31, at 6:30 p.m., according to an email from Belmont Superintendent John Phelan.

  • To join the Zoom video meeting, click this link:https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83217919060 Webinar ID: 832 1791 9060
  • To join by telephone:Call: (929) 205-6099 and enter this PIN: 83217919060# To ask a question or raise your hand, enter *9 on your phone.
  • The meeting will be cablecast live on channel 8 (Comcast) and channel 28 and 2130 (Verizon) and online at belmontmedia.org/govtv

The meeting comes after a bomb threat on May 11 was directed at Belmont High School and “concerning” social media messages accompanied photos of the interior of the Chenery Middle School has raised tensions among residents and parents of school-age students.

The meeting, which will be attended by Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac, Fire Chief David Destefano and Facilities Director David Blazon, will be an opportunity for public safety and town officials “to update on our protocols and to listen to concerns and feedback,” said Phelan.

“As most of our students have exposure to technology, news media, and social media, many of them have likely heard about the tragedy in Uvalde,” said Phelan.

“This topic will no doubt be top-of-mind among families throughout the nation for days to come. Our staff and counselors are available for students in school as needed. Please reach out to one of your child’s teachers, counselor, or principal if you feel your child needs specific support in processing this incident.”

Breaking: Belmont High School Closed After Bomb Threat [Updated 1 PM]

Photo: Belmont High School on the first day of the 2021-22 school year.

Due to a phoned in bomb threat, classes at Belmont High School have been cancelled for today, Wednesday, May 11, according to an email from Principal Isaac Taylor. Four Belmont Police vehicles and a Belmont Fire engine are at the school on Concord Avenue investigating the threat.

“Out of an abundance of caution the school department has elected to close the school for the day,” noted the Belmont Police twitter account.

Taylor said in his email that he was working on “how we will reschedule AP exams that were supposed to be taking place today.”

Chenery Middle School and Belmont’s four elementary schools remain open.

“At no time were there any threats or concerns for our elementary and middle school buildings,” said Belmont Superintendent John Phelan.

Update: 1 p.m.

The Belmont School District has provided a detailed timeline of the events of Wednesday, May 11:

  • 6:34 am: Belmont Police dispatch received a call from Massachusetts 911 stating that they received a bomb threat specific to Belmont High School.
  • 6:44 am: Belmont High School administration was notified via cell phone  of the threat as they were enroute to the school building.
  • 6:45 am: Belmont Police, in collaboration with school officials, proactively pulled the fire alarm to empty the school of any staff and students who arrived early in the building.
  • 6:56 am: Belmont Police requested permission to bring the Explosive Ordinance Dogs (EOD) from surrounding municipalities to sweep the building.
  • 7:14 am: BHS administration was provided access to the internet to communicate to Belmont High School students, staff, and families of the situation and the school closure decision for today.
  • 7:23 am: District administration sent out the first communication to BHS families, students, and staff.
  • 7:36 am: EOD teams arrived at BHS to sweep school.
  • 7:53 am: District administration sent out an automated call to our Belmont High School staff and families.
  • 8:24 am: District administration sent out an email communication to our PreK-12 community.
  • 8:40 am: BHS administration sent out a second communication to families, students and staff with an update.
  • 9:42 am: School administration was informed that the sweep of the building was complete and school was safe for activities this afternoon and safe to open for a regular school day tomorrow, Thursday, May 12.

Belmont Superintendent Phelan wrote in email to the school community just before noon:

“I want to thank the Belmont Police Department and Belmont High School administration for their vigilance, support, leadership and commitment to the safety of our school community. In addition, my appreciation goes out to our neighboring police departments for their support in sweeping the building.”

“The High School administration will provide an update on the schedules for today’s afterschool activities and the rescheduling of Advanced Placement exams impacted by today’s school closure.”

“My deepest gratitude to all of our staff who supported our students in all schools today as we worked through this morning’s incident. Staff will be made available to talk with students for the remainder of the week, should there be any questions or continued concerns.”

Promotions and Pinnings: Belmont Fire Celebrates Those Moving Up And Joining The Department [Photos]

Photo: Mila and Brooke Elefteriadis helps pin the badge on newly promoted Ace Elefteriadis at the Belmont Fire ceremony.

Just as Lt. Michael Dayton was being sworn in as a Lieutenant in the Belmont Fire Department by Town Clerk Ellen Cushman, a very loud alarm sounded and many of his fellow firefighters scrambled to a Rescue vehicle and fire engine to rush off to a call.

”You knew this was going to happen,” said Belmont Fire Chief David DeStefano after the oath was given to Dayton during what the chief called a “very special day for the department.

Belmont firefighters (left, background) leaving the promotion and pinning celebration to answer a call.

The bay of the Belmont Fire Headquarters on Trapelo Road was filled with family, friends, colleagues, town officials and children galore as the department acknowledged the promotion of four officers and three new firefighters to Belmont Fire’s roll.

Cushman issued the oath for the promotions and had the new officers sign the town’s new “Big Book” for town officials to acknowledge their pledge to the town coming after children and parents helped place their new badges onto their uniforms.

For the newbies, their mothers had to honor of ”pinning” their badges on their sons.

”This opportunity to get together and acknowledge the achievements” of those being promoted “is a rare occasion for the department and to bring aboard these three brand new firefighters and to have them participate in one of their first events with us makes this occasion even more special,” said DeStefano at the ceremony.

Those promoted include:

  • Asst. Chief Andrew Tobio – appointed 2003
  • Capt. Robert Wollner – appointed 2005
  • Lt. Ace Elefteriadis – appointed 2003
  • Lt. Michael Dayton – appointed 2011

Tobio, Eleftriadis and Dayton are Belmont High School alumni while Wollner is a US Navy veteran.

The newly hired Belmont firefighters are:

  • FFOP Peter Donovan
  • FFOP John Conaty
  • FFOP Matthew McCabe

Select Board Backs Belmont Fire Chief After Being Cleared Of Alleged Residency Violation

Photo: Belmont Fire Chief David DeStefano in July 2021

The Belmont Select Board rallied to the side of Belmont Fire Chief David DeStefano Monday night, April 26, after an independent investigation found DeStefano has not violated the residency clause in his three-year contract requiring him to live no farther than 15 miles from Belmont.

“I’m sorry that you have to continue to be subjected to these kinds of accusations and I want to thank you for your strong service to the town,” said Board Chair Mark Paolillo.

The complaint by former Belmont assistant Fire Chief Angus Davison alleged DeStefano had violated his work contract by not establishing a primary residence 15 miles from Belmont within six months after signing his contract in February of last year.

The residency allegations against DeStefano is the latest in a series of actions by Davison and others questioning his selection to lead the fire department and the process of hiring candidates from outside of Belmont when there are several “inside” applicants with equivalent leadership experience.

“Even before my official appointment as fire chief, a small network of individuals has worked to undermine the fair process by which I was selected as the most qualified candidate to be the fire chief,” said DeStefano. “Since my appointment, the same individuals have attacked and tried to undermine my leadership by attacks on my character.”

“I’m tired of all of the innuendo. I really tired of the continued sort of attacks if you will by certain individuals against our fire chief about not only residency but other sort of matters as related to the appointment process,” said Paolillo.

Using fuel receipts and mileage usage from DeStefano’s town-owned vehicle obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, Davison attested DeStefano’s daily mileage total – averaging 150 miles – was well beyond the distance needed to reach the Dedham address the fire chief claimed is his current residence. Davison suggests the distance is associated with round-trip to Cranston, RI where DeStefano was living when he was hired.

Since the mileage has not dropped since his hiring, Davison alleges that DeStefano “has not moved and is not abiding by the the residency clause” and thus is unable to meet the “essential functions” in the job description which requires him to respond quickly to serious incidents and fires as well as medical emergencies and fire investigations.

“Proximity to Belmont is a concern of the town the the ability to respond quickly is of the utmost importance. Responding from Rhode Island doesn’t meet that criteria,” contends Davison.

Davison said if the board did not address his allegations, he would bring them to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and request a fraud investigation be brought against DeStefano.

Presented with what Paolillo called “this serious claim,” the board asked the Boston law firm of KP Law PC to review the charges. Brian Maser, who is Belmont’s labor counsel, pointed to the admitting broad definition of residence by the state’s Civil Service Commission as the physical location of the employee’s house or other dwelling place. So confirming if a location is a residence would include having property records such as a lease or mortgage in your name, a voting record at the location, utility bills, excise tax records and a motor vehicle registration for that address.

Maser said DeStefano has provided the town a lease for a property 15 miles from the town, utility bills in his name and a driver’s license for the address in Dedham. In addition, DeStefano has verbally represented to Belmont officials that his primary residence is in Dedham.

“It’s our opinion that despite not being required to do so, the chief has voluntarily presented sufficient documentation to rebut the spurious allegation advanced against him related to his residency and has been in compliance with this employment agreement,” said Maser.

“Mileage is not an indicator of residency,” said the board’s Adam Dash. “Chief DeStefano has been doing an outstanding job and we’re lucky to have him.” DeStefano stated that in his first year leading the department, he’s revitalized training programs, updated countless policies, will start an EMS bike unit and trained for active shooter incidents as well as push to replace the department’s aging air packs.

“So I reject the pettiness and unsubstantiated claims of one or two individuals who favor the status quo and favoritism over progress and fairness.” he said.

Breaking: Butler Elementary Evacuated Due To Suspected Natural Gas; Students Relocated To Nearby St Lukes

Photo: The Butler school

The students of Daniel Butler Elementary School have been temporarily evacuated from the building located on White Street due to a suspected odor of natural gas in one of the school’s stairwells reported sometime before 8:30 a.m., Thursday, March 24.

The Belmont Fire Department is on scene, according to a social media message from the Boston Police Department. Due to the rain and cold temperatures, students are being taken by police to nearby St. Luke’s RC Church on Lexington Street.

National Grid which supplies gas to the town “will be arriving on scene shortly,” said police sources. Commuters will experience brief detours in the area.