NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Fire Department promoted its newest lieutenant on Wednesday. But the lieutenant is hardly new to the department.
Matthew LaBonte is a veteran firefighter of 27 years and has been acting lieutenant for some time. After taking the state exam for the position earlier this year, he was formally promoted to the position.
"I am very happy to make this appointment," said Fire Chief Stephen Meranti. "He's a very good lieutenant and he's going to make a great addition to the command staff."
LaBonte was sworn in a small ceremony in City Council Chambers by City Clerk Deborah Pedercini, with his colleagues on the Fire Department and a few family members. Meranti pinned on his new badge slowly so everyone could take pictures.
"Normally we do these in ceremony. We do them publicly, we do them on camera. And, you know, hopefully at some point we'll be able to do it ceremonially again," said Mayor Thomas Bernard, who bumped elbows with the new lieutenant. "But the chief didn't want to wait. And I didn't want to wait. And I know that the team — I'm sure you didn't want to wait either."
It was important, he said, to formalize the promotion because the work and the responsibility and the risk doesn't stop.
"This is a family profession. So we want to recognize everybody and we want to thank you, thank you all," the mayor said to LaBonte's comrades and family. "We'll do it again [on camera] when we can."
LaBonte, who didn't want to speak, fills out the lieutenant ranks so there are now four, one for each shift.
"He's a very well-respected member of the Fire Department," Meranti said. "I'm proud that he's gonna be a lieutenant and I'm proud to make this appointment. It's been a long time coming."
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