Malden, Mass., Sept. 10, 2015, — Mayor Gary Christenson recently held his Public Safety Awareness meeting in collaboration with the Chinese Culture Connection at the Senior Center. Although the meeting was geared towards non-English speaking Asian residents, the general public was invited to participate in the discussion. Mayor Christenson was joined by Police Chief Kevin Molis, Fire Chief Jack Colangeli, and Department of Public Works Director Bob Knox who helped answer questions and address concerns.
(Front row far left) Yan Yu, Mayor’s Office Constituent Services; (Back row) Fire Chief Jack Colangeli (fourth from left) Police Chief Kevin Molis (sixth from left), DPW Director Bob Knox (eighth from left), CCC Executive Director Mei Hung (next to Bob Knox) and Mayor Christenson with Safety Awareness Meeting participants
“We had a terrific turnout and a very productive meeting,” said Mayor Christenson. “We’ve received positive feedback regarding our continued efforts at working to communicate more effectively with all our residents on public safety issues.”
Arson Watch Program Rewards Citizen for Helping Solve Malden Arson Case
By all accounts it was a terrible fire one morning in May of 2014. Two families escaped the three-alarm blaze at the two-family home at 63 Converse Avenue. Two Firefighters were injured, all property was lost and what was left of the house was later demolished. Fire Chief Jack Colangeli noted the difficulty in fighting the fire was because all three floors were fully engulfed upon arrival at the scene. Adding to the challenge was that a tenant who occupied a third floor bedroom was missing, prompting firefighters to activate a search and rescue operation.
Enter alert Haverhill resident Gene Piermattei traveling to work on the MBTA Orange line. He sat next to a young man incoherently muttering that he had just burned down a house in Malden. Gene followed the young man off the train and told MBTA officials what he heard and was assured that MBTA surveillance caught the man on camera. Upon returning home from work that evening, Gene learned of the fire in Malden and called Malden Police. Upon Police review of the MBTA’s surveillance footage, the individual was brought in for questioning, was arrested and is currently serving time in prison for his actions.
For his heroic efforts and perseverance, Gene was presented with a $5,000 reward by Ron Meehan of the Massachusetts Property Insurance Underwriting Association and the State Fire Marshal’s Office. State Trooper Sheryl O’Donnell of the Massachusetts State Police Detective Fire and Explosion Investigation Section, Mayor Gary Christenson, Fire Chief Jack Colangeli and Police Chief Kevin Molis also participated in the celebration to congratulate Gene on a job well done.
“Gene has clearly demonstrated that one person can make a tremendous difference,” said Fire Chief Jack Colangeli. “The sad truth is that Malden Firefighters were in harm’s way during a horrible fire searching for a person who wasn’t there – the person who had started the fire and left.”
“I commend Gene for not only paying attention, but for following through, which directly led to the arrest of an arsonist,” said Mayor Christenson. “His getting involved was crucial to justice being served.”
The Arson Watch Reward Program is funded by the property and casualty insurance underwriting companies in Massachusetts and is administered by the Massachusetts Property Insurance Underwriting Association, also known as the MA-RI FAIR Plan. The program presents rewards of up to $5,000 for information that helps solve arson crimes and also sponsors the Arson Watch Hotline: 1-800-682-9229.
(Photos courtesy of Paul Hammersley, City of Malden)