Haverhill Fire Chief Loses Case v. Restaurant

Haverhill Fire Chief Richard Borden has lost his attempt to close the Blue Finn Grille and force the owners to install an expensive fire sprinkler system. Restaurants like the Blue Finn Grille that seat fewer than 100 diners are not typically required to have sprinklers.

However, Borden contended that the building had sprinklers at some point in the past, when it was owned by someone else. The chief’s position was that those sprinklers were illegally disconnected and therefore must be put back regardless of the seating capacity of the restaurant on downtown Washington Street.

Lawrence Superior Court Judge Robert Cornetta has issued his ruling in the case. The judge said he visited the building Nov. 4 and found no evidence that there were ever sprinklers in it. His ruling says Borden claimed that some old sprinkler piping found in a building next door also serviced the Blue Finn Grille building.

“There is absolutely no physical evidence on site showing that sprinkler piping (found next door) penetrated the restaurant building’s exterior masonry walls and serviced the restaurant’s building,” Cornetta wrote in his ruling.

Following the Fire Department’s latest setback, City Councilor David Hall is calling for the firing of Chief Borden. Other city leaders have said they are concerned about the department’s problems and that Borden’s performance must improve.

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