February 2 2018,  Saugus

From firefighter to “frontline supervisor”

Veteran Saugus firefighter William E. Cross III advances into top supervisory position

By Mark E. Vogler

After nearly 24 years as a Saugus firefighter, William E. Cross III received a promotion to Acting Lieutenant this week. “It couldn’t happen to a better guy, and it definitely is the right time in his career, and he has the right amount of experience in firefighting to be a frontline supervisor,” Fire Chief Newbury said Wednesday as Cross was sworn in during a ceremony at Town Hall before family, friends and colleagues.

“He is ready and he is prepared, and I think the department will be better for it,” Chief Newbury said.

Cross’s father, William E. Cross, Jr. – a retired Chelsea Fire Department captain who served with that city’s fire service for 35 years – pinned his son with the badge of his new rank during the ceremony.

“I am proud to appoint Lieutenant Cross and I wish him the best of luck in this new and challenging role,” Town Manager Scott C. Crabtree said in a statement released by the town manager’s office. “I have no doubt that he will continue to be an enormous asset to our Public Safety Department and to the residents of Saugus,” Crabtree said.

Lieutenant Cross is a 2008 recipient of the Medal of Valor for his rescue of a double amputee while he was off-duty, according to the manager’s statement.

“I am thrilled to be serving as a fire lieutenant in Saugus, and I think I have the greatest job in the world … When you love what you do, you never work a day in your life, and that’s how I feel,” Cross said.

Another generation of Cross firefighters? Cross, 50, has been married to his wife, Tracy, for nearly 24 years. They have three sons: Andrew, 22; Patrick, 20; and Joseph, 17.

He is a 1985 graduate of Saugus High School. He played all four years on the Saugus High School basketball team and was a captain in his senior season.  Cross has been a Saugus resident since moving from Chelsea to town with his family when he was five years old. He was recently president of Saugus Firefighters Union Local #1003. He received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Suffolk University while minoring in English. He is a former Saugus Town Meeting member and has served as chair of the Saugus Retirement Board since 1997. Cross has served as a mentor for two decades at Saugus High School’s annual Shadow Day.

Mrs. Cross, a 1988 Saugus High School graduate, is a teacher’s aide in the Chelsea Public Schools.

Two of Cross’s three sons are studying at college: Andrew is a junior at Endicott College and Patrick is a sophomore at the University of New Hampshire. Joseph is in his junior year at Saugus High School.

There could be a third generation firefighter in the Cross family, as Patrick will be taking the firefighter’s exam this spring. “My father never pushed me to do this, but this gets in your blood. And I love it,” Cross said in an interview yesterday.

“I’m not going to put any pressure on him [Patrick] to make that decision. Whether he wants to be a plumber, a finance whiz on Wall Street, a firefighter or whatever a son of mine wants to do – I just want him to do what makes him happy, that’s all,” he said.

Cross said his promotion is provisional until his grades are certified by the state.

He said he plans to continue in his position as president of the local firefighters union “as long as they keep electing me” and I’m now in my 19th year as president.”

Cross considers the highlight of his firefighting career the medal he received as part of a group that rescued a woman with a disability from a second floor fire. “That was part of a team effort. I am lucky to have worked with some of the greatest officers who ever worked in this place [Saugus Fire Department], and I love what I do,” Cross said.

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