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A Message from the Central Coventry Fire District Board of Directors:

When the Central Coventry Fire District filed for receivership in October 2012, the district was already bankrupt.  Gross mismanagement and a labor contract that gave control of the district to the Fire Fighters union led to its demise.

 The court receiver made two attempts to get a budget passed by the voters and failed.   Finally the court receiver, and union president, met with the RI State Director of Revenue for guidance and they came up with a “standard plan” to resolve the problem:

     1.  Force a hefty tax levy. 36%    
     2.  Negotiate some union concessions.
     3.  Convince the voters that the problem is fixed.
     4.  Encourage the voters to accept these higher taxes and move forward.

The previous Board of Directors and Court Master did not have credibility to accomplish this.

A new Board of Directors was elected and the task at hand was to find if the present Central Coventry Fire District could run as a viable operation or should it be closed. The board would not tell the voters the district was fixed if they were not convinced.   

After assessing the overall financial conditions and engaging the union in concession discussions it was determined that the district was not going to succeed.  Based on the court’s order, the new board recommended closure.  The court and all involved parties were aware that neither the current approved budget nor the House Bill #H6101 Budget (the infamous Guthrie/Tomasso Bill to force higher taxes) would assure the districts viability, given the Union concessions being offered.  In other words, even higher taxes to deceive the taxpayers and hide the incompetence of the previous board was not going to achieve the long term viability of CCFD. 

Many people kept asking us about attempting further “negotiations” with the union. Previous negotiations for concessions by even the court receiver only resulted in later law suits filed by the Union against CCFD that demanded repayment for any previous agreed upon concessions (deferred debt). No permanent Contract changes were ever achieved. Negotiations take time and require a professional negotiator.  Not this BOD nor any other local political entity should be negotiating with these professional unions. The local elected “nice person” is no match for the union’s expertise. That is what led to this expensive, big city contract being jammed down the throats of local taxpayers. The Anthony Fire District also has this same contract in place.  

From the beginning of the receivership, the court knew that it would be very difficult if not impossible for the district to survive.  The newly elected Board of Directors provided a last ditch effort to save it.  This board was charged with providing the people’s input. The court could have easily ordered the Tower ladder truck be returned or after reviewing the debt of CCFD, the judge could have ordered the district closed. However, by having the new Board vote to return the truck and having the new Board vote to liquidate, it made these decisions the “will of the people”.   

 Without a long term plan to show the district’s viability the court was going to be forced to close and liquidate CCFD. The January court session sent a loud and clear message that the court was working on the legal basis for which to close the district.  

CCFD Board of directors submitted their contingency plan of private rescue and purchase Fire Services from the neighboring Fire Districts. Private Ambulance companies submitted letters indicating that they would be willing to provide their services if the court ordered closure. They all stressed, however, that they were not soliciting the business while a union was in place when replying to our RFI’s. The CCFD Board was not given authority by the court to implement any alternate plan. We also knew from meeting with the Town Emergency Management committee that they had a plan to divide up the district. 

 Sadly, this entire time, the union members felt that this board was their enemy even though it was pointed out at the September meeting that the enemy was “time” and TIME RAN OUT.

To wrap it up we met with the town to let them know that the end of the district was coming.
While it will cost money to shut down the district, trying to keep it open was costing the tax payers much more.

At this point it was neither the IAFF’s fault nor the fault of current Board of Directors.

 The CCFD Fire Chief’s report to the court in January sealed the districts fate. The equipment was held together by band aids, he said, and the Fire Fighters were becoming worn out.

 The next chapter for this fire district could be the most important for the Town of Coventry.  This is the perfect opportunity to seek input from the taxpayers as to what they would like the future of THEIR   Fire and Rescue services to look like.

1.  One Town, One Fire and Rescue Department
2. Privatize the Rescue Services and organize a Municipal Fire Department.
3. Consolidate into 2 Main Fire Districts, leaving Western Coventry as is.

Contact your Town Council person, or email the Board using the "Contact the Board" Tab at the top of this website.

 The Town people know that the Anthony Fire district has previously overspent their budgets and have a high interest expense which increased substantially in 2013, on their outstanding loans.  It is why they have the highest Fire tax rate in the state. Giving them a part of the CCFD district will only mask their debt problem and is not fair to the taxpayers. The Anthony Fire District, with the same debt and same Union Contract does not give it a promising future. People may say these comments are anti-union. Well what does anti-union mean when the “Union Friendly Management” pushes through a contract that taxpayers cannot afford and which takes away all management rights. History has proven that this “Friendly management” actually causes union member to lose their jobs.
 

To the firefighters and employees of the CCFD, I want to send our many thanks to you all.  While we certainly had our differences in the political arena, you were always professional in your responses to the needs of the citizens when they called.  


Fred P. Gralinski        President - Central Coventry Board Of Directors
Marie Baker               Vice President - Central Coventry Board of Directors
Bob Hadley               Director  - Central Coventry Board
Cindy Fagan Perry     Director- Central Coventry Board
Helen Quinn              Director- Central Coventry Board
Dan Lantz                 Director- Central Coventry Board
Maureen Jendzejec    Director- Central Coventry Board

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Steve Fay February 21, 2014 at 12:51 PM
Stephen b, care to start something ? All loses that night were horrific! They occurred so how is that scare tactics or "fear mongering"? Now Mr. Pot stirrer how about the private from Engine Co. 7 (Warwick FD) who committed suicide a month after he was involved that night or his wife, a teacher, who could no longer take the pain of losing him and followed him almost 3 years later (February 2, 2006). Many lost a lot that night and the effects will never go away. You sir continue to post your innuendo and outright negativity toward the truth. Your nothing but a cheap shot artist who enjoys receiving things for free. (Fire and Rescue service) from CCFD that we pay for. Well sport time to pay equally for what is shared equally! The only thing that needs to be drummed is some logic into your head.
Toxic Avenger February 21, 2014 at 03:58 PM
I care to start Stevie f. I agree with Steve b and you sir are the pot stirrer here. Do you yell 911 in the streets as well? How about Holocaust... Anyone that differs in opinion from Steve f is a pot stirrer. The fire department inspectors (I said inspectors not firemen) failed the victims of this tragedy and your on here praising. Well the station tragedy could have been avoided if the inspectors did their job and made sure the club corrected violations. Also for the fire inspection division to not identify the foam wall covering as flammable was negligent. Due to this tragedy RI experienced another tragedy, the empowering of the fire departments. The fire inspectors closed more businesses than the depression with their costly mandatory fire upgrades. To this day they have over the top regulations that prohibit many small businesses from opening in RI.
Stephen b February 21, 2014 at 04:45 PM
Steve f,Start something? I don't follow you. This is a place to post comments, and that is what I did. My point is I don't think you needed to go there, that's all, end of subject for me. Cheap shot artist, me? You may have to reminde me, For the most part I have posted very little, and try to be civil to all . Something for nothing? I pay over 10k in taxes, there is very little I get from this town that is for nothing. I think where we differ is I feel the taxes I pay are high and want a say on my future taxes and you feel taxes always could be raised for the right cause. On this we disagree.
RS February 21, 2014 at 04:54 PM
Toxic, the State Legislature set the new fire codes, not the Fire Departments. If you're not happy with them blame your elected officials.
Steve Fay February 21, 2014 at 04:59 PM
Put up facts and figures with regard to your post. You are clueless. For starters, West Warwick had ONE fire inspector at that time. Unless you have the inspection report and previous reports, then all you are doing is posting hear say. Your another fire service expert in town just like the Board of Directors. Your frigging clueless. If You know anything about what your talking about, you will be able to tell us about the capacity issue, the entertainment permit, and the illegal egress problem that occurred that night but was legal when the place was inspected. I didn't praise anyone. I will , however, praise everyone that can decipher the verbal diarrhea you just posted.
Toxic Avenger February 21, 2014 at 05:00 PM
RS the state legislature is responsible for writing the new codes? I don't think so. Enacting the recommendations of Fire Officials is more like it.
Toxic Avenger February 21, 2014 at 05:17 PM
Steve f was the foam covered wall was there at the time of inspection you fail to mention that. It really does not matter if the hinges on the door were reversed and rehung to swing opposite causing an egress violation, or if the club was overcapacity doesn't really matter what matters is the fire was started due to the foam and should have been identified and removed. Also for your info the foam had been in the for a long long time. I'm not talking about the foam that was purchased it was the packing foam that had been used for soundproofing long before the fire.
Steve Fay February 21, 2014 at 05:37 PM
I in no way want tax increases, I do think taxes for all services be the same. All services shared equitably and enough of the political non sense. Can we get back to the problem at hand?
Steve Fay February 21, 2014 at 05:38 PM
The Fire was started from the "illegal" use of pyrotechnics. The door swing was part of the egress problem there was one even more compelling tied into the capacity issue. The foam should not have been there, now someone comes into your business and starts to take "swatches" of material for burn testing. Your reaction? I'm not so sure that the foam was even recognized as flammable or not at the time. I know the salesman told the owners there was a flame restrictive foam but it was twice the price. Now after all that is said. Here is the question. Did the owner's of the establishment provide a safe environment that evening?
Toxic Avenger February 21, 2014 at 05:57 PM
No it was not a safe environment that's obvious. Yes the pryotech cold spark ignited the foam but it could have just as easily been a stage light that's too close to the wall could have been someone brushing against it with a cigarette doesn't matter. The foam and use of it is the issue. It was only a matter of time that something would have touched it off. Anyway I don't appreciate any rah rah or praising in such a case of tragedy and you should be ashamed. I'm done on this.
RS February 21, 2014 at 07:42 PM
Yes Toxic, the State House does set the fire codes, maybe they have consultants but the local communities have to follow the codes set by the State. The restrictive new codes were a knee-jerk reaction to the Station Fire. Funny, to this day we have deadbeats trying to skirt the codes and do things that would make your head spin. Lets not forget the politicians that "allow" their friends to bypass the code. You keep talking foam.... that was one of a host of issues that night......maybe we should be a bit thankful the total wasn't higher than what it was
gsjane February 21, 2014 at 08:22 PM
boys, boys, boys! Stop it!! We are NOT talking about past fires - we are talking about whether or not to have ONE town fire department or stick with separate fire districts, and how to finance fire and rescue services in Coventry. This has gotten so far off track - no wonder the average taxpayer is disgusted by the whole mess. We need to put name-calling, politics, and ancient history aside and decide the future.
Realistic Taxpayer February 21, 2014 at 08:26 PM
Mr. Toxic and Mr. B would you like to play a game? Since the both of you are subject matter experts, not only on well run fire district, but the state fire codes, I'm hoping to ask you a few questions.
harleyrider8272 February 21, 2014 at 08:33 PM
Your right gsjane, it's just hard when you have an idiot like toxic and SB just throw a curve ball on purpose to get off subject because they want to stop progress. Same old chumps..I believe toxic is assalone because that's his MO about the fire service!
Steve Fay February 21, 2014 at 10:48 PM
I have never "rah rah" ed this. Your hate for the Firefighters and the Fire Service in general is well known and stated. That being said , I could care less about what you do or don't appreciate! I do enjoy deciphering your syntax at times though. So Mr. Toxic, why not go and play Mr. Realistic's game? I am sure it will help your intellectual stamina!
CoventryVoter22 February 21, 2014 at 11:07 PM
http://ricentral.com/content/anthony-residents-wont-see-fire-tax-increase
Steve Fay February 21, 2014 at 11:08 PM
Back to the issue. What is the feeling about getting a petition drive to force the ...ONE TOWN...ONE DEPARTMENT...ONE CHIEF move organized? Are there any folks that would like to begin this? It really is time for the Town to join the 20th century on this subject. It is the only way we can get to the 21st century. Go ahead and start another attack... the last was a good indication of what occurs when progress is attempted. gsjane is right. So who is willing to help get this ball rolling?
harleyrider8272 February 21, 2014 at 11:18 PM
I'm in !! We know the people that aren't LOL
CoventryVoter22 February 21, 2014 at 11:51 PM
get it going
listening February 22, 2014 at 08:13 AM
in
Jackster February 22, 2014 at 10:12 AM
One dept, One chief, And what about this. Start fresh with not a one line of bullshit.
Jackster February 22, 2014 at 10:17 AM
This state police investagation. How deep does it go, That it takes all this time and no word on it as yet? Are these heads that big they do not fit in the chopping block????
Kent Novak February 22, 2014 at 10:21 AM
Did the Town Council meet with the remaining 3 fire chiefs to discuss a contingency plan to ensure that fire & ems service is provided to all Coventry residents this past Tuesday evening? Was it a public meeting?
CoventryVoter22 February 22, 2014 at 08:51 PM
Jackster, the state police do not keep people updated on a step by step process of their investigation.. They are VERY secretive about it and hope that the people they are watching FORGET they are being watched in order to trip them up MORE. Investigations can take YEARS to build a SOLID case. Calm down.
Jackster February 23, 2014 at 06:50 AM
I'll try but then I may not have YEARS
Kent Novak February 23, 2014 at 03:14 PM
When will the residents be informed of any potential contingency plan that will provide 24 hour, 7 day a week fire & ems service that we as residents of Coventry deserve? There seems to be a cloak of secrecy in regards to this topic. Perhaps the Town Manager & Town Council could step to the plate and work out a plan to salvage the CCFD.
Kent Novak February 23, 2014 at 03:14 PM
A good start would be for the Town Manager and/or Town Council President to simply contact the Town of East Greenwich and see how they changed their 200+ year old chartered fire district to a municipal fire department. It was a seamless transition. Coventry should have 1 Fire Department, 1 Fire Chief, and 1 tax bill. A win, win, win!
PMarandola March 03, 2014 at 10:08 PM
Wait till they need these guys! To terminate the dept. this way is not good!
Luckycat March 07, 2014 at 08:29 AM
One Town, One Fire and Rescue Department......! Lets get on with it....
Gem101 March 07, 2014 at 09:46 AM
That's the way this town need to go. First you need a GA member to introduce a bill to abolish the charters and give the town the authority to act on 1 fire department. So either Raptastis, or Tomasso must introduce legislation to change the charters of the town. you can look into this process but, this is why it hasen't been done yet greed of the money and say on how they run their districts. I believe that the reason it hasen't been done yet is the REPS. don't want to start a war among the districts, and they might loose their jobs. Go ahead LUCKYCAT,AND ALL YOU OTHERS that think change is good for the TOWN and ask your elected official state rep. to move on this charter act and see what they tell you. Remember to post their response on the PATCH so we all know. I have asked about one of our reps. and was ignored, what I mean is they said they would move on it to my face but, it was never introduced at the state house. Maybe now is the time while all this confusion is going on and remember they work for us.

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