Know The Truth!
Open letter to the Citizens of North
Over the past several months, the
firefighters of North Providence have been targeted by the Mayor and
have been blamed for the financial
difficulties that the town is now facing. We feel that the time has
come to look beyond the rhetoric that the Mayor dispenses about us and
present the facts.
First, upon his election, Mayor Lombardi increased
minimum staffing from 20 firefighters to 22 firefighters per shift and
Heavy Rescue. At that time he saw the need to increase staffing in the
interest of public safety without making the monetary increases
necessary to fund such an expansion. Yet, less than 2 years later, he
is lobbying to decrease this staffing to 17. In 1989 the Fire
Department became fully permanent with a minimum staffing of 20 firefighters
per shift. Now, 20 years later and 50% busier, he is proposing to
cut staffing to levels that compromise the Department’s ability
to properly protect the community an d the firefighters themselves.
the department already runs with fewer fire fighters per truck than
the national standard suggests.
Secondly, Mayor Lombardi claims that overtime
expenses related to staffing are excessive. As a comparison, in 1996
budgeted $700,000 for overtime and had 12 manpower firefighters available
to fill vacancies for those out on vacation, injury or sick
leave. Today, 13 years later with a minimum staffing level increased
by 2 firefighters, there is no manpower pool to fill vacancies and the
Mayor has an overtime budget of $600,000. He has chosen to run the department
with 12 less firefighters, yet has budgeted less money
for staffing. The method of staffing is either manpower or overtime.
He chose the overtime, yet did not budget for it.
Thirdly, Mayor Lombardi has been portraying to
the media and the public that his admirable service a s a volunteer
firefighter over 35
years ago some how leaves him qualified to make decisions related to
the fire service of today. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The fire service of today has become a technical trade with educational
and training requirements that allow us to operate at all types of
emergencies, and medically treat patients at a level that far surpasses
the tactics and treatments o f 35 years ago. The call volume alone has
increased immensely as well as the services we provide the residents.
We feel it would be a sin allowing the public to believe this Mayor
qualified to question the judgments and actions of firefighters with
years of experience and with numerous hours of training and
certifications that didn’t even exist 35 years ago. It would be
a great injustice and dangerous dis service to the citizens of North
and its firefighters.
Lastly, the Firefighters of North Providence
have continued to assist the community with financial concerns. We are
one of the top 5
busiest Fire Departments in the state, yet we are 18th overall in salary.
We have accepted several pay freezes over the past two decades to
help with the cost of Public Safety, and agreed to Health Care co-pays
as well as other numerous concessions when asked by the Town.
Our offers to assist again in this financial crisis have been ignored
due to personal conflict between the Mayor and union. The fire and
rescue services in this town are second to none. We have highly trained,
aggressive and motivated individuals staffing the department all
costing approximately 74 cents per day per resident. The Mayor has been
on numerous media outlets with false accusations against our
members, one of them being our demand for a 12% raise this year. In
actuality we have put forth a package accepting a pay freeze this
year which would end the expensive arbitration process of which the
mayor speaks. The package was denied by the mayor. The fire
fighters have contributed to controlling costs in the past and are once
again willing to help, but not at the expense of our safety or the
safety of the public. It is time for the Mayor to negotiate in good
faith to insure that the citizens of North Providence continue to receive
the Public Safety that is required and has been available to you for
the past 20 years.
In conclusion we would like to make it known
that during these hard times we have tried to avoid a public fight with
the Mayor, however
with his rhetoric and half truths being put forth on every media outlet
available without the facts being confirmed by anyone, we felt it was
necessary to step forth and defend ourselves.
The men and women of the North Providence Fire
Department come to work every day willing to risk their health and their
lives for the
residents of this great town. Conflict with an administration has never
or will never change that. W e are here to proudly serve the citizens
of this community as we always have been. The Mayor as a former volunteer
fire fighter should be ashamed of the false accusations that he
has been throwing at your great department.
If any member of the public has any questions
regarding what we do or are capable of doing for the citizens of this
town please ask a
Professional Fire Fighter, they will be happy to answer any questions
you may have.
Thank you on behalf of the men and women of North
Providence Fire Fighters Local 2334.