Providence Firefighters’ Union Attempts to Shut Down a Statewide Disaster Drill

If this is typical of the attitude that Providence Firefighters’ Union President Paul Doughty brings when he answers a call, then he needs to quit his job and get into a new line of work. From Amanda Milkovits in today’s Projo

A major statewide terrorism drill meant to train firefighters, police officers and medical crews to save lives after a chemical disaster could be severely curtailed because the Providence firefighters union plans to picket.
The labor action, which the union president downplays as an “informational demonstration” for disability benefits, is stopping dozens of firefighters from other municipalities from participating in Sunday’s drill.
This is the latest in a protracted contract battle between the Providence firefighters and the city. When asked how he could justify disrupting a complicated multi-agency drill, union president Paul A. Doughty said: “How can we take care of you if you won’t take care of us?”
Know that the average citizen takes the idea of firefighter training more seriously than the union President does…
Doughty was dismissive about the drill. “This is more for strategic issues than tactical issues,” he said. “Getting into the [hazardous-materials] suits, sampling the air, it’s stuff we’ve done before.”
The purpose of this picketing obviously isn’t to rally public support, as Mr. Doughty is achieving the nearly impossible here: making Providence Mayor David Cicilline look like the sympathetic figure to almost everyone, even to the many people not generally impressed with his style of management. So if the purpose of crippling the terrorism drill isn’t to scare the public — “you don’t take care of us, then we don’t take care of you, and maybe some real bad disasters happen” — then what is it?

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16 years ago

Solidarity Forever….
His statement is half a step from “Maybe if a few people die in untreated house fires the rest of you will start to support us.”
Simply put, he needs to be DRAGGED out of that position for his veiled threat against the people of Providence.

16 years ago

Maybe for their next protest, they can go spit on the grave of a firefighter who died in 9/11. Maybe they can even picket the next firefighter funeral — yeah that’s the ticket — that’ll show Cicilline who’s the boss, right?
I know that most rank and file firefighters have to be disgusted by this deplorable action by “their” union, but of course, since they really have no mechanism to disagree with their leadership, other than replacing it at the next election, can they really do anything? If that union wants to act like that, confine it to Providence — and keep the rest of the state out of your petty dispute.
This is so unconscionable, it’s beyond words. I’ve actually been somewhat sympathetic in regard to the firefighters contract issue with the mayor, but talk about overplaying your hand. What ever happened to the concept that public servants are supposed to serve the public? Public service, before self service. Yeah right. Seems like even the firefighters aren’t immune to “Rhodeislanditis.”
PS I think this would be a good argument for banning public sector unions altogether — discuss.

16 years ago

It is to be hoped that the Providence Firefighters’ Union will reconsider their decision (if it is not too late).
This statewide drill is vital to the safety of both Rhode Islanders and firefighters in the event of an attack or major emergency. It goes without saying that in an emergency of such a magnitude, firefighters would play a critical role. Further, this drill is not a regular (as in repetitive) part of the job of firefighters and so is probably not well suited for such a job action. Rather, it is a rare, important event at which their presence is very much needed.

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