Tiverton Fire and Money Issues

Of the three hours of Tiverton town council budget workshop discussion, the only mildly animated discussion came toward the beginning, regarding the fire department’s budget. Here are two snippets:

  • Discussing the union’s refusal to lower minimum manning, space their vacations, or forgo their recent pay raise: stream, download. The first voice is Fire Chief Robert Lloyd, and the second is Town Administrator James Goncalo. Councilor Louise Durfee speaks up, followed by Councilor Jay Lambert confirming that the union would offer “no concessions at all.”
  • Discussing a new ladder truck (which is not actually in the budget): stream, download. The initial inquiry is made by Councilor Hannibal Costa, with the chief answering and Council President Don Bollin disagreeing on a particular example and noting that negotiations occur within a long-term relationship (to paraphrase). Louise Durfee’s voice is in there, as well.
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
24 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mike
Mike
12 years ago

Thanks for the audio…
Do these people realize that Tiverton is so far behind in staffing?
Check out National Fire Protection Assoc. Code 1710 and OSHA / EPA standards on atmospheres immediately dangerious to life and health.
Tiverton cannot meet either standard with current levels, never mind reduced staffing.
Failure to comply with these nationally accepted standards exposes the town to considerable liability.

dj
dj
12 years ago

2 in and 2 out rule I no what 30 minutes for mutual aid

Dave
Dave
12 years ago

The Tiverton fire Dept local 1703 of the IAFF did offer concessions to the town of Tiverton through Administrator James Goncalo in a meeting on Wed. Feb 4th. To say that they did not concede 1 of those 3 items in the discussion is untrue. In fact the union has tried since last September to sit with the town to discuss this matter to no avail. Also the town has not approached the police union or the dpw union to ask for concessions so to say they wouldn’t help is also untrue.

Monique
Editor
12 years ago

“refusal to … space their vacations”
Right there is a pretty basic and simple thing to do to reduce costs. The whole world spaces their vacations so that the cost to their employer is minimized. It was irresponsible of the town ever to sign a contract with such a clause. What else can it accomplish other than to needlessly increase the town’s expenditures on overtime and staffing?

Mike
Mike
12 years ago

What’s worth noting here is the Chief’s behavior. His primary job is to be an advocate for public safety.
Instead of speaking out against reduced staffing, he is acting as messenger boy for the council.
This happens because department heads work without contracts and are not unionized. No job security.
The union in this case (staffing) is acting as a check to the power of the council. Public safety will benefits from this, that is until the coucil shows their ignorance and lay off firefighters.

Mike
Mike
12 years ago

What’s worth noting here is the Chief’s behavior. His primary job is to be an advocate for public safety.
Instead of speaking out against reduced staffing, he is acting as messenger boy for the council.
This happens because department heads work without contracts and are not unionized. No job security.
The union in this case (staffing) is acting as a check to the power of the council. Public safety will benefit from this, that is until the coucil shows their ignorance and lay off firefighters.

Justin Katz
12 years ago

Actually, the chief does have a contract.
Maybe he just thinks that six firefighters on duty is enough for the specific town for which he’s employed. You know, not to gainsay the ability of a distant study group to come up with a number to apply across the entire nation…

Mike
Mike
12 years ago

He’s protecting his job…
Anyone who has been in a fire or has read up on firefighting tactics and stratagies understands 6 isn’t safe.
Uninformed elected officials equals bad public policy. The Chief can’t speak his mind (and keep his job) so the council stays uninformed.
What’s scary is they’re considering compromising firefighter safety in a community that just lost a firefighter a few months ago. Shameful.

thinkaboutit
thinkaboutit
12 years ago

Just like with the teachers, we see it here. We’re ending up with too few firefighters because we pay them more individually than the town can afford.
For public safety’s sake, let’s throttle back some of these benefits and pay increases!

James
James
12 years ago

Just for the record Tiverton fire fighters are one of the lowest paid departments in the state. Little Compton might be the only ones lower paid.

Justin Katz
12 years ago

Mike,
That firefighter did not die in any way related to minimum staffing, and utilizing his death to support your argument is every bit as shameful as anything of which you could accuse the other side.

Mike
Mike
12 years ago

Gerry was diving alone. He was pulled from the water by other firefighters. These firefighters were from Fall River, Portsmouth, and Westport but Tiverton staffing had nothing to do with his death.
Justin, save the lecture for someone who actually knows less about this subject than you.

Justin Katz
12 years ago

This isn’t a topic over which I’d like to argue, but since you’re forcing the issue, perhaps you’ll explain how higher minimum staffing could have prevented the death of a man who had a heart attack while preparing for a rescue dive.
Firefighter Leduc was heroic and selfless in rushing to answer a nearby call, but manipulating the circumstances of his death does him no service.

Monique
Editor
12 years ago

“Anyone who has been in a fire or has read up on firefighting tactics and stratagies understands 6 isn’t safe.”
The safety of our firefighters is paramount. Of all fifty states, Rhode Island spends the most by a substantial margin on fire prevention. I’m not sure we can do better than that. If necessary, then, when putting out a fire, firefighters need to pull back a little. If property is more extensively damaged as a result, so be it. It’s infinitely better than losing a firefighter.

Tom Kenney
12 years ago

Monique,
That arguement holds up well when the fire in question is merely destyroying property. What would you say to the firefighters who pour water on the fire from outside because there are only two men on their truck and the next truck won’t be there for 4-5 minutes if your loved one was in the dwelling?
Attack pay rates, attack pensions, attack health care………but don’t attack staffing. When you do you are guaranteeing the loss of life of someone (firefighter, civilian or both) sometime down the line. I say that because there is NOT ONE fire department in the state that is currently ADEQUATELY manned under minimum staffing levels (which are the daily levels).
As for cost per resident for fire service, it’s been pointed out before and it needs to be noted that those figures are skewed because of a higher dependence on volunteer fire departments and an absence of EMS within fire department budgets elsewhere in the US. You can’t ignore these facts yet still bring up the old misleading “RI is the highest…fire service…” statement because it is simply not fair to RI FF’s.

Mike
Mike
12 years ago

Then don’t argue it.
Firefighters operate in pairs and should be backed up by another pair of firefighters whenever operating in unsafe conditions.
If you don’t have enough people to make this happen and a firefighter dies than staffing is an issue. If you want to assert that Lt. Leduc may have died that day even if he had a hundred firefighters around him than I can’t argue that point. I can state without a doubt his chances of surviving would have improved if there were more trained responders present early in the call.
Tiverton has some of the most enthusiastic, well trained, and professional firefighters in the state; they deserve better from their community than what they are getting.

Mike
Mike
12 years ago

Monique,
I respect what you have written but as Mr. Kenney has stated the Gov’s statistics are bogus.
There is another factor that pumps up the cost of fire protection in Rhode Island.
Overtime; it is less expensive for a town to pay firefighters overtime than hire a new one; this is what is going on in small towns like Tiverton. They put the fewest number of people on duty as they can and then call in off duty firefighters when the trucks go out (at time and a half). Basically, too few firefighters to handle the call volume and an over reliance on off duty people.
As I understand it, this statistic came from the total cost of fire protection divided by the number of firefighters in Rhode Island. The number included the overtime that was caused by our elected officials’ decision to put too few firefighters on duty.
The unions have taken the heat on the overtime issue but its worth looking at the staffing policies of the various towns.
As a side, it is not in the best interest of anyone to have responders working 48 hr or 72 hr shifts or putting in 80 plus hour work weeks. It’s not healthy and it is not safe.

DJ
DJ
12 years ago

I can tell you first hand when a Tiverton resident calls 911 and there house is on fire ,when you pull up you better be running in to that building .they dont care if there is one ,two our even three men on that Engine they expect you to goin and save there loved one and save there personl belongings.If you dont you will get ripped apart in the papers

Bri in NC
Bri in NC
12 years ago

In other parts of the country, most communities have a mix of professional and volunteer fire fighters. Given the opportunity, most people will give of their time (and even train on their own time) for the benefit of their town/county. This allows for more fire fighters to be on scene with a lower payroll.
Is this done in RI? In my 12 years in RI, I never meet anyone who said they were a volunteer fire fighter.

WOW
WOW
12 years ago

An administrator that lies to the council before him. Concessions were offered but because the administrator did not get what he wanted (manning) he makes the “big bad union” look worse to the council that doesnt know any better, by rejecting an offer from them and saying that they offered nothing, immediate savings of 20K + were offered and that is from union members!!!! SURPRISED? I`M NOT…WELCOME TO TIVERTON, SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL!

EMT
EMT
12 years ago

Given the opportunity, most people will give of their time (and even train on their own time) for the benefit of their town/county.
Sure, when they had jobs in town and their employers allowed them to leave work.
Now, most volunteer departments are in bedroom communities, and everyone works somewhere else. Those that do work in town can’t leave.
Is this done in RI? In my 12 years in RI, I never meet anyone who said they were a volunteer fire fighter.
Lots of people are. And where are they during the day? At work.

Judy
Judy
12 years ago

“MIKE”
Two things….
First of all, you must not know the Chief of the Department very well. THE FIRE CHIEF HAS ALWAYS BEEN CONCERNED ABOUT FIREFIGHTER SAFETY!!!
Secondly, How dare you use Lt. Leduc’s name in this political forum. HOW DISRESPECTFUL!!

Mike
Mike
12 years ago

Judy,
Lt. Leduc’s death is a painful subject, the best way to honor this man is to examine the factors that contributed to his death and not repeat them. This is how the fire service protects their own. I apologize if this causes you distress, this was not my intention.
Most chief’s across the state are appointed by elected officials and can by terminated by these officials at will. When ever they speak they must consider if what they say will cost them their job. The end result is that elected officials receive watered down information and thus make bad policy.
Mike

Mike
Mike
12 years ago

The problem of elected officials dominating police and fire chiefs is such a problem that some states, including Massachusetts, voted to pass “Strong Chief” laws in an effort to provide the chiefs with some protection.

Show your support for Anchor Rising with a 25-cent-per-day subscription.