Providence Fire: 2 stations closing, 100 firefighter positions to be filled
By Alana Cerrone
In a 13-1 vote, the Providence City Council approved a 5-year agreement with its city firefighters.
The new contract is expected to save money and bring an 18-month dispute to a close.
After Thursday night’s meeting, Providence Commissioner of Public Safety Steven Pare reflected on the vote: "It's a win for the firefighters it's a win for the city it's a win for public safety"
But some would disagree, including East Side residents like Elaine Kehoe.
"I don't like it. I don't like the idea. I like having a station there."
Starting Sunday, two stations in their neighborhood, on Rochambeau and Humboldt Avenues, are being decommissioned, meaning there will be no trucks and no staff.
Although Firefighters Union President Paul Doughty says firefighters are thrilled to be back on the four-platoon schedule that they wanted, he feels the past 18 months have been wasted time and money.
"All the back-pay that we’re owed from August 2015 when it went into effect until today - frankly - is money that we’re seeking payment for."
Doughty says since the shift to a three-platoon schedule, Providence Fire has lost 100 firefighters.
"If 25% of your workforce leaves in less than 12 months there’s a problem. And that problem was singular - it was a shift from 4 to 3."
Under the agreement, firefighters will return to a four-platoon schedule and minimum staffing will be reduced from 94 firefighters on each shift to 88 - which is estimated to save about $16 million over 5 years.
In all, the agreement estimates a $20 million savings.
“It's an important day for the city. We're going to be saving millions of dollars going forward...that's not to say all of our financial challenges are now resolved."
Under the agreement, firefighters will be paying more for their own health insurance. The new contract terms go into effect beginning Sunday.
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