Firefighters protest at Elorza event

By Samantha Fenlon

sfenlon@abc6.com

The fiery months-long battle between Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and the city’s firefighters continues to burn. Monday night, a group of firefighters set up shop to protest outside a fundraising event that was held downtown for the Mayor.

Firefighters say the new schedule is forcing them to work more hours for less pay. They say winning a lawsuit will bankrupt the city.

The mayor says these changes are necessary and will save the city between five and seven million dollars a year.

There were some not-so-nice words for the mayor as he arrived at the fundraiser. His car was greeted by dozens on city firefighters looking to voice their disapproval with the shift change.

"We just wanted to give the members a chance to voice their frustrations and let the mayor know that what he is doing is wrong," said Providence Firefighter, Rob Crellin.

Mayor Elorza implemented a new three-platoon schedule back in August, and since that time, the two sides have been in and out of court battling the decision. As of Friday, lawyers for the mayor appealed a Superior Court judge’s ruling for the two sides to go to grievance arbitration in December.

"We have out-of-control costs in the fire department and I’m committed to fixing it. It is an issue that we have to address. We have to address it head-on. I am not going to be deterred from making these necessary fixes," said Elorza.

"The schedule is awful. It’s the only one in the country for a reason. It’s created situations where firefighters are working 82 hours non-stop," said Union Leader Pail Doughty.

Over the past several months, there have been numerous protests and even death threats to the mayor by firefighter supporters back in September

Both sides say they are willing to negotiate, but so far, they’ve been unable to come to an agreement.

© WLNE-TV 2015