Former chairman pushes for municipal fire department in Coventry

By Alana Cerrone

acerrone@abc6.com

@Alana_Cerrone

Former Coventry Fire Board Chair Frank Palin is going in front of the town council Monday night to give voters the option of a municipal fire department on November’s ballot.

But some are saying there’s still too much work to be done in the town’s troubled districts to consider consolidation.

Palin is calling on the town council to take a stand for the people of Coventry.

"They’re responsible for the health and safety of our community and quite frankly they have abdicated that for years."

He called his past year as Fire Board President ‘tumultuous’.

"We still have serious problems in the future as does the Central Coventry District… I’m very concerned that at any given moment it could be next week next month or next year – any one of those districts will just implode and close."

Both Central Coventry and Coventry Fire Districts are in debt almost a million dollars.  That’s why he says now is the time to unite the four districts.

"Enter the 21st century…get a municipal fire department."

One town council member says a municipal fire department has been a discussion for years…but still some say the potential cost is a major concern.

State Representative Patricia Morgan says, "I think it’s a little premature to be thinking about consolidation…I think people look at that and say there has to be a way to save money but yet there’s still two broken fire districts."

"As you know Coventry has four fire districts…so we have four fire chiefs, four assistant chiefs, four tax collectors…what Coventry would see is a reduction in administrative services – you’d have a more streamlined more efficient operation," said Coventry Fire Union President Captain David Gorman.

Palin says he knows a municipal department would cost money – even up to $100,000 for a consultant – but says it’s worth it.

"It has to be done…the alternative is a failure to the entire fire system."

If the council puts the discussion on the agenda, Palin will be allowed to make a formal presentation. Then the council will vote whether to put it on the ballot.

ABC6 News Reporter Kirsten Glavin will have a follow-up report after tonight’s meeting on ABC6 News at 11.

© WLNE-TV 2016