Letters and Comments


Last week the Providence Journal ran this letter from my friend, Captain Kenney. Tom is a third generation Providence Firefighter who is extremely proud of the job, the people who do it and the history and tradition it holds. A lot of people commented on his words, a lot of disrespect and misunderstanding, but I guess that goes with the territory. The linked articles have a few comments as well, I thought it odd how few in comparison to Tom's letter.


Tom Kenney: Too little respect for firefighters

Tom Kenney: Too little respect for firefighters

Comments 129 | Recommend 3



December 22, 2011 10:25 am

I am a 30-plus year firefighter in Rhode Island and I'm bothered by so many people speaking so disrespectfully of my profession on the basis of one fact; one so-called fact; one generalization; or one lie…especially the so-called media.

I see so much hatred and disgust aimed at me and my brother firefighters over issues that are, at best, incorrect; and, at worst, outright fabrications. Whenever I have written or posted my response it has been continuously ignored — not questioned and determined to be incorrect, but simply ignored. My facts have no place in media's editorials or reporting, so they are simply pushed aside.

People who have never set foot in a fire station claim they "know" more about professional firefighters than I. Usually, I give up attempting to debate such ignorance to the truth. I have, however, written at least a dozen times to The Journal or their reporters or columnists over the last few months debunking many of their reports and columns, as well as many completely erroneous letters sent in by readers who have no background in Fire Department matters.

My letters are not published and are not posted online. It seems that too many do not want any "facts" or honest debate getting in the way of one-sided pension reform. The Journal and talk radio are the major guilty parties to this, but there is plenty of guilt to go around.

I hope the New Year brings a dose of understanding and open-mindedness to ideas other than their own.

Tom Kenney

The writer is a captain in the Providence Fire Department.


One of the commentators wrote "wonder why firefighters get no respect? Read the newspaper, you bums are in it every day for some scam or another."

So, I read the newspaper. Us "bums" are indeed in it every day for one reason or another. Apparently, the commentator, who of course remains anonymous reads a different paper, or more likely only the one out of twenty stories about pension reform, contract negotiations and the like.












This is a sampling from two days headlines. Most of what we do never makes the paper, nor should it, water emergencies, cardiac arrests, diabetic emergencies, wires down, overdoses, CO detectors going off in the middle of the night, CVA's, broken bones, lacerated fingers, amputations, "small" fires and the like truly are not newsworthy.

A lot of people focus on the negative, and fail to see the world as it passes them by. First responders are everywhere, some get paid better than others, some volunteer, some are on call, but we all respond to emergencies, and do our best, and don't look for thanks or adulation because the best thanks and adulation we can hope for doesn't come from newspapers, or paychecks, or nice comments from people who write letters to the editor.

The thanks we receive from the job we do comes from a place far deeper than any other person could possibly touch. It comes at the end of the day, every day, whether we put out a fire, or helped people at an accident scene, or got somebody to the hospital whose heart had stopped and was beating when we got them there, or simply waited, and were ready. Then, when all is said and done that could be said and done before laying our heads to rest is when we get our thanks, knowing that we did our best.






  • Patrick says:

    During hard economic times, people look for scapegoats that they feel are responsible for the problem or whom they percieve to have it better than them.   During this recession, it is civil servants who are the popular scapegoats.

  • Jim Roach says:

    It's sad how these internet tough guys just troll the papers looking to try and get a rise out of them.  The Projo should take a page from the Attleboro Sun Chronicle and allow people to post to stories only after their identities have been verified.  Then see where the sniping goes.  

  • Pat Blackman/Grandma Muggle says:

    Uninformed people can not be argued with.  As obvoiusly wrong as their statements tend to be they state them as absolute truth.  These types tend to be big mouths who denegrate others because they have no value themselves.  By verbally bulling decent people they make themselves feel big.  They are actually very small in mind and in spirit.  
    One finds that on trying to make a valid intellectual point with these types you are batteling with an unarmed opponent.  Consider the source and leave them to heaven.
    I feel honored to be protected by each of you, my firefighter friends. I know, if I need you, you'll be there for me.
    God bless you all and let's hope the new years brings a better time for our everyday heroes.

  • Steve says:

    The same sniping goes on in West Texas, but the target varies according to season.  For now, and the forseeable future, it will be the righties/TPers raising cain about the dems/Obama.  Sad, isn't it, how anonymity makes for outlandish statements with no repercussions.

  • Old Jake says:


    It's not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worth cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat. Theodore Roosevelt

    It just seemed to fit the occasion;  Happy New Year!   Be Safe!

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