Nothing left but ghosts

The City of Providence closed two fire stations and three companies yesterday. There was no public outcry, no candlelight vigils, no “Save our Station” protests, just firefighters leaving their station for the last time and locking the door behind them. Those firefighters start their new assignments today, different station, different truck, different life.

http://www.providencejournal.com/news/20170107/providence-firehouses-closing-as-part-of-downsizing

In a different time, and a different world closing one fire station was absolutely unacceptable. The union would rally the troops, pamphlets would be distributed, neighborhood groups would convene, city leaders would be lobbied and the station would be saved.

Now, crickets.

For seventeen months the firefighters in Providence have worked a schedule like no other, two 10 hour days, two fourteen hour nights, two days off then do it all over again, week after week, month after month. Mandatory overtime due to staff shortages resulted in one day off a week, after 70 plus hours on duty.

This is Providence, the capitol city of Rhode Island. The “slow” fire companies respond to thousands of calls annually, the busy ones approaching 5000. Fires are a daily occurrence, most don’t make the news because the firefighters are excellent at what they do and put them out before they become newsworthy. EMS crews run non-stop, many of the personnel working 80 plus hour weeks.

ghostBut all of that is over now. Mayor Jorge Elorza and Commissioner of Public Safety Stephen Pare orchestrated a campaign to destroy the morale of the firefighters, exhaust them, weaken the union, close companies and stations and save money. By utilizing their management rights in regard to scheduling they eliminated one of four working groups, drastically increased the hours worked by front line firefighters, refuse to fill vacant management positions with experienced fire officers and completely ignore the extremely busy EMS division.

The public remained silent.

There is no fire chief. There is no administration. There is no leadership. All qualified candidates have been silenced. Retired State Police administrators fill the offices once occupied by seasoned firefighters who climbed the ranks the old-fashioned way; one rung at a time. There is no firefighting experience in the front office. There is no vision, no pride, no tradition, nothing but empty shells playing with people as if they were nothing more than chess pieces being moved by people who do not understand the game.

Congratulations, Providence, your apathy has saved you some money.

Enjoy it.

We’ll be hearing from you soon enough.

6 Comments

  • Goodtogo55 says:

    Well Said Brother!!!

  • Deborah says:

    This is one very sad day for the city of Providence for not just the firefighters but for the people to it is wrong in so many ways the mayor has ruined and destroyed the One of the best Fire Departments in the country.Someone will have to die for them to realize their mistake sad but true

  • Tom Karpovitz says:

    I lived in Providence for 25 years and was in the fire service in RI for 22 years. This is how men and women get hurt. Firefighters and citizens will be broken and suffer for this. Shameful.

  • Kris Hlozek says:

    My late Father gave over 30+yrs of his life to the PFD as did numerous other family members. I’m sure he is turning over in his grave seeing what a disgrace the city has turned the dept. into!! He would not be backing down if he were alive!!! He would make sure that the respect the PFD & PPD deserve was recognized. I am ashamed to think that I once thought of joining myself. Shame on you Mayor and the rest of the City emps involved.

  • Carol Adams says:

    This is so wrong – a disgrace to a beautiful city.
    If one life is saved, it is all worthwhile!

  • Ralph A DeAngelis says:

    I am truly sad that it took 2 pieces of sxxt to destroy over 150 yrs. of excellence and pride. One who does not know the difference between a Fire Engine and a Train Engine and the other of Affirmative Action gone bad

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