Guest MINDSETTER™ Tom Kenney: Providence Firefighters Fight Cold as Well as Fire

Saturday, January 13, 2018


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The people of RI, as is with the majority of the people in the USA, have very short memories. Just last week we were experiencing an almost unprecedented cold snap that forced most of us to bundle up in our well-heated homes and wait for the weather to turn. Well, it finally has and these last few days of the mercury rising past the 40-degree mark have allowed us to pretty much put that cold weather out of our minds.

First of all I’d like to warn all of my fellow RI’ers that it’s only the beginning of January – there are many frigid days and nights ahead! Hopefully none as severe as the cold we’ve just shaken off but it IS New England and winter will still be around for the next three months!

I’d also like to refresh people’s memories of the fatal fire in Providence last week which was bravely fought by our firefighters under incredibly challenging, and severely dangerous, conditions. I’d like to ask people reading this to imagine waking up at 3 AM from a cozy bed on that extremely cold morning (under zero degrees and -18 with wind chill) to arrive about 3 minutes later to an inferno that involved two houses and multiple residents still in the buildings needing to be evacuated. This, as is always the case in these types of fires, needed to be done simultaneously with fire knockdown and extinguishment.

These firefighters worked quickly and bravely in performing multiple rescues and placing apparatus and hoselines in the best possible positions to effectuate resident safety and fire suppression. Within the first 10 minutes or so of the response, a firefighter from PFD’s Special Hazards was trapped on the floor above the main fire, while searching for victims, when a weakened ceiling collapsed and entangled him. He transmitted a MayDay (distress call). Members of his company began to search for him and begin the process of extricating him from the entanglement. Members of the Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) were deployed from outside the building to assist in this task. Luckily for this firefighter (FF Dan Rinaldi) and the PFD he was successfully rescued and sent to the hospital for treatment and evaluation. Everyone from the PFD went home that morning but one of the residents, sadly, never made it from the house and perished.

That very same day, under similar extreme weather conditions, there were 2 other MayDays sounded in other cities for trapped firefighters – Philadelphia and Dallas. Another, involving multiple firefighters was transmitted the next day in Chicago. One firefighter in Philly never made it out of the building alive and was killed in the line of duty. Several firefighters were treated at hospitals as a result of these incidents but made it our alive – mostly due to the heroic actions of their brothers.

Firefighting is an extremely dangerous occupation under any conditions but this danger escalates rapidly under extreme heat or cold, especially with ice and snow. Under extremely cold conditions the runoff of water freezes almost immediately. Even when the fire conditions are partially knocked down the water in the hoselines needs to be continually running to avoid freezing in the line rendering it inoperative. Also, these firefighters are still on the scene in the severe conditions long after the main body of the fire is extinguished. Hot spots need to be located and extinguished, hoselines and other equipment needs to be picked up and repacked on the apparatus. Sometimes the hoselines need to be chopped from the ice or held under apparatus exhaust pipes to thaw the connections. The firefighters in Providence last week were pretty much all at the scene until 8AM and some were there well into the afternoon.

All these firefighters, not just those from Providence, realize that working in these extreme conditions is just a part of the job - heat, cold, hurricanes, flooding, etc. When most people choose to hunker in place in the comfort of their homes and with their families these firefighters are expected, and willing, to show up to their jobs ready to respond at a moment’s notice to whatever emergency might present itself. We need them more than ever at these times. These are the times we count on them.

On a personal note, it was a little disturbing to me to see the words of Providence Commissioner of Public Safety Steve Pare calling FF Rinaldi and FF LaSalle “true American Heroes”. Not because I disagree, I totally agree with that statement, but because of how shallow I know those words are coming from him. Just a short 18 months or so ago this same commissioner praised PFD Captain Joe Fontaine as a hero, also. He and his men had bravely fought a very large fire under extreme heat and wind. The conflagration involved three buildings and threatened more.

Capt. Fontaine, as well as all the firefighters on the scene that day, acted heroically under these extreme conditions. Capt. Fontaine suffered a life-threatening injury and was hospitalized for a couple of weeks. During his hospitalization the commissioner praised him as a “hero”. Within 6 months of praising him the commissioner refused to allow him to be promoted to a Chief’s position which he had earned via a promotional exam. Pare attempted to force this “hero” into retirement like a used piece of equipment that was no longer needed! While his injuries eventually forced him to retire he had been denied his well-earned promotion.

So the next time you’re home listening to the wind howl and the weatherman says that it’s -5 degrees outside remember that there are men and women working in your local fire houses that are ready to immediately respond to your cry for help no matter how cold it may be!


Related Slideshow: GoLocal: Benchmark Poll, October 2017

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Sponsor: GoLocalProv

Sample: N=403

Rhode Island General Election Voters Margin of Error: +/- 4.9% at 95% Confidence Level

Interviewing Period: October 9-11, 2017

Mode: Landline (61%) and Mobile (39%)

Telephone Directed by: John Della Volpe, SocialSphere, Inc.

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Are you registered to vote at this address?

Yes: 100%

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When it comes to voting, do you consider yourself to be affiliated with the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, Moderate, or Unaffiliated with a major party?

Unaffiliated: 49%

Democrat: 32%

Republican: 15%

Moderate: .4%

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Next year, in November of 2018, there will be a statewide general election for Governor and many other state offices. How likely is it that you will vote in this election?

Will you definitely be voting, will you probably be voting, are you 50-50...

Definitely be voting: 78%

Probably be voting: 13%

50-50: 9%

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In general, would you say things in Rhode Island are headed in the right direction or are they off on the wrong track?

Right track: 39%

Wrong track: 45%

Mixed: 10%

Don't know/Refused: .6%

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What would you say is the number one problem facing Rhode Island that you would like the Governor to address?

Jobs and economy:  21%

Education: 12%

Taxes: 12%

Roads: 12%

State budget: 9%

Corruption/Public integrity: .8%

Healthcare: 3%

Governor: 3%

Homelessness: 2%

Immigration: 2%

Other: 7%

Don’t know: .9%

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Over the past three years or so, would you say the economy in Rhode Island has improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

Changed for the better: 35%

Changed for the worse: 16%

Not changed at all: 43%

Don't know/Refused: 5%

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Over the same time, has your family's financial situation improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

Changed for the better: 26%

Changed for the worse: 19%

Not changed at all: 54%

Don't know/Refused: 1%

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Recently, a proposal has been made to permit the issuance of $81 million in bonds by the State to build a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox. If there was an election today on this issue, would you vote to approve or reject issuing $81 million in financing supported moral obligation bonds to build the stadium?

Net: Approve: 28%

Definitely approve: 15%

Probably approve: 14%

Net: Reject: 67%

Probably reject: 19%

Definitely reject: 48%

Don't know: 4%

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Could you please tell me your age?

18-24: 7%

25-34: 15%

35-44: 15%

45-54: 20%

55-64: 17%

65+: 25%

Don't know/refused: 1%

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What was the last grade you completed in school?

0-11: 2%

High school grad: 16%

Technical/Vocational school: 1%

Some college: 23%

College grad: 34%

Graduate degree: 24%

Don't know/refused: 1%

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The next question is about the total income of YOUR HOUSEHOLD for the PAST 12 MONTHS. Please include your income PLUS the income of all members living in your household (including cohabiting partners and armed forces members living at home).

$50,000 or less: 27%

More $50,000 but less than $75,000: 13%

More $75,000 but less than $100,000: 13%

More $100,000 but less than $150,000: 17%

$150,000 or more: 13%

Don't know/refused: 17%

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What particular ethnic group or nationality - such as English, French, Italian, Irish, Latino, Jewish, African American, and so forth - do you consider yourself a part of or feel closest to?

American/None: 21%

English: 13%

Italian: 13%

Irish: 12%

Black or African American: 6%

Latino/Hispanic: 6%

French: 6%

Portuguese: 3%

Jewish: 3%

German: 1%

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Would you say that Donald Trump has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as President?

Excellent: 13%
Good: 12%
Fair: 14%
Poor: 57%
Never heard of:  0%
Cannot rate: 3%

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Would you say that Jack Reed has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

Excellent: 22%
Good: 29%
Fair: 23%
Poor: 15%
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate: 6%

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Would you say that Sheldon Whitehouse has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

Excellent: 17%
Good: 22%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 28%
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate: 7%

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Would you say that David Cicilline has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?

Excellent: 9%
Good: 29%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 27%
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate:  8%

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Would you say that James Langevin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?

Excellent: 7%
Good: 30%
Fair: 20%
Poor: 18%
Never heard of: 13%
Cannot rate: 11%

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Prev Next

Would you say that Gina Raimondo has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Governor?

Excellent: 6%
Good: 28%
Fair: 30%
Poor: 31%
Never heard of: 1%
Cannot rate: 3%

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Would you say that Daniel McKee has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Lieutenant Governor?

Excellent: 3%
Good: 16%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 8%
Never heard of: 26%
Cannot rate: 25%

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Would you say that Peter Kilmartin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Attorney General?

Excellent: 3%
Good: 20%
Fair: 28%
Poor: 17%
Never heard of: 13%
Cannot rate: 19%

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Would you say that Seth Magaziner has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as General Treasurer?

Excellent: 4%
Good: 18%
Fair: 24%
Poor: 13%
Never heard of: 21%
Cannot rate: 21%

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Would you say that Nellie Gorbea has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Secretary of State?

Excellent: 5%
Good: 21%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 10%
Never heard of: 20%
Cannot rate: 23%

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Would you say that Jorge Elorza has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Mayor of Providence?

Excellent: 4%
Good: 24%
Fair: 24%
Poor: 22%
Never heard of: 9%
Cannot rate: 15%


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