Guest MINDSETTER ™ Tom Kenney: Providence Leadership

Monday, August 17, 2015


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As the RI State Police report on the Fung Administration and the Cranston Police Department clearly shows, when politicians involve themselves in the day-to-day running of a municipal department the results are anything but desired. I contend that this is even more pronounced in the departments of Public Safety.
The City of Providence’s Elorza administration has done just that with the Providence Fire department and the results have been nothing short of unmanageable and could very well be disastrous in several ways for the Mayor, the City and the firefighters. The Mayor’s future political aspirations are on the line and fading fast! At this point I don’t believe that he can adequately salvage the damage he’s done enough to save his political career. The City’s present and future budgets, far from being saved by the implementation of this 3 platoon system, are going to be decimated by the costly overruns of overtime and other unforeseen costs and the retirement system has already been unnecessarily strained by the sudden early retirements of over 50 or more firefighters since his announcement.
A politician attempting to run a fire department, even one with years of experience, would be treading on thin ice. There are systems in place and in planning that are necessary to keep a fire department in a large city effective in protecting its citizens and its firefighters. Mayor Elorza doesn’t know an engine company from a ladder company. Commissioner Pare has about as much knowledge of a fire department as a firefighter who has been on the job for a few years. And Kinsler has probably never stepped foot in a fire station in his adult life and knows absolutely nothing about the City of Providence!
These men are the holy triumvirate making possibly life or death decisions about Providence firefighters’ lives, about citizen safety and about the taxpayers’ spending. I suggest they have about as much working knowledge of the ins and outs of the Providence Fire Department as my wife. After all, she’s been involved in this fire service life for the last 18 years!
Citizens of the state beware, this attorney along with your Mayor or Town Manager will be attempting this in your community very soon if it is kept this way in Providence. Many of the disastrous consequences of this system may not rear their ugly heads (at least so that the public will be aware) for a while; but rest assured they will!
City Councils and Town Councils have the responsibility of vetting any drastic changes to their public safety departments very carefully before voting to approve any such change. This is not like changing the garbage pickup from weekly to bi-weekly. If that doesn’t work out you simply have to reverse the change. If public safety goes haywire the results could be catastrophic!

Tom Kenney is the Captain of the Providence Fire Department


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