NEW: Coventry Fire Protection Task Force Seeking a Long-Term Solution

Thursday, April 11, 2013


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A group of forty Coventry residents is volunteering time to define fire protection alternatives for the Central Coventry Fire District (CCFD) in the wake of the failure of the CCFD, presently operating under an emergency loan from the town.

Citizens Taskforce Formed

The Coventry Citizens Taskforce for Fire Protection (CCT) met for a second time Wednesday night continuing its efforts to identify a long-term solution for fire protection and safety services for the district. 

The meeting was attended by several members of the state and town legislature, including Representatives Patricia Morgan, Lisa Tomasso and Scott Guthrie, Senator Lou Raptakis, and Town Councilwoman Karen Carlson.

Thomas Carroll, of Paramedic Systems in Bristol, a private emergency services company, presented information to one alternative, providing private multiple vehicles and crews for emergency services, at little to no cost to the community, depending on the level of services and third-party reimbursement.

“I know this sounds too good to be true, but we are doing exactly this in Springfield and New Bedford MA, and it might – I say might – be possible in Coventry,” he said. Carroll was unable to be more precise because he had not had an opportunity to cost out various options.

Another provider estimate for emergency services came in at $200,000 for a six-month period, assuming two ambulances based in Coventry, tied into the Coventry 911 system, with 24/7 staffing.

“We looked at these immediate alternatives just to reassure ourselves that significant cost savings could be made,” said Gralinski, “but there has been no decision or really enough research into a privatization option for us to make a decision. But it seems clear there are some cost-efficient alternatives to what we are doing now.”

Workgroups established to explore alternative options.

During the meeting, six working groups were organized to investigation a range of options: establish a municipal fire department; carve up the CCFD and merge various regions with other fire districts; privatize fire and emergency services; develop a partial privatization model; and merge the entire CCFD area with another of Coventry’s remaining four districts. A seventh group is considering the potential of rehabilitating the CCFD, installing new management and instituting improved financial and operating controls.

“These working groups are really what this Taskforce is all about,” said Sean Carey, Taskforce Co-chair. “We’re not here to pass judgment on the past, we’re not here to criticize the firefighters or their union, and we are not an anti-tax group. We have a failed fire district, and we are trying to figure out what kind of a replacement organization will best serve the needs of central Coventry long-term,” he said.

Some working groups will be meeting multiple times this week, but the next meeting of the full taskforce was set for Wednesday, April 17, at 7 p.m. at Club Jogues in Coventry, open to residents.

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