LETTERS

Diversity within ranks aim to firefighter legislation

Posted

To the Editor:
Mr. Elliot, thank you for being so concerned about R.I. public safety officers’ feelings, but unfortunately you have the facts of Rep. Bennett’s legislation completely wrong. You obviously based your letter on the “Go Local Editorial,” which also was factually wrong. Were you at the State House hearing on the bill or the day it had discussion on the house floor? At the hearing on the legislation, not one elected official from the state or municipal government or even any organization testified in opposition to the bill.
Rep. Bennett’s bill does not “freeze” (in your words) any Rhode Islander out from becoming a Fire Fighter or Police Officer nor does it divert taxpayer money out of state. It would bring more money into the state. Also, present police officers and fire fighters are in no way affected by this legislation, especially Warwick.
Both the audio for the hearing and the video for the floor vote on the bill are available on the General Assembly’s web site, I challenge you to find during the hearing or floor vote where Rep. Bennett uttered the words “the most qualified applicants available are not from Rhode Island” as you stated in your letter. That one is just made up.
Not that you seem to care about facts, but we will tell you the reason the state fire fighters supported the legislation. Our recruitment numbers are way down from what we are used to seeing. We believe there are several factors for this, changes to our hours, pension changes forcing us to work into our sixties and the increasing dangers of the job, etc.
Because of the recruitment decline, we are also seeing a decline in our recruitment of women and minorities. Diversity in the fire service is an issue we feel strongly about and one we embrace by working with the city and fire administration to improve. For our part, increasing the number of applicants in the future and improving diversity is the reason we support the legislation, pure and simple. So who’s playing politics?
We can disagree on issues but don’t write things that just aren’t true.
One thing you can never do Mr. Elliott, accuse Rep. Bennett of putting politics above the hard working people of Warwick that he represents. We’ve seen him in action at the state house fighting for the “little guy.” If you truly are concerned about working class people maybe you should visit the State House some day and watch Rep. Bennett in action, you might find you have a lot in common.

Michael DeFusco
President
Warwick Firefighters Union Local 2748

Comments

5 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment
JohnStark

I'm confused. How does the hiring or additional women and minority firefighters enhance the ability of the fire dept. to do it's job? Are some fires more susceptible to being extinguished by left-handed black women as opposed to white men? Are some races more adept at climbing ladders than other races? Carrying hose? Do grease fires prefer to be put out by Eskimos or transgendered Italians? We know where this is all heading. In New York City, multiple women are now on the fire dept. payroll and sitting behind a desk because they simply can not pass the physical fitness requirements of the department. But the mayor insists that they be hired, anyway. "Diversity", don't you know. We used to call them "quotas". Then "affirmative action". Now, "diversity". They all walk like a duck.

Friday, May 5 | Report this
Thecaptain

Dear Mr. DeFusco,

What you need to address is the continued organized theft and abuse of Warwick Firefighters by the use of the sick time / overtime scam which is supported by the "Substitution" clause in the contract documents. The research that I have compiled over the time period of 1 year collecting official documents from the city clearly indicates an organized scheme of fraud. The first fact is that the WFD hides the sick time in the budget and rolls it into the line item of salaries. They only itemize the non-uniform sick time (secretarial and alarm) unlike every other department that itemizes the sick time. Numerous attendance documents clearly indicate men that have been on vacation that call in sick on the first day of their rotation after vacation and the sick day is charged of to Title 45 (job related illness) and they are paid for the sick day and the sick day is not deducted from the city allocation of 20 days. I can list the names of the men and the dates if you wish.

The fact of the matter is that this practice is well known and coordinated among'st the men and has been for years. As an example, a man has a hangover so instead of taking a vacation day or a sick day he has another man "SUBSTITUTE " for him and he retains the sick day and vacation day to monetize it at the end of the year. It is well known that men pay each other to call in sick so other men can take advantage of overtime callbacks. Bear in mind, I have the documentation and more than willing to supply it.

I also have documentation from the state of certain fire fighters that bid state work at URI and take substitution days to go to work on a prevailing wage job. There is also the case of the current chief who took a leave of absence from the department to attend the state police training academy.

You should also be aware that under testimony chief Mcglaughlin stated last year that the six floaters are used to cover vacation days at straight time and that at no time can there be more than 6 men on vacation. Unfortunately, his deception was discovered by access to public records which show that in the first fiscal quarter of 2016, 1105 vacation days were all covered at the overtime rate.

The fact of the matter is that the sick time scam is about to come to an end as numerous departments across the country (including Tiverton RI) have been charged criminally for sick time abuse. You know it, I know it, and so does everyone else. Now we have the documents to substantiate it.

Friday, May 5 | Report this
JohnStark

As usual, The Captain has done his homework. In contemporary parlance, I guess that makes him a "hater".

Friday, May 5 | Report this
davebarry109

Michael, I take exception to your assertion that the firefighting job has gotten more dangerous. The number of firefighters killed or injured remains steady. In fact, half of all deaths are related to the firefighters health. Coronary disease is a top killer. Too many firefighters are out of shape. The number of fires in the country has declined greatly. Many firefighters are injured because they don't follow their own policies of wearing their PPE. They take off their air packs and other protective gear and inhale smoke needlessly. Anyone interested in finding out the veracity of the statistics can find them easily by searching https://www.usfa.fema.gov/data/statistics/

Monday, May 8 | Report this
Daydreambeliever

Mr. Cote please bring all your proof to the RI State Police. You can't win or prove your point unless you do this. To continually do it on a message board ian getting old. If you have the proof of fraud or anything illegal let the State Police do there jobs.

They will investigate thoroughly as they always do.

Wednesday, May 10 | Report this