Letter: Council Republicans Respond to Firefighters' Media Campaign

The town council's Republicans sound off on the firefighters' new campaign.


To the editor,

We read with interest of the to battle their current .  Apparently the PR firm has decided that the union should claim that this schedule is “a safety issue.”  It is not. The following are facts.

  • The union and the town have both hired experts in firefighters’ shift schedules. All agree that the 24-hour shift is the predominant schedule in paid fire departments across America. All also agree that the 24-hour shift schedule is safe. These experts have devoted their careers to studying workplace safety in 24-hour operations.
  • Bear in mind that firefighters are not required to perform actual work during their 24 hours on duty.  It is “lights out” at the fire stations from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m. Firefighters are in their bunks during this time unless there is an emergency call and only a few of them generally need to get up and respond. Emergency calls come in, on average, three times a week for each station during sleeping hours.  When firefighters respond, they are out of their bunks, on average, for less than one hour.  After that, it’s back to bed.
  • Firefighters are able to watch TV, read, or nap much of the rest of their duty time. It means that they get plenty of rest while on duty.
  • Before the , many firefighters in North Kingstown frequently worked 24 hours or more in a row and received overtime compensation.  The union never suggested such overtime was a “safety issue.”
  • In California, the trend among firefighters’ unions is to demand 48-hour work schedules.  If unions don’t believe the 48-hour schedule is a “safety issue” in metropolitan areas where emergency calls come with greater frequency, the 24-hour schedule is not a legitimate “safety issue” in North Kingstown.
  • There are 25 percent more firefighters assigned to each hour of the day than there were before the change to a 24-hour shift.  Every position in the department is filled, with extra firefighters assigned to every shift.
  • Even with the 10 percent salary increase given to firefighters in March, the town will save about $1 million a year from the new schedule.  The union wants that money.  And it wants to work fewer than 100 days a year.
  • The union itself has made a series of bargaining proposals, beginning last November, proposing that employees work a 24-hour shift schedule. It was not a “safety issue” then.

For the last five years, the town has had to reduce services, lay off personnel and cut costs in every area.  We simply cannot afford to continue funding union contracts at the level that we have done in the past. Structural changes must be made in the way firefighting services are provided and paid for. The 24-hour shift provides some financial relief, about $1 million annually, but the pressure to adequately fund schools, water, sewers, road maintenance and other town functions remains.

We will not sacrifice safety.  We have studied that issue extensively and based on expert advice the 24-hour schedule is the safe. We are willing and prepared to negotiate a new contract, but all issues must be on the table for discussion and any contract must be financially sustainable.

Liz Dolan, President

Carol Hueston, Member

Charles Stamm, Member


 North Kingstown Town Council

Rhodeyresident0303 August 12, 2012 at 12:29 AM
????? Concerned Resident... You said I was incorrect and untruthful... Please provide factual evidence showing that I am wrong !!!!!!...
nkres August 12, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Rhodey03, thanks for responding to my question. I'm still confused with the Republican TC letter as to who wants "it to work fewer than 100 days a year." The context of the that paragraph implies the union is pushing the 100 day year, but Mr. Stamm was promoting the 100 day year in the Jan 30 meeting. Mr. Brennan's statements are almost exactly what is happening.
Rhodeyresident0303 August 12, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Nkres I'd like to point out how Concerned Resident called my response to your question "incorrect and untruthful".. I would also like to point out that Concerned Resident has not given any factual evidence or documents showing that my comments were "incorrect and untruthful".
Concerned Resident August 12, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Once again "incorrect and untruthful statements"
Concerned Resident August 12, 2012 at 02:13 AM
Once again "incorrect and untruthful statements"
nkres August 12, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Thanks R03, but I prefer to draw my own conclusions. That is why I was hoping someone could help clarify the statements in the letter. This whole situation has been very poorly managed. I believe the Town was using the "ordinance" as a threat, and when the Union didn't fold, the Town couldn't withdraw it without looking like total fools. Hence the ordinance was found illegal by Judge Stern and the FD is in turmoil because it just wasn't thought out well. A textbook example of poor planning and management. Now it appears they have to bend the truth in an attempt to save face. The article in the NE Independant regarding this issue shed more light on the subject as well if you get a chance to read that. I also prefer not to get involved in the childish name calling and rhetoric that prevails in these blogs and makes both sides look foolish. But, thanks again for your take on the statement I questioned in this letter. It's nice to see there are some mature participants on here.
Rhodeyresident0303 August 12, 2012 at 04:37 PM
I looked at a town that almost mirrors our town. It wasn't that hard to see that West Warwick was a perfect example. West Warwick has 30,000 residents. They have 4 fire stations and operate 4 fire engines, 2 ALS Rescues, 1 Deputy Chief, and they cross man their ladder and special hazards truck. They operate a 24 hour shift system with 4 platoons. Their department has a total of 72 firefighters that make up their department. Each fire engine has 2 firefighters, each rescue has 2 firefighters the deputy chief has 1, and the ladder and special hazards are cross manned with 2 firefighters per shift. Each platoon has 15 firefighters. North Kingstown fire department has 27,000 residents. They have 4 fire stations. They operate 4 fire engines each with 2 firefighters, 2 ACLS rescues with 2 firefighters, 1 deputy chief with 1 chief, and their ladder and special hazards are cross manned with firefighters on those other trucks. Noone is assigned to those 2 trucks each shift. The department has 3 platoons and has 56 firefighters on a 24 hour shift system... Looks basically the same. Until you see that West warwick has 72 firefighters and North Kingstown has 56 .. West Warwick has 16 more fighters than NK. They also do not work 56 hours a week. They operate a 48 hour work week. http://www.westwarwickfirefighters.org/about-us.html I provided the link to back up my facts
Rhodeyresident0303 August 12, 2012 at 04:49 PM
I'd also urge all to take a look at the this link. http://www.muni-info.ri.gov/municipal%20contracts/ This link provides all of the fire, police and public works municipal contracts for the state. Click on each link under the fire department section to view their contracts. In each contract you can view the departments shift system, their pay, and there benefits. You will see that not only are these firefighters in North Kingstown NOT SALARY WORKERS but their compensation is far lower most departments in this state. And they are currently the only department in this state to operate a 3 platoon 24 hour shift 56 hour work week. Again I provided the above link to back up my statement.
Concerned Resident August 12, 2012 at 05:00 PM
I looked at a town that almost mirrors our town. It wasn't that hard to see that West Warwick was a perfect example. While there are similarities, the one glowing difference is that North Kingstown is not experiencing the same financial difficulties as West Warwick. I provided the link to back up my facts: http://www2.turnto10.com/news/2012/may/09/west-warwick-could-be-next-bankrupt-city-ar-1030124/ Unfortunately there is a minority that would drive Norht Kingstown in the same direction as West Warwick. Many are appreciative of our Town Council as they fiscally responsibly perform their job as they represent the tax paying North Kingstown residents.
Concerned Resident August 12, 2012 at 05:10 PM
I'd also urge all to take a look at this link to find many links to West Warwick financial issues: https://www.google.com/#hl=en&sclient=psy-ab&q=west+warwick+ri+bankrutpcy&oq=west+warwick+ri+bankrutpcy&gs_l=hp.3...3573.19006.0.20710.,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&fp=5b5290bb1af9e8e9&biw=1393&bih=644 I urge all to ask those that would drive North Kingstown towards bankruptcy what their true agenda is. I urge all to ask those that ignore the article letter what their true agenda is. I urge all to ask those that ignore the article letter why they want their demands met without regard to the majority of tax paying North Kingstown residents. I urge all to ask those that ignore the article letter as where they expect funding to come from to pay for their desired excesses.
Paul Marshall August 12, 2012 at 05:11 PM
@CR: "YOU are CORRECT sir!" (said like Ed McMahon to Johnny Carson) It's about FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY. Some parties get it (Republican) and some don't (democrat). While you can pretend to seem politically correct "I vote for the person"...that's hogwash. Voting for demonstrated fiscal responsibility in dire economic times is what's needed NOW. How much economic humiliation can an electorate take? Look around. The out-migration of our strongest citizens. Closing of our stores and factories. Corruption passed off as "Economic Development". Collusion between government leaders and Union 'leaders'. The democrats' class warfare, punish-the-successfull, drive off the engine that creates jobs. How can we call that being fiscally responsible? It's NOT. Just as so many of us are sorting through our lives and realigning our priorities, we have to realign our politics. We have to STOP VOTING DEMOCRAT.
wickchevy August 12, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Yes Paul, everything will be fine so long as the Republicans can have the Democrats working for them at low level income. Good point. Who needs Medicare or Social Security anyway, right? Thats why i say vote for the right Person despite affiliation.
Paul Marshall August 12, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Ho-Ho-Ho, "Wickchevy" or whatever your REAL name is...amazing how many "cowardly lions" are on here. It's about responsibility. (A concept obviously lost on the democrat party-since the "Red Herring" argument here attests). Responsibility to unborn generations (the liberals would rather kill the unborn, forgetting they too were once "unborn") to resist temptation to force them to pay for our benefits. The "Right" person? Uh-huh... Like we've been doing for 75 years? Just exactly how's that working out for us? Even the Illegal Aliens are abandoning our crooked little state. 'nuff said?
wickchevy August 12, 2012 at 07:47 PM
The Fire Dept budget to the avg taxpayer is equilivant to the price of a cup of coffee a day. Am i wrong? Why are we trying to save money here? I think its out of spite
Rhodeyresident0303 August 12, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Speaking to Paul and concerned is like placing your head against a concrete wall and bashing it for about an hour... Its stupid and hurts.. These are have the common sense of a salt shaker yet you get more use from the salt shaker.. Forgot the unions were to blame for this economy and not the politicans!! It amazes me how people like paul and CR are allowed to use oxygen!.. These people clearly have no outside life and just wait for a post on this patch website!!.. When is the worst time in paul and CR's life? When the power goes out and their moms lock them out of the basement!!! Your statements are useless and hold no weight you have supplied NO information about the town of north kingstown Yet you just love to see eachothers comments !!! I love them too because it shows to all how irrelevant some people truly are in this world!! Keep the comments flowing because your giving us all some great laughs!!
Concerned Resident August 12, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Guessing the 24hr shift is getting to ya as your ramblings indicate. Please press the buzzer button to have a nurse come to your room to wipe the dribble that you are writing.
Concerned Resident August 12, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Oh yea, a little here, a little there, a little more here, a little more there........can't figure out why anyone would want to reach for fiscal responsibility.
Clutch127 August 13, 2012 at 02:27 PM
The NK Town Council's illegal implementing the 56-hour work shift has caused the RI State Labor Relations Board to issue yet ANOTHER complaint against the Town, as I mentioned above. I have received a number of requests from people looking for the actual documentation of the Unfair Labor Practice(s), so I have provided a link here for all to see and evaluate the complaint on their own, free of spin and desperately misleading statements/letters to the press. Don't be misled by the nonsense. This IS and HAS ALWAYS BEEN about safety, and this shift as implemented creates significant risk for all. http://www.nkffa.org/SLRB_Complaint_against_the_Town_of_NK_8.6.12.pdf Two brief points about the link. First, TC members Dolan, Hueston, Stamm, Bestwick and Brennan, along with Michael Embury are all named in the complaint. To be clear, Bestwick and Brennan DID NOT vote to implement the ordinance; They are however shown as "respondents" since the charge is against the entire Town Council. Dolan, Hueston, and Stamm voted YES for the ordinance, resulting in the ULP(s) and all subsequent, expensive litigation. Second, Councilman Brennan appears in red because the initial version still listed Steve DeToy as a TC member. When the NK Firefighters make statements and claims, they are well supported by facts and documentation, not political rhetoric and talking points. On behalf of the NK firefighters, I want thank you all for your continued support and interest.
Paul Marshall August 13, 2012 at 02:52 PM
@RIRes (or whoever you are hiding behind a phoney name): Sorry I missed your comments earlier. I was busy volunteering in my community and working on a music scholarship I started at WHS, and with my students at the Naval War College. All you have is More ad hominem (google "fallacies") attacks aimed at wounding the messenger? This strategy is a standard union tactic employed to freighten and intimidate those who "dare" challenge the status quo in the bluest states. They're usually all the same. Say you name repeatedly. Try to smear you. Pretend they're clever. What's next? Coming to my house and strangling my cat? In Rhode Island, the union thugs control our politicians. (See RISC newsletters to view dollar amounts contributed from their membership) ..... Or Volunteer at any polling place and chat with the democRAT poll-"workers" and you'll find they are "enlisted" by union "leaders" AND usually from another town! These tactics are employed to "game" the system. This is what the unions do. Over 40 years they've worked hard at perfecting this gamesmanship. Now we're broke. But, they won't speak to that. They get the golden parachutes and we get to call the moving company. What a deal. We have to change the way we've done politics in RI. How much humiliation can we tolerate as a people? We have to STOP VOTING DEMOCRAT.
Concerned Resident August 13, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Perhaps Clutch will also state why the months long negotiations came to an impasse. Perhaps Clutch will also state why the need for a PR firm if the union is right. Perhaps Clutch will stop diverting readers from the Town Council letter. Perhaps Clutch will share that outside interest number totals 8 individuals. Perhaps Clutch will share post his union compensation. Perhaps Clutch will share a link to the union prayer. Perhaps Clutch will step up to the plate to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Concerned Resident August 13, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Lastly, this complaint was brought forth by the union. This is similar to someone suing another.....something anyone can do. I will liken such to saying that the courts are sung an individual which like Clutch's statement is untrue, anyone surprised??
I'm Tired of the Games August 13, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Clutch 127: Thank you for posting that link. I had emailed the Board last Friday, but had not yet heard anything back from them. It doesn't sound that either party has scheduled any negotiations since the ruling of Judge Stern. Maybe, CR can explain why the Town hasn't moved to get in compliance with that order. Especially, since the complaint by the Labor Board has been issued. Since those hearings are not scheduled until September, the OT clock continues to climb and the potential retro pay does as well. This needs to get resolved for the good of the taxpayers, residents, and firefighters. Why the Town continues to line Kinder's pockets by dragging this out is a dis-service to the taxpayers.
Nkfamily100years August 13, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Thank you for posting the Labor Board link. Very interesting reading to say the least. The real test of time will be in 3 or 4 months when a decision is issued, if favorable to labor will the TC continue to waste money or appoligize to its employees and move foward with honest negotiations. Actually the real question is: If Charlie Stamm leaves his mansion in Florida at 1pm, lands in Rhode Island at 4pm, how long before he is sipping martinis at his infinity pool in his million dollar house in wickford thinking of ways to further screw up the Town he so seldomly resides in???????
Concerned Resident August 13, 2012 at 07:59 PM
As previously discussed at several Town Council meeting AND as written in several newspaper articles the Town Council is seeking clarification. You’re beginning or continuing to write as a union ff seeing only one side of the issue. Perhaps you would like to chime as to why the negotiations failed bringing all to this point....
I'm Tired of the Games August 13, 2012 at 08:16 PM
CR: I'm not sure if your post was to me or Clutch127. I have no knowledge of the actual negotiations other than what I read in the papers, see on tv or here. As for the Labor Board complaint, they don't just set hearing dates on a whim. The union must have had compeling evidence they presented to the Board to get a hearing. In any event, I'm scratching my head as to why the TC acted illegally instead of following the processes for remedy under the state laws. Kinder will tell anybody anything just to keep the meter running. Meanwhile, taxpayers are left on the sidelines watching their economic liabliity increase by the day. Heck, I'll even amend my previous lock them in a room at Duffy's. Include full bar service and food until they get it done. They need to check their Ipads and phones at the door. No texting! Maybe the "sand hole" would be a better venue, but I fear it may be too small for all the big egos involved.
Concerned Resident August 13, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Interesting that you use the word "IF" and even more interesting that you don't also comment - what if the Town Council prevails. Your comments regarding Charlie Stamm read as though it's coming from a jealous individual.
Concerned Resident August 13, 2012 at 11:51 PM
I will be happy to stand outside the locked door with you tossing in boxing gloves after a set time limit!
Concerned Resident August 14, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Interesting reading for all concerned: http://digital.olivesoftware.com/Olive/ODE/ProJo/LandingPage/LandingPage.aspx?href=VFBKLzIwMTIvMDgvMTQ.&pageno=MQ..&entity=QXIwMDEwMg..&view=ZW50aXR5
Concerned Resident August 18, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Hmmmmm, wonder why the GREAT concern in sharing info regarding Councilman Brennan being listed on YOUR complaint............
Gary Pick September 15, 2012 at 05:35 PM
N. Kingstown Town Council Republicans. I for one support our Firefighters and Police Officers here in town. I will be going to the polls in Novenber with as 1 of my objectives, to fire all the Republicans on the NK Town Council.


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