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Council Postpones Hearing on Fire Department Restructuring

A public hearing on a structural change to the fire department has been postponed from Jan. 9 to Jan. 23.

The North Kingstown Town Council has postponed a public hearing on a shifts. According to Town Council President Elizabeth Dolan, the town looks to focus on other measures to help lower the department’s costs through its current contract negotiations with the fire union.

“Essentially we’re now at the point where we’re having substantive discussions with the fire union [during contract negotiations] and we’d prefer to hold off until we’ve exhausted all opportunities and options,” said Town Council President Elizabeth Dolan.

The proposed ordinance would mean 24-hour-long shifts for firefighters, followed by 48 hours off. Currently, North Kingstown firefighters work 10- and 14-hour shifts.

“The ordinance is the last resort and if we can resolve this with positive negotiations, that’s what both sides want,” said Dolan.

The changes would add 14 hours to firefighters’ work week, up from 42 to 56 hours per week, without compensation. The idea for the 24-hour shift was initially brought up during arbitration between North Kingstown’s fire union, Local 1651, and the Town of North Kingstown.

"We maintain that their action through ordinance to change our work schedule is against state law and we're prepared to defend that position with all legal means at our disposal," said Ray Furtado, president of Local 1651.

The structural change would also reduce the number of platoons in the department from four to three. According to Town Manager Michael Embury, the department is short eight to nine members. Under the proposed structure, there would be no new hires, just "floaters" that would help reduce overtime. Embury adds that the changes could save the town anywhere from $800,000 to $1.1 million.

"I'm encouraged that they've decided to put off the ordinance while our negotiations continue," said Furtado. "We're hopeful that we'll get a resolution that's in the best interest of all."

The rescheduled public hearing on the proposed change will be held on Monday, Jan. 23.

wickchevy January 04, 2012 at 10:39 PM
How much more do they want from them? North Kingstown is already the lowest paid by thousands. I am sorry i dont have any ideas to raise revenue, but its time to leave the Fireman alone! Start investigating the traveling salesman lawyer Kinder that makes money off citys and towns. There is some savings!
I'm Tired of the Games January 05, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Wickchevy: You've got that right! Just imagine how embarassing it would be for the League of Cities and Towns to have Dan Beardsley compile what these suckers have paid out to the snake oil saleman Kinder who keeps the meter running longer than any cab driver racking up "billable hours" and prep costs. He is a charmer though, since so many fall for his visions of huge victories. Besides the monetary costs, there is the scorched earth results to morale in these communities. Remember, the former TM in NK also showed Cicilline with a surplus in Providence before going to Congress.
NKRI Transparency January 05, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Same ol same ol......comments include everything but solutions as though some how all will be ok as is
Chris Demers January 05, 2012 at 12:35 AM
I HAVE COMPILED A LIST........ I have a rundown of money paid to Kinder and associates. It equals more than 1.1 Million dollars. If anybody is interested I have the file which I obtained last week from the NK finance director. I will happily forward it to anyone interested. My email is DemersCG@cox.net, just shoot me an email and I will send it to you. Democrats, Conservatives, tea party, occupiers.... It doesn't matter who you are, it's eye opening for all. Ps. I will not forward your emails to anyone. I am a regular on the patch and use my real, full name as you can see.
NKRI Transparency January 07, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Curious as to why the town has paid that much $$ to Kinder and associates........

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