Board votes to postpone laying off Coventry firefighters

(WPRI photo)

COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) — The Coventry Fire District will remain open – at least for now.

The board met Monday to vote on potentially laying off all of the district’s 16 firefighters, which if approved would have essentially shut down the district. Board members voted 3-2 to take the proposal off the table.

Board Chairman Frank Palin submitted a letter to town officials, saying the district would not be able to make their payroll on September 4. He also mentioned that fire taxes from the district would not cover the costs.

“We don’t have enough money. We’ve got about $24,000 in the bank right now and that’s it,” Palin said.

The board decided to delay the conversation about whether or not the firefighters will work.

“We’re going to cross that bridge when we get there in terms as far as a decision to work. More than likely I think we’re going to have a same type of predicament we had in Central Coventry where I think our member will end up to work regardless of the money,” said Firefighter Union President Dave Gorman.

Many people expressed their frustration at the meeting – some pointing fingers at Palin.

“I don’t support him as chairman, because I believe he’s gotten us into this situation,” said board member John Cook.

“He’s running this board as a dictator,” said Kerry McGee of the Coventry Town Council. “There are five members on this board that all have the same input, the same say as the chairman.”

The board agreed to meet with the union to see if an agreement can be made to keep the department running. Though a date still has not been set for the meeting, Eyewitness News learned it will be held behind closed doors.

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