Union turns to crowdsourcing to help Coventry firefighters

COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) — As the Coventry Fire District runs out of money, its firefighters continue to work without the promise of a paycheck. That uncertainty is putting the firefighters under serious financial strain, especially those with families.

The fear of the unknown can sometimes be overwhelming, Joe Hartman and his wife Andrea expressed to Eyewitness News on Wednesday. Joe is a full-time firefighter in Coventry, while Andrea is a stay-at-home mom for their two sons, ages 2 and 6, and their 6-month-old daughter.

“I stay up at night and I cry because I’m not sure when our next paycheck is coming from,” said Andrea. “It’s so scary. It’s really terrifying.”

Hartman typically takes home about $1,300 every two weeks, but his last paycheck was about $400. He’s working two extra part-time jobs to make ends meet.

Residents voted in June to close down the district rather than approve a supplemental tax increase. In late August, the Coventry Fire District board voted to postpone laying off the district’s 16 firefighters, even though Chairman Frank Palin saying they would not be able to make payroll that week.

Despite the uncertainty, Hartman’s loyalty to the fire district has not wavered.

“I’ve worked a bunch of different jobs, but this is where my heart has always been,” he said.

David Gorman, president of the firefighters union, said many of the firefighters in Coventry are struggling like the Hartmans, so they decided to launch a crowdsourcing fundraiser on GoFundMe.com.

“We’re not looking to pay their mortgages or their rent,” said Gorman. “We’re just looking to get food on the table, buy the diapers, buy the essentials.”

Friday is supposed to be payday for the firefighters, but Palin said he’s not sure if they’ll be paid at all.

At last check, the page has raised about $2,250. Click here to donate.

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