Firefighters, board, agree on new contract in Coventry

(WPRI photo)

COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) – The crisis at the Coventry Fire District appears to be over, at least for now.

Board chairman Frank Palin said Sunday morning that the firefighters and the board have agreed on a new three-year contract that keeps the fire district operating while also trimming expenses.

“Both sides can claim victory,” Palin wrote in a news release.

Nine full-time firefighters will remain on the payroll, down from 17 with the prior resignation of several firefighters.

The contract also adjusts health insurance deductibles, implements a Health Savings Account for the firefighters, and eliminates vacation carryover.

All told, Palin said that total personnel costs have been reduced by $900,000.

David Gorman, President of the local firefighters union, agreed that both sides could live with the contract. The firefighters agreed to drop their lawsuits and the board shelved talk of bringing in a private ambulance service or part-time firefighters.

Although nine firefighters isn’t an ideal number, Gorman said, they’re happy to have job security for the next several years. But a single town-wide fire department is still the best long-term solution, he said.

The contract will be formally signed at the next fire district meeting Tuesday night at 7 p.m. The contract takes effect on January 1.

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