Providence FD hampered by fire-related injuries

Photo: Alejandro Grullon via ReportIt

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Dozens of Rhode Islanders are without homes to call their own after a string of local fires over the past several weeks.

However, the firefighters responding to the rash of fires has created a recent wave of injuries, which are plaguing the Providence Fire Department.

“When we have 10 to 12 [firefighters] that go out as a result of two to four fires, then it puts a strain on our existing resources,” said Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare.

Two multi-alarm fires happened at the same time last month, with one on Eaton Street and the other on Laurel Hill Avenue.

More than two dozen firefighters alone were injured just from those fires.

Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare said the city will be safe.

Pare tells Eyewitness News that when the department does not have the numbers they need, the department has to cut into the firefighter’s vacation and personal time.

As of right now, there are 42 firefighters who have “injured on duty” status and another 18 are on “light duty.”

The total staffing number of Providence firefighters has dropped in the last seven months. In September, the number of firefighters was 360 compared to only 334 now.

“Putting out fires is a dangerous job and often times you get injured,” said Pare. “We try to keep the injuries at a minimum, but you know, it’s a dangerous job. And it’s expected that some will get injured.”

To combat the problem, the amount of firefighters overtime has also been increasing.

Pare also said they are currently reviewing resumes for a new fire chief.

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