PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) – The battle over whether to close a fire station near McCoy Stadium has sparked a heated debate among city residents and the mayor.
Mayor Donald Grebien says closing Station 3 will save firefighter jobs, but folks who live nearby say it would put their safety at risk.
At a meeting Wednesday night, residents fought to keep the fire station open, but the mayor admitted the decision had already been made to close it down.
Hundreds of people packed inside the small elementary school cafeteria as Pawtucket residents’ emotions poured out any inch of space that was left.
“Don’t make budget cuts where safety is involved, please, I’m begging you.” said one resident.
In order to avoid laying off 15 firefighters, Mayor Don Grebien wants to close down station 3, in front of McCoy Stadium, but many are concerned that would put public safety at risk and increase response times.
“I live on Riverview Ave, and God forbid I have to call 911 again, would the response time be that fast? And will I make it to the hospital next time?” decried another resident.
Retired Deputy Assistant Fire Chief, Curt Varone, says the Pawtucket Fire Department response time will surpass the four minute national requirement. “Closing engine 3 is just going to worsen an already bad situation” says Varone.
Two hours into the meeting, a resident asked Mayor Grebien if his decision was already made, and he confirmed it was.
Grebien says, “The decision has been made, because we need to have the offset of $1.8 million, if there are other suggestions, we would gladly listen to those.”
Following the meeting, Grebien said for several months, he’s asked city council members and the firefighters union to come up with ways to offset the federal grant money isn’t getting this upcoming fiscal year.
There is no date as to when station 3 will close, but the fiscal year begins July 1st.