COVENTRY, RI – A potential public safety problem has been averted in Coventry.
Five fire stations in town are on the brink of closing down but firefighters now say they will work without pay to avert the crisis.
A financial mess in the Central Coventry Fire District leaves emergency service up in the air and taxpayers puzzled.
Leaders of the independent fire district say they’ll seek receivership but in the meantime, firefighters say they will be there to answer emergency calls.
Hours after the district announced the lights could go out Friday, the firefighters voted to stay on the job anyway, even though they likely won’t get paid.
“It’s just in your blood when you’re a firefighter. It’s in your blood to do the job. I’d want to make sure someone was there for my family,” said David Gorman, firefighters’ union president.
Last week, the district’s taxpayers put off the budget and tax bills for 60 days, as many wanted more answers where money had gone and was going.
The fire district’s leaders say this is the result.
“We basically don’t have any cash or income coming in as far as tax dollars,” said Joseph Bonn, fire board vice president.
The town council president told NBC 10 that the contingency plan was for neighboring districts to cover if the largest of Coventry’s fire districts did shut down.
But then the firefighters voted to stay on the job.
“I think it’s crazy they’ll come without getting paid but I understand they’re brave people and do a lot for the community,” said Kristen Wilson, a Coventry resident.
“I think that’s pretty impressive they’d come to work without getting paid and take their job seriously,” said another resident Dana Maguire.
When asked how long they will continue to work Gorman said, “That’s up in the air. At the end of the day, my guys need a paycheck. They need to provide for their family.
So the firefighters are staying on, but there’s a question of gassing up the trucks if there’s no money.
The town council president told NBC 10 that until the independent district does file for receivership, he can’t let the trucks fill up at the town’s pumps because the town might not get paid.