PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) – The city of Pawtucket will keep all fire apparatus in rotation during the temporary closure of Station 3, Eyewitness News has learned. The city previously planned to take an engine out of service, causing fire union leaders to express concerns about response times.
The move was set to take place during a four-to-eight-week closure of Station 3 during which the building’s roof and electrical system are set to undergo roughly $300,000 worth of repairs.
On Thursday, city and union leaders issued a joint statement, saying in part, “Up until very recently, the plan was to temporarily remove Engine 3 from service while these upgrades and repairs were taking place. At the request of the Fire Union, the Administration and the Fire Union, working collaboratively, changed the distribution of apparatus to allow Engine 3 to stay in service.”
The statement goes on to say the change in plans has resulted in the relocation of rescues to different stations than originally planned, something that prompted the captain of Rescue 1 to sound the alarm.
“The current placement of Rescue 1 has positioned us as far from our district as possible, while still remaining in the city,” Captain Earl Newman wrote in a letter to the city’s public safety director. The letter was separately obtained by Eyewitness News.
Newman said Rescue 1 serves a large number of people in low-income neighborhoods. He said utilization of emergency medical services is higher in this area, and because of this, Rescue 1 is, “the busiest rescue in the city, and, quite possibly, the state.”
He believes the relocation of the rescue to Newport Avenue during construction at Station 3 will add four to five minutes in additional travel time.
“This would be drastically increased during times of high traffic, for example during the upcoming baseball season or during school hours as our primary route to this district requires us to utilize Division Street,” he wrote. “As you know, the traffic around McCoy Stadium during any baseball game would hinder our ability to respond to our assigned district.”
Newman is calling for the rescue to be relocated to Cottage Street so access to their assigned coverage area is more convenient.
In their joint statement, the city and union said the safety of the public and their employees is paramount.
“The City and the Fire Union are working together toward a resolution regarding the distribution of the Rescues that would address the issues raised in the letter,” the statement said.