MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Following a fire that left an 11-year-old girl and her father injured on New Year’s Eve, the Rhode Island Association of Firefighters is calling on the town to address its “grossly inadequate” staffing situation.
President of the Rhode Island Association of Firefighters Joseph Andriole said that, while emergency incidents have tripled in the town, the Middletown Fire Department’s staffing has remained unchanged for more than 30 years.
The fire broke out at a home on Woolsey Road while Middletown firefighters were responding to a medical emergency. Newport firefighters arrived on scene first and began to fight the flames.
Andriole called this unacceptable, adding that the understaffed department is draining resources from other nearby communities.
He said the fire, which also injured a Newport firefighter, is a “scary example of what we have been telling the town for a very long time.”
Andriole said the firefighter’s association has been in arbitration with the town for a while now and claims town leaders refuse to negotiate.
“Town leaders need to stop playing politics with public safety and start listening to the people who do their best to provide that safety to the community and the firefighters,” Andriole said.
Andriole said the firefighter’s association is willing to negotiate and hopes town leaders will “do the right thing.”
Eyewitness News reached out to Middletown’s Town Administrator but has yet to hear back.