COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) — The Central Coventry Fire District will soon only have one rescue on the road due to budget constraints.
Kevin McCann, president of the Coventry Professional Firefighters Local 3372, tells 12 News the district will be taking Rescue 7 out of service. The decision was made after taxpayers rejected the district’s budget for the third time in a row Tuesday night.
McCann said the district is reducing its minimum staffing from eight to six firefighters per shift, which is only enough to safely keep one rescue in service.
That leaves only Rescue 4 to cover the entire district, which covers roughly 26 of Coventry’s 62 square miles.
“There’s probably 19,000 [residents] that are in just Central Coventry alone,” McCann said, adding that of the 655 residents who voted, 350 shot down the budget.
The decision could mean life or death for the district’s residents, who will have to wait longer for an ambulance, especially while Rescue 4 is transporting patients to the hospital.
And it’s not just the residents McCann is worried about. He’s also worried that firefighters will jump ship due to the lack of staff.
McCann said one firefighter, who was seriously injured when a ceiling collapsed on top of him earlier this year, left because of it.
“We only had six guys trying to do the work of 15,” McCann said. “He sought employment elsewhere. This is what’s going to happen.”
“I’m worried about the public, but I’m also worried about the [firefighters] that are here,” he added.
Rescue 7 will officially be taken out of service on Oct. 15.