Coventry public safety depends on a full time police department and two (2) volunteer fire departments. Cooperation and coordination between the departments is vital to maximize protection for all citizens.
Below in italics is an excerpt from minutes of the Coventry Joint Fire/Public Safety Committee meeting of January 8, 2009. These minutes are a matter of public record and available to the public.
Rescue Truck: The Town Manager asked if CVFA is preparing specifications or ordering a rescue truck. Joe Carilli said CVFA is preparing specifications for a medium duty truck and has not ordered. CVFA wants to be involved with North Coventry’s discussions on specifications for Rescue 111. He believed this Committee was to discuss the truck’s needs before specifications were prepared. The Town Manager asked if CVFA is preparing to purchase a third ambulance. Joe Carilli said this would be in the future, 2013, if calls required it. The State won’t allow the addition if the numbers aren’t there. The Town Manager said that everyone should agree on the rescue truck; there is a long history of North Coventry running the rescue truck and CVFA doing the ambulance. Joe Carilli said there should be an exploration if the town needs two medium trucks. The Manager responded that would be a substantial change of allocation of duties. If both departments aren’t communicating there will be a great deal of ill will. Joe Carilli said CVFA has tried many times to have a rescue drill and has been denied the use of the heavy truck. His members want to use the equipment as part of their training. He added CVFA has over 80 members, the Department is flourishing; members want to use their Firefighter 2 training. The Manager asked if there could be a joint training. Scott Morris responded they can and will, however, members won’t go. They have tried joint training but there has been poor communication between the training commanders. Joe Carilli said Firefighter 2 training requires extraction experience. It is a one day training and he could not get it from North Coventry. CVFA is looking at a medium duty truck; they do not feel a heavy duty is needed. They are looking at what is needed. He said if there is one truck-North Coventry gets it; if there are two CVFA wants one. The Manager spoke about more and more equipment gives a false impression to the public. The Town does support equipment by absorbing maintenance and insurance costs. This is going to be a difficult financial year. Joe Carilli asked if it is a time to talk about a rescue truck. The Town may support one rescue truck but not as large as currently is on the road. Scott Morris responded that after approval it takes over a year to receive a vehicle; discussions have been held on having two vehicles; heavy rescue needs all the equipment on one truck-not positioned on two rigs. Joe Carilli said that the two department operational captains should set up a drill to allow CVFA to handle the tools. The Manager asked if another department could be brought in for this training. Joe Carilli asked why not use a Town owned truck. CVFA will go to drills any time offered; set up a drill for extrication and they will go. Liz Woolf inquired if there are a huge number of calls for this service and Scott Morris responded no. The Manager will work with both chiefs to arrange training for Firefighter 2.
Joe Carilli spoke of needing help on medical calls. North Coventry arrives and when the ambulance comes North Coventry stops participating. The Manager feels Joe Carilli and Scott Morris need to meet and work this out. If it is not resolvable in that manner this Committee is available to help and is a good forum. The Town is grateful to have the two agencies and the volunteers that staff them. It is hard to recruit when tensions exist; people burn out or don’t join. Bad moral between departments is not good.
Let’s take a look at just two sentences for a moment, “The Manager asked if another department could be brought in for this training. Joe Carilli asked why not use a Town owned truck.” The taxpayers of Coventry have provided the truck and funded both departments and now it appears from these minutes that a lack of cooperation prompts the Town Manager to ask if another department could be brought in for training.
Safety is too important to ignore, Coventry taxpayers have paid the price and the citizens have a right to feel comfortable in knowing they are protected. The Town Council should not ignore these minutes and wait until a tragedy occurs and the solution is not bringing in another fire department.