Thursday, September 18, 2008

John DePetro: Still on the air at WPRO?


The following letter (bold print) was sent to Paul Giammarco (630 WPRO’s Station Manager) over a month ago…..the second part of this letter (italics) was sent about one week ago.


About a month ago I sent you the following e-mail:

Mr. Giammarco:

With regards to your morning radio host John DePetro:

Fact 1: It appears that there has been a huge "fix" of the latest Arbitron ratings.

Fact 2: It has been reported that 6 ratings diaries were from a single E Greenwich household.

Fact 3: DePetro lives in E Greenwich.

Fact 4: Arbitron has learned that the six Spring 2008 Providence-Warwick-Pawtucket metro diaries in question were returned from a media-affiliated household.

Fact 5: The six diaries indicated they listened to WPRO from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. for over 109 hours (out of a possible maximum of 120 hours) during a single week. That's when DePetro is on the air.

Fact 6: The ratings for DePetro's show went through the roof among 25- to 54-year-old listeners - the money-making demographic that advertisers target. DePetro skyrocketed from a 2.0 share in 11th place this winter to a 6.8 and 4th place this spring.

Assumption 1 (not fact): John DePetro had something to do with this "fix".

a) He had the most to gain from this deception.
b) He has the understanding of what this could mean to his value.
c) It "may have been" from his household based on reports.
d) The "fix" involved only his show.
e) He (DePetro) has had a very controversial career.

The "assumption" of DePetro's guilt in this scandal, based (not entirely) on the above sub-"facts" listed under the "assumption", would be more than enough evidence for DePetro to publicly crucify someone else for "alleged" wrong-doing. He would publicly humiliate the "alleged" conspirator on his radio show and laugh down anyone who had the nerve to point out that all the facts were not in.

I suggest we treat him the same way that he would treat someone else – fire him immediately!!!

Tom Kenney


Since then it has been revealed that the diaries did indeed come from DePetro's home. Mr. DePetro claims that Mrs. DePetro was responsible for this unlawful and fraudulent act.

Your radio station has taken no action toward removing Mr. DePetro from the airwaves. I am forced to assume that your station, your parent company, and all the advertisers of DePetro's show condone (or at best, excuse) his and his wife's actions.

This type of behavior has been a continual problem with DePetro over the years. On his morning radio show, John DePetro continually attacks the poor, gays and lesbians and people of color, while fanning the flames of anger toward immigrants. Similar derogatory comments led to his firing from a Boston radio station.

It was with great regret that I tuned into Dan Yorke's radio show Tuesday afternoon only to hear an advertisement for Mr. DePetro's radio show scheduled for the next morning. I had assumed that he would be fired by this time in order for the radio station and advertisers to avoid alienating listeners who care about honesty and integrity in journalism and hold these reporters to a higher standard of ethical conduct due to their influence on the community.

I need to inform you that I will no longer be listening to your station. I have been a semi-loyal listener for years to your station during the late morning / late afternoon timeframe. I have never been a loyal listener of DePetro's because he has always lacked the integrity needed to be a journalist. He has always lacked the ability to examine an issue from both sides. He has always preached his cause/opinion and shouted down or hung up on opposing views.

I do, however, intend to listen to Mr. DePetro's program on one more occasion. I intend to listen on Friday to make a list of advertisers who still choose to fund his program. I will contact every advertiser and forward a copy of this e-mail along with my intent to boycott their company. I will also advise them that I will forward this boycott list to as many of my business, union, political, and family friends as I can reach. I will also post this list on as many political forums as I belong.

There is absolutely no room for a person with such low moral standards on the "public" airwaves. People and businesses who ignore (and thereby condone) his inappropriate actions will be exposed and boycotted.

Tom Kenney
Warwick, RI 02888

Note: As of 9/16/08 the following JohnDePetro advertisers have been identified, with more to follow:

RI Hospital/Lifespan
Lopco Contracting
Somersett Auto Group
Kevin Trudeau’s Debt Cures
Samson Realty
Paul Masse Auto
Miracle Method
Super 8
Veazie Financial Advisers
Sherwin Williams Paint
Michelin Tires
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority

The following dealers belong to this service:

Bald Hill Kia
1021 Bald Hill Road

Warwick, Rhode Island 02886 USA

Barry's Auto Maul
250 W. Main Street

Milddletown, Rhode Island 02842

Cerrone Cadillac Pontiac GMC Buick
68 Washington Street

South Attleboro, Massachusetts 02703

Flood Ford Greenwich
2535 South County Trail

E. Greenwich, Rhode Island 02818

Hyundai of Newport
1133 W Main Street

Middletown, Rhode Island 02842

Jaguar Wellesley
962 Worcester Rd.

Wellesley, Massachusetts 02482

Land Rover Cape Cod
100 Barnstable Road

Hyannis, Massachusetts 02601

Land Rover Hanover
2144 Washington St.

Hanover, Massachusetts 02339

Lee Volvo
962 Worcester Road

Wellesley, Massachusetts 02482

Mazda Galley
918 Providence Hwy

Norwood, Massachusetts 02062

Paul Clark Volkswagen
122 Liberty Street

Brockton Massachusetts 02301

Rodman Suzuki /Ford/Lincoln /Mercury
53 Washington Street

Foxboro, Massachusetts 02035

Rt 44 Toyota Scion /Hyundai
1154 New State Hwy

Raynham, Massachusetts 02767

Saturn of Dartmouth
143 Faunce Corner Road

North Dartmouth, Massachusetts 02747

Scott Volkswagen
260 Newport Ave

East Providence, Rhode Island 02916

Somerset Chrysler Jeep /Subaru
1451 Brayton Point Rd

Somerset, Massachusetts 02725

Toyota Scion of Newport
285 East Main Street

Middletown, Rhode Island 02842

Viti Mercerdes
975 Fish Road

Tiverton, RI 02878

VW Gallery
1280 Providence Hwy

Norwwod, Massachusetts 02062

Also, the following restaurants:

Top of the Bay Restaurant (Oakland Beach)
898 Oakland Beach Ave

Warwick, RI 02889
(401) 921-3663

Timmy’s One Bay Ave.
1 Bay Ave
Warwick, RI 02889
(401) 738-4777

Saturday, September 13, 2008

7th Anniversary Remembrance for 9/11

The Tolling of Firehouse Bells

The bells in firehouses throughout New York
Echoed in harmony that morn
Calling our brothers to the fight of their lives
Fulfilling the duty they’d sworn

All those who responded carry the scars
Some physical, and some not
Three-hundred-forty-three of whom never returned
More broken, yet all but forgot

So today as we gather in solemn remembrance
For those brothers who gave all
We also remember those men who returned
Who too, answered the call

Some brothers are wracked by survivor’s guilt
Some continue to ask why
Why they were spared the horror of that fate
Why they weren’t destined to die

In the midst of vast despair and destruction
Beyond comprehension in its scope
It was a picture of three firefighters raising a flag
That gave America hope

Firemen everywhere walked a little taller
Though hearts heavy with pain
This country leaned on the strength of these heroes
To help it stand tall once again

Neither firefighter nor civilian should ever forget
How helpless we felt that day
I fear if we succeed in softening these horrors
Our determination will fade away

As firefighters we could never be the same
Changed forever that morning
It’s our duty to keep these memories alive
So that others heed the warning

They echo still, those firehouse bells
Every day in our great nation
Calling firemen to the scene of yet another tragedy
Which depends on our dedication

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Basic Healthcare:

The Right of Every "Working" American

I was once a Yuppie – or at least I thought I was. I was young, I had a good job with good benefits, my wife had a good job (at the Providence Journal) with good benefits, and we had a single child - a beautiful daughter. Life was good and getting better! I had every reason to believe that I, along with my new family, would have a better life that my father and mother had – at least materialistically and by virtue of increasingly better opportunities.

Here I am thirty years later wondering what the heck happened. Life happened…

Two more beautiful kids (one more girl and a little boy), and private school tuitions for all of them. I lived in Providence and had no choice but to send them to private school. Divorce. Inflation. College tuition. More inflation.

Hey, I’m not complaining – it’s been a wonderful ride. I just have to laugh at those of us regular people who think we’ve got it made. Working class people aren’t meant to “have it all”. It’s meant to be a struggle for us. Some victories and rewards, but few life-altering or generational-changing increases in our upward assault on the social class ladder.

It’s with this in mind that I’d like to call your attention to one of the tactics employed by our upper-class to keep us lower-to-middle-class imposters in our rightful places – self destruction. They set us up to turn on each other and fight from within our own ranks. Divide and conquer.
The upper-class is the richest 1% of the population who control most of our country’s wealth. You know, the ones that were taken care of by Bush on the federal level and Carcieri on the state level. These are the people (and companies) with all the power.

Consider our health care system...

I’ve been in many heated debates over the last few years with many different people of all(not) most income levels and all political and ethnic backgrounds defending my position on employer-paid healthcare. I’ve debated in the workplace, on the streets, in coffeehouses, on talk radio and in many different political blogs and forums. There are many people who are ready to resort to a physical confrontation because of their belief that anyone who has a smaller burden due to healthcare premiums than they do, are stealing from the rest of the hard working people who are paying larger amounts.

I’ve never, however, been in any debate, in any of these places with a single member of the 1% elitist club. Of course not. They are quite happy that some of us are demanding that other lower-to-middle-class workers pay a heftier share. This never ending debate, along with the extremely hard feelings it creates in the ranks of workers, keeps us (the true majority) from demanding that those who control, and profit from, the health insurance companies and drug companies to cut back on their record setting earnings.

CEO’s, Corporate Board Members and the majority share-holders are all among the 1%. Upper & middle management are not, but they are usually generously compensated by the 1% to dole out the company rhetoric. That is really their only function – a buffer zone between the 1% and the workers. This is part of the reason that middle management positions are the first to go when profits are down. They are expendable. So ask yourself, if middle management (and even much of upper management) are expendable, of what value is the line worker?

The 1% are a crafty bunch. They, and their ancestors, have perfected the manipulation of the system to the point that we, as working class people, can’t even think of reaching or affecting them. The real problem with the 1%, however, is that this latest generation of power players have gotten too greedy. They’ve pushed the envelope to the point of absurdity. Can you even imagine one of their grandfathers stating to a reporter that $4.00 plus p/gallon gasoline is beyond the company’s control the day after their company had posted a world-record quarterly profit?

It’s time for a working man’s revolt. Instead of angrily complaining that I receive relatively inexpensive health care benefits; angrily complain that you are being fleeced by the healthcare companies, the drug companies and your employer. Take your anger to your U.S. Senator and demand action and regulation on this absurdity. Take your anger to your U.S. Representative. Take it to your Governor. It’s time for all workers to demand affordable healthcare as a basic part of employment conditions.

It’s a true shame when “working” people are dying due to delayed diagnosis of serious disease because they can’t afford to see a doctor unless it’s an emergency. The political blogs were full of people up in arms recently over the death of a detainee for a similar type of delay. Is it any less an outrage when hard-working people are facing the same fate??

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Providence Fire Department:

Already Stretched to the Limit

For the past few years the Providence Fire Department has been fortunate in that there have been very few 4-Alarm (or higher) fires in the city. There have also been very few occurrences of two or more serious fires burning simultaneously in the city. We (the Providence Fire Department) and the citizens of Providence have indeed been very fortunate.

All that changed at the end of May 2006. There was a serious fire in an old commercial building on Weybosset Street which was connected by a common wall to the buildings on the rest of the block. The fire was a stubborn blaze that snaked its way through the building via voids and spaces left after numerous renovations. Try as they may, the 1st Alarm assignment of firefighters were unable to expose all of the fire and extinguish it before it became unstoppable. That’s what happens sometimes – especially when you don’t have enough manpower on the scene in the early stages of a fire.

Eventually this fire grew to greater than 4 Alarms. With the additional manpower the firefighters were ultimately successful at keeping the fire from spreading beyond the original fire building. That in itself was no small accomplishment and required multiple companies to remain on the scene for days after the original alarm was sounded. This is not an unusual occurrence when a large building has been destroyed by fire and is rendered structurally unstable. Firefighters, unable to enter the building due to the unsafe conditions must continue to pour water on the rubble until demolition crews remove enough debris to expose the hidden pockets of fire.

Less than a week later there was a serious fire on the upper floor of a building under construction at the Manchester Street power plant. There was also a worker injured on the fire floor who needed to be rescued. A fire 7 stories above the ground of an unfinished building required firefighters to carry all of their equipment to the scene. Carrying 100 lbs. of equipment (including their turnout gear) up seven flights of stairs on a hot summer day would be beyond the endurance level of most people. Unfortunately for these firefighters, that’s when the real job began. It’s easy to see that this fire required more than a 4-Alarm assignment to provide the needed manpower to allow the Chief in charge of the operation to alternate fresh crews in order to prevent heat related exhaustion to cripple the attack. Don’t forget that these firefighters were wearing heavy turnout pants, coat, bulky boots, helmets and air pacs.

Once again the Providence Firefighters were up to the task. The fire was extinguished, the worker rescued, and the building sustained minimal damage. Both these fires, however, required virtually every working member of the department to be utilized in order to gain control of the emergency. Luckily for the city, these fires did not grow any larger or advance so quickly that the members of the Providence Fire Department could not get ahead of them and bring them under control.

In these instances we were all fortunate in that another dwelling fire did not erupt during the many hours the entire working shift was tied up. What if a 3-story, 6-unit occupied apartment building – and there are many throughout the city – caught fire and people were trapped in the upper floors? Many areas were completely without fire protection. Other areas were covered by fire companies from other cities and towns via our Mutual Aid agreement with other communities. The members of these companies don’t, however, have a working knowledge of the streets and the neighborhoods – causing a major delay in getting to the scene. Many of the companies sent here to cover our city are woefully undermanned – many with just 2 firefighters! Many of these companies don’t have the proper equipment to quickly hook up to our hydrants or our buildings’ sprinkler systems. Some are manned by firefighters who have never fought a fire in a three-decker!

This is a formula for disaster. Once again, on these two occasions, we dodged a bullet. No other fires occurred during this time frame. I am, however, not sure of how many Rescue calls were victims of delayed responses due to out-of-town companies covering them. I’m also not privy to any information regarding serious consequences resulting from these delays.

Again, on the night of July 18th, there was a serious fire which required the entire Providence Fire Department to bring it under control. The fire at the Port of Providence on the dock of Motiva Enterprises’ terminal was potentially a disaster which could have easily grown beyond our capabilities to contain it. It required the fast action and professionalism of the workers at Motiva and those of the Danish tanker, Nordeuropa, as well as those of the Providence firefighters to avert a major disaster that evening - not to mention to incredible conditions they were forced to work under due to the storm. This left much of the remainder of the city unprotected. There were some Mutual Aid companies at our stations, but most of our neighbors were busy themselves and couldn’t spare too many resources. Once again, despite so much potential for additional disaster, we were fortunate that the storm didn’t cause more life threatening situations to which we would have been unable to respond.

Again Providence dodges a bullet. A question for all you gamblers out there – how many more times do you think we’ll be able to dodge the bullet before we pay a hefty price in destruction?

Mayor Cicilline remains committed to gaining “staffing prerogatives” from the Providence firefighters. Enough with the political double talk. I think every citizen understands that the mayor means staffing cuts. He is determined to be able to either cut the number of fire apparatus on duty at any given time in the city or to cut the number of personnel on many of the trucks – period. Either way he saves money on the fire department’s budget, therefore he’ll take either option. He wants to cut the fire department in a city that’s been called one of the fastest growing cities in the Northeast! Just look around at all of the new construction going on in the city. Look at all of the new luxury condos that the mayor himself has boasted about. Look at the incredible resurgence in the city that he so proudly points out has taken place under his administration. The number of people in the city at any given point is growing at an alarming rate, yet the mayor is determined to cut back the fire department resources that are already being forced to stretch to the brink of disaster time and time again.

I think it’s time for Mayor Cicilline to find another place to balance his budget other than on the backs of the City’s firefighters. I believe that we’ve been fortunate up to this point but I am not willing to leave the safety of the citizens of this great city to chance. It would take but one time for a secondary disaster to strike while the majority of our fire department is tied up to wreak upon us a hefty price for his short-sightedness – very possibly a price measured in human lives.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Haves & Have-Nots (and the Unions)


The Haves and Have-Nots
(and the Unions)

The present administrations (federal, state and local) are adamant about lumping people in two categories – the Haves and the Have-Nots. The middle class, particularly the upper middle class, is a dying class. Many of those people who were among this group are still trying to live the good life – at the expense of burying themselves in debt.

When the economy is booming it’s OK for those in control – the lawmakers, who are almost exclusively part of the Haves – to share the wealth. If a bill is introduced to increase the minimum wage…why not? Another to extend unemployment benefits…sure. Then there’s another vote – on the funding of the free school lunch program…passed. Tax breaks and incentives are routinely doled out to big businesses and universities as they expand their operations and threaten to move to a more tax-friendly location. When the country’s economy is flourishing (and therefore there is less urgency to these programs) the votes are always there to push them through – even in a Republican controlled body.

When the economy slows down, however, support for social programs and bills designed at aiding the Have-Nots suddenly disappears. It’s now down to an “us against them” mentality for our lawmakers. Bills are introduced which are designed to allow the Haves to hold onto their wealth – tax cuts for the wealthy or reduction of the capital-gains tax are the orders of the day. When discussions turn to social programs the attitude is generally, “We took care of them is the last session, now is the time to be tightening our belts, not the time to be digging ourselves a deeper hole”. This, despite the fact there is a much greater need for these types of programs in a tough economic climate. The first ones to feel the effects of this belt-tightening are the Have-Nots. The next ones to feel the pinch are the state and municipal unions.

When the politicians are ‘circling the wagons’ to desperately keep their budgets in the black, the first thing they do is turn to their Tough Times Playbook. Right there on the front page, between ‘No increases in programs that don’t generate income’ and ‘Increase incentives to big business to stimulate the economy’ is ‘Demand give-backs from unions’. Listed in this section, under the heading ‘Strategies’, are suggestions on how to make the union workers seem over compensated. Suggestions such as, ‘Compare their salaries with the lower income manufacturing and jewelry industry workers’. ‘Point out that the citizens are paying for the union member’s pension’.

There are also sub-sections on topics to avoid. ‘Don’t allow the unions to compare their compensation with decent-paying companies such as the public utility workers – gas company, electric company, telephone company, etc.’. These companies pay better wages than the state and municipal workers receive and have generous benefit packages. ‘Don’t allow the unions to compare their salaries to successful private employers in the area. Companies such as the Providence Journal, Textron, Blue Cross, etc.’. These non-public companies have good compensation packages and incentives for their employees – far and away more generous than those of state and municipal workers.

Above all else, the number one subject to avoid is wage, benefit and perks packages for CEO’s and upper management of large corporations that have benefited from tax breaks and incentives. Even when these figures are estimated by reporters or others, the only defense (there is no reasonable defense) is to ignore the questions until media and public attention can be successfully diverted in another direction. These people are, after all, the constituents who finance the campaigns that will keep them in office. They will also be the corporations that will employ these politicians after they leave “public service”.

This is the point we find ourselves in at this time. Until a Democrat takes the White House I fear we’re in for more of the same.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Democrats Don't Have All the Answers...


Democrats Don’t Have All the Answers

Democrats seem to be losing credibility with the middle-ground Independent voters in this country. This is evident in the fact that after 8 years of Bush disasters in the White House – especially in light of gas prices, a failing economy, a complete failure of the housing and mortgage industries, AND the disastrous war in Iraq – voters are even considering voting Republican again!

I realize that my opinions are not indicative of the Democratic Party (many of my opinions are in contradiction to the apparent Democratic platform), but I am a staunch believer and supporter of many of the Democratic base-line principles. These principles include (but are not limited to) support of pro-labor initiatives which protect American workers in safety in the workplace, fair compensation and fair taxes. I also support and defend the pro-choice side of the abortion issue, and continuation (with modifications – see below) of the welfare system – we can’t simply turn our backs on those families who are currently in no position to provide for themselves.
I support the Democratic view of stimulating the economy as opposed to the Republican view, which is too focused on providing overly generous incentives and rewards to big business.

One of the biggest problem areas for the Democratic Party in this Novembers elections, both federal and local, is the proposed policies on illegal immigration. The people see clearly that illegal immigrants are costing this country an incredible amount of tax revenue – in uncollected taxes for wages earned AND in tax revenue being spent on social, educational and health related programs. Democratic politicians and candidates throw the political double talk at the voters and attempt to place our economic problems elsewhere. While the areas they point to are certainly big contributors to our economic woes, so to are illegal aliens.

It is often stated that these illegal workers are doing the jobs that Americans will not. This is absurd. Many Americans may not do these jobs for the same wages or under the unsafe working conditions as the illegals, but pay American workers a fair wage and give them safe and healthy working conditions and they will. Some jobs (ones that are vital to our economy) can even be assumed by Welfare recipients as compensation for their cash benefits, food stamps and health care (see below).

I believe that as long as Democrats are associated with the extreme left-wing fringes of the party (giving away the store to everyone with a sob story without the need to earn their keep), those independent swing voters will be tempted to vote Republican.

I say these things as a person who firmly believes in most of the Democratic core principles and is in stark opposition to most Republican principles. I reserve the right to love my city, my state and my country while complaining about those issues where I disagree with policy. I also reserve the right to call myself a Democrat and complain about what I consider its weaknesses or flaws, so if you disagree with this post state your views without resorting to name calling or labeling me as a fair-weather Democrat or traitor or…


“A society is ultimately judged by the way it treats its least fortunate members.”

I believe that we, as a people, have the obligation to take care of those members of our society that have to struggle to survive. The burden of this care would, rightfully, fall on those citizens who work and pay taxes. It is more important to protect the welfare of individuals unable to provide for themselves than to maximize profits for businesses or safeguard earnings of those who are living a comfortable lifestyle.

That being said, business profits and safeguarding hard-working individual’s earnings are also important. This is why I believe that we should be searching for ways to maximize the impact of every dollar that we spend on government assistance programs, not seeking to eliminate these programs altogether.

Welfare benefits should only be given to people who work a minimum of 20 hours for their state or local government, or for governmentally approved agencies – the number of hours required would depend on the amount of benefits they are receiving. Those with newborn children would be exempt for 6 months after the birth of the child. Those with severely handicapped children would be exempt for as long as they are the primary caregiver to that child. Handicapped individuals who are unable to provide for their own care would be exempt, also.

The state or city or town would provide free day care centers staffed primarily by welfare recipients. These day care centers would also provide reduced fee service for families who were not on government assistance.

Emergency medical treatment would be denied to no one. Free preventive medical treatment would be available via neighborhood clinics to all children under the age of 18 as long as the parents could provide documentation of the child’s citizenship or legal residency status.

Public schools would provide free education to all citizens or legal resident aliens. School lunch programs would provide a free lunch (lunch only) to all students. Welfare recipients would be utilized as school lunch workers and monitors. Teachers’ aides jobs would be filled by welfare recipients. School bus monitors would be welfare recipient, as would be crossing guards.

Other able-bodied individuals should be put to work repairing, improving and cleaning our infrastructure. In farming areas welfare recipients can be utilized in picking fruits and vegetables – those jobs that utilize illegal aliens to work at slave wages. The farmers can pay the government the equivalent of slave wages in order to keep food costs down.

At any time a person applies for governmental assistance of any kind they would be required to show proof of citizenship or immigration status. Anyone not able to provide such proof should be immediately referred to ICE.

Federal, state and municipal workers would be required to check citizenship or immigration status of any person they encounter in the course of their duties who appear (for whatever reason) to be suspect. Hospital and medical clinic workers would be required to do the same.

There will be no government money spent on illegal aliens – with the exception of emergency medical care. In the case of emergency medical care being provided to an undocumented or illegal alien, ICE shall be notified immediately.

Any government money spent on medical care involving intervention of a substance abuse problem of any kind shall be limited to 1 time only.

No affirmative action or quotas of any kind – for any reason. If this is truly to be a land of equal opportunity it is time to do away with any such advantages and truly treat everyone as equals.

Require all non-English speaking people in the U.S. to be registered in a English as a 2nd language course.

Reinstate, at least in some degree, the federal windfall profit tax for big business and corporations.

These are but a few of the things we could do to provide care for those despondent individuals in our midst while safeguarding the tax dollars paid by those who work hard for their money. After an initial adjustment period I believe this system would be far more fiscally efficient and responsible. It would also encourage people to get off the welfare system at their earliest opportunity.

People before profits. However, I am a firm believer that if you give someone a fish today, you’ll feed them today. If you teach them to fish, you’ll feed them for a lifetime. There should be no multi-generational welfare recipients in this country. Those who are truly in need should be taken care of, but those who are able to work for their benefits should do just that.

"Pointing My Finger at Cicilline"


Pointing My Finger at Cicilline

An opinion written by a ProJo “Editorial columnist” on July 16th caught my eye – David N. Cicilline: Stop pointing fingers at illegals.

First of all, when did ProJo hire Cicilline as an “Editorial columnist”? I have known this for quite a while now but it’s nice to see you finally acknowledge the fact.

What a shameless piece of political side-stepping on the “illegals” situation and shameless political maneuvering on behalf of his on again, off again run for the governor’s job in 2010. Apparently his run is “on” this week.

I’d like to state that I am no supporter of Governor Carcieri – not in any stretch of the imagination. His Executive Order concerning illegal aliens in the State of Rhode Island is the very first action (or proposed action) he’s taken to which I am in agreement – at least in theory.

David N. Cicilline takes advantage of his opportunity to address the entire state via ProJo by stating in his headline that he is defending “illegals”. What follows is a half-hearted, untruthful (or at the very least, misleading) defense of the public and documented positions on this issue taken by himself and his “best police chief in America”.

Cicilline writes eleven (11) paragraphs, but devotes nine (9) paragraphs to attacking the Governor and beginning his political campaign to win his seat. While I agree that RI is in a recession, and I agree with some of the statements he makes regarding the Governor’s anti-taxpayer policies, these are not in keeping with the intended (going by the headline) subject. These are purely out-and-out campaign issues. This was nothing more than an attempt to divert attention away from the “illegals” problem and position himself as a candidate for Governor.

He continually refuses to give direct answers on this issue. Is it any wonder he refused the invitation to appear on O’Reilly’s show? He will never appear with someone if he knows they will not let him dodge the issue with his quick political foot work.

As for his assertion that “Providence has always reported and will continue to report “all” arrests to immigration authorities”, this is a total misrepresentation of the facts. While it is technically true, the number of names sent were far more than needed to be sent. The PPD sent the names of “all” individuals arraigned that day. Also, in most cases, these names were forwarded after the case had already been disposed and the individual had been set free.

As for Cicilline’s assertion that Providence is not considered a “sanctuary city” is completely untruthful. Just ask any illegal on the street’s of Providence. I deal with many people of all types on the streets of Providence. The “illegals” are not limited to people of Hispanic roots by any means – Asians, Europeans, Africans and Middle East immigrants can be just as likely illegal. One of the predominant characteristics of the illegals in Providence (as well as many other locations, I’m sure) is that they drive unregistered and uninsured vehicles, with no operator’s license. This is an everyday occurance at motor vehicle accidents in Providence. Ask the people who break the law in this manner and are only given tickets to pay a fine if Providence is a sanctuary city.

Cicilline goes on to attempt to shift blame for Marco Riz’s release from Providence’s custody to ICE. Not surprising – he found scapegoats for the snowstorm debacle and the failure of the Providence school system as well!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008




I watched on TV the firemen rushing to the scene of the WTC
I watched as the tower fell and knew we had just lost several brothers
But it wasn’t until I saw the firemen running away from the building that I felt the fear

I watched as thousands of firefighters from all over the world gathered in Worcester, MA
I watched as thousands of Worcester citizens silently gazed at us as we marched
But it wasn’t until it was all over that I silently cried and understood

I watched as the smoke and flames engulfed the entire front of the building
I watched as my friends, my brothers, crawled along the hot, smoky floor
But it wasn’t until we recovered the infant’s charred remains that my heart began to break

I looked down in horror at the lifeless and faceless baby lying before me on the floor
I watched as the Medics worked feverishly in an attempt to breathe life back into her lungs
But it wasn’t until the doctor “called it”, that the finality of the moment struck me

I’ve watched from my front row seat as so many tragedies unfold right before my eyes
I’ve seen so many people’s lives irreversibly shattered without any prior warning
But it’s not until the moment has passed, that the pain imbeds itself forever in my soul

Tom Kenney - 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Small Fire / Big Potential (x's 2)

Small Fire / Big Potential

The other night we had what turned out to be a relatively small and ordinary fire in a house which was in renovation. At two different points during the fire, however, there was potential for catastrophic consequences – one known and one unknown.

We were dispatched to a reported dwelling fire in the Mt. Pleasant section of the city about 10:00 PM on a clear humid night. When we arrived on the scene of the reported address, we could see no signs of smoke or flame. While we were investigating, a neighbor from across the street, apparently the one who had called 911, approached us saying “mucho fuego” while pointing to the first floor of an unlit home. We looked in through the windows from the street and saw nothing. As we attempted to ask him if he was sure it was this house, he waved his arms in an upward motion, pointed to the house, and said, “Si, si”.

We made our way to the porch to peer into the living room via the front windows. When Tim tried to see into the house the window looked foggy. He attempted to wipe the outside of the window, but quickly pulled his hand back, “The window’s hot, we’ve got a fire in there”, he said. “Go get the line (hoseline)”, I barked. “Engine 15 to Fire Alarm, Code Red, 2-story, wood-frame, occupied, fire on the first floor.”

As Timmy came back with the line, I yelled to Ladder 6 as they pulled up that we needed a ladderman to open up the heavy front door. As Timmy stretched the hoseline to get it into position I told him to stay low and away from the windows. With a fire of this type it is very possible that the heat is building to extreme levels inside the house as the fire (which has already been burning) now smolders due to a lack of oxygen. If the windows break from the high heat and oxygen is introduced to the smoldering fire the result could be explosive – a backdraft.

We crouched together in front of the door as a couple of guys from L-6 began forcing the door. We were staying as low as possible because introducing the oxygen via the open door could have the same type of result. If we stayed low the fire would roll out the door above us.

The door was forced and the heat and thick smoke poured out of the building and enshrouded us on the porch, but no explosion. One potentially serious situation was now over and the incident became more of a routine fire. We made our way into the hallway and then into the living room very quickly and Tim directed the hose stream toward the growing glow to our right. It was hot, smoky and almost completely black. We crawled over debris on the floor and stumbled over furniture strewn about the room as we chased the only visible light in the room, extinguishing the fire before it could get grow to the size it had once been.

As Tim continued to wet and cool the area to avoid any chance of flare-ups I saw a bright glow from the corner of my eye, just about a foot to my left. I began to feel the heat of another area of fire growing quickly right next to us. I tapped Timmy on the left shoulder and yelled through the mask, “Over here, to your left!” He quickly turned to see the new area of fire and attempted to get the hoseline in position to knock it down but the line was caught on something in the dark. As he struggled with the hose we began to hear the fire crackle and pop as it fed on the debris on the floor. When he finally pulled the hoseline free and directed the stream at the fire it quickly darkened down, overpowered by the 125 gpm’s (gallons-per-minute) of water delivered by our line.

Once we had opened the door without incident this had been a relatively ordinary and small fire. Even the flare up of the debris next to us was never anything that was overly worrisome. After we had knocked down the fires we, along with members from other companies, began opening windows allowing the remaining heavy smoke to escape to the outside. The contents and layout of the house began to slowly come into view. It was then evident that this fire had burnt for quite a while before going into hibernation due to the lack of oxygen. The charring of the walls, ceiling and furniture all happened prior to our arrival. We had extinguished the rejuvenated fire before it could do further damage.

All in all this had been a successful operation for us. We had avoided a potentially serious situation and had knocked down the fire with minimal damage. It wasn’t until the fire investigator began to sift through the debris which had been burning about a foot away from Tim and I that he noticed that there was live ammunition scattered throughout the debris – a box of rifle shells and a bunch of loose .38 caliber shells!

The first potentially dangerous situation was avoided by recognizing the signs and properly gaining access to the building. Breaking the windows could have lead to disastrous consequences.

The second potentially dangerous situation was avoided by pure luck!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tommy, You Shit-Stirrer, You

Tommy, You Old Shit-Stirrer, You

The call came in as “a man unconscious”. Nothing special, just the same type of call I’ve responded to hundreds of times in the past. So I thought nothing special as we headed through garage door and sped toward the scene.

Pulling in front of a pitch-black house at 3:00 AM is nothing unusual either, despite the fact that someone here had dialed 911 with an apparent life threatening emergency. Sometimes people will meet us in front of the house screaming and waving hysterically and sometimes they forget to put their lights on or even unlock the door for us. Sometimes they even go back to bed!

We walked to the darkened doorway, wiping the sleep from our eyes, and rang the bell. Rescue 2 was on the way but wouldn’t arrive for another 2 to 3 minutes. When we didn’t get a reaction right away I began to pound on the front door, “Fire department”! A short time after that an 80 year old woman meekly cracked open the door looking like she had just been roused from a sound sleep. “Yes?”, she said. By this time I was beginning to think that we were at the wrong house. “Did you call 911, mam?” “Yes, come in.”

We followed her into an immaculate home as she began to guide us to the rear of the house. “He’s lying on the bathroom floor, and I don’t know if he’s breathing or not”, she said as she pointed to a closed door. “Tommy. Tommy, are you all right?”, she asked through the door. No response.

I moved her back to the living room as we tried to force the door open to gain entry to the bathroom. The door wasn’t locked, but it was being held shut by something on the inside. As I peeked in through the thin space we’d forced I could see his feet on the floor moving franticly to keep himself pressed up against the back of the door. “Tommy, open the door and let us in”, I said. At least we now knew that he wasn’t lying dead or unconscious on the bathroom floor. I walked into the living room to tell the old lady that he seemed fine and was moving on his own as my guys continued to try to gain access.

Around the same time Rescue 2 entered the home. When the door was forced open enough to get a good look at Tommy (the old lady’s 64 year old son) we saw that he was naked on the floor trying desperately to keep his body against the door to keep us out. He was not verbally responsive and seemed to be completely disoriented. And, he was literally full of shit!

It was all over the white tile floor, all over him, in his hair, his mouth, his eyes – everywhere! We sent a man out to the rescue to get towels and sheets as we regrouped in the hallway trying to decide how to handle him. As the FF returned with the towels we decided that the guy and girl from Rescue would wet the towels and try to wipe him down as well as possible under the circumstances while the two FF’s with me would hold him down with the sheets and attempt to wrap him up in them. While they were doing this I attempted to calm the mother down and lead her to a different side of the house and distract her while they struggled with Tommy.

As I attempted to ascertain a brief medical history from mom I found out that, as a child, Tommy had been struck in the head by a golf ball. Apparently he suffered from occasional bouts with dementia-like symptoms. In between these bouts he was, according to his mom, a normal man who held a job and had served in the military. Somehow it seemed even more pathetic that someone who reportedly lived his life in a normal manner could be reduced to this type of behavior at random.

As I kept mom’s attention in the kitchen I could see that they had him wrapped up in the sheets and were carrying him outside to the gurney awaiting his arrival on the sidewalk in front of the house. I told her that we would take good care of him and get him the help he needed at RI Hospital. As he was put on the stretcher and strapped in his mom came to the front door to wave goodbye. He was covered by the sheets with only his cleaned up face peeking through, so mom never saw what a mess he had made of himself. We didn’t want her to see him like that. It was bad enough that she was going to have to deal with the mess in the bathroom, but at least she didn’t have that mental picture sticking in her memory.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Firefighters - Neither Heroes nor Villains


Firefighters – Neither Heroes nor Villains

Over the past eight years firefighters, particularly those in RI, have endured a complete 360 degree turnabout in public perception. Obscurity -- hero status -- obscurity -- villain. Those of us who make our living donning turnout gear and responding to fires and other emergencies haven’t changed, but the public’s perception of us seems to change on a whim.

Nearly all firefighters consider their job as a vocation – a calling. We are firefighters, first and foremost – anything else we might be falls after that. We are proud of our profession and proud to be part of the “brotherhood” of firefighters. We were proud to be part of this “brotherhood” long before the towers fell on 9/11, and we remain so even during this trying time when the politicians and the press are demonizing us on a daily basis. We are a close-knit family. We know what we do and what it takes to do what we do. For the most part we don’t care what the general public thinks of us, for they can never fully understand. It is the respect and acceptance of our brothers that means the most to us.

We never sought the tag of hero. None of us are true heroes. Heroes are not born, but rather they are the products of opportunity. None of us plan to make the ultimate sacrifice. Indeed, if your house is on fire and it ultimately comes down to a choice between you and me – sorry, but I’m outta there! The reality is, however, that we’re not usually given that choice. We readily push the envelope and risk our lives to protect those we’re sworn to serve. Most of the time we can sense when trouble is just around the corner – sometimes we can’t.

For years we fought the daily battles in obscurity, only occasionally receiving any press coverage or attention from the general public. That began to change, particularly in this area, directly following the tragic fire in Worcester, MA in which we lost 6 firefighters. We’ve lost that many firefighters before, but something about that fire captured the imagination of the general public (and the press) and generated a tremendous outpouring of good will toward firefighters everywhere. I don’t know whether it was the press coverage, the massive memorial service that brought over 20,000 firefighters as well as the President and Vice President to Worcester, or the fact that it took over a week to recover the remains of these brave men, but people began to stop us on the street and thank us for our service.

Two short years later, as that sentiment had become but a memory to most, America was attacked on our own soil and 343 brave firefighters from New York City gave their lives “just doing their jobs”. While it was true that they didn’t intentionally march off to their deaths, I personally know a firefighter from FDNY who kissed his best friend in the lobby of the WTC before that friend began his ascent in the stairwell – and ultimately to heaven. They both knew that it “could be” the last time they saw each other in this lifetime, but they both had their jobs to do and they weren’t about to shirk their responsibilities because of the dire circumstances. On the contrary, this was the time they were needed most.

It speaks volumes about those brave men (and about firefighters everywhere) that many of those who responded to the WTC that day, and many of those who perished, were not even on duty at the time of the alarm. Many were already relieved from duty but still in the firehouse when the tones sounded. They had absolutely no obligation to get on those trucks and respond to the scene. They did so because they were firefighters, first and foremost, and the people they serve needed them – their brothers needed them.

After that tragic day in our nation’s history firefighters everywhere were hailed as true American heroes. This was a tag put on us by the media – and by the general public. I was truly taken aback when I walked the streets of New York City in uniform following the first of many funerals and memorial services I attended for our fallen brothers, that people would smile and say “thank you” or “God bless you”. This is not the kind of thing I had ever experienced in my many visits to NYC. People would offer to buy my coffee or pay for my drinks. Firefighters around the country were treated with respect and gratitude.

I remember telling my wife that this would pass, that we would soon be nothing more than lower middle class public servants once again. She looked at me in utter disbelief and asked me, “…how can anyone ever think of firefighters that way again? I don’t believe it!” In my estimation it took about three years for all the grateful sentiment to wear away. Maybe it was the escalating war in Iraq. Maybe it was the resentment of the general public at the tag that they had put on us. Perhaps it was just part of the healing process of the entire country, to put those memories away. Whatever the reason, we were dwelling in obscurity once again. Most firefighters were glad to have it that way. We were forever changed as a country as a result of that day. We were forever changed as a “brotherhood”. We were still proud of the sacrifice our brothers from FDNY had made and to a man we all vowed to “never forget”, but we were tired of trying to live up to the hero tag.

Once we were restored to mere human status it didn’t take long before we were being attacked as greedy union workers trying to bleed taxpayers dry. Although most people don’t want to admit it, their opinions are greatly influenced by political rhetoric and media coverage. Most people don’t have the time or the inclination to read beyond the headlines or research beyond the sound-bite on the news. Many people are influenced by the radio talk show hosts – the majority of whom are left-wing conservatives whose major political concern is downsizing government and lowering taxes.

So, as the economy began to edge toward recession and local taxes began to rise, the politicians and the conservative media began painting the picture of greedy unions being the source of the problem. Nothing could be further from the truth – but that’s an argument for a different day. As the general public took in all this propaganda they began to look at firefighters (particularly in Providence) as villains. This view was confirmed, in their eyes, as their tax bills began to rise. As previously stated, most citizens are spoon-fed their opinions by politicians and media and don’t bother to look beyond for the underlying reasons.

Subsequently, as is usually the case, the truth lies firmly between the extremes. Firefighters are neither heroes nor villains; we are simply honorable men and women working at a profession we love. We take our oaths seriously and are ready to risk whatever be asked of us at a moment’s notice. Are we willing to knowingly trade our own lives for others? No. Are we ready to risk our lives for the protection of perfect strangers? Every time we climb on the trucks. Do we feel we deserve excessive salaries and benefits? No. Do we feel that we deserve fair compensation for our work and adequate health care and retirement benefits? Of course – especially since our health and longevity is compromised by our working conditions. We owe that much to ourselves and to our families.

Friday, May 2, 2008

For my friend, Al



Helplessly I watched, as his life bled from his veins
Pooling for all to see
Though my head had to know where this was leading
My heart refused to agree

I stepped back into his life, from time to time
Attempting to force his hand
But he refused my many offers for assistance
Not seeming to understand

Always, he’d give me some sort of excuse
For his current situation
As I listened I’d find myself needing to believe
If only out of desperation

My heart wouldn’t allow me to imagine him as lost
And spiraling out of control
It would tell me that I should be there, not to chastise
But strictly to console

So I’d listen, get sucked in, and sympathize
Treat him with kid gloves
When what he really needed to straighten out his life
Was a lesson in tough-love

With a heavy heart, I feel that I let him down
As others do, I’m sure
Over time his demons flourished and became
More than he could endure

In the end, his tortured soul could find no shelter
In this mortal realm
So he set himself upon a path for self-destruction
Simply overwhelmed

If only I could have convinced him there were ways
His course to re-chart
If only I’d been intuitive enough to listen to my head
Instead of to my heart

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

ProJo in Bed With Cicilline

Letter-to-the-Editor (7-APR-08)

Dear Editor:

I am once again at a loss for words on the slanted, one-sided reporting of your paper. I am referring to the published letter by David Cicilline in the April 7th issue of the Providence Journal “Standing up for struggling families means taking on union”. This letter is filled with distortions and downright lies regarding the contractual impasse between the city and Providence firefighters. On top of this, it is a rehash of old lies by the mayor that have been printed numerous times by your paper. I, and others, have written to your editors on numerous occasions pointing out the factual errors of your articles and of letters you have published on this subject, but you choose not to publish them.

While the actions and rhetoric of Cicilline are disgraceful from a man who claims to be concerned with ethics in government, they are (at least) understandable. He has had his chances of gaining the Governor’s office dashed by his inability to successfully settle a simple labor contract with Local 799. He holds a grudge against us and is striking back with everything he can think of – whether or not it is truthful. Your editor’s actions, however, are indefensible. They have a responsibility to the people of this state to report the news as it occurs, not selectively. And although the editorial pages are a place your editors can report opinion, it is still your obligation to use facts to base your claims – not exaggerations, distortions and lies.

Cicilline’s letter stated - “220 members of Local799 earned over $100,000 last year.”
The fact is – at least 210 of these members earned this amount in 2006 ONLY because they received a retroactive pay raise that should have been paid over a 5-year period.

Cicilline’s letter stated – “City residents paid $660,000 in overtime to staff a rescue truck that would have cost no overtime except that provisions in the contract prevent the chief from assigning personnel efficiently.”
The fact is – it cost overtime to staff that rescue because Providence firefighters refused to allow the mayor and the chief to remove firefighters (and thus lessen fire protection) from active fire apparatus. The city is in desperate need of this rescue (and more), but it is our firm belief that it shouldn’t be done at the cost of adequate fire protection.

Cicilline’s letter implies that – Providence has the highest cost for firefighters in the nation.
The fact is – although the urban areas of the Northeast are traditionally (and understandably) the location of the highest cost per resident for fire service, Providence firefighters are not even the highest paid firefighters in the state.

He implies that Providence firefighters are costing the city taxpayers to face tax hikes in their property tax.
The fact is – Providence firefighter’s salaries account for a mere 3.99% of the annual budget of the City of Providence.

He implies that the main stumbling block for firefighters is a refusal to pay health care co-shares.
The fact is – the main stumbling block causing this impasse on the part of Providence firefighters is now, and has always been, the city’s insistence on reducing staffing on fire apparatus and thus putting both firefighters and our citizens in greater danger.

All these facts have been given to the editors of the Providence Journal on numerous occasions. Not only have you chosen not to publish these facts, but you continue to allow Cicilline to state these misrepresentations as fact – that is journalism of the lowest caliber.

Lt. Tom Kenney
Providence Fire Department

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Providence Fiscal Crisis


Providence Fiscal Crisis for Dummies

In keeping with the title of this article, I will not discuss or use any real numbers to support my argument – only theoretical (and very simple) examples.

Step 1:

In the year 2000, presidential candidate George W. Bush proposed a sweeping tax cut if he was elected. Despite the fact that it was pointed out that the wealthiest 1% of the citizens of the USA would be the biggest benefactors of such a plan, Mr. Bush was determined to downsize federal government. In January of 2001 he took office.

He proceeded to push through his tax cut and, indeed, cut many of the federal programs that he saw as being better served by individual states (RI included). This meant much less funding of social programs by the federal government. Millions of people around the US were faced with losing the social programs to which they’d come to depend on. Unfortunately the need for these social programs didn’t disappear when the federal funding did. The responsibility for paying for them was merely shifted to the state (RI). But…most of us were paying lower (oh so slightly) federal income taxes.

Step 2:

The states (including RI) were now scrambling to offset the decline of federal funding. At this same time there were a growing number of citizens in the state(s) who were in desperate need of these social and economic government programs due to these same federal cuts. They now turned to the state (RI) to provide a continuation of these services. At this same time RI (having an income tax that piggy-backed the federal system) was forced to raise it’s percentage of the federal tax in order to maintain the same level of income through resident’s income tax.

The last thing a governor wants to do, particularly a republican governor like Donald Carcieri, is to raise taxes and expand government’s responsibility in social programs. So, as the burden on the state grew he was forced to choose between raising taxes or cutting programs and aid to the cities and towns. Just as the president had done at the national level, Governor Carcieri decided these programs were better run by the local governments as opposed to by the state. After all, he didn’t run for office to expand state government – he ran to ‘cut big government’ (as all good republicans do).

He cut social programs and cut funding to the individual cities and towns and is now desperately attempting to balance his budget without the need to raise taxes. Tens of thousands of people were then facing the possibility of losing the governmental assistance and programs that had helped them get by on a day to day basis. That responsibility now shifted to the cities and towns. But…most of us were paying lower (oh so slightly) federal income taxes, and about the same amount in RI tax.

Step 3:

Around this same time there was a change of leadership in the City of Providence. Prince David had taken over and had swept out the old guard and replaced them with his knights - with a promise of responsible government. Providence, being an urban center, had always had a disproportionate number of the state’s lower income citizens in the most desperate need of the social programs that were cut on a national and state level. Therefore, Providence quickly became one of the biggest losers in a country led by Bush and a state led by Carcieri.

Thousands of people were now dependent on Providence to provide the funding for their needs. Crap runs downhill, and the cities and towns are at the base (bottom) of our governmental ladder. There was no other entity to push this responsibility on. With no other choice, the city began to spend much more than it was earning via its main source of income – property taxes. Inevitably the city had to raise its tax rate to bring in additional revenue. Providence home owners began to foot the bill for the federal tax cuts – the trickle down effect run amuck. A typical Providence home owner was paying about $200 lower federal tax and about the same in RI tax, but they were paying about $500 more in property tax per year – with no end in sight.


In the middle of this municipal fiscal crisis Providence’s Prince was hiring his new staff and wasn’t shy about writing checks on the city’s future. A record breaking contract after a nationwide search for a School Superintendent. A record breaking contract (heck, the 1st contract ever) for the nation’s “top cop”. We’ve yet to see the details on the entire package, and it already costs the taxpayers in excess of $200,000 p/year. A Chief of Administration who was paid an enormous salary and allowed to buy into city employee’s already weakened pension system. He was quickly given a 37% raise after a mere two years in office. This additional money was “magically” provided by some outside agency - but no conflict of interests we've been told by the Prince. A record breaking salary (again a 1st) for the Fire Chief, which reportedly brings his salary above the Police Chief’s by the end of the terms.

Around this same time, the mayor negotiated a "voluntary" tax program that allowed the city’s many tax-exempt institutions to “voluntarily” pay a very small percentage of the normal property tax rate. Pennies on the dollar. Talk about a drop in the bucket!

Wow – where’s all this money coming from in the middle of a crisis?

As things got progressively worse (I can’t imagine why), the Prince and his allies at the town’s ‘printing press’ point their fingers at the firefighters of the city. Their outrageous salaries, it seems, has pushed the city over the edge. Although these warriors face more health risks than any other members of the city, the mayor wants to cut their health plan and have them pay for it to boot! He also wants them to give up the pension plan that they’ve been paying into for 20+ years (and at a higher rate than any other city employee) and trust him to divvy it up fairly. He says they’ve abused it and it’s not fiscally sound. They feel confused - they've always thought it was in trouble because the city had put off paying its contributions for years.

Well, crap continues to roll downhill and the city firefighters seem to be at the very bottom of the Prince's dung heap.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

House Fire


Bergen Street House Fire / 19Feb08

The bell hit at 2104 hours, alerting us of a reported building fire at 23 Bergen Street. The three of us on Engine 15 that night knew that we had better be quick in getting out the door on this one or the 14’s (Engine 14) would beat us in to our fire. Bergen Street is right on the border of our respective first-in districts. We stepped into the boots and bunker pants that were neatly placed on the apparatus floor beside the truck just waiting to be put to use. As we pulled the suspenders over our shoulders we stepped into the truck and began donning our fire coats.Brian pushed the ignition button, which brought the diesel engine to life, switched on the emergency lights, and headed out into the cold dark night.

Nothing had to be spoken between us. We all knew just what to do, and we each began our own mental preparations for the job ahead. Brian whipped the truck to a hard left onto Mt. Pleasant Ave. as I jotted down the address on the small notepad mounted on the dash in front of me and then turned on the siren.Kenny was in the back jump seat. As the ‘rear-step man’ it would be his job to immediately grab the hoseline from the rear of the truck and stretch it into position to enter the fire building. With absolutely no time to waste upon arrival at a working fire, he needed to make sure he ‘dressed’ completely on the way – fire coat buttoned, gloves and helmet on, and air pack strapped to his shoulders so that it would release from the frame in the jump seat as he dismounted the truck.

When Brian guided the truck down the hill on Chalkstone Ave. I could see a column of heavy dark smoke in the direction of Bergen Street even against the winedark sky. I picked up the microphone, “Engine 15 to fire Alarm, heavy smoke in the area”. I now knew that we had a working fire and had successfully related this information to the other companies responding to the call. The adrenaline level instantly rose in all of us.

Firefighters have different levels of excitement than the general public. Extreme excitement, and the adrenaline rush that accompanies it, can be put to good use on the fireground. It allows us to enter places and do things that we might not ordinarily be capable of doing in a more relaxed state. The long term physical effects, however, of a constant high level of excitement would take a tremendous toll on a person’s nervous system. Therefore, we quickly learn not to allow ourselves to reach that high level of excitement for the mere ‘report’ of an emergency. Too many times what appeared to be a true emergency to the caller screaming through the phone lines at our dispatchers turns out to be a false alarm or a minor emergency when we arrive at the scene. A report of heavy smoke from a responding company confirms that we are indeed going to face a real job. Now we can allow the adrenaline to flow freely.

We were all preparing ourselves to spring into action immediately upon arrival. People’s lives and property depend on us to do just that. Things can change in an instant, however, and we need to be able to adjust to an ever changing set of dynamics without missing a beat. On a call to an area where two different companies are capable of arriving first, you prepare for the most likely situation but keep a different set of tasks in the back of your mind – just in case.

When we turned onto Bergen Street there was large amount of heavy smoke hanging ominously close to the ground, but no visible flame. There were a number of neighborhood residents gathered in the middle of the street frantically waving at us as we approached, but no one was pointing to the fire. It was very difficult to determine which house was on fire. As we began to slow down near the heaviest smoke, a Providence Police Officer waved to us and pointed toward the back of the house on our right. Before I stepped out of the truck I transmitted a message over the truck radio, “Engine 15 on the scene, heavy smoke from the rear of the building, apparent Code Red, keep you advised.” (When the first-in officer reports “Code Red” he sets in motion a number of events that are not necessary for an auto fire or a non-structure fire, therefore you “don’t call it, ‘til you see it”)

I stepped from the cab, grabbed my air-pac and swung it over my shoulder as I walked to the narrow driveway on the side of the house toward the police officer. He told me that the building that was on fire was actually a house directly behind the one that abutted the street and that everyone was out of the building. When I reached the end of the driveway another building ever-so-slowly came into view through the puffing smoke. It was a two-story building set back about twenty feet from the front dwelling and there was heavy fire showing from the front doorway. As I approached the doorway to determine our best options for knocking this down as quickly as possible I transmitted a message via my portable radio, “Code Red, 2-story, wood-frame, occupied, heavy fire showing first floor, all occupants reported out of the building. Be advised, the fire building is located in the rear of the street building.” As I continued my size-up and awaited Kenny’s arrival with our hoseline, I could see that fire was venting from the windows on the left side and beginning to melt the vinyl siding of a three-story dwelling located about fifteen feet to the left of the fire building. “Engine 15 to Fire Alarm, heavy fire venting and threatening an exposure on Side 2, give me 2 more engines and a ladder”.

By this time (in actuality it had probably been about 30 seconds since I stepped out of the cab of Engine 15) Kenny had arrived with the hoseline and began to flake it out on the ground (to prevent kinks in the line from blocking the flow of the water), position himself, and don his mask. Again there was no need for us to talk, we both just did what we knew had to be done. I checked the hose again for kinks or knots, checked that Kenny was in position and ready, and radioed, “15 – charge our line!” I donned my mask as we waited for the arrival of the water through the 200 feet of hose.

This is always one of the most surreal moments. The quiet of the night seems strange in the midst of such apparent chaos. The sounds are all muted - but distinct. The arriving sirens seem far off, as if they’re running away from you as opposed to getting closer. There’s a slight presence of radio chatter from the fireground radio that seems barely audible over the sucking sounds emanating from the ebb and flow of air through the regulators of our face masks. The hiss of air flowing through the nozzle of the hoseline as it’s being forced out by the flowing water begins to get a little louder as the water nears. Muffled words that can only be likened to that of Darth Vader are exchanged between Kenny and I through our masks as we position ourselves and get ready to attack the fire. Through it all, however, the loudest sound of all – which seems to grow louder and more ominous as the seconds go by – is that of the fire itself. The crackling and popping of the fire as it burns through the wood and releases the pockets of air and moisture long trapped in the timbers seems to take on a life of its own. Glass shattering from the heat and falling to the ground cuts through the trance-like sound of a campfire to add another layer of sound that reminds me of the danger we are facing.

Finally the water rushes through the nozzle with a heavy jerk and begins to cool the fire and darken it down. The effect is almost immediate – where it had just been like daylight in the area we were working, it is now dark and foggy. Visibility reduces to about six inches in about six seconds as the flames begin to die and the smoke gets thicker. I pat Kenny on the shoulder and we enter the front hallway toward the kitchen. He has knocked down the bulk of the fire in the doorway, but I can still make out a bright glow through the haze indicating heavy fire in front of us. As we near the top of the three stairs to the kitchen doorway I catch a glimpse of heavy flames still venting from the left side of the building through a small window just to my left. “Go slow, stay low,” I say to Kenny as he inches forward fighting the heat. I keep right on his tail as we crawl together toward the glow, keeping contact at all times to assure him that I’m right behind him. As he makes his way just over the threshold of the kitchen and begins to attack the flames with his hoseline, the ceiling collapses and forces a rush of super-heated air and fire right into his face. He falls backward, right into my chest. I immediately grab him and try to push our way back a couple of feet. By this time a couple of ladder men are behind me and when they see what’s going on they pull me toward them.

We’ve only been pushed back about a foot or two, but the immediate danger has passed – we regroup. I ask Kenny if he’s okay and we begin to push forward once again. In what seems like only a minute or two (but in actuality closer to 7 or 8) after we fight our way into the kitchen once again, we both run out of air and are forced to retreat. The men from Ladder 3, who have not used as much air to this point, take over our handline as we quickly return to the truck to change air bottles so that we can reclaim our line. An engine man hates to relinquish his line to anyone! When we return and take the line back we continue to fight our way deeper into the building and believe we’re making good progress in knocking the fire down. What we were not aware of, however, was that the fire had taken hold of the second floor and was burning its way through the roof.

Conditions began to worsen very quickly, just as the Chief was transmitting an order to evacuate the building. The airhorns of the trucks on the scene began to blare in unison to signal an evacuation. It always seems to be easier to enter the building than to make a hasty exit. Tonight was no exception. As companies reluctantly began to pull out of the building the smoke seemed to grow hotter and more dense, the debris on the floor seemed to get thicker, and the exits seemed to disappear. As things deteriorated some men were forced to exit via windows to avoid thermal burns. When at last we were all out of the building a roll call of all the companies on the scene was initiated by Fire Alarm. This is standard procedure after an evacuation of an emergency area. After an initial scare that one of our members was still in the building which proved false, the roll call was successfully completed and we began a defensive attack on the remainder of the fire – attacking the fire with large amounts of water applied from the outside of the building.

We eventually returned to an interior attack to fully extinguish the remainder of the fire, but by that time we were drenched and tired, and anxious to get back to a warm fire station. Unfortunately for us, even after the last hoseline is shut down and the fire is declared out, there is still the back-breaking, tedious work of breaking down the hoses and repacking them in the trucks. This is made tougher in the winter by the cold. After being drenched from sweat from the inside and water from the hoses on the outside, it’s impossible to dry off and this just leaves you more susceptible to the cold.

I’m happy to report that there were no injuries to the family of six who were living there at the time, or to any firefighters. The fire was confined to the fire building and not allowed to spread to either of the other two building that were threatened – a couple of sheets of vinyl siding were the only victims outside of the original building. To me, this was a success.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Letter-to-the-Editor, ProJo, Feb 8, 2008


Stop using government workers as scapegoats

I usually write to The Providence Journal in defense of the Providence firefighters and our union when some politician or taxpayer writes and complains that we are too greedy or privileged. I defend the job we do as Providence firefighters and point out the hazards we face on a daily basis. I point out the fact that we are understaffed and underpaid for the type of work we do. I show that many of the popular beliefs regarding firefighters in general, and Providence firefighters in particular, are simply negative stereotypes placed on us by these same politicians and disgruntled taxpayers.

I need to state that I am tired of the abuse put upon us by these vocal opponents. As for their taxes going up as a result of our pay raises and benefits — so what? I don’t mean that in an uncaring or “in your face” type of way, but rather in a true question of why that makes us any different than the rest of the working population. The same taxpayer who complains about public unions causing a rise in his taxes may very well work for Coca-Cola or some other soft drink manufacturer for example. He/she may have just received a 5-percent raise and an increase in company benefits that cause the company to raise their prices to distributors. He/she may work for Wal-Mart and may have just received a raise due to the raising of the minimum wage or have just qualified for company benefits because they’ve begun to work over 20 hours per week. Either way, when enough of these workers have their compensation elevated it begins to cut into corporate profits, causing the company to raise prices for the products the rest of us have to purchase. This is the way our economy works.

He/she may be a retired person who supplements his/her retirement income with money earned from dividends and investments. This person follows his investments very carefully and dumps any assets that are not earning him the maximum profit. These are the shareholders that corporate executives claim are the reason that justifies corporate greed. He/she may very well be an overpaid and incredibly over-compensated editor for The Providence Journal writing about the Providence firefighters’ burden on the city’s taxpayers while sailing on his private yacht to Long Island or the Caribbean. Then, after putting us in our place, he dictates a memo to the appropriate department at ProJo stating that the newspaper is going to discontinue printing obituaries for free — corporate profits have been under-performing.

Why is it that the only people who get blamed for the rising cost of living are government employees? People seem to notice that when a firefighter or policeman or teacher gets a raise because the politicians talk about raising taxes. They fail to tell the taxpayers that all the other costs of providing those services have also risen and that is a major reason that the costs are up— heating fuel, gasoline, electricity, vehicles, equipment, etc. Why isn’t the public up in arms when their oil company driver gets a dollar-an-hour raise and their oil company raises their price a penny a gallon? Utility prices rise because of many different factors — employee raises and corporate greed among them. These increased prices force a landlord of a strip mall to raise his rent to the four or five small businesses eking out a living there. These businesses are forced to raise their prices to keep up with their increased fees. The consumers ultimately pick up the tab for all increases. Every increase of business expense has a reciprocal effect — such is the case with government expenses, also.

It’s time for politicians and taxpayers and editors to stop accusing government employees of being the cause of all our financial problems. Governmental wasteful spending should be sought out and eliminated. No one wants to have to pay for patronage jobs or unnecessary positions, but it is not good policy to cut spending at the expense of hard-working, dedicated employees. Especially when these people are the ones that are shouldering the daily duties that are necessary to keep the rest of us safe from harm.

Tom Kenney

Wednesday, February 6, 2008




My how things do change
As we grow, we become more sure
At the same time, however
We need each other more

I once sought everyone’s approval
Though I claimed I needed no one
On a constant quest for validation
Those wretched days are done!

Over time as we mature
We gain the wisdom of age
Use a different set of standards
To objectively gauge…

To gauge our self-reliance
As well as our self-worth
For these are important qualities
Not bestowed upon us at birth

We need to search for these things
Deep within ourselves
A quest that takes a lifetime
And one that often delves

Into places that we fear to tread
For fear of exposing our traits
Not all of which we own up to
As we wrestle with our fates

I’m no longer afraid of what people think
I seek no one’s approval
But I readily acknowledge the fact
That I do need other people

I need at least one who’s on my side
No matter what may be
And now that I’ve found her, I’m at ease
For she’s watching out for me

Tom Kenney - 2006


If only I could…
If only I had…
If I…
If You…

Many of us are burdened by these questions
These doubts
Many of us are burdened by emotions
We can’t sort out

Most of us have some sort of regrets
Of which we can’t let go
Most of us have some sort of remorse
For things only we know

Some of us are caught up in a depression
That’s entirely self-imposed
Some of us spend our days searching in vain
For a door we’ve already closed

We’re trapped by our past
These mistakes we’ve amassed
Lead to being swallowed
By the shadows they cast

All of us need help to understand
That it’s okay
All of us need to let go of our fears
If we’re to find our way


Tom Kenney - 2006


You speak to me
Get no reply
You get angry
And ask me why
Still no response
Now you sigh…
Are you even listening

You need conversation
Not a blank stare
You look at me wondering
Is he even aware
I’ve been talking to him
Silently you swear…
I can’t take it anymore

The number of times
This scene is played out
Increases over time
Getting worse, no doubt
One day without warning
You hear yourself shout…
Talk to me, just talk to me!

I snap to attention
And only slightly perceive
I’ve pushed you to the point
You feel the need to leave
To preserve your own sanity
And you just can’t believe…
I don’t notice your frustration

So you shift your attention
To your personal dreams
But this only magnifies
Just how separate we seem
Drifting further apart
You just want to scream…
I feel like I’m alone!

I feel your presence
Though I seem miles away
Sometimes I get lost
In thoughts of the day
You think I’m distant
But I’d just like to say…
You’re always in my heart

I may not seem interested
In what’s on your mind
But that’s so not true -
And I think you’ll find
You’re my most trusted ally
Every day I find…
I depend on you more than ever

Though I always have an excuse
As to why I don’t react
The way you think I should –
I have to face the fact
That I take you for granted
And fail to interact…
In the way that will save me!

For you are my true companion
I need you in my life
I thank God every day
That you chose to be my wife
You’ve made my world so easy
And saved me from my strife…
I need to make you see

You are my inspiration
You are my guiding light
You’re always there to inspire me
To continue with the fight
I need to show you once again
That I can do what’s right…
Love you, cherish you, listen to you!

Tom Kenney - 2006


Change never comes easily
There’s no simple solution
It seems it’s always a struggle

First you need to recognize
A need for evolution
Then attempt to make a change

Sometimes you must crush old ideas
Like an idea execution
To make way for a new way of thought

Solutions must be agreeable to all
No fear of retribution
If you want it to take hold

Such as abandoning our wasteful ways
And minimizing pollution
Making our world a greener place

Tom Kenney - 2007

Hope In Their Vision

I have hope for this world even still
As each generation forces its will
Over tired old ideas which make us ill
There’s hope in their vision…

While my peers look on in cynicism
We still feel the sting of racism
While we haven’t even addressed sexism
There’s hope in their vision…

I see more and more people relating today
In a more respectful and natural way
Seeing past all the stereotypical clich├ęs
There’s hope in their vision…

We’ve learned from all our parent’s mistakes
How empty promises are easy to make
But without commitment we’re merely fakes
But there’s hope in their vision…

It was Martin’s “dream” that people saw
That forced Civil Rights to be passed into law
But as a standard for people still had its flaws
But there’s hope in their vision…

Despite changes through our good intentions
They seem to continue our racial separations
And don’t really encourage better relations
But there’s hope in their vision…

It seems we can only take things so far
Before we are stymied by who we are
But our children can hopefully raise that bar
There’s hope in their vision…

Children are born with no hate in their hearts
Innocence and kindness is there at the start
With our guidance a new course they can chart
For there’s hope in their vision…

Tom Kenney - 2006



(It’s No Fun)
Being An Illegal Alien

Immigrants from other countries have built the United States of America into the country it is today. My family, on both my mother’s and father’s side, immigrated here from Ireland four or five generations ago. Many of us can trace our ancestry back to the ‘old country’ to just two or three generations past. This is the unique blend that makes America great – the ‘melting pot’. In recent years, however, we’ve been forced to limit the number of immigrants we allow to settle here. This is the result of an influx of illegal aliens.

Unfortunately illegal aliens don’t contribute to the improvement of our country – our states – our communities. Because they are here illegally, they don’t pay into the social security system, and don’t pay income tax to the federal or state governments. They wind up taking from the system – without contributing to it in the first place. For this reason, and for the obvious post 9/11 security issues, we need to secure our borders and more stringently enforce our immigration laws.

With illegal immigrants crossing our borders at an increasingly alarming rate, we seem to have taken away the power of the police officers on the street to detain someone for being here illegally. In the name of “political correctness” it is my understanding that these officers are not even allowed to ask them for immigration papers that document their status. Even when an illegal alien is arrested for a crime committed in this country and has no identification, he is not necessarily in danger of deportation under current law. He may very well end up in our correctional facilities, draining the taxpayers of this country even further, without being deported. This is simply not fair to the American taxpayer. This is also not fair to the thousands of prospective legal immigrants waiting their turn to move their families to this country in pursuit of the American Dream.

The families of illegal aliens are burdening an already overtaxed system – schools; subsidized housing; food stamps; welfare; healthcare. These programs are a necessity for Americans who are under privileged and are fighting for survival. They are not meant to be the bail-out for illegals from other countries. Many of these illegals work ‘under the table’ at lower wages than companies would have to pay for documented immigrants or American workers, thus taking jobs away from Americans - who must then rely on the welfare system.

When I realized that the biggest winners in this game were businesses who could save money on their payroll and healthcare costs, it suddenly became clear why President Bush has been so sympathetic to the plight of the illegal alien. The fact that the Republican’s big business buddies are realizing a benefit from this situation, AND the bleeding-heart leaders of the Democratic Party (who want to take care of everybody) can enact programs that make them seem that they care about poor people, makes this an issue with no end in sight.

I don’t apologize for the fact that I don’t seem to have any sympathy for this cause, I’ve witnessed the abuse it creates first hand on the streets of Providence. Many (not all – but many) of these people overtax the government’s resources, AND incredulously, they feel they are entitled to everything they take! The school systems of Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls, and Woonsocket are suffering tremendously because of an overabundance of children of illegals. Some surveys state that the number of children of illegals in these systems could be as much as 22%.

22%!!?? That means that almost one quarter of the children being taught in these systems are here illegally. Most, if not all, of these students are surely being provided free lunch and breakfast. Many of these students are being bused to school. Many of these students are in need of special programs such as English as a second language – not to mention having to be taught other primary subjects in Spanish. All at the taxpayer’s expense!!

I understand how we, as a nation – a state – a community, got caught up in this cycle. We don’t want people in this bountiful country to be forced to go without the advantages of basic services and education - especially the children. There has to be a limit, however. I say we’ve reached the limit when our own kids and our own families suffer because of our desire to help everyone in need. When our children’s futures are jeopardized by a lack of a quality education because the system is overwhelmed. When our families do without because daddy’s hard-earned paycheck is going toward tuition payments to private schools because the neighborhood public school has lost it’s accreditation – or worse yet, is just plain not safe! These are all signs that we’ve gone too far in catering to people who are breaking the law and infringing on our generosity.

The biggest slap in the face, to me, is that many of our own children and loved ones go without proper health care because healthcare insurance is just too expensive. At the same time the families of illegals are covered under various government sponsored programs! How absurd is that!!??!!