Tuesday, January 29, 2008




I’ve tried many times in the past to send examples of Mayor Cicilline’s outright lies to the Letter-to-the-Editor of the Providence Journal with predominantly negative results. I’ve recently come across the copy of this e-mail from “candidate” Cicilline. Maybe I’ll have better results in proving my point using his own words.

E-mail sent to Providence firefighters by David Cicilline (candidate for Mayor of Providence) on July 25, 2002 at 10:14:49 PM
Subject: Request for Endorsement

Dear Providence Firefighter:

I am David Cicilline, Democratic candidate for mayor of the city of Providence. I am writing to invite your interest and support in my campaign, and to respectfully ask for your endorsement.

I was born here and spent the better part of my life in Providence. In February, I announced my decision to run for mayor because I care about this city, and believe I have the experience, integrity, ideas and ability to help it achieve its great destiny.

Earlier today, I met with the executive committee of the International Association of Firefighters Local 799, to tell them about myself and my detailed plans for Providence. Those plans will create excellent schools, safe neighborhoods, better public services, and honest and stable government.

One of the most important responsibilities I would bear as mayor is to resolve the current contract dispute. I pledge to do that within 30 days of taking office, affording you fair compensation and pension benefits commensurate to the value of your services.

I will also provide this department with critically needed and long-overdue rescue vehicles. That our neighboring communities of Warwick, with half the population, and Cranston with fewer still, each have four rescue vehicles while the capital city – with a population of 173,000 has only five, simply makes no sense. For the welfare of our people and of the personnel responsible for rescue runs, it is essential that we have additional rescue vehicles.

I do not support the present residency requirement – it is unfair and ineffective. With solid, ethical leadership will come public confidence in government and business growth that will create good jobs with decent wages, and a stronger, broader tax base.

Finally, please know that the door is always open to you. I promise you that I will always be available to talk about the issues affecting firefighters and our public safety officers. Since September 11, we have all become painfully aware of what extraordinary and courageous work you do on behalf of every citizen. We owe it, as a city and as a nation, to listen when you speak.

I thank you for your time and welcome your support. If you have questions or would like to talk to me further, please do not hesitate to call me at 272-3332. And of course, for more information about my plans for Providence, please visit

David Cicilline

Thomas Kenney



Providence Department Heads’ Salaries

While it appears on the surface that a suggestion by the Editorial writers of ProJo for their readership to read and familiarize themselves with the individual union labor contracts that affect their cities and towns (Say No To No-Shows) is a good idea, I believe this is actually another ploy to deflect attention from what is a much larger financial problem for these cities and towns – particularly Providence. Exorbitant salaries (and hidden bonuses) paid to political cronies who have been awarded positions as department heads within the administrations of mayors and town managers. Expensive political payoffs.

In Providence, for instance, I would like to see an article in the Providence Journal which “correctly” reports the salaries, benefits, perks and bonuses of the mayor’s Chief of Administration (recently resigned), Chief of Police and Chief of Department of the Fire Department. I would also like to see a comparison to the salaries of the former holders of those positions, as well as the salaries of similar positions in other cities of comparable size. I believe that the contracts of Providence’s police, firefighters, teachers and laborers are matters of public record. Anyone with the desire to learn ‘all’ the details of these contracts can locate copies of these documents with minimal effort. Not so with the secret details of compensation for John Simmons, Dean Esserman or George Farrell – not to mention other key players and department heads in Mayor Cicilline’s Administration.

These individuals have been over-generously (in my opinion) rewarded for their efforts on behalf of the citizens of Providence. By nature of these exorbitant salaries given them by Cicilline, it logically follows that their loyalties will be to the mayor – even at the expense of the taxpayers. The contracts of those other key players in his administration should also be brought to light, in the name of full disclosure. The fact that many of these players are allowed to ‘buy into’ pension plans which are meant for life-long city employees should be calculated into their compensation also – it’s one thing for a 25 or 30-year employee to collect a pension from the city, but quite another when someone who works for 5 or 10 years is allowed to collect an even larger pension (due to higher salary levels) from the same pension system.

Tom Kenney



Same Old Song and Dance

When did cronyism and political wheeling and dealing become so up-front and in-your-face in the Providence political scene? If this is the way of the future, many people will be longing for the time when Cianci was in office. At least back then a person wishing to manipulate the system had to do so behind the scenes. A bribe paid to a third party or the sudden support of a labor member would be required to be delivered prior to any payoff or political favors. Ahhhh…the good old days!!

All those deals seem to be a thing of the past in Providence…or are they?

I realize that Mayor Cicilline ran for his first term under the platform of “fair and honest government”. It seems to me that he forgot this plank of his platform as soon as he was sworn in as mayor. He broke just about every promise he made on the campaign trail within his first year in office. I can’t even begin to list them all, so let me concentrate on those broken promises and outright lies that I’ve lived with over the last 5 years as a firefighter in the City of Providence.

First of all he promised to sit down and talk to the firefighters as soon as he was in office - and promised that our contract issue would be resolved within the first months of his administration. Instead, he immediately hired John Simmons as his right hand man (at an outrageous and ever-growing sum of money). The mayor then put Mr. Simmons (who had a previous and unproductive relationship with the firefighter’s union) in charge of negotiating with Local799. The mayor refused to talk with us directly!

During the campaign, then candidate Cicilline signed a petition at our union hall demanding the abolishment of the residency bill – of course it should be stated that he was looking for our support at that time. One of the first things Mayor Cicilline did was push for the enforcement of the residency requirements, touting them as essential for the welfare of our city. When he was asked to explain his apparent about-face on the issue he stated that he was always a supporter of residency. When asked why he signed the petition demanding its abolishment he merely stated that he didn’t realize what he was signing!!!! Either he’s lying – or he’s not bright enough to run our capitol city.

The mayor states the welfare of the Providence citizen and taxpayer as his motivation for holding down the costs of running the fire department by not giving in to the firefighter’s demands. He can never address just what unreasonable demands the firefighters have put on the city. He can only speak in vague terms regarding expected higher costs for healthcare and pensions – these are facts of life for everyone, not just the City of Providence. Yet, for all his concern over the difference of a couple of percentage points in co-shares or in the salaries of the city ‘workers’, he’s begun a bidding war among the department heads and his administrative staff. As stated previously, Mr. Simmons is being paid an exorbitant salary! The present Chief of Police in Providence is being paid more than double the salary and perks as his predecessor. Now we hear that the ‘new’ Chief of the Providence Fire Department is being offered a contract that will guarantee that he will eventually make more than Esserman. I guess it’s good to be the chief!!

This type of behavior is typical for someone who delegates his responsibilities and has no idea of what it’s like to be one of the ‘workers’. I just can’t understand why this person would choose to run as a Democrat. Never mind, I have to take that back. He realizes that a Republican candidate would probably never be elected in the City of Providence. Seeing that he’s already demonstrated that principles are not part of his makeup, he may as well just call himself a Democrat - and then act any way he pleases.

I am surprised, however, that the members of Providence’s City Council seem to be falling right into place for the young mayor. Aren’t they all Democrats??!!?? I’m not talking about giving away the candy store to unreasonable demands of unions or labor, I’m just speaking of fair and equitable treatment of all city workers – not just the one’s who wear suits to work.

For instance, many people believed that the Class B retirement system was saturated with exaggerated disability pensions. Fact or myth, this was the perception. The proposed solution was to make the pension board operate under more stringent guidelines and guarantee fair and impartial treatment of each prospective retiree based solely on the merits of his/her individual case. Fair enough!

The results were reminiscent of the work of a union-buster from back in the thirties! A firefighter must first prove that his injury is 100% disabling him from performing his duties. That’s OK, but he must then show the exact incident at which it happened. That may sound easy, but it can be tricky. Take, for instance, the case of a firefighter with 7 years on the job who ripped up his knee at a fire (100% documented) and had surgery to enable him to return to work. The department carried him as IOD (injured on duty) until he was cleared by his doctor to return to work.

This firefighter returned to a fire company and did his job for an additional 10 years before he ripped up the same knee once again at a different fire scene. When his doctor told him that he couldn’t repair the knee well enough to allow him to return to work the firefighter filed for an Accidental Disability pension. He did this within a few months of the injury. An Accidental Disability pension is the type of pension that a firefighter receives if he is disabled ‘on-the-job’ and is forced to retire.

The pension board’s decision? The firefighter was not entitled to an Accidental Disability pension. He was only qualified, they said, for a Regular Disability pension. This meant that the firefighter and his doctors had proven to the board that he was, indeed, disabled. The firefighter and his doctors were unable, however, to prove that the firefighter’s injury was an ‘on-the-job’ injury.

The reason for this, though tragic for the firefighter, is really quite amusing. The City of Providence, during the hey days of suspected disability pension fraud, passed an ordinance that stated that a member of the Class B pension system (Providence Police and Fire) could not claim an injury which happened more than 18-months prior to his filing for the pension as a reason for his disability. Furthermore, this injury could not be brought up in any way on the member’s behalf during pension board meetings. In essence, it never happened.

How does this effect our firefighter you ask? Well, the pension board decided that it couldn’t award an Accidental Disability pension to a member for an on-the-job knee injury if the member had a prior history of knee problems. This wouldn’t be fair to the taxpayers, after all, as he already had a pre-existing medical condition prior to the fire which ultimately caused his disability!

It didn’t matter that his prior history was an older on-the-job injury. That injury never happened…as far as the pension board was concerned.

If this ordinance didn’t stack the deck against legitimate claims for disability pensions enough, the mayor had a referendum placed on last years city ballot giving him the authority to appoint two additional members to the pension board. This would assure that the majority of the board were city appointed designees who would vote as they were instructed.

The mayor has been in office for 5 years now and he has yet to negotiate a single contract with the city’s firefighters. After much stalling by the city, and much picketing by the firefighters, a neutral arbitrator finally settled three single year contracts between the two parties last year. What most citizens don’t realize is that as of this writing (March 27, 2007) Providence firefighters have been working with no contract, once again, for 1,000 days! The two parties are, once again, forced to have a neutral arbitrator decide our contract.

This mayor says all the right things to the media and the citizens of Providence. Unfortunately for the citizens (and the workers) of Providence, it is actions and deeds which ultimately measure one’s worth. I’m afraid our mayor just doesn’t measure up in that column.

Tom Kenney



Firetrucks go racing past
At what seems the speed of light
If these vehicles had wings attached
You’d swear that they’d take flight

Where they’re headed you don’t know
But they’re sure in a hurry
You see they’re headed toward your house
And you begin to worry

Could it be you left the iron on
Or left dinner in the oven
You’ve done that once or twice before
But it doesn’t happen often

You follow the trucks, as your fears grow
You wish that they’d go faster
Don’t they know that if they delay
Your home could be a disaster

Finally they reach your house
You sigh as they go past
You can now let go of all your fears
Boy, they’re going fast!

Tom Kenney - 2005


Sounds are all around us
Every day and everywhere
But there are some I’ve heard
I hope never again to hear

The alarm bell sounding
And axes pounding
They echo with each chop
People crying
As a loved one’s dying
It seems to never stop

To never hear again, I pray
The call of a “MayDay”
From a brother who is lost
I fear this most
Like a lingering ghost
We all know this could be the cost

The cost of pushing
The cost of tempting
The limits of our fate
But when we’re working
Though danger’s lurking
Time won’t allow us to wait


Firemen lose their hearing
From the harshness of the noise
But do we really lose it
Or do we make a conscious choice

To shut out all the memories
To shut out all the pain
To shut down all our emotions
And live a peaceful life again


Tom Kenney - 2005

Sick & Tired

I’m sick and tired of people giving us shit
Because they think that we don’t care
They think that because we walk up to their door
That we are unaware

But really now, what would you have us do
Sit down and cry with you
Or would you rather have us remain unattached
Doing everything we can do

Although keeping emotional walls intact
Serves us well in our tasks
None of us have a perfect record with this
Our indifference merely our masks

My nerves and patience are frayed to the limit
By putting up with this day after day
If you don’t know what you’re doing – or we’re doing
Shut up and stay out of our way

The general public can never understand
How each call takes its toll
Not many of us escape unscathed
Survival a more attainable goal

So when some junkie decides to do too much smack
Needle still in his vein
His loved ones expect us to feel compassion
To understand his pain

The truth is, sadly, I couldn’t care less
If he lives or if he dies
If we stop him tonight from killing himself
Tomorrow this scene, he’ll reprise

So when people call us uncaring and cold
Because we don’t bleed in the open
We sometimes lose our cool and attack them
This can be our way of coping

We carry enough negative emotional baggage
And we don’t need any more
So we may tell them just where they can go
Before we walk out their door

Tom Kenney - 2007


Two-thirds of my time is spent waiting
Waiting for the bell
Because exactly when we’ll be called upon
Not one of us can tell
Yes, two-thirds of my time is spent waiting
And waiting can be hell

We train with all of our equipment
So that we’ll be ready
And no matter what we’ll have to do
We will hold steady

We continually inspect our district
So we’ll be familiar
With any new dangers or hazards
That may have moved here

We’re always studying the streets
So that we’ll know
The quickest route to any destination
Just get in and go

We check and clean the apparatus
So that we can rely
On everything working properly
On the very first try

When called upon to answer the call
We know what to do
No matter what the emergency may be
We’ll see it through

We check out all the buildings in our area
And what they contain
Where hazardous materials may be stored
Then we check them out again

We drill with other fire companies
And with just our truck
We try to be completely prepared
We never count on luck

We’re called for every type of emergency
Whether day or night
We’re always ready to lend assistance
No matter what their plight

Though the two-thirds of my time spent waiting
Is spent in preparation…
While drilling and training are not the most exciting part
Of working in the station…
It all pays off ‘cause when responding to an alarm
There’s no time for trepidation…

But still…
…waiting is the hardest part

Tom Kenney - 2006

Two Minutes

The toughest two minutes
Of any run
Are the ones spent responding,
Under the gun

When the dispatcher tells you,
“A child is hurt”
You can’t keep yourself from
Picturing the worst

You try to imagine and
Run through your mind,
Upon your arrival, the scene
You might find

You can’t get there fast enough
Your heart starts to race
You block out terrible visions
Of that child’s face

Not doing anything is
The toughest task
That of any firefighter
You could ask

Your mission is assisting
Those who need aid
You’re bent on performing the
Tasks of your trade

You’re trained to be ready for
Any situation
Your training takes flight once you
Leave the station

You’re anxious and you’re worried
While on the way
You never know what you’ll find
So you don’t delay

Your adrenaline’s pumping
Stomach in knots
Try to stay focused ‘til you
See what you’ve got

You realize the victims
Depend on you
To keep them from harm
And see them through

Through this tragic circumstance
However dire
Whether a medical emergency
Or for a fire

You know that when you get there
You’ll be okay
‘Cause then you’ll be working, holding
Tragedy at bay

You count on your experience
And your training
To do the task at hand
And begin saving

You can handle any situation
Once you’re in it
But getting there can be
The toughest two minutes

Copyright 2005 - Tom Kenney


My skin is stretching and ready to burst
It’s so sensitive to the touch
Your touch…or anyone’s touch
My head is ready to explode
All my thoughts…my dreams…my nightmares
Everything builds up like an over-filled balloon
I need…
I need…
I need…
Everything I feel, I say, I write
All seems to scream…help
I think what I think are big thoughts
Larger questions than those in individual lives
Mankind and womankind type of ideals and thoughts
I think it’s easier to think in those terms
Thinking in individual, personal type thoughts are too…
I push the people that I love away
It’s always been that way I guess
I think it’s much more prevalent now
Wrong, wrong, wrong
Fail, fail, fail
What’s wrong with my mind?
Why can’t I take things unseriously?
Why must everything be a lecture or a tirade?
Mine is not the only opinion
Mine is not the only pain
If it hurts so much, why not walk away and retire?
Why am I so devoted to the FD?
Which is worse pain…the physical or the emotional??
I don’t know…
Book, poetry, articles…
Are they the real me?
Are they a false front?
Are they good?...or bad?
Questions … nothing but questions
No answers……………..

2007 – Tom Kenney


Asleep in the Firehouse

As you peer through the windows
To the apparatus floor
The Engine and Ladder lay dormant
Coats hanging on their doors

A solitary light casts a glow
Over the sleeping trucks
As we firefighters are upstairs -
In our beds, safely tucked

Not a sound can be heard
Inside the station
Not a creature is stirring
Not even the Dalmatian

But all this changes
In the blink of an eye
With the clanging of the bell
And a voice from the ‘sky’

The bell and the loudspeaker
Echo off the walls
As the dispatcher sends us
To another call

Every bulb in the building
Awakens in light
Suddenly, without warning
Everything is bright

The sound of the exhaust fan
Whirs in the background
As the creaking door motor
Makes a hideous sound

Meanwhile, upstairs, in our beds
We are awakened
By the light and the noise
As if we were shaken

We jump out of our bunks
And into our clothes
And head toward the poles
Snapped from our repose

We don’t know what type of call it is
Or where we are going
We only know it’s an emergency
Our anticipation growing

We hit the poles and they slam
Like a loud clap of thunder
We head toward our trucks
Even as we wonder

What’s lying before us
When we roll out the door
The diesel motor comes to life
With a mighty roar

The shrill of the siren wails,
The air horn blasts
The sound must seem deafening
As we roll on past

Then everything goes quiet
As we pull out of sight
And the lights go dark again -
As the door closes tight

Tom Kenney - 2006

One Quiet Night

One quiet night
Everything was calm
No interruptions
By the sound of the alarm

We went into the station
And didn’t turn a wheel
Not a single run
It seemed unreal

It was the first ‘shutout’
We could remember
On a cold winter’s night
In early December

We stayed in the warmth
Of the firehouse that night
And when we emerged
The sun shone bright

We were paid just the same
Though we didn’t do a thing
I really felt guilty –
We were supposed to be working

We came back in that night
And marveled at our luck
But before we knew it
We were running for the truck

The alarm had sounded
Reporting a fire
As we rushed to the scene
The situation seemed dire

A family was trapped
And couldn’t get out
When we pulled up
We were met with shouts

“People are in there,
A family of five”
We knew no one in there
Could still be alive

But we didn’t let that stop us
As we stretched out our hose
To fight back the flames
Wishful thinking, I suppose

So we pushed forward
Advancing our line
Trying to get them
Before they ran out of time

By the time we had reached them
It was much too late
The fire had swallowed them -
What a horrible fate

As their lifeless bodies
Lay still on the stairs
We worked through the night
Until the dawn’s early glare

When the night finally ended
And the anguish sunk in
I swore I’d never feel guilty
About a quiet night again

Copyright 2005 - Tom Kenney

Peaceful Dawn

The stillness of a peaceful dawn
Is shattered by an angry horn
Sirens wailing
People hailing
As the night gives way to the morn

Moments before, as I lay sleeping
A shadowy figure, alone, was creeping
Bent on revenge
Here to avenge
A grudge that she’d been keeping

She didn’t care about the others
Mother, father, sister, brothers
Her only plan
To kill the man
Who had left her for another

Blinded by hate, she lit the fire
She ran away as flames grew higher
She didn’t care
Who might be there
Destruction was her only desire

We began to roll before sunrise
Shaking the sleep from our eyes
We saw the smoke
The radio spoke
“There are people trapped inside”

We begin by the day’s first light
Laying hose to begin the fight
We push forward
Moving toward
The fire that burned so bright

The family, sleeping, had no clue
Of what she was about to do
Or of the danger
From the stranger
Who was set on beginning anew

They woke to the sound of the alarm
Went to the stairs to escape from harm
Tried to evade it
But never made it
They died together, arm in arm

This morning had no happy ending
The final outcome left nothing pending
A family of five
No longer alive
And countless hearts in need of mending

As she lit the match, she felt reborn
No longer did she feel forlorn
Just walked away
A peaceful day
In the stillness of a peaceful morn

Tom Kenney - 2006

Junior Man

Every team must have a person
Who deals with all the shit
On the team of a fire crew
The junior man is it

He’s known as the fuckin’ new guy
A.K.A. - F.N.G.
And when there’s a job that’s distasteful
There’s no doubt whose it will be

We push him hard, and don’t let up
For this is how he learns
We’ve all been there, once before
We all must take our turn

It’s the responsibility of us all
To break our men in right
To teach them no task is too large or small
To end a person’s plight

To wade through sewage to find a drain
When a sewer line has burst
To crawl through windows to search for bodies
He always gets the worst

He does the jobs no one wants to do
For this is his lot
He also knows better than to complain
Whether he likes it or not

He patiently awaits for another new guy
To join our fiery clan
For then he knows the torch is passed
To another junior man

Tom Kenney - 2006

The Weight

None of us realize
The weight we all carry
On our shoulders
We just can’t see
How much shit is piled on us\
As we grow older

The truth be told
Those of us who are firefighters
Tend to take on more
We pile it on
Thinking our broad shoulders
Can handle any chore

Firefighters believe
That we can fix everything
Save everyone
The sad truth is
Sometimes, even firefighters
Can’t get it done

And when we fail
We can never let it go
Can never forget
We hold on to
All of the frustration and pain
But we bury it

‘Til after awhile
We can hide it no more
And it explodes
It’s only then
That we have to face it -
Our heavy load

Stress can pile up
To a point of destruction
Without our knowing
No recognition
Of what’s happening to us
Nothing showing

Then out of nowhere
With no hint and no warning
It knocks us cold
Like a ton of bricks
It can knock you on your ass
As it takes hold

From that point on
We must learn how to handle it
Or at least try
We don’t perceive
How these things from our past
Force us to deny

Deny our pain
Deny our failure and sorrow -
Our weakness, too
We don’t understand
That these very emotions are what
Help us get through

We must admit
That we’re only mortal men
Victims of our fate
And shed some tears
‘Cause it’s only then that we’re
Freed of the weight

Tom Kenney - 2006

You Think I’m Strong

As we go through our lives
And we’re faced with uncertainty
You count on me to be strong
For whatever the problem
Though we face it together
You think that I’m never wrong

You think I’m strong…but I’m not

As we arrive at the scene
Of yet another emergency
People count on me to be brave
They count on me to rescue them
And pull them to safety
Their loved ones to save

They think I’m brave…but I’m not

As we face down the fire
Amid the smoke and the chaos
My men look to me to be smart
They count on me
To make all the right decisions
Whether I’m capable or not

They think I’m smart…but I’m not

Sometimes it’s overwhelming
To always be the person
People look to for assistance
For to whom can I turn
And hand over my fate…
I’m just unable to take that chance

They think I’m…but I’m not

Tom Kenney - 2005

Stand Tall

It’s important to me to stand tall
Especially when my back’s to the wall
To hold my ground in those situations
Is to not shrink away from confrontation

In my job I’m often put to the test
As I try to prove that I’m the best
Standing tall against the danger is easy
But standing by my word can make me queasy

To live up to the standard to which I’ve set
Is a goal that I pray I never forget
For to not stand for something is not for me
If I’m to be all that I can be

They say a man’s word is his bond
As I gaze into tomorrow and beyond
I see that I can’t hope to change our way
Unless I live up to my word each day

To have any influence on someone else
You have to learn to be true to yourself
And that means to be steady on my course
Even if it seems I’ve backed the wrong horse

I pride myself now that I’ve grown older
That my words and my actions are now bolder
Not afraid to stand up for what I deem just
Careful to stay true and worthy of trust

Let no man question my values or motives
I’ve taught myself to become quite assertive
For the squeaky wheel gets all the grease
I’m no longer content with keeping the peace

I’ve decided I’ll keep on speaking my mind
Not allowing my words to be unjustly maligned
What’s important are results over the long haul
And that I battle on and continue to stand tall

Tom Kenney - 2005

Quiet Dignity

Some men need to swagger and boast – As they shake your hand in greeting
They need to show all the eyes around – That they’re someone who’s worth meeting
I am this…and I am that – Is all they have to say
Always talking…and never listening – For this is just their way

Men like this can charm their way – Into making you think they care
But don’t be fooled, they’re only thought – Is to making you aware
Aware that they…and they alone – Can take away your sorrows
A vote for them, they always say – Will secure us better tomorrows

These men are liars…these men are cheats – With very few exceptions
They’re not your father, watching out for you – They’re professional politicians
It’s not their fault, some people say – It’s just the way it goes
To be elected in this day and age – You need to step on toes

Whatever happened to public service – To putting others first
THAT’s the best any man can offer – These men offer the worst
They line their pockets with gold and votes – They’ll promise anything
But re-election’s the Holy Grail – In order to continue stealing

But don’t give up on all of us yet – There are still some worthy men
Men who think of others first – And sacrifice for them
These men are firemen, these men are cops - And soldiers…they are too
They’re assignment is to protect us all – And that’s exactly what they do

No matter whether they’re sick or tired – No matter what their pay
They always stand tall for you and me – Every single night and day
Not for glory…not for fame – Not for recognition
They do it for the love of others – That’s their holy mission

They risk their lives every day – And many of them die
They know the dangers going in – But never question why
They know this answer, it’s very simple – To protect and to serve
They’ve chosen this path for their life – So what do they deserve?

They deserve our thanks and our respect – They need our support, too
They deserve to know that we are grateful – Someone does what they do
But don’t expect to see them swagger – Or boast throughout the city
For these men are truly heroes - They walk with quiet dignity

Tom Kenney - 2006

Serving the People

When you serve the people
Not the City
You treat them with compassion
Not with pity

You know it’s your calling
And your duty
To be there for people
When they’re needy

When they’re in need of aid
To help them through
Their most horrible ordeal –
They look to you

For you’re their savior
And salvation
In their hour of need
And desperation

A firefighter can be proud
Of his service
When he offers it to people
Without prejudice

There’s no place for the privileged
Or for favorites
You just offer assistance to
Those who need it

There’s no greater purpose
Than helping others
Because in spite of everything
We’re all brothers

We’re all but a moment away
Of being the victim
We’re all held hostage by
Fate’s cruel whim

So treat all of the people
You encounter
With courtesy and respect
And with honor

They deserve to see the best
We have to give
It’s our mission to give our all
So others may live

So they may live in safety
And without fear
Just knowing we’ll help them
And that we’re here

So when we’re frustrated with
What’s going on
With our elected officials
...And so on

We have to remember that the
People don’t care
Which side that you’re on or
Which hat you wear

But when they need our help
And dial 911
They expect us to be there
Expect us to come

We’re all expected to follow
The Golden Rule
When dealing with others -
Wise man or fool

For guidance and patience
I pray to Thee, Lord
But serving the people -
Is it’s own reward

Copyright 2005 - Tom Kenney


The Worcester Six

We came to be known
as the Worcester Six
but we were just firemen
the ones God had picked

We were called to respond
to a fire one night
when we arrived on the scene
there was no one in sight

A fire in a warehouse
the dispatcher said
we were told it was empty
we thought, victims, instead

A faint wisp of smoke
hung in the air
the fire lay waiting
deep inside, somewhere

A cold winter’s wind
cut through the cold
we assume someone’s inside
no matter what we’re told

Engine-men were stretching
their hose up the stairs
as Ladder-men gathered tools
getting prepared…

…for the task lying before us
to search and to vent
this is our responsibility
it’s why we’re sent

As we entered the building
looking up toward the sky
no windows were visible
we’d have to vent high

So we climbed up six flights
to access the roof
light smoke in the stairway
serving as proof

That a fire was present
not yet too intense
these measures we employ
are the proper defense

They allow us more time
For search, and for rescue
Before the fire gets rolling
Cutting off our escape route

After we vented the roof
We descended one floor
To begin searching for victims
Entering through a door

We’re in a windowless room
Our lights cut through the haze
From one room to another
Soon we’re lost in this maze

As we’re searching for victims
And for the exit
The fire suddenly intensifies
As oxygen reaches it

In what seems a blink of an eye
The smoke’s black and thick
We don our masks with urgency
We need to get out quick

Desperately, we look for the stairs
but can’t find our way out
fumble for our radios
“Mayday, Mayday”, we shout

Crawling through this labyrinth
from room to room
only twelve minutes of air
between us and our doom

We try to relay our location
to our brothers outside
in hopes that they’ll find us
before we have died

Enveloped in the darkness
time seemed to be frozen
suddenly aware of the risks
of this profession we’d chosen

It takes but a moment to realize
we may not survive
we’re now sharing our air
trying to stay alive

Meanwhile, desperation outside
as we lay dying
a rescue plan put together
two brothers are trying

Trying to reach us in time
and pull us to safety
but their effort’s in vain
it just wasn’t to be

They crawl through the darkness
and become lost, too
now the rescuers are victims
so they start another crew

No shortage of volunteers
outside the building
to risk his life for his brothers
every man is willing

The only thing that mattered now
was finding their brothers
for it’s their unwritten code
to depend on each other

As the third crew fell victim
to this hellish structure
whether more crews be sent in
was up for conjecture

It was then that the Chief did
what had to be done
he pulled everyone out of there
the building had won

It had swallowed our bravest
and was not giving them up
in a last act of bravery that night
the Chief said, “Enough!”

For more than two weeks following
as the world looked on
the city of Worcester, Massachusetts
recovered their brave sons

There were funerals and memorials
and a Presidential proclamation
the bravery and valor of these men
was beyond imagination

God keep you Paul, Tim, Tom, Jeremiah, Joe, & Jay

Copyright 2004 Tom Kenney

Carolina Tribute

God bless the giving souls
Of our nine Carolina brothers
They offered up their lives
In selfless service to others

When the bell tipped for them
On the night of 18 June
There was no way of knowing
Tragedy would strike so soon

Initial reports were people inside
This massive sofa showcase
With fire in the truss-roofed building
These firefighters were in a race

Collapse is an ever present threat
Of which firefighters are aware
But when lives are in the balance
It’s a threat that they must bare

They hurried in to search for victims
Before it was too late
Their job is to rescue civilians
From that horrible fate

Always knowing, but never dwelling
On the fact it could be them
Who have to pay the ultimate price
For heroically rushing in

These men all led honorable lives
Right down to their last breaths
In service to their fellow man
At the risk of their own deaths

So as they pass to their reward
Let’s take a moment to say
“Thank you guys for all you did,
And for your souls we pray”

Tom Kenney - 19June07

Not As They Seem

Things are not always as they seem…

This Monday past
Firefighters arrived at the scene
To a fire in a showroom
That seemed pretty routine
…it was not

Firefighters rushed in
To where victims might hide
For reports from civilians
Stated two employees inside
…there were not

As the Chief took control
His men began the attack
He watched them move in
And assumed they’d be back
…some were not

As the companies advanced
They put water on the fire
Betting they could knock it down
Before the flames took off higher
…they could not

No one on the scene
Expected such a disaster
All that was at stake, they thought
Was steel, wood and plaster
…they were wrong

These Firefighters go to work each day
Believing they’ll return
It’s been that way forever
No need for concern
…but there is

Ask them to stop risking their lives
For perfect strangers
…..they would not

Tom Kenney - 2007

Heartbreak’s Everlasting

There are men who put others first
Help their neighbors through their worst
Without ever thinking twice
They risk their very lives each day
To keep us all from harm’s way
Whatever be the price

To understand what they’re about
When the rest of us are rushing out
They are running in
For no matter what may await inside
Their will to fight won’t be denied
Until it’s safe within

Nine of the bravest from Charleston
Were no match that day
For the awesome power of the firestorm
That took them all away
And though we celebrate their bravery
As we also mourn their passing
We know we’ll never fully recover
For our heartbreak’s everlasting

So as the flames and smoke arose
They quickly advanced their hose
Into the Sofa Store
For a man was reported trapped inside
And running out of places to hide
As they crawled along the floor

They fought their way into the fire
But then the flames erupted higher
Cutting off their escape
It was then that our heroes were lost
Nine brave men, what a terrible cost
Our world forever reshaped

Nine of the bravest from Charleston
Were no match that day
For the awesome power of the firestorm
That took them all away
And though we celebrate their bravery
As we also mourn their passing
We know we’ll never fully recover
For our heartbreak’s everlasting

Tom Kenney - 11/7/2007

Fallen Jakes

Numerous messages to God since Wednesday…
Bless our brothers, the fallen Jakes
It seems there’s never rhyme nor reason
For whom He decides to take

Again we’re forced to struggle with the fact
That He’s taken two of our bravest
If we could, we brothers, march to heaven
From Him their souls we’d outwrest

But such is the fate of the dedicated Jake
Much, much too often
Though they died doing the job they loved
This blow cannot be softened

It crushes their families, kills their dreams
Of happy times together
They must go on, remembering their souls
Will live with them forever

We fellow firefighters in the “brotherhood”
Have lost two of our own
Like countless of our brothers before them
It still cuts to the bone

And lest we forget their brothers in arms
Who fought by their side
Some of whom still lay in hospital beds
Lucky to have not died

Our hearts may go out to all of the above
For they all suffer today
They’ll pick up the pieces the best they can
Each in their own way

But our prayers are for the eternal souls
Of two true Boston heroes
Who did their jobs until the very end
Earning them their haloes

Lt. Tom Kenney - Providence Fire Department

Too Many Funerals

Again I travel to a “Line-Of-Duty-Death” funeral
This time, not too far away
My latest “brothers” to fall victim to our vocation
Were laid to rest today

Boston firefighters from Engine 30 and Ladder 25
Paul Cahill and Warren Payne
Were toasted today at many Boston watering holes
By brothers drowning their pain

Over ten-thousand firefighters from all over the US
Have gathered to pay their respects
To our brave “brothers in arms” who paid the price
No “employer” could expect

But our “employers”, you see, are our fellow neighbors
Who desperately depend on us
To keep them safe from a growing myriad of harms
On our dedication they may trust

As such, we’ll never back down from our duties
No matter what the cost
We “put on the line” whatever we may need to risk
To keep a life from being lost

I’ve marched in the two largest gatherings, so far
Of firefighters in our history
What drives us to make these treks time after time
Is certainly not a mystery

These men we’ve gathered to honor on this day
Have gathered for others before
This presumption, I can state with confidence
It’s simply our “esprit de corps”

Worcester, Charleston, and New York City
To name just a few
The destinations may always be different
As we gather to bid adieu

Though it hurts like hell to watch the processions
With all the pipes and drums
It leaves an even bigger hole in your heart
If you’re absent when the time comes

Being there for others when they need us
Is what we’re all about
How can we not make the effort for a brother
If we’re able, there’s no doubt

It’s not about spectacle, it’s not about glory
Never has been nor will be
It’s all about love and honor and respect
Put on display for all to see

We do it to show the whole wide world
What this man meant to us
We do it to show a single little boy
His dad is worth the fuss

But most of all we do it for ourselves, I guess
To honor this profession we love
For being a firefighter is the greatest job on earth
The best any of us could conceive of

Copyright 2007 - Tom Kenney

Yesterday’s Heroes

Yesterday’s heroes are fragile old men
Too weak to fend for themselves
Silently sitting and staring at the medals
And old photos on the shelves

These old mementos gathering dust
Harken back to earlier years
When these men were young and eager
To face their own worst fears

Some were soldiers, others firemen
Cops and others, too
Most were simply men of honor
Who knew what they must do

Heroes are not men without fear
But rather ones that know
That all men have a fear of something
Whether or not it shows

A hero learns to tame his trepidation
And go on just the same
For only by his facing these demons
Can a man live up to his name

So think not that these old men
Lay in fear of death
They’ve faced that opponent many times
Down to their last breath

For death will come to all one day
And when we meet our fate
If we’ve not lived our lives to the fullest
By then it’s much too late

These men dread one thing about death
And that’s to die all alone
Other than that, it’s a peaceful transition
As they pass to their new home

2007 - Tom Kenney

"A Few Poems on 9/11"

Ten Seconds With God

Ten seconds is a very long time
When that’s all you have to live
Time enough to make your peace
But not enough to give…

To give your honey one more kiss
To squeeze her oh so tight
To give your kids assurance that
Everything will be all right

From the moment I began this job
I’ve prepared for this day
So now, as He calls me home
It seems I know the way

Kaboom, kaboom, kaboom, kaboom
Like a freight train bearing down
I instantly knew how this would end
And I felt His peace surround…

Surround my body, and my soul
Surround my brothers in arms
I felt His love, like a giant cloak
Sheltering us from harm

While answering the call that day
I saw the second plane
It glided through the cloudless sky
Then burst into fiery rain

It rained down fire, rained down dust
It rained down bodies, too
It seemed no matter how we tried
There was nothing we could do

We knew that people trapped above
The hole that ripped the tower
Could never escape, with their lives
Without His awesome power

I prayed that day, a silent prayer
As I stepped inside the lobby
I knew that without His help
We’d only recover bodies

We started up the narrow stairs
While others were heading out
As we passed the scared civilians
Some began to shout…

“God bless you, our brave firemen.
You’re heroes to us all.”
But we were merely doing our jobs
Answering the call

We knew when we began the fight
We all would not survive
But by risking our lives for others
We keep the dream alive…

The dream that good will conquer all
And God will help us through
Reward us with eternal life
As we begin anew

I saw the face of God that day
As He led me to this place
His will, not ours, will be done
Accept this fact with grace

I understood, at once, that day
What we were sent here for
Watch over each other as best we can
For who could ask for more

Ten seconds is a very long time…

Copyright 2004 by Tom Kenney


It’s funny how people remember us
From that fateful day
As the heroes who climbed the towers
Passing workers on the way

They see the footage of us in the lobby
Preparing for the haul
The look on our faces, they say
Surely says it all

“They knew they were going to die“,
They tell each other
“You can see it in their eyes as they
Greet a fellow brother”

They fail to realize it’s not uncommon
For us to show our fear
But we never allow the fear to stop us
We just keep each other near

We may be proud, we may be brave
But suicidal, we’re not
We take many risks to do our jobs
Giving all we’ve got

They think we know it’s a death sentence
As we enter the lobby door
Unaware that not a man here among us
Had not been here before

As we walk through the valley of death again
That old familiar place
We can’t accept that we’ll leave our souls
And feel death’s cold embrace

If we had known we would never come out
We’d have never gone in
Fearing and knowing are two different things
So we hold our doubts within

As we climbed up the stairs floor by floor
Searching zone by zone
It was saving lives that was on our minds
Not giving up our own

The Angel of Death is our frequent companion
A feared and lethal foe
But when he’s here for one of our own
How are we to know

We’re trained to push things to the limit
On each and every call
We’re well aware that lives are on the line
And we may sacrifice all

We live with this throughout our careers
Through every single shift
It hangs in the air like a shroud of fog
Which we can never set adrift

Some think it’s merely words when we say
We risk our lives for you
But we take this fact into account
In everything we do

That day in September in 2001
Was no different in our eyes
We could not have known what devastation
Was raining from the skies

We look down from above as our brothers
Desperately search “the pile”
They have no idea that we’re finally at rest
They’re still in denial

Our bravery that day seemed beyond belief
In the eyes of humanity
But the fact is we’ve faced our mortality before
Though you may question our sanity

We were merely men doing the job we loved
Down to our last breaths
We remain merely men in the scheme of it all
Even after our deaths

Copyright 2007 - Tom Kenney

Forever Changed

As I reflect upon that fateful day
Six years and one day later
I realize that I’m not alone
I’m part of something greater

I feel that somehow I’ve been broken
Been weakened by the toll
I feel I should be able to rise above
And save my damaged soul

But those of us in the fire service
Were forever changed that day
No longer capable of hiding tears…
Should it have ever been that way?

I sat in church and wept again
A victim of my emotions
As speaker after speaker spoke again
Of the firefighters’ devotion

The padre, a bishop and a cantor
What a strange mix indeed
Speaking of peace and love and virtue
And what the world now needs

I can’t say that I’m a religious man
Especially in the last six years
But hearing these words once again
Reduced me, once more, to tears

Last night’s service which I attended
Was but one of countless, I’m sure
But while their motives are rooted in evil
Our motives are pure

We prayed that we be not called again
Such a sacrifice, to make
That we be allowed to merely co-exist
And not re-experience that ache

But I know that I’m forever changed
No longer strong and invincible
No longer attempting to use brute strength
I’ll change the world on principles

Tom Kenney - 2007

The Best of What We Can Be

I know that the “343” of the FDNY
Were the best of what we can be
They gave their lives to do their jobs
But we – I mean I – wonder if I could see…

If I could see the honor in running in
As opposed to running away
I can’t hold myself to their bravery
If I’m not up to following their way

I think that I’ve proven over the years
I can do the job when it gets tough
But I wonder if I could do what they did
And I wonder if that’s enough

For a man can only speak for himself
Not presume to represent another
But these men paid the ultimate price
Side by side with their brothers

Some of whom lost their lives that day
Had already ended their tour
But they jumped on the rigs nonetheless
As they motored out the door

They knew they were desperately needed
To mount any type of attack
They headed to the biggest job of their lives
Without ever glancing back

Their jobs, you see, were to protect & serve
Whether on duty or not
For firefighters are always at the ready
To give it their best shot

Danger and death are constant companions
Riding along on every call
But I wonder if those firemen were aware
They’d be claimed once and for all

This is the question I must ask myself
Could I have climbed aboard?
Knowing full well the risk I’d be taking
And what I was rushing toward

If the answer is no, I must reassess
The reasons that I’m here
For if I’m not willing to risk my life
I shouldn’t don the gear

I believe I’m willing to step up to the plate
And do what needs to be done
Whenever it is I may be called upon
To answer that type of run

I hope and pray it never comes to that
At least not by choice
But we – I mean I – prepare just the same
For the job that silences my voice

I think that might be part of the reason
I write about death so much
Preparing myself for the inevitable end
When it holds me in its clutch

Far too many lives, and deaths, go unnoticed
As if they didn’t matter
When St. Peter asks if I was timid or brave
I hope I can answer the latter

Copyright 2007 - Tom Kenney

I Broke the Rules Today (Oh Boy!)

I Broke the Rules Today (Oh boy)

I worked a day shift at my firehouse today, and I have to admit that I broke a lot of rules during one of our numerous emergency responses. This is notable because this has become the norm on the Providence Fire Department over the last several years. Those of us in Company Officer positions are faced daily with the options of doing our jobs “by the rules” or performing our duties to the best of our abilities and at the greatest possible speed – we can’t do both.

In the business of fire suppression and emergency medical response, seconds truly count. The difference between a favorable outcome and a complete failure can literally be determined by seconds. The difference between a favorable outcome and complete failure can be the difference between saving a life and witnessing someone die. For this reason our trucks are equipped with sirens and airhorns to assist us in clearing the traffic from our congested streets in order to allow us to reach our destination as quickly as possible.

So too, our trucks are equipped with pre-connected attack hoselines with nozzles already attached – ready for instant deployment at a fire scene. Larger hoselines, which are pre-connected in lengths of over 500 feet, are packed onto our trucks in a manner as to facilitate connecting to street hydrants in the quickest possible manner. Everything we do at an emergency scene, particularly at a structure fire, is time-critical in nature. We prepare our equipment and continually run through training exercises with this crucial factor in mind.

In this modern politically-correct and liability-conscious world there have been a number of rules and constraints put on the fire service. Many of these changes, although intended to make the job of firefighting less dangerous, make our job much more difficult – and in some cases, utterly impossible. Even with this unintended effect, implementing changes in the way we go about doing our jobs on a daily basis would be much more acceptable to us if the true intent was a sincere effort to minimize jeopardizing firefighter health and safety. Unfortunately, the actual reason for these changes is often simply to remove any legal liability (and thus any financial risk) from the department or the municipality in the event that firefighters are injured or killed in the line of duty – particularly if they are taking a “risk” at a fire scene.

This belief is supported by the fact that our fire department leaders (Fire Chiefs) who command emergency scenes continue to expect the same results, and in the same time frames, as they expected from fire crews prior to implementing these safety “rules”. This fact remains constant – even when the Chief of Department is on the scene.

It is difficult for non-firefighters to understand the complexity and the contradictions to which I’m referring without a tangible example of how the scene actually plays out at a fire – as opposed to how it would play out if these “rules” were followed on the scene. I offer this example of a typical response to a fire in an occupied dwelling in Providence, as I’ve typically led my crew on many occasions in the past.

The bell tips at the Mt. Pleasant Ave. firehouse, alerting us of an imminent emergency response to which we are being dispatched. As always, there are three of us on duty – myself (the company officer; Lieutenant) and two firefighters. Although we are in the middle of lunch we put down our forks and head directly for the apparatus floor and the truck. The chauffeur hops into the truck and turns on the radio as I and the other firefighter begin to don our bunker pants and fireboots. By this time the dispatcher rattles his oratory over the radio frequency and the old speakers in the station, “Attention Engines 15-14-6, Special Hazards 1, Ladders 6 & 3, Rescue 6 and Battalion 2; a Still-Box”.

We pull up our pants and climb on the truck as the chauffeur starts the diesel engine and the dispatcher finishes the first round of his dispatch. We head out of the station before he can begin the second round in which he will inform us of the type of call he’s sending us on and the location. We instinctively know, due to our experience and the order in which the companies were dispatched, the direction we will be heading. Leaving the station before being told the specific nature of the call and the location is against policy. (Rule #1)

We turn left out of the station as the second round is being finished with the addition of,”… 27 Victoria Street, report of a building fire”. As we head down Mt. Pleasant Ave. the chauffeur attempts to close the station’s overhead garage door via the remote. As we roll down the street the door fails to close before we are out of range. This happens from time to time because the batteries go dead. We continue on. Leaving the station garage door open (for any reason, at any time) is a violation of departmental policy. (Rule #2) During this time the back step firefighter and I have climbed into the truck without fastening our seatbelts. The truck is not supposed to move without all members sitting and belted – no exceptions. (Rule #3) We do not have our full turnout gear on yet – only our pants. We hurriedly finish dressing in the cab on the way – against policy. (Rule #4)

With siren and airhorns blaring and all our warning lights on, we cruise through the intersection of Mt. Pleasant & Chalkstone with only the slightest hesitation. The chauffeur has slowed enough to see that traffic has stopped in all directions, but we didn’t come to a complete stop – another violation. (Rule #5) As we approach the scene of the fire I can plainly see the heavy black smoke, “Engine 15 to Fire Alarm, we have a smoke condition”. When we turn onto Victoria Street I can see heavy flames leaping from the first floor front windows and a large crowd in front of the building waving at us franticly. I pick up the radio and transmit; “Engine 15 to Fire Alarm, Code Red, 3-story, wood-frame, occupied, heavy fire showing first floor, Side 1”. This is an incomplete initial size-up transmission by departmental policy. (Rule #6) I should also state the presence or absence of any exposures (other buildings nearby which may be endangered), color of smoke, whereabouts of occupants, and more. Being on a 3-man engine company I don’t have the time to properly size-up the full fire scene upon arrival or spend too much time talking on the radio, because I need to head to the back of the truck and help with getting the attack hoseline off the truck and into position. (Note: with a 4-man engine company [the NFPA minimum standard], the 3rd firefighter would do this work)

As the chauffeur sets up the pump so that we can use the 550 gallons of water we carry in our tank, the two of us head to the back door of the first floor apartment. We enter. This is a direct breech of departmental policy as well as being against National Fire Protection Agency guidelines and, as such, an OSHA violation. The recognized standard is called the “2-in; 2-out rule”. Simply stated, this means that no fewer than two members shall ever enter a potentially dangerous environment, and then “only” when there are at least two members on the scene outside the building ready to be deployed for rescue in the event the firefighters inside become trapped or injured. (Rule #7) We enter the apartment from the rear door and begin to make our way to the front room where the bulk of the fire is located. We quickly search the apartment as we crawl toward the fire. Our air masks are not on our faces yet. This is a direct violation of policy. (Rule #8) If we put our masks on as soon as we enter the building, as is called for by policy, we will use up our air supply too soon to be able to adequately extinguish the fire. We will also be unable to easily spot any victims we may encounter along the way due to the extreme limitations to visibility these masks put on us. (Visibility in a smoky environment with face masks on can be as little as an inch in front of your face)

As we get to the hallway leading to the front room the smoke is banking down from the ceiling and getting thicker. We stop and don our face masks. Just before I put on my mask I call for water, “Engine 15, charge our line”. (Note: when I call for water over the radio, the Chief in charge of the fire can plainly hear that I do not have my mask on, but says nothing) As we await the water we can hear the air being pushed through the hoseline in front of the oncoming water – then it goes quiet, and only a minimal stream of water reaches the nozzle. This means that there is a kink in the hoseline somewhere behind us. I tell the nozzle-man to “stay put” as I head back to the rear door to pull the hoseline out of the stairway entrance to clear any kinks. This is a clear violation of policy – leaving a member alone in a fire building. (Rule #9) (Note: Again, with a 4-man engine company, the 3rd firefighter would do this work)

The water begins to flow freely and I head back to my firefighter. I tap him on the shoulder and we begin to attack the fire and advance into the room. Once the fire is knocked down and the smoke lessens we take our masks off once again. (Rule #10) By now we are almost out of air anyway. We remove our masks so that we may better view the fire area while scanning for hot spots and smoldering debris. We also initiate a secondary (more complete) search of the first floor apartment. (Note: once again I contact the Chief, either via radio or by yelling out the window, and notify him that the secondary search was negative. Once again he can clearly see that I have no mask on, but says nothing.)

I send out my firefighter once the hoseline is shut off and drained so that he can begin to pack it back on the truck – with help from other firefighters on the scene. I remain in the building with the arson investigator to assist him by giving him information on where the fire was located upon our arrival and various other information from the early stages of the fire that could be useful to his investigation.

I head outside to take a break and the dispatcher at Fire Alarm is asking the Chief if any of the companies on the scene are clearing because he has a report of another house fire in our first-in district. I check to see if our hose is all re-packed on the truck, it is. “Chief, we’re all packed up, we can take it”, I call to the Chief. “OK”, he says, and we head for another possible fire. This is another violation of departmental policy and NFPA guidelines, as we had no rehab time after the initial fire. (Rule #11)

This type of situation is a very common occurrence in the Providence Fire Department. This is why I state that the policies in place are there merely to cover the department and the city from any liability if something goes wrong. PFD Chiefs expect that we do the job exactly as I’ve described it here. They will not state this for the record, however, because it is clearly impossible for any fire company to do the job as effectively as possible and still follow all the rules the department has set forth. It is impossible to do “any aspect” of first-in firefighting effectively with a 3-man company. This fact is well known in fire-service circles, and as such is very familiar to our Chief of Department – Chief Farrell.

That is why the article in today’s Providence Journal (Jan 15, 2008) is such a farce. For Chief Farrell to state that reducing the number of men of engine and ladder companies to 3 men would not be a safety issue for the firefighters or for the general public is a lie – and a disgrace. He argued that 4-men companies were much more effective and much safer (very effectively, I might add) when he was the President of Local 799. How can he now justify his new position on this issue? The only difference now is that he doesn’t ever have to ride a truck again and put his life on the line.

Lt. Tom Kenney
Providence Fire Department