Pawtucket Fire Department welcomes 21 new firefighters

Pawtucket Fire Department welcomes 21 new firefighters

PAWTUCKET - The Pawtucket Fire Department welcomed 21 new graduates of the Municipal Fire Academy in a ceremony last Friday at Le Foyer Club on Fountain Street.

The new firefighters sworn in to their duties are: Seth W. Barber, Mark E. Bushy, Daniel P. Detour, Ryan C. Ferreira, Sean J. Gannon, Milton P. Giard III, Thomas J. Koch, Sean P. Lambert, David R. Lavergne, Noah F. LeBlanc, Alexander D. Marshall, Brendan M. McCarthy, Derek T. McGarry, Michael J. McMahon, Kurt T. Mercer, William V. Murray, Terrence J. O'Neill, Tiffany G. Pacheco, Christopher M. Parent, Michael R. Vance, and Paul R. Vollaro Jr.

The event was attended by a number of dignitaries, including U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, who was instrumental in securing a federal grant allowing the department to increase its force to 146 firefighters. Many family members and friends, as well as numerous firefighters from Pawtucket and other departments, also attended.

Fire Capt. Robert Thurber, who was instructor coordinator for the recruit class, served as emcee. Other remarks were given by firefighter Tiffany Pacheco, chosen by her peers as president of this year's recruit class, along with Reed, Mayor Don Grebien, Attorney Gen. Peter Kilmartin, Fire Chief William Sisson, and Public Safety Director Antonio Pires.

Federal officials, led by Reed, announced in February that Pawtucket would be receiving $4.2 million in grant funding to pay the salaries and benefits of 21 firefighters over two years. The 20 men and one woman will bring the total number of city firefighters to 151.

The city received 138 applications for the 21 positions, according to Grebien.

Grebien previously told The Breeze that the two years of funds for 21 firefighters will provide adequate time to evaluate the cost of adding firefighters against the anticipated savings from lower overtime costs, which have soared above $2 million a year the past few years. Other aspects of the department are also subject to change over the next two years as officials implement various recommendations contained in the city's fire needs study.

Unlike previous grants, city officials are only obligated to keep the firefighters for the duration of the grant. The city could save money by continuing to implement the "attrition model," allowing positions to stay vacant.

Just because the grant funding might run out in two years doesn't mean that it will be some or all of those 21 new hires that will be laid off if the city can't afford to keep them after the second year, said Grebien. Even though their salaries will be paid for through grants, these firefighters will be exactly like anyone else in the department. As new men and women join the department over the next two years, they'll move up the seniority ranks just like anyone else.