Something in the water? 13 Smithfield Fire children start kindergarten

Something in the water? 13 Smithfield Fire children start kindergarten

Eleven Smithfield firefighters not only share a profession, but also a milestone as parents – they all have children beginning kindergarten this year. Twelve of the 13 children are pictured here, standing in front of Fire Station 1, at 607 Putnam Pike, on Labor Day. Back row, from left, are Zachary Hopkins, Charlie Garrett, Ben Keene, Connor Cote, Harley Dougherty, Cole Estrella, Bobby Smith, Amelia Quattrini and Matteo Quattrini. Front row, from left, are Olivia Turcotte, Ethan Fusaro and Aydan Fusaro. Not pictured is Adrianna Renzi. (Breeze photo by Jackie Roman)

SMITHFIELD – Firefighters already share a bond close to kinship, but the Smithfield Fire Department is bound by an uncanny coincidence: 13 children of the department are all starting kindergarten this year, including two sets of twins.

Eleven firefighters, out of the 59 members in the department, will walk hand in hand through parenting as their children begin formal education together.

Firefighters Dan Hopkins, Craig Garrett, Chris Keene, Eric Cote, Joe Dougherty, Tom Estrella, Bob Smith, Eddie Quattrini, Justin Turcotte, Chris Fusaro, and Robert Renzi all have children beginning kindergarten.

Eight children will attend kindergarten in Smithfield, attending William Winsor Elementary School and Old County Road Elementary School.

The other children live outside of Smithfield, while their fathers serve the town’s fire department.

The department parents chalk up the timing to the old adage, “there must have been something in the water.”

“I think we would always say to each other, ‘When are you going to have the next one?’” said Stephanie Dougherty, who has four children with Lt. Joe Dougherty.

Stephanie said the children often see each other at department holiday parties and gatherings.

“It’s like a big family,” she said.

Her husband, Joe, said it can still be tough balancing family with his busy schedule as a firefighter.

“There’s no guaranteed weekend or holiday,” he said. “It can be difficult.”

Especially in instances where the fire department responds to cases involving children, Joe said he is confronted with his own concerns as a parent.

“It just brings things into perspective.”

But with so many other parents in the department, it’s not hard to find understanding and support, he says.

“We have a tight bond between families since we live the same lifestyle.”

Deputy Chief John Sutherland said firefighters can sometimes spend more time at the station than with their family, but a system of camaraderie keeps spirits high.

“It’s not a business, it’s a lifestyle,” he said.

Because of that, Sutherland said family is valued in every department. His own children still refer to Sutherland’s colleagues as uncles.

“It’s a family oriented department,” Sutherland said.