Donation will help fund fitness room at safety complex, keep first responders in shape

Donation will help fund fitness room at safety complex, keep first responders in shape

Town officials receive a pair of $1,000 checks from Joe Terino, of the 100 Club of Rhode Island, last Thursday. The money will go toward equipment a fitness center at the town’s new public safety complex. From left are Lt. Thomas Jones, Deputy Chief Arthur Martins, Chief David Tikoian, Mayor Charles Lombardi, JOE Terino, Fire Chief John Silva, and Battalion Chief William Calabro.

NORTH PROVIDENCE – A pair of $1,000 checks from the 100 Club of Rhode Island will help outfit a fitness center at the new North Providence Public Safety Complex, providing a much-needed workout space for town police and firefighters.

Police Chief David Tikoian said he has a longstanding relationship with the club through his previous work with the Rhode Island State Police. About three months ago, 100 Club Vice President Joe Terino Jr. called to inform him that the group had started an initiative involving $1,000 donations to police departments that have built new stations.

The donation was intended to sponsor the lobby area of the new safety complex, but considering the fact that the lobby was already completed, Tikoian asked Terino about the funds being used to purchase equipment to outfit the center’s fitness room, and Terino responded that that would be perfectly acceptable.

“I’d like to thank Mr. Terino and the leadership of the 100 Club of Rhode Island for the generous donation, which will be used to keep our first responders healthy and in shape, physically and mentally, with the purchase of fitness equipment for our new fitness center,” he said.

With the State Police, said Tikoian, there has always been a huge emphasis on physical and mental fitness. Though fitness centers were usually in a garage or gym, there was always time afforded for working out.

The building design for the new safety complex was already done when he came on as North Providence’s chief, said Tikoian, but he was able to move a doorway in the hallway to allow it to be accessible to both police and firefighters in a common area accessible in the back hallway with the training room. Those are two areas where police and emergency responders should intersect, he said. Just as in the recent active shooter simulation at the high school, he wants police and fire personnel to train together and get to know each other well in this “real nexus to public safety.”

The gym equipment was originally part of the furniture and equipment package for the safety complex, said Tikoian, but he pulled it out. He said he felt that with the architect recommending “A, B, C and D,” there was no guarantee that the facility would get the optimal equipment. The gym equipment was important to him, he said, but not at the top of the list.

Instead of following that formula from experts on buildings, Tikoian commissioned an ad hoc committee made up of public safety employees who are into fitness to research the best kind of equipment for those in these professions. Perhaps, for example, there should be more cardio equipment than weights.

That committee has met with a number of fitness companies and will bring back several proposals and a “list of equipment optimal for the profession” back for a review in the coming days. The purchase of the equipment will go through Purchasing Agent Michael Mooney so there will be no markup on price. If the process takes two months, so be it, said Tikoian, as the room will have the right equipment at the right price.

Last Thursday, Aug. 15, the 100 Club presented the two checks to police and fire officials.

“Since the fitness room would be utilized by both police and fire first responders, I spoke with Chief (John) Silva from the Fire Department about combining the funds, dedicating $2,000 toward the purchase of fitness equipment for the room, essentially getting a better value both fiscally and physically for our first responders,” said Tikoian. “Chief Silva thought that was a great idea and we agreed to pool the two donations together, benefitting both agencies.”

The department is considering other funding initiatives to raise the approximately $15,000 needed to properly outfit the fitness room.

To date, police departments in Smithfield and Cumberland have received donations from the 100 Club, with Portsmouth and Scituate departments scheduled to receive donations upon completion of their new stations.

The 100 Club does great work, supporting first responders and their families not only in their darkest hours after a loss of life, but also on proud occasions with scholarships awarded to children of first responders entering college, said Tikoian.

For more on the 100 Club, visit www.100ClubRI.com .