Blogs | Sandy Seoane

The difference one word makes

A story regarding a proposal to fill vacancies on the Woonsocket Fire Department with “on call” employees has taken on a life of its own, thanks, in part, to a misinterpretation of an article I penned for the September 26 edition.

It is true that the Woonsocket Budget Commission passed an enactment that is slated to change how the city hires employees for the job. The Breeze was the only media present at the meeting where the enactment was passed last week.

Later accounts of the situation, however, falsely claimed that the firefighters would be on call “volunteers,” a detail never mentioned as part of the Commission's plan. News sources from WPRI to Reuters repeated the inaccurate claim without verifying it with city officials.

Mayor Leo Fontaine further explained the role of the on call employees to The Breeze this week, saying they will be hired and trained just like regular members of the fire department, and, of course, paid, but will not immediately receive a full time position with benefits. The group, rather, will be called in as needed to fight fires alongside members of the understaffed department. They will be pulled from the same list of potential employees that previously would have qualified for the job.

The move, he says, was directed at cutting down on overtime costs without authorizing additional hires.

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