September 28, 2007

Bob Kerr on the Providence Firefighters' Union and the Statewide Disaster Drill

Carroll Andrew Morse

When you manage to get David Cicilline and Don Carcieri and Bob Kerr and Gio Cicione all aligned against an action you're taking, it's time to consider that you might be doing the wrong thing. Bob Kerr says it best in today's Projo, talking about the Providence Firefighters' Union plan to use a picket line to impede Saturday's statewide disaster drill...

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — you can earn a year’s pay in one horrible night.

But don’t do this. Don’t put a lasting stain on a fine tradition. Don’t let this showdown with the city lead you to do something that insults the very thing you’re supposed to stand for.

If you do this, if you use the picket line to screw up a statewide terrorism drill, you lose. You lose credibility and respect and professional standing. You come across as petty and arrogant, even childish. You are having a snit, and your snit is dangerous....

This one is going to stick to the firefighters union for a long time. It will be cited as an example of a union that lost its way and let long-standing grievances lead to a dumb and dangerous slap at the city union members are supposed to protect. It is a gift to anyone who sits on the other side of the bargaining table.

It is also an insult to hundreds of people who are very good at what they do.

From now on, perhaps, union meetings can open with a prayer, a prayer that a real attack similar to the one acted out on Sunday never happens.

And while heads are bowed, perhaps an added heavenly plea would be in order — that no one dies for lack of proper preparation.

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Fellows, be bigger than the situation. Participating in this exercise will buy you some goodwill, and nip this kind of criticism in the bud. Nothing good can come out of this rigid stance.
You can always resume giving Little Chi Chi hell Monday.

Posted by: rhody at September 28, 2007 11:14 AM

Besides the bad press the firefighters have received, a case can be made that if a disaster occurs and firefighters do not respond properly, the union would be liable to victims' families.

Posted by: Anthony at September 28, 2007 12:02 PM

Well that would be quite a lawsuit, especially if that disaster happened OUTSIDE of Providence. The local firefighters would be on the hook as well as the Providence fire union and Doughty personally.

Posted by: Greg at September 28, 2007 12:28 PM

the stupidity of the union has no bounds... why not LEAD the whole drill and get public sentment on YOUR side rahter than getting people to dislike you.

Posted by: johnpaycheck at September 29, 2007 3:16 AM

Here's my rampant speculation about how we got here, after watching a few days of this unfold: a combination of having to deal on a regular basis with the Cicilline administration and with segments of the population who are sometimes less grateful than they should be about what rescue crews do for them (e.g. drunken wastrels) caused Doughty to lose sight of how seriously the great majority of the regular citizenry take training and disaster preparation to be.

Posted by: Andrew at September 29, 2007 11:22 AM
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