Rhode Island acting fire chief to quit, blames 'toxic' politics

  • Source: providence journal
  • Published: 09/23/2015 12:00 AM

Citing what he called the “toxic political environment” in the bankrupt Central Coventry Fire District, the district’s acting chief said Tuesday he was resigning, effective Sept. 30. Shawn Murray, a former fire chief in New Hampshire and ex-director of the Massachusetts Fire Academy, said last week’s decision by the state to abandon its efforts to implement a financial reorganization of the bankrupt fire district, a plan he called “a roadmap to the future sustainability” of the district, was the reason for his resignation. “The viability of the Central Coventry Fire District is blinded by the politics played out daily and has created an imminent public safety crisis,” he wrote in a two-page letter to the fire district board. “Despite my best efforts, professionally and ethically, I cannot continue to work in a hostile and negative environment and attempt to salvage this potentially viable organization.” Murray was brought in Jan. 5, 2015, to run the troubled district that had been put under the control of a state receiver, the state-law equivalent of bankruptcy, in an effort to reorganize its finances. The receiver, retired judge and former Central Falls receiver Mark A. Pfeiffer, came up with a plan that he said would produce about $14 million in savings over five years. But the plan included tax increases and maintaining the district’s firefighters union contract, and the district’s board has insisted it wants to discard that contract in order to explore running the department with fewer full-time firefighters, more volunteers and outsourced services.


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