BURRILLVILLE – More than two dozen volunteers, many of whom have been serving the village for years, have resigned from the Nasonville Fire District.
In a letter dated Tuesday, Oct. 9, Nasonville Fire District Social Company President Alex Rivet states that every member of the company of some 27 volunteers made the decision following recent actions taken by the district’s governing board.
Speaking with NRI NOW the following morning, Chairman of the Nasonville Fire District Operating Committee Gerry Lapierre vowed that the district will rebuild.
The resignation of the entire volunteer force is the latest news in what has been a contentious process of change in the small village.
On Thursday, Sept.27, residents voted 62-20 to effectively disband the fore company’s union staff, terminating 13 paid firefighters. The vote was presented as a one of two “budget options” that saw resident tax bills either increasing by 70 percent, or decreasing by 30 percent.
Days later, the operating committee voted to terminate Chief Joseph Bourquin, who had led the department for the past three years, and had just signed a two-year contract.
“You have shown us your decision making and conduct leading to complete loss in integrity, distrust by our members and has created an unsafe and dangerous work condition for our members,” wrote Rivet. “You have stripped us of our certified leadership and left us with nothing but ourselves to operate with little to no oversight or protection.”
Rivet noted that staff in Nasonville now includes no EMS coordinator, no training officer, no safety officer, and no lieutenants, captain or chief.
Three volunteers met with NRI NOW earlier this week to discuss how the board’s actions had affected operations in the department – one of four independent fire districts in Burrillville. The group noted that the district has a 78-year history, and that they had been given no instruction or leadership in how to operate following the changes.
The committee did begin devising a plan to move forward at a meeting Tuesday evening, voting to appoint two liaisons to the district, Oakland Mapleville Fire District Capt. Troy Phillips and Ron Lapierre, a former deputy chief and current tax collector in Nasonville. Board chairman Lapierre noted that the pair has a combined 50 plus years of service.
The chairman called the news of the volunteers’ resignation “unfortunate.”
“The plan was always to use the volunteers as often as possible, of course,” said Lapierre. “The most important reason for joining is to serve your community in its hour of need it’s unfortunate that these men and women chose not to do it.”
He said that liaison Lapierre has put together a list of people who may be willing to serve in their place.
“We will rebuild,” Gerry Lapierre said. “We’re going to start a recruitment drive and we’re talking about having an open house soon.”
The chairman emphasized that the change was the voters’ decision.
“We’re grateful that our sister district next door and the rest of the fire districts have agreed to help us,” he said.
The resignation letter is posted in its entirety below.
To: Nasonville Fire District Board
From: Nasonville Volunteer Fire Firefighters Re: Letters of Resignation
Board members, it is with profound sadness and heavy heart, that we the Volunteer Fire fighters of Nasonville Station #3, rendered our official letter of resignation. This letter was free adopted and agreed upon by every member of our company after several meetings and open discussions in regards to the recent actions taken by you in regards to the termination of our chief and our paid department. You have shown us your decision making and conduct leading to complete loss in integrity, distrust by our members and has created an unsafe and dangerous work condition for our members. You have stripped us of our certified leadership and left us with nothing but ourselves to operate with little to no oversight or protection. We now have no EMS Coordinator, no Training Officer, no Safety Officer, no Lieutenants, Captain, or Chief. We had approximately 27 volunteers to answer emergency calls, of the 27 volunteers, only 7 are totally qualified to respond to a fire, of those 7 only 4 are qualified and knowledgeable enough to operate the apparatus. The recent change also cause the department to go from approximately 20 qualified EMT-B/EMT-C’s/EMT-P to 3 EMT-B’s to operate Medic 3. Medic 3 is a classified as an ALS rescue, and we potentially risk losing the ALS status.
In closing, your actions have caused a major safety concern for the department and citizens of Nasonville Village who voted you in. We feel the safety of the members of this department is not in your best interest and we do not trust your word. We regret coming to this conclusion, but we feel we have no alternative. We feel great sadness and hope the safety of the public will be in your interest in the future and will be sad to see the fall of 78 years of history at Nasonville fire department.
Nasonville Fire District social company president
Alex J Rivet