A technician who worked for the North Providence Fire Department will soon be collecting a firefighters pension. The worker was injured on the job in 2006, and had been collecting the same benefits as that of an injured firefighter, until Mayor Lombardi stepped in. Seven years later, the dispute between the town and the firefighters union may be over.
North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi was so against the technician collecting the same benefits as a firefighter, that he brought the dispute all the way to the State Supreme Court. A ruling just came down in favor of the firefighters union, stating that the benefits of the communications worker are his, because they're in his contract.
"That's why the State of Rhode Island is where it is because we have to put up with this type of nonsense," argued Mayor Charles Lombardi.
Lombardi calls the State Supreme Court ruling nonsense.
He says, "a mechanic who drops a wrench on his toe, do you treat that mechanic the same way you treat a firefighter that ran into a burning building and maybe with a flashback got blown out the door?"
John Silva, Union President for North Providence Firefighters, says yes you do, because it's in his contract.
"That's all we're asking in this case is that the law be followed and the contract be followed," said Silva.
In 2001, Everett McCain was hired as a "Firefighter 3rd class, with the communications department." McCain was put under the same contract as the men and woman who put on the uniform and risk their lives fighting fires. He was injured on the job in 2006 when he hit his head on a bucket truck and began collecting the same benefits a firefighter would if he or she were injured.
Lombardi says, "if you look up a firefighter in the dictionary it tells you what a firefighter is and what he or she does."
While Silva agrees to a point, he says laws have to be followed.
"He may not be entering a burning building like firefighters do but he falls into our contract and he has the same rights as the firefighters do according to our contract and to state law," said Silva.
Silva says he'd like to rework the contracts to get a separate clause for non-firefighters. As for McCain, he made nearly 45 thousand as a technician for the fire department, and with his pension, he'll be making 38 thousand a year.