Liquidation of Central Coventry Fire District on hold for now - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather


Liquidation of Central Coventry Fire District on hold for now

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by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis

The Central Coventry Fire Department will keep responding to calls, but no one is certain for much longer.

In court Friday, Judge Brian Stern declined to liquidate the bankrupt department – yet - because there is no emergency plan to replace it.

Residents are worried.

"I don't have the confidence that there is going to be an adequate response time and people are probably going to start feeling the same way and start driving themselves to the hospital," said Coventry homeowner Marie Fisher.

Neighboring departments might cover temporarily if Central Coventry closes, but experts told the court that's not a long term strategy.

"Well I approached it from an immediate liquidation, because that's what I understood the hearing to be about. It'd be disastrous. It'd be disastrous," said Central Coventry Fire Chief Andrew Baynes.

ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, "The district continues to have money problems. In fact, about one–fourth of all homeowners are now refusing to pay their fire taxes."

So, the judge ordered all homeowners to pay their taxes or face court hearings and possible seizure of their property.

"As I indicated almost a year ago, this court does not have the authority to print money," said Superior Court Judge Brian Stern.

For now the district will explore hiring private ambulances and contracting with other fire departments.

"We're looking at what our options are in terms of contracted services, other type of call–pay, volunteer type paradigms," said CCFD Board Attorney David D'Agostino.

Right now the fire department only has enough cash to operate about three more weeks.


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