By Mark Reynolds
The Providence Journal
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A leaked Fire Department report about injuries suffered by firefighters at the scene of a destructive wind-driven fire near the Providence College campus on March 31 is incomplete and draws political conclusions, Public Safety Commissioner Steven M. Paré said Thursday night.
Paré commented on the 45-page report after it was posted on WPRI.com, saying he had sent the document back to the chiefs earlier Thursday because it fails to provide sufficient specifics on exactly how 14 firefighters were injured at the scene on Eaton Street.
The report's recommendations focus heavily on unfilled command positions in the department, including the position of chief. It also calls for returning to a previous schedule and organizational configuration that had allowed firefighters to get more rest between their workweeks.
"Not having a permanent chief of the Fire Department has nothing to do with injuries on Eaton Street," he said, adding that the recommendation is "political rhetoric that doesn't belong in an after-action report."
Paré called for the report after the fire. It was written by Battalion Chief Kenneth Rainone and two acting battalion chiefs, Stephen Capricotta and Kevin Jutras.
The report copiously identifies the injuries suffered by the 14 firefighters, including the treatment of 4 of them for cyanide poisoning.
It does not specify the circumstances of each injury. It does say a fire captain who was hospitalized for cyanide poisoning acknowledged he had felt it was "safe" for firefighters to conserve their air supply by removing their air masks at one point during their work inside a building at the scene.
Firefighters' compliance with existing policies for use of their breathing gear needs to be reviewed, said Pare, who questions the necessity for any firefighter to risk direct exposure to potentially dangerous smoke after it's clear that no one needs to be rescued from a burning structure.
Paul Doughty, president of the firefighters union, questions Paré's credentials for such judgments. He said firefighters had to risk exposure to hold their positions and keep the fire from burning "all the way to Route 146."
(c)2016 The Providence Journal (Providence, R.I.)