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East Providence Fire Department Chief Klucznik submits resignation

By   /   December 21, 2012  /   2 Comments

EAST PROVIDENCE — In a phone conversation Friday afternoon, Dec. 21, East Providence Fire Department Chief Joseph Klucznik confirmed he has submitted his resignation papers and will relinquish his position as of Dec. 30, 2012.

Photo courtesy EPFD

EPFD Chief Joseph Klucznik

“I had no choice,” Chief Klucznik said. “I’m finally doing what’s best for me and my family.”

Chief Klucznik cited outstanding contract issues pertaining to his current compensation, his pension and medical coverage as the reasons why he chose to leave his post, which he has held for the last six-and-a-half years. Chief Klucznik has been a member of the EPFD for just under 26 years. He submitted his resignation to City Manager Peter Graczykowski during a break in the Dec. 18 City Council meeting at City Hall.

“My back was to the wall. I basically had to decide whether to retire or not,” Chief Klucznik said. “There were possible changes coming with my contract, my pension and benefits. A decision needed to made by the end of the year.”

As it stands, Chief Klucznik will cede command of the department as of 4 p.m. Dec. 30. Who takes over as interim chief is to be determined. Currently, the department has no designated second in command. Among the likely candidates are the four battalion chiefs and group of captains. Chief Klucznik said he was unaware of the line of succession.

The chief was aware of the emotional toll the decision made on him personally.

“I feel like my heart is being ripped away from the East Providence Fire Department,” he said.

“It’s definitely bittersweet, but for the first time in my professional life I’m putting my family first,” he continued. “We have a state-of-the-art training facility going up and we have the station renovations going on. I feel like I’m abandoning the department, but I really didn’t have a choice.”

Chief Klucznik said, regrettably, in the past he’s chosen his duties over his family. His first wife, Emily, battled serious health issues before passing away. During that time, he tried to balance work with family, including his then two teen-aged children.

Upon remarriage, the chief said he again fell into the rut of work and home, finding he was devoting too much of his energy towards his job and neglecting his relationship with his new wife.

“I haven’t had dinner with my wife in months,” Chief Klucznik said. “This is the lady who picked me up from the lowest point in my life. I didn’t have a life. Karen saved my life.”

Facing long-standing contractual issues that hadn’t been addressed, the chief ultimately determined he would make the decision about his status rather than having someone else do it for him.

“The time has come for me to leave,” Chief Klucznik concluded. “That’s why I’m bowing out now.”

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2 Comments

  1. David_P says:

    I hope the council is taking a good hard look at why all of our top administrators on both the school and city keep leaving. He is now the second department head to publically state they are being forced out (Recreation Director was the other). The word on the street (aka bagel zone) is that if the top administrators were not the professionals they are that they would have already taken a vote of ‘no confidence’ in our city manager. Let’s not forget how far down the list they had to go for a pick that had no experience running a city this size – easy to walk over. Rumor is that this will not be the last administrator about to move on. The next question is if we can’t keep long term dedicated employees then what kind of quality are we getting with the budget commissions lower salary range? I’d like to thank the Chief for his dedicated commitment to the residents and firefighters of this city. Your sudden departure will hopefully open some eyes and not be in vain.

  2. bjd21 says:

    David P……You hit the nail right on the head. You make a decision to retire because without doing so….there would be no income. All systems are crumbling in East Providence and no one can pick up the torch to lead us to recovery. Balancing the budget on the backs of employees and children is not recovery. It is sabotage. Most people left because they recognized a failing system and had somewhere to go. Unfortunately, I did not. I didn’t have enough time to look elsewhere when I found out my job was being eliminated because of the budget. Instead, they keep the people who are doing the most damage. So, like the Fire Chief, “My back was to the wall. I basically had to decide whether to retire or not.” Same here. The Budget Commission took the easy way out by eliminating people and not replacing administrators. They could have looked to selling some property like they are considering now. You can’t have any operation run without the appropriate people. The only quality in the school department are the employees who struggle every day to create an environment for learning in the classroom. The Central Administration leaders are destroying that quality. Three schools are on the chopping block, Oldham, Hennessey, and Whiteknact. Which one will actually close? Any bets? Possibly Whiteknact…..someone has been trying to destroy the program for our most challenged students…….for personal reasons. Let’s see who the new Superintendent will be. RIDE is recommending someone who was fired from Cumberland. Same MO…….hire people who were fired. As far as I can remember….this would be the third person…..then we end up paying them off when we want them to leave. Go to the next school committee meeting………..for many reasons. This will be copied and given to the powers that be as all my statements are…..but at least I get the message out. I spent many years in the school system to just walk away from the destruction…..I am hoping for things to change soon because every teacher I speak to tells me, “The kids are the ones who suffer from these decisions.” Good luck everyone and good luck to the Fire Chief. In time, you will realize that you made the right decision. Someone once told me after she retired, “There is life after East Providence.” I never forgot that even though it was quite a few years ago. So Chief Klucznik………..here’s to LIFE!

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