Budget Commission approves hiring of new firefighters for East Providence


EAST PROVIDENCE — The understaffed East Providence Fire Department will get a shot in the arm following a decision by the East Providence Budget Commission to approve the hiring of a dozen new firefighters over the next year. The Commission made the decision at its meeting Thursday, June 27, at City Hall.

The 12 probationary hires would bring the department close to full employment levels and help end a long practice of paying current firefighters significant amounts of overtime.

"This is the first step in a long process," Acting EPFD Chief Oscar Elmasian said after the meeting. "We hope to fill 12 spots. We're going to start with a recruitment process. Then there's applications. The recruits will have to take a written test. They'll be an oral interview and background checks. Those we accept will then have to go through the (fire training) city school for between 13 and 16 weeks. It's a long process."

The funds to pay for the hires would come from the savings the department would get from the reduction in overtime pay as well as potential Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants from the federal government.

Chief Elmasian said he hopes he, City Manager Peter Graczykowski and City Human Resources Director Kathleen Waterbury can begin the recruitment process by the fall. The official hiring process is likely to begin by Jan. 1, 2014 with actual deployment to active duty by May 1, 2014.

Another fire department matter determined Thursday by the Commission was the approval of Wendy Michalski as the new administrative aide to the chief. Ms. Michalski, a current city employee, was deemed the top candidate for the position following an "internal examination process." She moves from the building and zoning office to the fire department.

More meeting notes

Ms. Michalski's transfer creates an opening for a building inspections clerk. The Commission Thursday approved the posting of the position.

Current Finance Department employee Kim Brown was approved to fill the position of Junior Accountant under Director Malcolm Moore. Ms. Brown received the top score of 92.33 percent based on interview, seniority and residency components. The position comes with a fiscal year salary of $75,543 for 2014, $78,173 for 2015, $80,528 for 2016 and $83,711 for 2017.

Also of note Thursday, the Commission granted Ms. Waterbury and Mr. Graczykowski the conditional authority to fill the seasonal positions needed for the East Providence Recreation Department to run its summer program.

About 20 counselors are expected to be hired. However, that number could be lower because the hires are made on a proportional basis to the number of children enrolled in the program, which has a maximum of 200.

Mr. Moore announced the city's cash flow is stable and that the city is current with all its bills.

Finally, the next meeting of the East Providence Budget Commission was scheduled for Thursday, July 18, in Room 306 of City Hall at 3 p.m.


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.