I-Team: Unrealized regional dispatch system to cost taxpayers

An NBC 10 I-Team investigation shows that missteps in setting up a regionalized fire dispatch system between Warwick and East Greenwich is going to cost East Greenwich taxpayers $54,000.

Two years ago, officials in both municipalities proposed to regionalize fire dispatch services, which would have had Warwick taking on the fire dispatch duties of East Greenwich.

But according to East Greenwich Fire Chief Peter Henrikson, Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian delayed for too long implementation of the idea.

"We had numerous meetings with Warwick officials," Henrikson said. "I met with Mayor Avedisian in December. He was supposed to get back to me, but he never did."

Henrikson said two weeks ago, the Board of Fire Commissioners in East Greenwich voted to put an end to the proposal.

But East Greenwich had purchased and installed two microwave dishes that would have been used as a backup system had the regionalization plan gone forward. They cost $54,000. Taxpayers are stuck with the bill.

"We're going to hire a radio consultant, and try to sell the dishes," Henrikson said.

Avedisian said while he was at first in favor of the plan, a new fire chief was appointed, and he, according to the mayor, wanted time to analyze the need for regionalizing fire dispatch.

Warwick Fire Chief Edmund Armstrong told the I-Team that he felt regionalizing fire dispatch at this time wasn't necessary.

"We looked at the plan, and we had already updated our communications system. It wasn't something that I thought we needed right now," Armstrong said.

The I-Team talked with two sources familiar with the regionalization of fire dispatch, and they said it was the Warwick firefighters' union that was not happy with the plan.

"I know that was an issue in their recent contract negotiations," Armstrong said, "but I don't think the union had anything to do with killing the idea."