Town Council Chambers was lined by East Greenwich firefighters in dress uniform Monday night, including the EGFD Color Guard, as Bernard Patenaude was sworn in as fire chief. Patenaude started on the job April 1. He started his fire career as a volunteer in East Greenwich before spending 40 years in Cranston.
“Tonight the Town of East Greenwich and the East Greenwich Fire Department had the honor of swearing in Bernard Patenaude as Chief of the Fire Department. We are looking forward to serving under Chief Patenaude’s Command. Welcome aboard, Chief!” said the EG firefighters union (@IAFFLocal3328) on Twitter after the swearing in. It was a show of support for the new chief after 17 months without a permanent chief.
The union had been decidedly unhappy when former chief Russ McGillivray was fired in November 2017, replaced by two interim chiefs from out of state. Relations between the town and the firefighters had been frosty and litigious under Town Manager Gayle Corrigan with several lawsuits filed between the union and individual firefighters and the town). Corrigan was ousted by the new Town Council elected in November.
In recent months, town officials and the union have been negotiating a new contract (their contract expires June 30) under less contentious circumstances, according to Council President Mark Schwager.
The Town Council also commended Fire Capt. Tom Mears, who served as in-house acting chief from November through March.