Southern League Honors Rep. Tina Spears at Annual Legislator’s Night
By Secretary Christopher Koretski
January 23, 2024

The Rhode Island Southern Firefighters League held it's annual Legislator’s Night on Monday January 22 at Haversham in Westerly. Over 35 members of our local Fire, EMS agencies, and EMA partners attended. Guests also included: RI Fire Academy Director Marc Pare, Rhode Island Association of Fire Chiefs President Bob Bradley and Executive Director Rick Susi, RI DEM Chief Ken Ayers, and RI Department of Health’s Chief of EMS Jason Rhodes.

Legislative guests included: Rep. Sam Azzinaro, Rep. Kathleen Fogarty, Rep. Tina Spears, Rep. Megan Cotter, Sen. Victoria Gu, and Senator Elaine Morgan. Each spoke in support of our region’s first responders and committed their support to the issues brought forth for the night.

Speakers included Exeter #1 Fire Chief Scott Gavitt and DEM Chief Ken Ayers along with Rep. Cortter on Forestry following the wild land fires last spring. Charlestown Rescue’s Chief Andrew Kettle and Chief Jason Rhodes on EMS topics along with Medicare reimbursements. Chief Tom Reed, Vice President of the League and Fire Chief in Kingston spoke on regulations related to the PUC and fire hydrant usage fees. Chief Scott Partington of Narragansett spoke to the funding request of the Narragansett Bay Marine Task Force for continued operations of the State’s fire boats. He also addressed a bill related to vaccine mandates for health care providers. Chief Don Rathbone of the Charlestown Fire District spoke on apparatus inspection stickers and how current legislative changes will affect our Departments with limited staffing. Finally, Assistant Chief Christopher Koretski of Watch Hill spoke about a rule change to allow the Governor to lower flags to half staff in the State upon the death of a public safety professional. Each topic was elaborated on with passion to make our services better for our communities.

To round out the event, Chief Andrew Kettle, the League’s Board Treasurer presented the 2024 Legislator of the Year award to State Representative Tina Spears. Rep. Spears is a Democrat representing District 36 including parts of Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly, and Block Island. She was elected in November of 2022. Even being new to Smith Hill, she made big impacts for us over the last year. Helping to increase the EMS reimbursement rates for ambulance services, her efforts are assisting to make a greater return to our transporting ambulance agencies. She also has continued to be an invested leader for the efforts to provide mutual aid for the Block Island Fire & Rescue department. She attends many of the zoom meetings held and is extremely complementary of the efforts made by the mainland’s partners. In her acceptance, the Rep. spoke of her personal admiration for Fire & EMS after caring for her own family over the years. She also commented excitedly that this is her first Legislative award! She was touched it came from our region’s first responders.

The League is always excited to host this important annual event and look forward to another great year ahead.