East Greenwich Fire Commissioners voted 4-1 last Thursday to end talks with Warwick over consolidating dispatch services. Commission President Bill Daly cast the lone "nay" vote.
The decision follows three years of effort, numerous meetings, and $162,000 spent on equipment for both towns.
Fire Commissioners nearly pulled the plug on discussions at their last meeting but then told Henrikson to meet with Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian one last time.
At Thursday's meeting, Henrikson said he met with Avedesian two weeks earlier and the mayor said he would check with his fire chief and get back to him. "I haven't heard from him," said Henrikson.
Daly said he thought they could wait another week for a response from Avedesian, at which point Commissioner Mark Gee said, "It seems to me we've been here before.... If the mayor has to go back to the fire marshal and the fire chief to get an answer and they pretty much told us they aren't interested, I don't know what else you need."
According to Henrikson, of the $162,000 spent, about $15,000 was spent on East Greenwich infrastructure needed regardless of consolidation. The rest was spent on a variety of technical equipment and infrastructure specific to Warwick.
Henrikson said he'd first want to send men to Warwick to see what if any of the equipment there could be returned to the EG Fire District.
"Let's take charge of this thing and end it and see if we can recover something and call it a day," said Gee.
"I think no matter what their response, I just don't think I'd be willing to go forward with them as a reliable partner," said Commissioner Mark Schwager. "I agree that we should just wrap it up and move on."
Daly, citing the need to be politic, said he thought Henrikson should wait a week and check back with the mayor. Still, he acknowledged the deal was pretty much dead.
"It's not going to be yes, but how we get to no is the question," said Daly.
The idea to consolidate dispatch with Warwick came from former Fire District Commissioner Christine Mattos. According to Fire Chief Peter Henrikson, it made sense because East Greenwich already covers the Potowomut section of Warwick as first responder.
Warwick fire officials signed on to the plan, but no contract was ever signed. Henrikson said that was because they wanted to make sure the arrangement could be worked out.
"I'm not sure it's going to send any reverberations through the Town Hall of Warwick," said Schwager on Thursday. "I think there will barely be a ripple."
"Who cares?" said Gee. "I mean, we're not doing this for Warwick, we're doing this for East Greenwich."
The Fire District has said it would look to possibly merging dispatch with the East Greenwich Police. The police station was built with room for two dispatchers.