Firefighter who suffered on-duty injury promoted to battalion chief

The promotion comes two years after Joseph Fontaine was put in a medically induced coma after suffering cyanide poisoning while battling a fire


By FireRescue1 Staff

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A firefighter who suffered an on-duty injury that almost killed him was promoted to battalion chief after a year-long legal battle.

WPRI reported that veteran firefighter Joseph Fontaine was pinned in a ceremony while surrounded by family and friends after previously being told he would not be able to return to work.

"I almost died to get to where I am," Fontaine said. "So I'll take it as a blessing and one of the greatest days of my life to get promoted."

The promotion comes two years after Fontaine was put in a medically induced coma after suffering cyanide poisoning while battling a blaze.

Fontaine applied for accidental disability after being told he would not be able to return to work, and also passed the battalion chief exam in 2017.

Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare said that while he scored well on the test, city policy said that since he was set to go on permanent disability, he was unable to be promoted to battalion chief.

Fontaine filed a lawsuit to fight the policy, and Pare said it has been settled.

"We are grateful and indebted to him for his years of service," Pare said. "We wish him nothing but good health in his retirement and we thank him for his service."

Fontaine’s pension and severance will not change due to the promotion, but he will also receive a $12,000 payment to make up for an “unrelated payment issue,” according to Pare.

 

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