Confusion arises over RI fire training exercise involving mutual aid

Officials from at least one of the departments that arrived to put out the fire said they were not a part of any training exercise


Sean Flynn
Newport Daily News, R.I.

JAMESTOWN, R.I. — A fire broke out Saturday morning at the Jamestown Golf Course that required mutual aid from three neighboring communities — Newport, Middletown and North Kingstown — before it was put down.

Deputy Fire Chief Howie Tighe told The Daily News a pre-planned training exercise was taking place at the golf course at the time. The fire may have started out as a training exercise for Jamestown firefighters, but it was firefighting mutual aid for his department, a Middletown battalion chief said.

Firefighters from four Rhode Island fire departments extinguished a fire at the Jamestown Golf Course on Saturday. Jamestown fire officials said the blaze was part of a training exercise, but not all of the department that responded were aware of the exercise.
Firefighters from four Rhode Island fire departments extinguished a fire at the Jamestown Golf Course on Saturday. Jamestown fire officials said the blaze was part of a training exercise, but not all of the department that responded were aware of the exercise. (Photo/Marc Welde, Newport Daily News)

When Tighe was asked if the fire at the golf course got unexpectedly out of hand, he said that was not the case but did not give details before ending the call. He said a press release would be sent out later by Jamestown Police Chief Edward Mello.

“This morning, the Jamestown Fire Department conducted a training exercise at the former Jamestown Golf Course club house,” the press release says. “The building is set to be demolished on Monday, February 8, by the Jamestown Public Works Department as part of a larger project which replaces the decades-old building.”

“The exercise involved the response of mutual aid assets from surrounding communities,” the release says. “Deputy Chief Tighe described the exercise as a unique opportunity for his staff to experience realistic fire conditions. The expanded exercise involving multiple agencies allowed for fire fighters to exercise their respective mutual aid response.”

According to a Jamestown dispatcher earlier in the day, the fire call came in around 10:30 a.m. Within the next 20 minutes, a call for mutual aid went out.

Newport Deputy Fire Chief Tim Redmond said his department sent an engine and ladder truck. Middletown Battalion Chief Jon Reese said his department also sent an engine and ladder truck.

The chiefs said command cars from North Kingstown were also present.

“The building was in flames when we arrived,” Reese said. “We helped them knock it down.”

Asked later in the day if it was a training exercise for the Middletown Fire Department, after the press release went out, Reese said it was not.

“We were not part of any training exercise,” Reese said. “We responded as part of mutual aid. They called us for aid. That training exercise was something we were not part of.”

Tighe did not return calls to his cell phone asking for clarification.

The Jamestown Golf Course is a nine-hole public golf course located at 245 Conanicus Ave.

“The golf course was first established in 1901 and the subtle history is evident throughout the open, wind-blown layout,” says the establishment’s website.

A clubhouse originally was erected on the south side of the course and links at the former Littlefield-Clarke farm, also in 1901, according to the website.

“The clubhouse was moved in 1951 to its present location on Conanicus Avenue,” the website says.

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(c)2021 Newport Daily News, R.I.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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