Way back in the mists of time, FDNY engine companies operated with with five firefighters and one officer. Then, in 1989, an arbitrator ruled that it was safe to operate with four firefighters and an officer. Then, in 1996, the UFA persuaded the city to restore 49 five-person trucks on the condition the FDNY could reduce that staffing by one if the departmental sick-leave rate topped 7.5%.
Every so often that happens, and when it does, manning - and overtime - go down. And the city saves at a rate of $20 million a year. And Cassidy dutifully says the sky will fall if the city enforces his contract. And then sick leave goes down. And manning goes up. And the UFA rests easy - until the cycle starts over again.