Press Releases

For Immediate Release: January 31, 2011

NYC Firefighters & Fire Officers File Legal Action Against City to Halt 20% Firefighter Staffing Reduction at 60 Engines

Cuts at City's Busiest Firehouses Will Endanger Public Safety & Cause Fewer Trapped & Unconscious Civilians to be Saved from Fires

Leaders of the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) together with the Uniformed Fire Officers Association (UFOA) today announced that they have filed legal action to stop Mayor Bloomberg from reducing firefighter staffing levels at the busiest firehouses across New York City.

The Bloomberg Administration has stated its intention to ignore a safety agreement (known as the Roster Staffing Agreement) for the FDNY and will reduce firefighter staffing levels beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, February 1 at 60 of the busiest firehouses across New York City that are currently staffed with 5-firefighters. These 60 fire companies are determined by the FDNY administration due to community need and high volume of emergency calls for fires, medical emergencies and more from these neighborhoods.

Reducing Staffing Levels on FDNY Engine Companies Endangers Lives & Puts Dangerous Conditions in Place:

    1) Ladder companies will lose their "Outside Ventilation" firefighter, which effectuates 70 percent of civilian rescues;

    2) It will cause delay in effectuating search, rescue and recovery of trapped or unconscious civilians or firefighters in fires;

    3) It will double the time it take for firefighters to begin extinguishing and attacking a fire, allowing fires to grow exponentially every minute and thereby increasing smoke, fire and water damage to property and risk of injury or death to civilians and firefighters;

    4) Elimination of the 5th firefighter means that there will no longer be a manpower pool of firefighters to replace approximately 25 firefighters per tour (x 2 shifts day = about 50 per day) who become injured and ill after the tour begins;

    5) Engine companies may be forced to operate with only 3 firefighters;

    6) The FDNY will be unable to abide by Federal OSHA "2-in, 2-out" safety standard.

"Reducing staffing levels in firehouses costs the city more than it saves," said Steve Cassidy, UFA president. "It's pretty simple math: when you reduce firefighter staffing by one firefighter it doubles the time it takes to begin getting water on a fire and allows fires to double in size every minute. As fires grow, so will smoke, fire and water damage to properties and businesses that the mayor needs to pay taxes. Second these cuts will diminish FDNY ladder companies ability to conduct search, rescue and recovery and will eliminate the firefighting position that effectuates 70 percent of all civilian rescues. The triple edge of this cut will harm not only firefighters, but communities across the city, crippling store owners, employers and landlords who are likely to see greater damage to their property and businesses."

Both unions' "Improper Practice Petition" and "Petition for Injunctive Relief" before the Office of Collective Bargaining details how the city is turning its back on a safety agreement with the city's firefighters. The legal action claims that the city turning its back on the safety agreement will result in firefighters and civilians who are trapped or unconscious in fires not being found and rescued. Ultimately, the city's elimination of the 5th firefighter in these engine companies adversely impacts public and firefighter safety and undermines the abilities of their members when the law requires those negotiations.

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