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Press Releases / 2003 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 3, 2003

MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG AND UFA PRESIDENT STEPHEN CASSIDY ANNOUNCE AGREEMENT ON ENGINE COMPANY STAFFING

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) President Stephen J. Cassidy today announced that the City and the UFA have agreed to modify the staffing provisions on City fire engines, and the UFA has dropped litigation against the City. The agreement will reduce the number of five-firefighter engine companies to 40, down from the current 63.

“Over the last year and a half, we have been forced by the City’s fiscal crisis to cut billions of dollars from our budget,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Every agency, regardless of its function, has had to cut its budget. The mission has been to do more with less and everyone has risen to the challenge. Today I am pleased to announce that we have modified our contract with the UFA to help us keep doing exactly that. I want to the thank UFA President Stephen Cassidy for his flexibility and commitment to his members and to the people of this City. I wish also to thank Labor Commissioner James Hanley and his staff for their tireless work on behalf of the City.”

“I want to thank the Mayor and Commissioner Hanley for their help in reaching this agreement,” said UFA President Cassidy. “The safety of firefighters was a key factor for the UFA Executive Board in agreeing to this settlement. The alternative, we believe, could have compromised safety, both for firefighters and the public. I’m hopeful that, as we get farther and farther away from September 11th World Trade Center-related medical leave will continue to decline and we will have full restoration of five-firefighter staffing levels.”

“This is an appropriate compromise that will benefit both the UFA and the Fire Department,” said Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta. “We will be able to maintain the flexibility in the staffing of five firefighter companies, while not compromising the integrity of out 1996 agreement with the UFA relating to medical leave levels.”

Under a 1996 agreement between the City and the UFA, the Fire Department had the right to reduce the number of five-man engines to 11 if the Department’s sick leave averaged more than 7.5% for a one-year period. The one-year average medical leave currently exceeds 8.5%. The modification allows for additional five-fighter engine companies if medical leave declines as measured at designated points through the term of the agreement, which expires on July 1, 2004. Conversely if medical leave rises or does not meet the targets, the City reserves the right to make the changes permitted under the current contract.

The UFA has also agreed to drop seven separate legal challenges, including a lawsuit to stop the City from reducing staffing, as well as administrative litigation and labor proceedings to overturn the City’s recent decision to close six fire companies.

Currently there are currently 197 Engine companies in the City, 63 are staffed by five firefighters and 134 are staffed by four firefighters.

Contact: Ed Skyler/Jordan Barowitz (212) 788-2958
Francis X. Gribbon (FDNY) (718) 999-2056

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