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Press Releases / 2003 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 4, 2003

FIRE COMMISSIONER SCOPPETTA
INCREASES MANNING ON FIRE ENGINES

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta announced that effective today the Department would be increasing from 40 to 45 the number of fire engines that are manned by five firefighters instead of four. The increase comes in response to improving medical leave figures for firefighting personnel, and it pre-empts a negotiated agreement with the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) that called for the increase effective on January 1, 2004.

Last June, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the UFA agreed to amend an existing manning agreement, reducing from 60 to 40 the number of fire engines manned by five firefighters. (The city has 197 fire engines; the majority are manned by four firefighters.) The agreement stipulated the city would gradually increase the number of five-firefighter units if annualized medical leave levels dropped, setting various benchmarks and dates to be met. The reductions in medical leave anticipated at the time of the agreement have accelerated at a pace greater than expected (today the annualized rate is 7.9%), thus paving the way for today’s decision.

Both the Department and the UFA praised today’s action.

“We’re pleased that the first threshold in medical leave reductions has been met early, and we’re equally pleased to be increasing the number of five-firefighter engine companies sooner than we had expected,” said Commissioner Scoppetta. “As this trend continues, we look forward ultimately to the full restoration of the 60 units with five firefighters.”

"September 11-related illness and injuries were the main reason for the rise in firefighter leave and with disability retirements the number has been dropping," said UFA President Stephen Cassidy. "We commend the administration for taking this pro-active step toward the early restoration of five companies to full staffing and look forward to additional restorations soon."

The June 2003 agreement amended a 1996 staffing agreement that called for 60 fire engines to be manned at the start of every tour by five firefighters. While it reduced the number from 60 to 40, the amended agreement calls for automatic increases if certain medical leave reductions occur by certain dates, as follows: if medical leave is at or below 8.0% by Jan. 1, 2004, 45 fire engines would be staffed by five firefighters; on April 1, 2004, if medical leave is at or below 7.75%, 50 fire engines will be staffed by five firefighters; and by July 2, 2004, the issue would revert to the original 1996 agreement of having 60 five-firefighter engines if medical leave levels were at 7.5% or below.

At the time of the June 2003 agreement, the medical leave average exceeded 8.5%.

Staffing at the following engine companies will be increased effective at 6 p.m. tonight:

Engine Company 35 in East Harlem, Manhattan
Engine Company 68 in Highbridge, the Bronx
Engine Company 84 in Washington Heights, Manhattan
Engine Company 257 in Canarsie, Brooklyn
Engine Company 275 in Jamaica, Queens

Contact: Francis X. Gribbon / Virginia Lam (FDNY) (718) 999-2056

http://www.nyc.gov/fdny

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