FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 12, 2004
MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG, FIRE COMMISSIONER NICHOLAS SCOPPETTA AND UFA PRESIDENT STEPHEN CASSIDY ANNOUNCE INCREASED STAFFING ON FIRE ENGINES
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta today announced that the Fire Department would increase the number of engine companies throughout the city that will be staffed by five firefighters instead of four from 45 to 60. The is consistent with the agreement negotiated last June with the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) that called for the full return of five-firefighter staffing on 60 units on July 1, 2004, if specific reductions in firefighter medical leave levels were reached. Medical leave levels have been reduced ahead of schedule, and the 15 engine companies will now receive a fifth firefighter effective Saturday, February 14, 2004.
“This labor agreement has worked for both sides,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “With firefighter medical leave declining even faster than we anticipated, we are able to increase engine staffing now, rather than waiting until July. I would like to thank UFA President Stephen Cassidy and Commissioner Scoppetta for making this possible.”
“With increased accountability and closer supervision, along with cooperation and support from the UFA, we have seen a steady decline in the medical leave rate,” said Commissioner Scoppetta. “This proactive step reaffirms the administration's commitment to the Fire Department and will ensure that we continue to provide the highest level of service to the people of New York City.”
“I want to thank the Mayor and Fire Commissioner for working with the UFA to successfully negotiate this agreement," said UFA President Stephen Cassidy. “September 11-related illnesses and injuries were the main reasons for the rise in firefighter medical leave and, as I've said before, we fully expected the rate would decline as time passed.”
The staffing change comes in response to steadily decreasing medical leave figures for firefighters that the Department expects will reach the targeted level of 7.5% or less prior to the July 1 deadline. The medical leave rate is a percentage of hours lost to medical leave against the work schedule. Medical leave levels now stand at 7.67%. Last June, at the time of the negotiated agreement, medical leave was at 8.6%.
According to a 1996 staffing agreement, the Department can reduce from 60 to 11 the number of engines staffed by five firefighters if the medical leave rate exceeds 7.5% on an annualized basis. The rate has been above that level since June of 2002. In June 2003, the city and the UFA amended that agreement, reducing the number of five-firefighter engines from 60 to 40. The amendment also stipulated that the city would gradually increase the number of five-firefighter units back to 60 if medical leave levels dropped, according to various benchmarks and dates to be met. The FDNY has 197 engine companies, the majority of which are manned by four firefighters.
In December 2003, due to the quicker than anticipated decrease in medical leave figures, Commissioner Scoppetta announced a similar increase – nearly one month before the set due date – that brought the total number of five-firefighter engine companies to 45. The continued reductions in medical leave have quickly outpaced the timeline set in the agreement.
Staffing at the following engine companies will be increased effective at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 14:
Edward Skyler / Robert Lawson (212) 788-2958
Francis X. Gribbon (FDNY)