There is an interesting article from Pennsylvania in LancasterOnline.com about the arbitration hearing held last month between the City of Lancaster and Lancaster Professional Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 319. The press was barred from attending but reporter Bernard Harris was able to get the report about the hearing that Mayor Rick Gray provided to the City Council. It was prepared by Mayor Gray’s chief of staff. Neither Gray or union president Tim Erb commented for the article.
Here’s an excerpt:
Lancaster city officials claim poverty but are sitting on $9.5 million in reserves.
City firefighters contend their volunteer brethren are unreliable but want to be able to live in areas protected by the volunteers.
The firefighters of Lancaster Professional Firefighters Association IAFF, Local 319, are seeking 5 percent annual salary increases, minimum staffing requirements, increases in bonuses and number of holidays and other items in a new three year contract which should have begun in January.
As it stands, firefighters have to live within a 13-mile radius of the center of town in order to be available for off-duty response. The union wants to extend this radius to cover all of adjacent Lancaster County at the same time the City wants to tighten it to 5-miles.
Part of this issue relates to the fact that there is no automatic mutual aid in place. Before calling in volunteers from surrounding departments the City currently has to call in off-duty firefighters and pay them overtime. The fire chief, Tim Gregg, points out that within a 5-mile radius there are nine volunteer departments (some also have part-time firefighters).
This issue was discussed in the hearing with Lt. Kevin Ressler who is part of the union’s negotiating team:
When he testified, Ressler was asked if volunteers were reliable. “No,” he replied.
He was then asked, “Can you count on volunteers to protect your life?”
“Absolutely not,” Ressler replied.
According to the article, the union is resisting efforts by the city to go to 24 hour shifts with 48 hours off, from the current two days, two nights and four days off.
Also on STATter911 …
- Lancaster fire union says Mayor’s report took comments about volunteers out of context. Read IAFF Local 319′s response. – March 13, 2012
- Bah! Humbug! Did DC’s mayor play Scrooge for cops & firefighters over the holidays leaving them out of the holiday bonus? Vince Gray says no. Unions say yes. – December 25, 2012
- DC Fire spokesman Lon Walls suspended after Tweets that DCFD protests were ‘racist act’. Mayor distances himself from comments. City Paper profiles Chief Kenneth Ellerbe’s battles with IAFF Local 36. – February 9, 2012
- DC update: Is Chief Ellerbe fire proof? Watch hearing live. Relatives of patients in high-profile cases scheduled to testify. – March 28, 2013
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