Earlier today we told you about an article by Bernard Harris at LancasterOnline.com describing an arbitration hearing last month involving the City of Lancaster and the Lancaster Professional Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 319. As we mentioned in our original posting, the article quotes from a report about the hearing prepared by Mayor Rick Gray’s chief of staff. That report was delivered to the City Council in executive session. The report cited testimony from one of the union negotiators, Lt. Kevin Ressler, who talked about volunteer firefighters being unreliable and not being able to count on them to save your life.
According to Harris, neither Mayor Gray or union president Tim Erb were willing to comment for the original article. President Erb has been in touch with STATter911.com and says the report sent to the City Council takes Lt. Ressler’s response to questions at the hearing out of context. Here is the full response from Local 319:
Shame on the Lancaster Newspaper for printing only small blurbs from the transcripts of the recent contract arbitration. This is not a career vs volunteer issue and once again by not printing what was actually said and it’s meaning, the Lancaster Newspaper has tried to make news rather then report it. When asked if the volunteers were reliable the answer was” No” from Lt Ressler. No mention was made as to what was actually said and the context of it’s true meaning. Should the City and it’s Fire Department on Volunteers, who are working other jobs and have their own commitments to their respective Fire Departments and communities, to come in to supplement the City for inadequately protecting both the Fire Fighters and the citizens of Lancaster? To that the answer was NO! (takes on a whole new light now doesn’t it)? Can you count on the volunteers to save your life? Absolutely not! Now the actual meaning. Can the Fire fighters of the City count on the volunteers to protect their lives in an instant on the scene of a fire when time is of the essence? Absolutely not! There is not a problem between the fine Volunteer Firefighters of this county and the City Firefighters. Reliability and dependability should not ever be confused with . There are many many fine volunteers with outstanding when it comes to doing the job of a firefighter. With all of their own commitments at work and home and in their communities, can they always be upon and on to be available to help? No and they should not be put in that situation The City guys are more than happy to get some assistance when absolutely needed. I would urge you to read between the lines to find the missing pieces whenever a story is written. More times than not the stories you read here should start off “Once upon a time” because that is how fictional fairy tales start. Shame on the Newspaper for once again trying to make volunteer vs career an issue.
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