Jim Hayhurst led the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by an invocation by Joe Bryant. Jim recognized Chief of Department Tom Richardson, AC John Esposito from SOC and retired Chief of Department Pete Hayden. Jim informed the members of the recent passing of Ormond Smith, who was in his late nineties. Ormond was a WW II Veteran and often attended meetings with his buddy, RMA Trustee Wilbur Hutchins.
RMA Legislative Chair Bill Romaka spoke about efforts to increase the COLA. He said the UFA tried in 2008-2010, but the Comptroller said it couldn’t be done. Bill feels that conditions may now be more favorable, and the plan is to start with a modest increase from 18K to 25K. The Comptroller, UFA and UFOA and other city unions will need to be on board. Bill said this is very preliminary, and he will update us as more information becomes available.
Chief of Department Tom Richardson was our guest speaker.
He said The Job still as dangerous as ever. This morning, a wood grid ceiling collapsed and hinged down at a 4-4 in Yorkville, 90 minutes into the fire. Three members were briefly trapped, causing a MAYDAY to be transmitted. Fortunately, a line was in position and the members were rescued quickly, sustaining minor injuries.
2021 is shaping up to be a busy year for fires. There have been 161 multiple alarm fires year-to-date. There were 129 in all of 2020. Fire units do about 1500-1800 runs a day, 900 of them for medical emergencies. EMS units do about 4,000 runs a day.
Chief Richardson explained some of the difficulties the Department experienced during COVID. As usual, the members did what they had to do. 70% of workforce had COVID. We lost a total of 15 people out of 17,000 Department employees. Remarkably, no one working in Fire or EMS field units died. Several EMT’s who passed away were working in offline positions. WebEx was used extensively in place of in-person meetings. He was able to speak directly to selected units or to the entire job using WebEx.
The vaccine mandate kicked in on November 1. During the first week, ML reached 20%. Units had to be closed on many tours. On a few tours, up to 30-35 units were closed (out of about 350). The situation has stabilized.
Chief Richardson discussed the personnel ramifications of the vaccine mandate. There are about 10,500 firefighters and fire officers, 4,500 EMS personnel and 1,800 civilian employees. As of today (Nov 30), 328 Department employees are on Leave Without Pay (LWOP). The remainder of workers either got vaccinated or put in requests for reasonable accommodations. About two hundred reasonable accommodation requests are being processed daily by the Department’s EEO Unit. Appeals are being handled by the NYC Law Department. Members whose appeals are unsuccessful will have to get vaccinated or go on LWOP. So far, members on LWOP still have their medical coverage. There is no word yet from the City if that will change or if unvaccinated members will be terminated. 92% of Department employees have been vaccinated. 90% of Fire personnel have been vaccinated, up from 59% pre-mandate.
There are satellite training units at the quarters of E-168 in Staten Island and near E-268 L-137 in the Rockaways. The Bureau of Training makes good use of technology. For example, BOT sent out lessons learned a few hours after today’s fire, with video footage, to all field units via the DiamondPlate internet system.
Chief Richardson said a new kernmantle lifesaving rope (KLSR) has been selected. It will have a different deployment system. Training the entire job will take about two years before the change is made.
Probie School: There is a class now which started with 324 probies. Currently there are 308. A 10% attrition rate is typical. A new class of 325 will start in March 2022, with another of about 300 in September. The last list number hired was in the 2600’s. In December, Judge Garaufis will render a decision about extending the current open-competitive firefighter list, which is set to expire in February of 2023. The next EMS promotional exam to firefighter will be pushed back if the current list is extended. About 25% of current FDNY members were working on September 11, 2001.
Chief Richardson then took questions. We thank him very much for a great presentation and for taking time out of his extremely busy schedule.
Jim closed the meeting at 9:10 pm.
It was a packed meeting, 200 members came to the 11am Meeting to find out what was going on with their Healthcare.
Everyone was ready for some answers! Both Unions came as well as a few reps from our Health Plans
UFA President Andrew Ansbro introduces himself to the Retirees. After the presentation by the Health Reps he answered some pertinent questions.
Kim Parker (left) was our key note speaker in a web-nar type presentation. Marty Tighe (UFA Retiree Rep.) also spoke.
We have a link to a recent ZOOM Meeting presented by the Sergeants Benevolent Association in which Kim Parker gives an informational talk about the Medicare Advantage Plus Plan> CLICK HERE FOR THAT LINK