Posts Tagged Peoria Firefighters Union Local 50

Peoria Fire Department news (more)

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The Peoria City Council approved a settlement with the union that represents the city’s firefighters that will allow one of the fire houses that was to be closed to remain open for six months. The vote was 9-1 and involved Local 50 dropping an unfair labor practice grievance it had filed against the city two years ago in return for the city keeping Station 20 open in far north Peoria. Local 50 had won on the appellate level but agreed to give up the $500,000 judgment it got in return for the firehouse to remain open. That judgment is roughly the cost of keeping a fire house and its accompanying truck open for about six months.

Also part of the settlement was an agreement to have no layoffs through March 30. Earlier this fall, the city shuttered two fire houses as a way to close a budget hole created by the COVID-19 pandemic. City hall would also have to keep 44 union spots for each shift. If that wasn’t possible with the existing personnel, then it would have to be filled through overtime.

The suit stemmed from an agreement made between the firefighters and the city in 2017 in the wake of brownouts that were instituted to help close a budgetary shortfall. Local 50 said the brownouts were an unfair labor practice as the agreement eliminated some unfilled positions in return for keeping the fire apparatus online.

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Peoria Fire Department news (more)

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One of the two shuttered fire houses in the city could come back online until March 2021 under a proposed agreement by the local firefighters union, but whether city hall, which took two engines offline as a way to save money during the pandemic, accepts the deal is unknown.

Peoria Firefighters Union Local 50, said the they would drop an unfair labor practice lawsuit and use the anticipated $500,000 judgment they had won to help replace one fire engine. The deal would also call for the addition of seven firefighter positions which could be staffed through overtime or the hiring of new employees. 

The two sides have been in a series of negotiations since April over how many fire trucks would remain in service. The negotiations kicked into high gear after the council voted in late August to cut the two engines and shutter Stations 4 and 20.

The estimated cost to staff a fire engine is about $1.1 million. The union’s decision to forego the $600,000 is about half that, or six months, which would push a final decision out to March. The deal, however, still has to get council approval, which could come at a special meeting since the budgetary cuts are supposed to take effect on Oct. 1.

It wasn’t clear which engine would come back as part of this deal. Station 4 was to close on Oct. 1, while Station 20 was to close at some time yet to be determined. The union had been bargaining with the city for weeks to save jobs and keep fire houses open. The elimination of a fire truck often results in the closure of a house.

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Peoria Fire Department news more

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A clerical error could cost the city of Peoria upwards of $500,000 after an administrative law judge recommended nearly a dozen firefighters be reinstated and the two rescue trucks taken off line last year be reinstated.

And while those changes would be substantial, neither Peoria Firefighters Union Local 50 nor city hall believe the recommendation, handed down in late February, is the final say on the matter. In fact, the Peoria city attorney says the reasoning behind the decision was a clerical error — the city never responded to the unfair labor practice accusations from the union that sparked the case because the complaint and other documents were sent to an attorney’s old place of employment.

But, on the surface, the Feb. 27 ruling seems to be a total win for the union as it orders the city to:

– restore the staffing levels of the Peoria Fire Department to levels it was before May 21, 2018, when a series of brown-outs were instated to help with budgetary issues.

– compensate those who lost income by offering back pay to those who were eligible to work on the rescue squads.

– resume bargaining with the local over staffing and work conditions.

The city will, in essence, appeal and tell the state Labor Relations Board what it thinks the hearing officer got wrong. The ILRB will likely hear the case sometime later this year.

The union filed its complaint last summer in the wake of brown-outs that were ordered by city hall to help close a budgetary shortfall. Local 50 cried foul and said the brown-outs were an unfair labor practice in the wake of an agreement they had reached in late 2017 that eliminated some unfilled positions in return for keeping the fire apparatus online.

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Peoria Fire Department news

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The turf war between Advanced Medical Transport Inc. of Central Illinois and the Peoria Fire Department, dormant for many years, could be heating up again.

Nearly a decade ago, the two sparred over which entity would provide paramedic service and patient transport within the city limits. AMT reached an agreement with the city in which it was to pay $85,000, adjusted annually for inflation, for exclusive patient transport in Peoria. The agreement was modified in 2009 to allow the fire department to have three advanced life support engines.

Now the department wants a fourth ALS engine for House 19 on the city’s northwestern edge, which is near the new Louisville Slugger complex and The Shoppes at Grand Prairie. The cost is about $5,000. But [some] say … Peoria is fine with the services it has now.

Both Peoria Fire Chief Charles Lauss and Rick Waldron, president of Peoria Firefighters Union Local 50, said this is not an attempt to replace AMT

We have an agreement in place. … We cannot get into transport. There is a five-year notice that the Peoria Fire Department has to give to AMT to say we are getting into transport. We want to enhance our services and enhance what we are giving our community,” Lauss said.

Peoria firefighters can provide basic life support, and at present, only the three paramedics assigned to the ALS engines and AMT are at the ALS level. The union and the chief think adding a fourth ALS engine is a benefit for everyone and actually strengthens the relationship with AMT.

“We believe it is the best service possible for our citizens. It comes down to whether we get there first or AMT. As long as we get a medic there, that’s what counts,” said Waldron, who is a firefighter-paramedic.

But officials from AMT, a not-for-profit company that has provided ambulance service to the Peoria area for years, disagree. They say having too many paramedics can actually degrade services as there simply isn’t enough work to keep everyone proficient.

“Doing the best for the community isn’t doing everything, it’s doing the right things,” said Andrew Rand, AMT’s executive director.

He and others at AMT point to two letters written by the head of the Peoria Area Emergency Medical Services system last year addressing the so-called saturation of paramedics.

“Peoria currently has a paramedic saturation level of around 6.4 paramedics per 10,000 population, which is much higher than many other cities in the United States,” wrote Dr. Matthew Jackson last July in a letter to former Fire Chief Kent Tomblin. “It has been well studied and documented that increased paramedic saturation can actually lead to overall worse patient outcomes in key clinical situations such as cardiac arrest. The reasons for this primarily revolve around skills and knowledge degradation due to dilution of experience.”

Lauss disagrees and said the department’s 40-odd paramedics are well-trained.

“Our paramedics are getting all the training hours and the exposure that is required, for one thing. And even beyond that, a lot of these guys work for other agencies on their off days so they can practice some of those skills,” he said.


The request is pending before the PAEMS director and, after that, the City Council will likely take the idea up at a future meeting.

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