Posts Tagged Tom Ryan President of IAFF Local 2

CFD collecting bunker gear from paramedics

Excerpts from the

Two years ago, self-contained breathing apparatus were removed from all 75 Chicago ambulances. In addition, 70 paramedics graduating from the fire academy were not issued bunker gear. Now, the fire department is collecting bunker gear from all paramedics.

“Local 2 believes the removal of the bunker gear from our paramedics is not in the best interest of our membership,” Tom Ryan, president of the Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 wrote in a text message.

The decision to strip paramedics of equipment bought just for them was announced in a May 4 memo signed by Assistant Deputy Fire Commissioner Mark Nielsen, who runs the Bureau of Operations.

The memo outlines a schedule of pick-up locations and dates starting May 15 and ending June 5.

“Items to be returned are: (1) bunker coat, (1) bunker pants, (1) bunker suspenders. In addition, paramedic field chiefs shall return their … face pieces,” Nielsen said.

“Members who are missing equipment shall follow current policies and procedure for lost/stolen equipment and shall submit a Form 2 through the chain of command to District Chief Juan Hernandez. Members shall be held accountable for the replacement cost of missing items per collective bargaining agreement.”

Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford acknowledged that the decision to collect bunker gear from veteran paramedics marked the end of an era for the Chicago Fire Department. But, he categorically denied that it was a dangerous decision.

“They have had it for a long time, but it’s clear they did not need it because they are NEVER sent into an area where they need to wear such gear,” Langford wrote in an email to the Chicago Sun-Times.  “If a situation comes up that requires a paramedic in a fire area or dangerous location, they will send in a fire/paramedic not a single-role paramedic. Since ambulance paramedics don’t go into those situations, they do not need that type of gear.”

Langford said there’s a big difference in role and equipment between paramedics and emergency medical technicians.

“EMT’s are firemen and they do have full bunker gear because they work on engines and trucks. Only paramedics now work ambulances. That has been the case for over a year. Paramedics have bunker gear, but do not use it because they do not enter fire areas. So, we opted to replace bunker for paramedics after the current stuff expired,” Langford wrote.

“They will now get clothing that is better suited to what they do. Stuff that is lighter in weight and designed to be protective against fluids and such. Ambulance paramedics never go into fires or nasty areas.. so why put them in full bunker gear?? Same goes for breathing tanks. Ambulance paramedics did not have a need, so that was eliminated as well.”

A veteran paramedic, who asked to remain anonymous, argued that the policy change means that paramedics “can no longer go near a fire building or car extraction. A few years ago, a single-room [occupancy] hotel at Jackson and Kedzie caught fire. People were jumping and paramedics had to go the building to get them. Glass was falling along with other debris.”.

The veteran paramedic called the policy change evidence of the second-class status paramedics have been forced to endure under the four-year regime of Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago. That’s even though two-thirds of the calls are for emergency medical services.

Two years ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel hammered out a new, five-year contract that called for Chicago firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians to get an 11-percent pay raise over five years, but ends free health care for those who retire between the ages of 55 and 65.

The agreement also called for a dramatic upgrade in ambulance care. All 15 of Chicago’s basic-life-support ambulances were converted to advanced-life-support, giving Chicago 75 ambulances capable of administering the most sophisticated level of care.

The contract helped Emanuel win the surprise endorsement of Local 2 four years after the union endorsed mayoral challenger Gery Chico over Emanuel.

But a newly-formed political action committee created by 100 paramedics endorsed Jesus “Chuy” Garcia after the vanquished mayoral challenger promised to bolster Chicago’s fleet of 75 advanced life support ambulances, create an emergency medical services commissioner on par with the fire commissioner, and make the job of paramedic officer a tested position.

thanks Dan

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Chicago hiring policy creates controversy (more)

The Chicago Sun-Times has an article about hiring rules in place for the hiring of new firefighter candidates:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is standing behind a hiring preference for Chicago Public School graduates that has infuriated firefighters, despite surprise opposition from Chicago Teachers Union president and possible mayoral challenger Karen Lewis. But that didn’t stop the mayor from taking a smaller step Thursday to appease the Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2.

At the request of firefighters union president Tom Ryan, the city has altered eligibility rules for the Dec. 13-14 firefighters entrance exam that will be Chicago’s first in nearly a decade.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported this week that Ryan was upset about a requirement that 18-year-olds who will be eligible to take the exam for the first time must produce a high school diploma or GED. That would have forced “hundreds, if not thousands” of 18-year-olds born after Sept. 1 to choose between dropping out of high school to get their GED or skipping the exam altogether and waiting years for the next one, Ryan said.

The dilemma was created by the city’s decision to lower the eligibility age to attract a broader pool of candidates. In the past, you had to be 19 to sit for the exam. The new test will be open to anyone who turns 18 before Dec. 31, 2014. On Thursday, Ryan said the Emanuel administration has agreed to remedy the problem by allowing 18-year-old high school seniors to take the exam, so long as they agree to stay in school and get their high school diploma by June, 2015.

Ryan said he’s still trying to convince the mayor to back off from the CPS hiring preference under threat of a union-funded court challenge. “Make it fair for all Chicago taxpayers. It should not matter if you attended a public or private school or if you were home-schooled. If a preference is given, it should be given to all Chicagoans,” he said.

The Dec. 13-14 firefighters entrance exam will be Chicago’s first since 2006. If the test was administered more regularly, the 18-year-old quandary would not have mattered so much.

But Ryan has said, “For 30 years, I’ve been told they’re going to hold the exam more often. It hasn’t happened. There have been three exams in my 30 years on the job. We understand the exam is expensive.”

thanks Dan

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Some Chicago firefighters object to hiring initiative

DNAinfo Chicago has an article about some Chicago firefighters objecting to a new city hiring initiative:

Union firefighters are threatening to sue over a city initiative that gives graduates of Chicago Public Schools preferential treatment in city hiring, just as Mayor Rahm Emanuel trumpets a new round of recruitment for the fire department.

Emanuel’s office made a point Wednesday of drawing attention to an online application for the Fire Department open through Sept. 16. It costs $30 to apply, with a written exam set for December for qualified applicants. The job description makes clear that those who already have completed fire or police training receive preferential treatment for firefighter and police positions, as do relatives of those who died in the line of duty as police officers, firefighters or military personnel. It also states a hiring preference for veterans and CPS high school graduates.

Yet that last attempt to give a leg up to CPS grads is a sticking point for some firefighters.

“There’s been an outcry by our membership on some of this,” Tom Ryan, president of the city’s firefighter union, said Tuesday. “They just feel that, being taxpayers and citizens, that should be enough, that all children who live in the City of Chicago should be given the same treatment.

The Fire Department hiring notice, first posted online last week, specifies: “The City of Chicago offers a CPS Graduate Preference to high school graduates from the Chicago Public School system.” Emanuel has touted the CPS grad preference frequently in urging kids to stay in school.

“The hiring preference policy encourages Chicago Public School students to stay in school and get their diploma so they are prepared for college and a career,” mayoral spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said Wednesday.

Quinn cited a city policy stating that the Department of Human Resources ensures that “a minimum of 20 percent of the candidates referred for a position that has the CPS hiring consideration are CPS graduates.”

Yet firefighter union board member David Quintavalle wrote recently in a post that appeared on Facebook: “I, and numerous [union] members who I have spoken to, are outraged that the city would harm so many other qualified applicants who have received educations from private schools.

The union “has been contacted to explore the possibility of litigating this issue on behalf of our members’ families before anyone is harmed. Many of our members have sent their children to these private schools for personal reasons or religious beliefs,” Quintavalle said.

Ryan said the objection to the hiring preference isn’t necessarily about the tradition of firefighters passing the profession on to their children. [He] made no mention of litigation and said it was still open to negotiation, with ample time before the firefighter exam in December. [He] pointed out that it was only last week that the city announced the new round of Fire Department hiring exams, adding, “Things could certainly change.”

Quintavalle, though, said if the union doesn’t pursue a lawsuit to stop the CPS preference provision, “We, the members, will have to take it upon ourselves to stop this injustice. “It’s not enough that our members must live in the city and pay all the taxes that fund the CPS system, but now you must send your child to a CPS school in order to get a preference in the upcoming firefighter’s exam. This is pure and simple discrimination; the city should not promote this type of discrimination, and [the union] should not tolerate it.”

thanks Dan

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Study reviews increased cancer risk for firefighters

An article on talks about a higher than normal risk of cancer for firefighters.

new study reveals a surprising link between firefighters and cancer. Nearly 15,000 of them were included in this research, and the results could lead to some big changes in the way firefighters do their jobs.

A newly released study looked at 30,000 firefighters from three departments: Chicago, San Francisco  and Philadelphia over nearly 60  years.

The conclusion, according to Tom Ryan, president of the Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2: “Our cancer levels will be higher than the average person.”

Chicago firefighters are two and half times more likely to develop mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos. They also have a higher rate of digestive and respiratory cancers and develop kidney, bladder and prostate cancers far younger than the average age of 65. …  chemicals released when modern-day materials burn and are breathed in. They may also be absorbed through the skin, even away from the fire.

A companion study recommends keeping gear outside the truck after fighting a fire and then storing it in its own ventilated room at the station. Firefighters should also shower immediately after.

More than 30 types of cancer were examined in this research … later this year … a second phase of the study will be released that should give a better idea of how exposures to certain chemicals might lead to specific cancers.

thanks Dan

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Local 2 calls out the city inspector general has an editorial HERE entitled Local 2 to I.G. – “Butt Out!” where Firegeezer outlines some history involving CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, INSPECTOR GENERAL Joseph Ferguson and his recent public outcries which go beyond the scope of his office and position. These include offering budget options to the city council which among other things called for a reduction in Chicago Fire Department manning and then recommending specific disciplinary actions for members of the CFD Fire Prevention Bureau apparently caught padding mileage summaries for usage of their own vehicles followed. Then he states that the bureau should be closed and combined with other city inspection services.

Commissioner Hoff advised Fergie that he (Hoff) will be making the decisions on what disciplinary action will be taken and to forget about putting fire inspections in the purview of plumbers and electricians.

The editorial includes a letter to the public which was sent to the media by Tom Ryan, President of the FF union Local 2.

Excerpts include:

Last October, Mr. Ferguson provided an unsolicited Budget Options Report to the City Council in the form of a press release. Included in that report was an “option” for the City to reduce staffing on fire apparatuses from five firefighters to four. His report stated that this option was based on the National Fire Protection Association’s recommendation for “a minimum of only four personnel on each fire apparatus.” What Mr. Ferguson omitted from his report was the very next sentence of the NFPA Journal interview from which the recommendation was cited: “For special service vehicles, the standard states the apparatus must be staffed with the appropriate personnel to accomplish the tasks that the company will be expected to perform in a safe manner.” Additionally, the NFPA makes it clear in the same article that the staffing standard “is currently based on a fire in a typical single-family, two-story, 2000-square-foot house without basement or exposures.” The NFPA also states that in areas with “high target hazards” such as large manufacturing districts, skyscapers, hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and special needs facilities there should be a minimum of five firefighters, and in some cases, even six. This High Target Hazard designation of course applies to virtually every one of Chicago ’s 50 wards.

This week the Inspector General’s Office leaked details of an internal report recommending the dismissal of Fire Prevention Bureau personnel to the media before a disciplinary review could be conducted by the Fire Commissioner. As such, the Inspector General may have again compromised the integrity of his report. Thankfully, Mayor Emanuel has publicly stated his expectation of the Commissioner to deal with these allegations. The Fire Prevention Bureau provides critical reports and hazard warnings for the buildings first responders are often rushing into. Their work is essential to the safety of rank-and-file firefighters specifically and to the public-at-large, and requires expert training in fire science. The IGO’s recommendation to “fold” this Bureau into the Building Department is a flagrant disregard for public safety. Furthermore, by covertly publicizing this report and recommendation, the Inspector General’s Office has effectively poured gasoline onto a fire. Hopefully these new flames will not jeopardize the abilities of the Fire Prevention Bureau in consistently and continuously executing their obligations to the fire safety of our city.

The entire letter can be found HERE.

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