Buffalo Fire Department - over time - whats the cause - who's getting sick of what ?

Is overtime in the Buffalo Fire Department is out of control? Many fear it could hamper FF's ability to negotiate a new contract. Some Union Officials blame it on manpower, some feel sick time abuse may be partly to blame. Whatever the cause or causes - some changes must occur as taxpayers are growing tired of increased taxes.

Buffalo City Officials say:

Fire overtime in the first pay period of the new fiscal year hit its highest level since Byron W. Brown became mayor in early 2006. Firefighters received $512,283 in overtime during the first half of July, when they worked 11,839 hours.

One City Official said: "You're basically spending at a rate of over $1 million a month,"

Recently some city leaders have voiced suspicions that morale problems caused by a five-year contract stalemate have driven up sick time. The city must comply with minimum manpower levels, so overtime costs increase when more firefighters call in sick.

Overtime in the first pay period was 88 percent over budget, and 18 percent higher than it was during the same period a year ago.

"We're concerned as well … not just you," retorted Deputy Fire Commissioner Patrick T. Lewis.

He stated: Nine firefighters remain out on injuries following a June fire in a Niagara Street warehouse, said Lewis, contributing to the higher overtime.

One possible solution offered by a City Official was, if some higher-ranking fire officials could be demoted, thereby allowing them to get back on fire trucks and fulfill minimum manpower needs.

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Comment by Rick on August 14, 2008 at 10:00pm
The BFD just recieved raises , you have to read the slick verbage used - they said "without a contract" - as far as one health care provider being forced down our throats , thats a deal the Union President signed without prior notice to the members - the Mayor at that time said, "Whats the fuss - most Firefighters have voluntarily signed up for it!" He forgot to mention that letters were mailed to each Firefighter telling them if they didnt sign up before the deadline - their insurance would be cancelled. Funny how the press didnt get that notice from our Union Reps.

It's a shame - but it seems both sides like to spin the truth a little - I am not against lagitament over-time , just those who manipulate others to pad their own pockets and pensions unfairly while pretending to work for the majority.

Again it was is many peoples opinion - the Union President who gave up and put all his eggs in the "Arbitrator's" basket. The Union members never were even given a platform statement about what we were negotiating for . The only answer we got was , "We can't disclose anything" - I worked with the UAW for thirteen years and we knew months in advance what our leaders were asking for and why.
Some people are over whelmed by their positions - but ego's blind them to reality. Some people know how to deligate tasked and oraganize results to bring about a successful conclusion - some have so many "Strings" tied to them they can't make a clear choice or decission.
The worst part of all this to me is the President is truly a nice guy - he just doesnt understand that many of those who whisper in his ear are doing it for their "Political/Ecomonical" personal agendas.

Thanks for your input.
Stay Safe
God Bless

BFD Grievance proceedure: The Union says we don't file "Personal Grievances" go to Admin , - the Grievance forms are kept by Admin at Head quarters - if your not allowed in Head Quarters - how do you file a grievance?
Comment by FETC on August 14, 2008 at 8:11pm
OT doesn't suck and if your contract is like ours, everything is frozen at the date of last contract's expiration to include all verbage, Sucks to not see a raise but no hikes in employee insurance rates either... At the rate of health insurance inflation, she ought to look at what it is costing the city to not negotiate a contract in good faith.

New hires and OT is even better... Stay safe brother!
Comment by Joe Stoltz on August 14, 2008 at 7:47pm
Has the BFD taken any further steps toward the quint-midi concept? I know some years ago top BFD officials came out to Rochester to learn what the RFD did with it.

For those not familiar, the quint-midi concept works like this: an engine company and ladder company sharing the same house are reconfigured to use a midi-pumper and quint, respectively. The original idea, if I remember, was that the engine company officer position disappeared and the midi ran with 3 members. The truck officer commands both vehicles. The engine officer position was eliminated through attrition, so it took several years to implement the plan. This way, no jobs were really lost, and the midi was supposed to be less expensive to operate than a regular engine. A midi is an all wheel drive 750 pump with 3 man cab, and usually run most of the EMS calls.

Now, the new RFD chief has started a plan to go back to the traditional truck/engine companies. Nowadays the midis are running 2 members and he wants to beef up the initial response. Unfortunately, some of the midis are going to be eliminated and not revert back to engines; so there will be an overall cost savings, but at the expense of on-duty strength.
Comment by Rick on August 13, 2008 at 10:27am
Many people loose sight of the "Goal" because emotion gets in the way. Some times its our feelings , some times its the "smoke" others create to cloud the true issues.
I don't believe Mayor Byron Brown our his staff have an agenda to reduce services. Buffalo Fire Department has more new equiptment than I have seen in twenty years. Training is continual - new class rooms built right at the down town head quarters - joint operations with ATF - new aggressive Fire Marshals and investigators.

Don't you agree that its part of managements job to , " search for ways to economize." Said Penksa.

Thanks for your input.
Stay Safe
God Bless
Comment by Joe Stoltz on August 12, 2008 at 9:10pm
You're right; nowhere was the quality of service mentioned. I was reacting to the last statement at the end of the article:

"But Finance Commissioner Janet Penksa said that with Fire Department overtime reeling out of control, it’s important to search for ways to economize. Most other departments are within budget, said Penksa. If there’s any department that could “set the city back” financially, it’s fire, she lamented."

It just rubbed me the wrong way, I guess.
Comment by Rick on August 12, 2008 at 11:08am
You'r obviouly well in tune with the Fire Service ! I didn't read any where in the article where she denagraded the services provided by the Firefighters - did you ?
Others and I believe its time to be more responsible to the tax payers. When you break down what the Mayor and staff are trying to do - tax payers will ultimately agree.
Should on Duty Personal, man and drive company trucks in a purely "Political" event ?
The City is trying to curb the abuse of "Take home vehicles" - tax payers buy the cars/trucks , taxpayers pay fuel and maintainance costs - should high Ranking Officers and "Politicaly" well connected people use them as "Personal Taxi's?"
Its easy to pick apart the news articles - they dont have the time or resources to print the volumes of information thrown at them.
In the article about cutting cost she asked the Deputy to be "Inventive" in his thinking (might not be the exact word used) - is that not the responsibility of a leader ?
All to often we see a "New" group at the helm - but the only thing new is who's figured out how to play the system . Yes , there are thousands of well educated , seasoned Firefighters and Officers - yes many believe in their hearts what we do is honorable and deserving of compensation.
But when Buffalo and most of New York is being sucked dry by the highest taxes in the Country - isn't it time to look at new ways - isn't it time to ask ourselves - "What are we leaving those who come after we are gone?" - Or are we so ego centric that we no longer care?
Comment by Joe Stoltz on August 12, 2008 at 6:47am
Well Rick, in this morning's Buffalo News this same finance commissioner also spoke out against the fire trucks going up and down the roads when not on calls, wasting fuel. I get the impression that no matter what the BFD does, it will be wrong or too expensive.

It sounds like she needs a reality check; she obviously takes for granted the excellent service you guys provide.

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