LETTER: Jersey City firefighters’ union leader calls out public safety director on staffing

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Joseph W. Krajnik, President of Uniformed Fire Fighters Association of Jersey City, demanded a meeting over staffing with Public Safety Director James Shea.
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Director Shea,

As you are aware, on this date, Sunday, the 24th of AUGUST 2014, during the radio test, the following front line fire apparatus, and command operations, were placed; “Off Duty” by the Tour Commander, due to the lack of staffing, and they were; “Engine Company 6, 17, 18 & 19, along with Ladder Company 9, and Battalion 4”, again, were placed off duty or approximately 20% of the Division of Fire, under the Department of Public Safety! Keeping in mind, approximately 35% of the Fire Fighters within the Division of Fire, Department of Public Safety, have less than four (4) years experience, and thus, command guidance from that of a seasoned Company Commander on a daily basis!

First, our recent discussions with your office were that under the; “SAFER Grant”, we are not in compliance of said grant, as the total number of Fire Fighters, and Fire Officers, were to be kept at a level of 588 (keeping in mind – a 600 staffed Division)! Currently, we are staffed at 576, thus, we are required to hire twelve (12) Probationary Fire Fighters, and your recent positions was, we should hire, and train more, to keep up with retirements, a position well taken by this writer! We firmly believe a; “Class of Twenty-Five (25) Trainees”, were an optimum size, dating back to conversations with Dr. Denis Onieal, the Former Chief of the Jersey City Fire Department, who is currently the; “Superintendent of the National Fire Academy, housed in Emmitsburg, Maryland”, and request your further thoughts on this important subject matter!

Second, during a face to face Safety & Health Meeting with your; “Assistant Director, the COD, His Chief of Staff, Local 1064’s President & Vice President”, a discussion was put forth by this writer with reference to the; “Fire Officer’s Bidding for the CBRNE Vessel”, and in conclusion, this writer sought that if in accordance with your Assistant’s discussion on Engine Company 18, not being staffed, (one (1) Fire Fighter permanently assigned, and four (4) Fire Captains), we (this writer) suggested the four (4) Bid Slots of the Company Commanders at Engine Company 18, be moved on paper from Engine 18 to that of the CBRNE Vessel (fire boat), and thus, the; “ON PAPER – ENGINE COMPANY 18 WOULD DISAPPEAR FROM THE DIVISION OF FIRE, AND PLACED INTO THE MOTH BALL FLEET, ACCORDINGLY”!

Third, in a face to face conversation with President Nowak, it is his understanding, that a; “Proposed Plan” has been; “ordered”, to be prepared to cut the Division of Fire within the Department of Public Safety, by millions of dollars, based on two (2) open formal grievances, should I.A.F.F., Local 1064, AFL-CIO, CLC prevail, and should be openly discussed with this writer, as in the end, any cut/cuts in the Division of Fire, will ultimately impact on the; “Staffing, up ward mobility, Safety, Command Structure, and so much more”, within the Division of Fire, Department of Public Safety! Keeping in mind, s— rolls down hill!

SEE NOTE IN POINT FIVE, SECTION B.!

Fourth, it is further, this writers understanding the; “Table of Organization for the Division of Police, Department of Public Safety”, has been modified since the first reading ordinance presented, and received by this writer, that was pulled, at the last moment, and applaud the His Honor, your efforts, your Assistant Director, and that of the POBA & PSOA the professionalism for coming to a final product, that this writer is lead to believe should be presented for a second time, in the very near future! This writers questions will remain; “what was, and what is”, and sure the answers will be interesting!

Fifth, it is this writer’s “crystal clear knowledge” that; “No talks and/or discussions”, will be held on the; “Table of Organization within the Division of Fire, Department of Public Safety” until both Formal Grievance are resolved, which if a hearing is held in early OCTOBER of 2014 on said subjects, a decision could come as early as; “JANUARY of 2015”, with that said, this writer puts forth the following suggestions, in light of our study, the addendum, and other study documents, and call to your attention the following;

A. Currently, the staffing within the Division of Fire, Department of Public Safety, under the applied, and awarded; “SAFER Grant” through the; “United States Department of Homeland Security – FEMA”, under the; “Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) Documented information filed”, as the boilerplate findings!

B. Complete discussion on the current staffing document provided to this writer back on the 21st of MAY 2014 at a face to face meeting with both the Office of the Chief, and that of the Director, dated; “MAY – 2014”, authored by the COD, and the Excel sheets provided at a full strength of twenty-seven (27) line fire company level, and that of a twenty-four (24) line fire company level with; “no brown outs” (emphasis on – no brown outs), as promulgated to the Officers, Executive Board Members, and Shop Stewards within the Uniformed Fire Fighters Association of Jersey City, I.A.F.F., Local 1066, AFL- CIO, CLC, after said face to face meeting under Communications No’s, 2923-14 through 2933-14, respectfully!

NOTE: ON THE 22ND OF NOVEMBER 2010, THE CHIEF OF THE DEPARTMENT, CHIEF DARREN E. RIVERS, FORWARDED A; “DEPARTMENT RE-ORGANIZATION PLAN”, TO THAN DIRECTOR ARMANDO ROMAN, WITH A START DATE OF THE 1ST OF DECEMBER 2010; “A SEVEN (7) POINT PLAN” (forwarded to all the Officers, Executive Board Members, and Shop Stewards, within the Uniformed Fire Fighters Association of Jersey City, I.A.F.F., Local 1066, AFL-CIO, CLC, back on the 24th of NOVEMBER 2010, under Communications No’s.5590-10 & 5591-10, also, copied the Honorable Mayor Jerramiah Healy, Rosemary McFadden, Jack Kelly & Jerome Cala), respectfully!

C. A “Table of Organization” should the Jersey City Fire Officers prevail in the grievance arbitration!

D. A “Table of Organization” should the City lose the grievance arbitration!

Sixth, staffing the EMS Ambulance Service, and supervision, remains on the table, anything new to reports?

In closing, your attention, and moreover, input, and that of your Fire Service Experts, to this request…………..to explore the above, would be greatly appreciated, for the Fire Fighters you command/represent, deserve your full attention to this important issue of minimum on-duty staffing levels of both the Fire Fighters, and that of the Fire Officers, under the; “Interdepartmental Memorandum, dated the 24th of OCTOBER 2013 (forwarded to all the Officers, Executive Board Members, and Shops Stewards within the Uniformed Fire Fighters Association of Jersey City, I.A.F.F., Local 1066, AFL-CIO, CLC, on said date, under Communications No. 5224-13/e-mail, sent on three (3) moving memorandums was sent out on the 24th of OCTOBER 2013, at 5:28 PM) discussion in this important fully paid career; “Division of Fire under your watch, within the Department of Public Safety”!

Thanking you in advance, for your understanding, and look forward to a vigorous discussion at your call with all parties!

Respectfully Submitted,

Joseph W. Krajnik, President
Uniformed Fire Fighters Association of Jersey City,
I.A.F.F., Local 1066, AFL-CIO, CLC

NOTE: THIS WRITER WILL FURTHER, REVIEW VARIOUS NOTES ON FILE, AND WILL AUGMENT THIS REQUEST, ACCORDINGLY!