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Next story: Peace Bridge (Mis)understanding

All is Peaceful Between Byron and the Firefighters - Right?

When Buffalo’s firefighters voted to accept a new contract, it seemed as if Mayor Byron Brown had removed another hurdle between himself and easy re-election to a third term this fall. There would be no firefighters protesting campaign events this summer, no organized effort to aid Brown’s Democratic primary opponent, Bernie Tolbert.

The detente was short-lived. Here are excerpts from a letter sent out Wednesday by Dan Cunningham, president of Buffalo Professional Firefighters Association Local 282, complaining about repeated safety violations countenanced by the city since last August:

After almost a year, the City continues to ignore the violations and only recently tried to avoid compliance with manufacturer’s recommendation for inspection and certification of breathing apparatus by having untrained officers train firefighters. The problem with this, officers are NOT certified technicians called for by the manufacturer Scott, the most respected name in Self Contained Breathing Apparatus design in the country…

As firefighters we are exposed to not only dangerous conditions but also hazardous materials. Regulations require annual physical examinations. The City still hasn’t given physicals in over 3 years and now approaching a year after being cited by [Public Employees Safety and Health Bureau of New York State] in August 2012 for this violation…

Recently the City was cited for serious violations by PESH over the physical condition of the firehouse on Rhode Island, which houses one of the busiest engine companies in the entire city. Unfortunately it appears that the only concern the Brown Administration has for us is that we ratified a new contract so we won’t be protesting at any of his events.

Safety of our members is the most important issue 24 hours a day. Achieving a safe work environment will only happen if we have qualified experienced officers in charge of every fire company. WE DO NOT HAVE THAT. Due to the Brown Administration’s failure to promote in almost 2 years there are more than 25 vacancies in the officer ranks. The men and women who spent countless hours studying on their time, away from their families to qualify on promotion lists deserve to be promoted NOW! Not when it is a convenient Public Relations stunt for the Mayor! Is he waiting for more checks to be written?

It took 11 years to achieve a collective bargaining agreement that provides a small measure of fairness to the Buffalo firefighters. Resolution of these issues cannot be put off any longer and needs to be resolved NOW! Buffalo Firefighters unselfishly put themselves in harm’s way on an almost daily basis to serve and protect Buffalo’s citizens. We deserve safe equipment, quality command officers and the City’s compliance with safety regulations so we can return from each tour of duty to our families, safe and unharmed.

The letter was sent to the media and members of Buffalo’s Common Council.

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