An ongoing fiery debate between Rochester city leaders and the Rochester firefighters union is over dynamic staffing for the Rochester Fire Department.
The two sides unable to come up with an agreement, with the safety of residents in the balance.
Firefighters Union, Local 1071, held a news conference Thursday in hopes that Mayor Lovely Warren would call for an end to dynamic staffing.
Dynamic staffing is said to allow the closure of a firehouse for a shift. At the beginning of July, one Rochester firehouse closed during the evening and staff members had to be moved to another location.
At one point during the conference, Union President Eddie Santiago did agree to let the mayor step to the podium to address her proposed agreement, but things quickly escalated and changed as Santiago redirected the conversation saying that it was Union’s press conference; the mayor taking her exit.
Spectrum News was able to get a copy of the mayor's proposed agreement, which states it would end the dynamic staffing model that was implemented back on the first of the month if the union would agree to transfer $500,000 in state mandated insurance money to the city.
That money, referred to as Two Percent funds, would be used to pay for equipment and to train four firefighters, in order to move them into active duty.
Santiago said that his position as union president does not allow him the ability to agree to the proposal, something confirmed by the Two Percent Committee in a statement:
"Mayor Warren’s proposal on Dynamic Staffing was misdirected to the Rochester Firefighters, Local 1071 union, which has no control over Two Percent funds. The Mayor's proposal has been shared with the Two Percent Committee and its legal counsel. Attorney Glenn Pezzulo, who has handled this litigation since its inception, has reconfirmed the fact that the use of the Two Percent Fund in the manner proposed by the Mayor would be illegal and a violation of Insurance Law Sections 9104 and 9105 and more importantly, the decision of Supreme Court Justice Thomas Stander which was incorporated into the Settlement Agreement and signed by the City on August 7, 2012."
Still the proposal calls for a signature from Santiago.
After the mayor walked out she headed right back to city hall for a meeting with local burn survivor, Katie Ogg of Chili, and the city's fire chief.
Spectrum News spoke with her before her meeting with Ogg, and she said it wasn’t a good move for the union president to completely dismiss the proposal.
“If he truly believes that this is putting people at risk – if that is what he truly believes – we have documentation and a report that doesn’t support that,” said Warren.
“The study was something that he commissioned; he wanted. We have that study that shows that what we’re doing is not impacting public safety and causing problems…I want to listen to Katie today and hear what she has to say but as I said we are prepared to move forward.”
Ogg, who came out to the mayor’s office in order to have a conversation because she feels dynamic staffing will not work said, “I personally do not, and the reason I do not is because, like I said in my fire, it wasn’t minutes it was seconds is what we had left. If you can promise me that there can be absolutely no discrepancies in the time that the first responders arrive, I’m fine with that, but there is.”
The mayor arguing, “It has not had any impact on response time but if it is indeed a safety issue as the union president has stated, and that’s the reason why this is a problem then I would ask him to join me and we can end this tonight based on the proposal I gave him today.”
After the meeting both Warren and Ogg agreed that safety is a top priority.
They hope that the union and the mayor’s office can work out an agreement that benefits both parties and most important the, community.