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Police & Fire

Labor Board Rules With Firefighters In Suit Against Stamford Over Command

The Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations ruled the City of Stamford failed to negotiate workplace safety impacts with the union representing the city's firefighters.
The Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations ruled the City of Stamford failed to negotiate workplace safety impacts with the union representing the city's firefighters. Photo Credit: File

STAMFORD, Conn. -- The Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations has issued a ruling against the City of Stamford, saying it failed to negotiate substantial workplace safety impacts with the union representing the Stamford Professional Fire Fighters Association.

The decision and litigation resulted from changes the city made in 2014 to the chain of command for firefighters, according to a press release. The labor board ruled the city must restore the previous chain of command and bargain with the union if it wants to change the chain of command.

“The state labor board was clear that the city of Stamford turned a blind eye to public and firefighter safety, while refusing for the last 2½ years to negotiate this serious issue," said Brendan Keatley, president of the Stamford Professional Fire Fighters Association, in a press release. "In a fire or emergency situation, experience and training can be the difference between life and death. It is shameful that the [Mayor David] Martin administration put politics before public safety.”

On June 6, 2014, the Stamford Professional Fire Fighters Association, IAFF Local 786 filed a complaint with the Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations, charging that the city violated the Municipal Employee Relations Act when it unilaterally entered into a Fire Protection Services Agreement with the Turn of River Volunteer Fire company that changed the command structure for Stamford Professional Fire Fighters, according to a press release.

The problem arose after Stamford’s Volunteer Fire Chiefs sued the city in 2013 in an effort to thwart Stamford voters and the changes approved by the electorate in the 2012 Charter Revision vote. 

The city sought a legal settlement, which included agreeing to a Fire Protection Services Agreement, turning over significant management authority to the Turn of River Volunteer Fire Company.

Among concerns expressed by the union was it gave command and control of emergency scenes to inexperienced and relatively new volunteer firefighters instead of veteran career city firefighters and their commanding officers, according to a press release. The union argued successfully this jeopardized the lives of firefighters and citizens.

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