This, That, and the Other
By Francis D. Kelly, Secretary
Fireman’s Fund

On behalf of Local 798, I would like to take this moment to thank Fireman’s Fund, particularly Chief Operating Officer/Executive Vice President, Joseph J. Beneducci for an invitation to join them on the evening of February 8, 2006.

The Reception and Dinner hosted by Fireman’s Fund, was held at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The occasion, “Remembering the Past, and Preparing For the Future”, a Tribute memorializing the sacrifices and determination of our San Francisco ancestors. The San Francisco Fire Department and Firefighters were also honored at this event. Once again, members of the Public made one feel proud that we chose to be

professional firefighters.

Fireman’s Fund was one of many to lose their Home office and building to the earthquake and subsequent fire of 1906. The day after the earthquake, Fireman’s Fund owed more than $12 million to policy holders, with assets just under $8 million. Fireman’s Fund engaged their policy holders with an unprecedented idea; 50 to 75 cents on the dollar would be paid outright, leaving the company with enough assets to rebuild. The new company made every policy holder whole, by offering stock certificates equal to the difference owed. It worked, and Fireman’s Fund of today continues to be a reputable company with their Home office in the Bay Area.

Thank you once again to Fireman’s Fund and Mr. Beneducci. I would also like to extend our thanks to Chief Joanne Hayes-White for offering two of the invitations to Local 798. My wife Gail and I enjoyed a wonderful evening.

For those of you with interest, I suggest you visit the exhibit at MOMA and the Palace of The Legion of Honor for a historical photographic review of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire.

Civil Service Lawsuit

Normally I don’t endorse Hanleyisms but “Say a Novena.”

You are all aware of the history. Two years after the Stipulated Order released the SFFD from the Consent Decree, we met with negotiators from Civil Service to adopt new rules for Promotional Examinations.

After three years of, often times heated debate, the Civil Service declared impasse and implemented their own Rule, statistically valid grouping, formally know as “Banding”.

Per the Charter, Section A8-590-4 Local 798 requested arbitration. We were quickly denied.

Without any other recourse we sought litigation. The last three years have been spent moving from Superior Court to the Appellate Court culminating with the California Supreme Court.

Oral arguments were heard March 7, 2006, nearly eight years since the San Francisco Fire Department’s last promotional examination. The tenor of the Court was not favorable. However, our attorney, Diane Sidd-Champion, delivered formidable arguments and rebuttals.

Several of the Justices questioned the validity of her arguments. Curve balls, sliders, and fastballs were thrown our way while the City Attorney was softballed questions, some of which would be considered leading and objectionable if it were a jury trial.

Diane Sidd-Champion did us proud; we have fought a good fight. The Court now has ninety (90) days (June 7, 2006) to render a decision that will allow the Civil Service carte blanche or to uphold the Appellate Court’s decision in favor of Local 798 and order the City to arbitration.

Promotional examinations remain our last major hurdle. Too many of your careers have been put on hold and hopefully, the Supreme Court decision will help dissolve the subjectivity that surrounds the present process. Civil Service Rules for the Certification of Eligibles for Promotional Examinations should be merit based, transparent and fair to all who choose to participate. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Membership for your patience and support.


Reports from the recent BART Fire suggest to me, for what it’s worth, that BART officials and the San Francisco Fire Department Administration need to address protocol when confronted with a fire in the BART Tube.

Articles in the Chronicle revealed that the Dispatcher, once notified by the Conductor of a fire in the Tube, instructed the Conductor to extinguish the fire with equipment carried on the train. “Really!” I hope this raised some red flags at 698 Second Street as it raised the hackles on the back of my neck.

The safety of the passengers is paramount. Firefighters are cognizant of how fast fire spreads and how quickly someone may be incapacitated and overcome by thick acrid smoke.

I realize the Dispatcher notified the Fire Department immediately, but BART officials need to prioritize evacuation of trains and passengers and let the Department deal with the extinguishment.

Sunday, March 12

The air was fresh and the wind piercing with a gentle rain falling at our feet. It’s what’s known to the Irish as a soft day.

I arrived at Civic Center just in time to see the San Francisco Fire Department contingency rounding the corner at Larkin and McAllister. Local 798’s Banner carried by some of our more distinguished or distinguishable members led the way.

After about 20 minutes, the excitement of the day was gnawing at me. I, had become parched. I bid farewell to my new found friends on either side, made an about face and trudged two blocks to the Temple Bar. Once inside the establishment, I immediately noticed the ever gracious proprietors had laid out a splendid table of corned beef and cabbage. The new potatoes and carrots gleamed in a sliver of sunlight that shone through a nearby window. Would it be a sin to eat these beautiful delicacies? “Forgive me Father Greene”, I said to myself as I washed ‘em down with a Black ‘N Tan.

Music and laughter filled the air as I made my way to the Bar where I passed the remainder of the day, sipping cold Budweiser and greeting friends both new and old. The seven lads from Waterford who came over to march in the Parade were there. We picked them up Friday afternoon and they hit the ground running. “..We’re work’n on just a couple hours sleep Frank...” one of them told me, “...but we’re having a great time and San Francisco is a beautiful and friendly city”. “Come back for our next Parade” I said, “on April 18, to remember the Great Earthquake and Fire”. “We will, we will, we’ll be here”. ‘Ya know, they just might.

After several hours of revelry, my thirst finally quenched, I exited the premises. And not a bit too soon I’m told. Fortunately, my teeth are still firmly rooted in my jaw. Ah! St. Patrick’s Day – it brings out the best in all of us!

It was such a fine day; I think I’ll do it again next year. Hope to see you there.


Main Menu