WINDS OF CHANGE
By Jim Vannucchi, Director
|With the new millennium, many of us hoped that productive change
would finally embrace the SFFD. Sadly, the woes of yesteryear
continue to be the stumbling blocks that preclude us from rekindling
into our rightful place as THE department to be a member of.
Once again, the cancer that decimates any public agency has raised its ugly head. The administration of Chief Tobacco has wrongfully inherited the budgetary mistakes of the previous leadership, leaving him with few options. Issues such as DP, SP, LD, etc., have always been a concern, for both the public and private sectors, and they have now taken the forefront. Yet, rather than assuming a punitive stance, perhaps one of true recognition and respect for the rank and file should be the direction to help cure our illness. To name a few:
Re-instatement of vested sick time in its entirety.
It is with great anticipation that we welcome the current graduating class of 46 H-3 Paramedic/Firefighters. Their inclusion into our ranks can do nothing less than help us in our daily staffing and provide a much-needed relief for our existing and over-burdened H-1s & H-3s.
Further, the SFFD needs to accelerate its program for H-2s to cross-train as H-3s. The most valuable resource of this Department is its members. The future of the SFFD rests with the vision to utilize this resource and mold it into an effective, cutting-edge tool, with full integration of paramedics onto Advanced Life Saving engines in the re-structured capacity as 1-4 and full paramedic staffing of ambulances.
Many of you have already submitted surveys as they pertain to the upcoming contract negotiations. If you have not already done so, I urge you to invest some time and give the document the serious consideration it deserves. Your choices will have a significant effect on your benefits for many years to come and I ask that you please do not be shortsighted. Historically, attrition in the fire service is extraordinarily low, and the direction we take now in securing benefits for the membership will most decidedly impact all future retirements.
The NFPA has developed a new standard (1710) that is to be voted on in May 2001. If adopted, it will become the bar at which all career departments will be judged. This standard encompasses issues that Local 798 has felt were paramount for many years. The highlights include:
Minimum engine and truck staffing of 4 firefighters (5/6 in
jurisdictions with tactical hazards and high-hazard occupancies).
Beginning March of 2001 with the rank of H-30, the Administration and the Fire Exam Unit will initiate a schedule for promotional testing. The end result will be the permanent appointment of successful candidates to the tested rank with the hopes of providing sound leadership and continuity in the field. However, in the interest of fairness for all, no exam will be administered until Local 798 and Civil Service agree on rules. The position of Local 798 has always been, in the case of an active list, to hire solely based on rank order. In the absence of an active list, seniority was always the standard, unless an agreement was reached whereas the rankings on an expired list were used to temporarily fill vacant positions.
HELP US HELP YOU
For many years I have heard the rhetorical question why do we get involved in politics? Its quite simple; it helps us help you. Officials who hold elected office are more inclined to be empathetic to the needs of a body in which there is some type of an association. PAC creates that bond. Supporting a candidate with our time and money weaves that common thread that gives us access to that office to present our concerns so that we may ultimately benefit the membership. Please reflect on this when we call upon you in the future to support and participate in our political aspirations. It is you who will carry the day.