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May 7, 2014

Fire crews, chief disagree about truck's safety

Oneonta firefighters asked the Common Council during Tuesday night's meeting to take the city's ladder truck out of service based on safety concerns.

After a brief review and comments by the mayor and council members, the aerial truck remained in service based on the decision of the Oneonta Fire Department chief, who considered the vehicle safe for use.

Also at the meeting in City Hall, the council heard complaints about student behavior in the Columbia Street area and about noise levels of concerts at a church in the Sixth Ward. The council approved personnel and fiscal motions.

Regarding the ladder truck, Andrew Turner, president of Local 2408 Oneonta Professional Firefighters, said after Tuesday's meeting that the union's lawyer has encouraged filing a grievance and complaint with appropriate authorities. Turner said he had to consult with the union about further actions.

Turner said the request is that it not be used until "certified safe."

"We're at risk every time we go out the door," Turner said.

Fire Chief Patrick Pidgeon disagreed.

Pidgeon said the truck was certified in July for one year. A problem developed with a switch and the boom, he said, and the vehicle has been checked, though he has arranged for an inspection in two weeks. Pidgeon said he would use the truck if need to respond to a call.

"I would go up in it," Pidgeon said. "It is safe."

Pidgeon said the nearest communities with a similar truck are Sidney, Cooperstown and Stamford.

Council members Michael Lynch of the Fourth Ward, David Rissberger of the Third Ward and Madolyn Palmer of the Fifth Ward expressed support for the union's position before Pidgeon's report.

Bob Brzozowski, council member of the Seventh Ward, said that he agreed with the mayor that "it's the chief's call."

The council has previously discussed setting aside funds to replace the ladder truck. 

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