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Local News

May 15, 2014

Firefighters union files grievance over truck

The Oneonta firefighters union has filed a grievance with the state over the city’s decision to keep its aerial ladder truck, No. 1641, in service, the union president said Wednesday.

Andrew Turner, president of Local 2408, told the Common Council on May 6 of union concerns that the truck wasn’t safe to use and asked that it be taken out of service until it was inspected and certified.

The request was denied based on the fire chief’s decision that the aerial ladder truck was safe for use.

After clarifying the city’s position by consulting with City Manager Michael H. Long last week, the Oneonta Professional Firefighters, International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 2408, filed a complaint with the Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau, a unit of the state Department of Labor.

Patrick Pidgeon, fire department chief, has told city officials and the council that a problem with the switch on the truck was identified, repairs were made and the vehicle had been certified in July for one year. Re-certification has been scheduled for next week, earlier than planned, to meet the union’s concerns.

Pidgeon wasn’t at work Wednesday.

Michael Long, Oneonta city manager, in a May 8 memorandum to Turner reiterated Pidgeon’s views on the safety of the aerial ladder truck.

The department’s other ladder truck, No. 1611, was to be taken out of service May 9 for about a week, Long said. If both trucks were out of service, the city wouldn’t have an ladder vehicle to respond in an emergency, he said.

No. 1641 is a 1987 95-foot ladder truck without pump capabilities, according to the department’s website. No. 1611 is a 1992 engine with a 65-foot elevated water way.

The Common Council has discussed plans to replace the 1987 vehicle.

Turner said PESH representatives came to Oneonta and met with him and department chiefs on Tuesday. A report will be issued perhaps in two or three weeks, he said.

The PESH Bureau was created in 1980 and enforces safety and health standards under the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Act and other state standards.

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