State labor board says Stamford failed to negotiate safety issues for firefighters

STAMFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations has ruled against the city of Stamford saying, it ” failed to negotiate substantial workplace safety impacts with the union representing the Stamford Professional Fire Fighters Association (SPFFA).”

The decision comes as a result of changes the city of Stamford made last year in the chain of command for firefighters. The city must take “corrective actions to remedy its violation,” according to the state labor board.

In 2013, the Stamford Volunteer Fire Chiefs sued the city to stop changes approved by Stamford voters in the 2012 Charter Revision vote. Mayor David Martin and his administration sought for a settlement which included the agreement to the Fire Protection Services Agreement (FPSA), which turned over management authority to the Turn of River Volunteer Fire Company.

The Stamford Professional Fire Fighters Association, IAFF Local 786 filed a complaint with the state labor board saying they were concerned that command and control of emergency scenes would be given to inexperienced volunteer fire fighters.

“We find that the change at issue impacts employee health and safety. The FPSA stipulates that training is critical to firefighter safety but is silent as to the necessary training and experience credentials of volunteer supervisors who have been introduced into the chain of command for career employees,” according to the Labor board ruling.

“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. In a fire or emergency situation, experience and training can be the difference between life and death. It is shameful that the Martin administration put politics before public safety,” said Brendan Keatley, President of the SPFFA.

The state labor board has ordered the city of Stamford to restore the chain of command back to the original pre-FPSA plan.

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