Firefighters' Union Set to Take Legal Action to Snuff Staff Cuts

The firefighters union plans to take legal action to prevent the city from cutting staff at 60 engine companies next month, claiming reducing personnel at some of the city's busiest companies would put the public at risk.

The union plans to file legal papers seeking an injunction to stop the staffing reduction and force arbitration with the city, which has kept five firefighters on duty at those companies under a 1996 agreement.

"It's going to make it incredibly difficult for firefighters to put out fires as quickly as we have in the past," said Steve Cassidy, President of the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York. "That leads to a whole series of negative things: expanding fires, the more likelihood that people will be trapped on the floor above the fire."

Cassidy said he hopes the legal action will force the city to come to the negotiating table.

"I'm upset that it has come to this, and that the Bloomberg administration has failed to sit down and negotiate," he said. "They believe that they don't have to. It's a mistake on their part. And you know, we'll let the facts speak for themselves," he said.

A spokesman for the Bloomberg Administration said the majority of the city's engine companies already operate with just four firefighters. He said the city doesn't have to negotiate with the union and that the staff reductions will take place next month.

A spokesman for the FDNY said the staffing reductions at those 60 companies would save the city $30 million per year.