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What REALLY happened Nov 2nd

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  • What REALLY happened Nov 2nd

    This is from the UFOA website by Pete Gorman, UFOA President:

    What Really Happened on November 2nd

    A week before November 2nd, this Board became aware of the reduction in manpower at the WTC site. We immediately began receiving phone calls from our members condemning the new policy, including those members who knew first hand that this new policy was nothing more than a smoke and mirrors tactic to switch the WTC operation to a scoop and dump operation. Widows of our members began calling our office on Monday, October 29th.

    On Tuesday, Kevin Gallagher and I met with First Deputy Fire Commissioner Mike Regan and Mike Vecchi to discuss the situation. We told them of the rising tensions and told them that it was imperative to meet with these families to explain the new policy. We expressed the concerns and anger of the membership. We reminded Regan and Vecchi that the Mayor promised these families that the recovery effort would continue until the last brick was removed.

    After getting no response from the FDNY, Kevin Gallagher called the Mayor's office on Thursday and asked for an emergency meeting with Deputy Mayor Joe Lhota. The Mayor's office called back and arranged a meeting for 3 p.m. with Deputy Mayor Tony Coles. Kevin Gallagher, Vice President of the PBA John Puglesi and myself attended the meeting at 3 p.m. By this time UFA and UFOA phones were ringing off the hook with calls from outraged members and widows. We begged Tony Coles to restore manning for 72-96 hours just to calm things down out in the field. Our suggestion was to restore manpower temporarily, until all parties agreed to a workable number. We told Mr. Coles that the entire membership knew they were being lied to and communication to the membership and the families was imperative. We informed Mr. Coles that a non-sanctioned demonstration with off-duty members and widows was taking place on Friday morning. We begged the City and FDNY to intervene and help us to ease tensions, but we also informed the City that if our members and their families were demonstrating, that the UFOA, UFA and the building trades unions would join them. Kevin Gallagher had his board waiting for a decision. We told City Hall that we needed an answer in three hours.

    We never received a call back. Our desperate attempt to mediate the issue met deaf ears. Kevin called me about 7 p.m. and said he was asking his members to join the demonstration. His message was going out by fax to all firehouses. I immediately called the entire UFOA Board. We made a unanimous decision to support not only the families of firefighters lost at the trade center but the families of all those that were lost. We sent a fax to all firehouses at 9 p.m. and updated the hotline.

    That Friday morning 1,000 firefighters were joined by some of our families. Emotions were high. Those families came for one reason, to go to ground zero. The first barricade was removed by police, but after that decision, a decision at the highest level of the city government was made to stop the demonstration. The police did their job and as a result firefighters were denied access to the WTC site to say a prayer. Shoving and pushing ensued, twelve arrests were made. The confrontation was heartbreaking for me as well as the entire membership of the FDNY and NYPD. We are brother and sisters. We worked and died side by side on September 11th, but now we were fighting with each other.

    City Hall knew about the demonstration. We told them about it on Thursday. The Mayor knew that if firefighters demonstrated peacefully, he would look bad. So he did what he does best, he made sure that he would not be made to look bad by the firefighters or anyone else. He gave the order to stop the march. A peaceful march of firefighters who still had their brothers buried at the WTC site, to say a solemn prayer.

    By 5 p.m. he held a press conference to condemn our firefighters. The Police Commissioner boasted that if you hit a cop you will go to jail. Von Essen apologized for the actions of the firefighters. Instead of apologizing, the Fire Commissioner should have tried to understand and explain the grief and frustration of the firefighters and their families. Like many of you I also have family in the NYPD; my brother is a Captain with 22 years in the NYPD. No one in this Department condones violence against police more than I do.

    For 15 hours, 12 firefighters and fire officers, including UFOA Board members Jack Ginty, Steve Carbone, and UFA Vice President Mike Carter, were detained at the 28th Precinct in Harlem and later transferred to central booking. All felony charges were immediately dismissed by the D.A. Two members were released outright with no charges.

    On Saturday, Kevin Gallagher was arrested and booked for criminal trespass. I was called Saturday evening and told to turn myself in or face arrest at my home. I surrendered Sunday morning but I was not released until 3 p.m.

    After attending a memorial service on Monday morning at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Kevin and I spent the next 10 hours at two confidential meetings to find a solution to the situation. While attending the second meeting in good faith, Kevin was beeped and told that two of his board members were being arrested. At this point, we both walked out of the meeting and told them that we would not negotiate with a gun held to our head.

    The meeting scheduled for Tuesday was cancelled. Kevin and I still withheld further actions and agreed to another high-level meeting on Wednesday morning. At that meeting a framework for an agreement began to evolve, but Kevin was beeped again to be informed that 5 more of his members were being arrested. We again ended this meeting but left the door open for further negotiations.

    In the meantime many of our widows were calling upon us to cancel the memorial in view of the City's actions regarding the continued reduction of firefighter staffing at the WTC site and the subsequent actions of Mayor Guilani and Commissioner Von Essen. If the staffing issue is not resolved we will take whatever legal action is necessary. With the support of the I.A.F.F. we will organize and take our cause to the people of this City. At 5 p.m. last night we held a joint press conference with I.A.F.F. President Harold Shaitberger to cancel the event.

    What chain of events would cause the anger and frustration that was demonstrated last Friday?

    Since September 11th have you ever seen a uniformed Chief Officer for the FDNY speak for the department or for our members. Our Commissioner is at Ground zero with a white helmet when the President or any other politician comes to Ground zero. Our Commissioner is at every media event and baseball game, but has he said anything to encourage morale in his own department. His only comments were "suck it up" and "firefighters are like High School children". Who is running this job? It is no secret that two senior Deputy Chiefs were notified by the Chief of Department and Chief of Operation of their promotion to DAC. It is also no secret that the 7th floor was overruled again. The Deputy Chiefs were denied promotion by direction of the Fire Commissioner. It was clear that the events of September 11th did not change existing policy of the Fire Commissioner to restrict the decision making ability of the ranking Chiefs of this Department.

    Apparatus are not being used for funerals due to lack of equipment. That's understandable, but how do you think widows felt when they saw E-68 at Rudy's Yankees rally at City Hall. Did you think about them Commissioner?

    Our bagpipe band plays at every funeral and memorial, but for over a month the Department would not release them to the ceremonial unit. They worked 24 hour tours and changed their clothes in church parking lots. Did you think about them Commissioner?

    E-10 and L-10 lost 5 men on September 11th. They continued to work at the site for weeks under difficult conditions. When some of those young firefighters requested medical leave due to stress, the Fire Commissioner pouted and closed the companies. It is no secret that this was the decision of the Fire Commissioner and it was not supported by Commanders in the field. Did you think about them Commissioner?

    On September 11th this Department lost 343 men. A devastating blow that we can and will recover from. But the job is bleeding, we all need support, where is our leadership? Who is there for the membership? We know that City Hall turned their backs on us. But where was our department, where was our Commissioner and where was the leadership we expect from the senior ranking uniformed members of this department? Those firefighters who came to demonstrate on Friday were not union radicals. They are the best this department has. They are the salt of the earth. I don't expect anyone to condone any violence, but has anyone on the 7th or 8th floor asked themselves how did this happen? Why did the anger build up, why did the membership feel betrayed? Was it only the Executive Boards of the UFA and UFOA that knew of the simmering tension in our firehouses and with our families? Was it only us who saw those tears flowing from the eyes of the membership last Friday? How can the Fire Commissioner sit idly by and allow union officials and fire department members be arrested? Was it really all our fault? Did we not try to avoid it?

    A retired Captain was one of the members arrested last Friday. His son is still missing. When the unions were asked to leave the 28th Precinct, my brother came in uniform to get them soda and food. He is a probationary NYPD Captain, but he came because he thought it was the right thing to do. Did any FDNY official or Staff Chief think it was right to visit their members in jail? Do you think now it is time to speak up, not to support the Union, but to support your fellow firefighters. The tears have not stopped. Bad things happen when good men do nothing. Your members are bleeding.

    [ 11-12-2001: Message edited by: E229lt ]

  • #2
    E229lt, Even if you are 100% correct, you are preaching to the choir. That's not the way the media picked it up. My newspaper in Florida ran the AP story blaming it on the IAFF International President. The public is my concern and as a vollie I don't even belong to the union. I don't want the public to remember some alledged "same old" political fight instead of the most horrendous tragedy of all time. 343 firefighters and their families gone or devastated in an instant. Too many are forgetting to soon for my liking.
    Bob Compton


    • #3
      E229LT,Keep up the good work brother, Remember the politicians dont care and never will care about the rank and file.Union bashing is easy when you are a politician as the papers are a ready conduit for them to spill their garbage.Just keep doing what you feel is right, get the word out as soon as possible and we will support you, just give the greater brotherhood a call. be safe.


      • #4
        Artie, my Brother...

        I think it's time that the public information personnel UFOA and UFA take a little walk to over to ABC News, CBS News and NBC News and ask them to tell the story of what really happened on Novmeber 2nd.

        Rudy is a lame duck now, so they don't have to (and I paraphrase Mike Moran) kiss his
        lowlife political ***!

        We are behind you guys all the way! FTM-PTB-RFB!
        ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
        Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY


        • #5
          It is a shame that once someone puts on the crossed bugles, they forget where they came from. I hope that the citizens of NYC standup
          up for the FDNY. You guys deserve their respect.
          I am a Major from OCFD and when we needed help on April 19, 1995, NYFD came to help.
          Thank you very much.


          • #6

            Your letter gives new meaning to the term
            "New York's Bravest." It takes a special dedication to fulfill your calling of service when you know your back is uncovered.

            While the politicians leave you and all of the other Bravest exposed, remember that all of us across the nation, and I suspect the world, have got you covered.

            Keep fighting the good fight.
            BE SAFE
            Before Everything, Stop And First Evaluate


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