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WWW.UFANYC.ORG

OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE

UNIFORMED FIREFIGHTERS ASSOCIATION OF GREATER NEW YORK

VOL. L NO. 1, 2014

Representing the UFA in New York’s 253 St. Patrick’s Day Parade are: (L-R) Brooklyn Trustee John G. Kelly, Jr.; FF Danny Manning, L43 (Ret.); UFA Vice-President Jim Slevin; UFA President Steve Cassidy; Manhattan Trustee Vinny Speciale; FF Mike Irwin, E281; Staten Island Trustee Eric Bischoff; and Health & Safety Officer, Sergeant-at-Arms Gerard Fitzgerald.

President’s Message by Stephen J. Cassidy

FIRE COMMISSIONER CASSANO ABUSES POWER TO STIFLE FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS

T

he lengths to which the current FDNY administration will go, to punish those who dare to legitimately criticize its policies, is startling. Nothing better illustrates this fact then the recent treatment of Firefighter Elizabeth Osgood of Engine 47. On November 10, 2013, New York Post reporter Susan Edelman wrote an article describing the manner in which a female probationary firefighter had received special treatment in order

Photo Credit: Stephen N. Symbolik III

The Bravest

to allow her to complete the training requirements of the Fire Academy. The article reported that the candidate had actually been allowed to graduate from the Academy and be assigned to an Engine Company in Queens, even though she had failed to complete the one and one-half mile run in the requisite 12 minutes. It also reported that this candidate, after graduation still failed the running test five more times. The article went on to say that the candidate had initially suffered a foot injury and then had an upper respiratory problem, which affected her ability to complete the run in the required minimum time. Continued on page 2


Uniformed Firefighters Association 204 EAST 23rd STREET, NEW YORK, N.Y. 10010-9998 Tel (212) 683-4832 • Fax (212) 683-0710 www.ufanyc.org

STEPHEN J. CASSIDY President ENG 236

JAMES M. SLEVIN Vice President ROBERT STRAUB Treasurer

LAD 7

ENG 45

JOHN G. KELLY, JR Trustee-Brooklyn ENG 201 Chairman, Board of Trustees

MATTHEW M. DESJARDIN Trustee-Queens ENG 325 VINCENT SPECIALE Trustee-Manhattan

STEPHEN J. CASSIDY Editor-In-Chief

ENG 55

LEROY C. MCGINNIS Recording Secretary

GERARD FITZGERALD Health & Safety Officer Sergeant-at-Arms EDWARD BROWN Trustee-Bronx

ERIC BISCHOFF Trustee-Staten Island

STEVEN TAGLIANI Fire Marshal Representative

STEPHEN N. SYMBOLIK III Managing Editor

ENG 266 ENG 318 LAD 48

ENG 161 BFI

Presorted First Class Mail US Postage PA I D Farmingdale, NY Permit No.125


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NO. 1 2014

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What’s In Your Wallet? WTC Health Program I.D. Card

For use at any local pharmacy Ăą WT C-covered prescriptions, from FDNY WTC Treatment physicians Ladder Co. 20 was organized 125 years ago on April 1, 1889 at 155 Mercer Street near Prince Street in a building which, in the past, had been the quarters of the Lafayette Hook & Ladder 6 of the old volunteer department. The building also served for many years as fire headquarters for both the volunteer and paid departments. The structure still stands today. Ladder Co. 20’s first alarm district was primarily a commercial loft and warehouse area. The neighborhood was the locale of many major fires over the years that claimed the lives of scores of firefighters. For this reason, Ladder Co. 20’s local response district was know as “Hell’s Hundred Acres.â€? Herb Eysser, UFA Staff

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UFA DELEGATE EDUCATION SEMINAR May 6-9, 2014 ATLANTIC CITY, NJ

NYC Gov coverage for non-WTC chemotherapy & injectable meds - for you and your \RXDQG\RXUIDPLO\ family members. PD\EHHQWLWOHGWR   YDOXDEOHFDVK EHQHÂżWV"

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www.ufanyc.org


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NO. 1 2014

What’s In Your Wallet? WTC Health Program I.D. Card

For use at any local pharmacy ñ WTCcovered prescriptions, from FDNY WTC Treatment physicians

PICA Card

NYC Gov coverage for non-WTC chemotherapy & injectable medic ations for you and your family members.

Line of Duty Injury (LODI) card

Covers active Firefighters, Fire Marshals, & Wipers ñ Prescriptions for LODI-related antibiotics, burn products, ophthalmic, musculoskeletal, respiratory therapy, AIDS / HIV (brief exposure res ponse).

Please note - Pharmacies not participating: Walgreens and Duane Reade.

UFA/SF B Prescription Card

For non-WTC & non-LODI prescription medications for you and your family

www.ufanyc.org

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NO. 1 2014

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WTC Medical Monitoring Now Includes Cancer Screening • • •

In-depth yearly health evaluation, providing WTC & non-WTC results: cholesterol, glucose levels, liver and kidney functions Blood Cell Counts and Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA, if indicated) Screening Colonoscopy, Screening Mammography, and Chest CT Scan, as per USPSTF (US Preventive Services Task Force) Guidelines

What happens at a WTC Treatment Appointment? • •

When you have a diagnosed WTC-related health issue, you are seen & treated by FDNY WTC Treatment physicians and nurses If needed, medical staff submits WTC certification forms to NIOSH. Upon approval, you can then access free WTC treatment benefits: o Specialized diagnostic testing, referrals to specialists (GI’s , ENTs, etc) in WTC network, & prescriptions for WTC-covered meds

How do I get medications to treat my WTC health issues? •

Free WTC Prescriptions may only be written by an FDNY WTC doctor o Covered medication categories include respiratory, chronic sinus, GERD, Cancer & mental health

Where are WTC Treatment appointments available? •

5 WTC sites around Metro New York – multiple days at each location o FDNY WTC active & retired members, please call (718) 999-1858

What about WTC Counseling and Mental Health Services? •

5 locations around Metro New York, staffed with licensed FDNY WTC Counselors and Psychiatrists o Call (212) 570-1693 for more details, and to schedule an appointment

Is cancer covered under the FDNY WTC Health Program? • •

Yes. WTC Health Program now covers over 60 WTC-related cancers Received a cancer diagnosis, have biopsy & pathology reports? Contact Nadia Jaber – (718) 999-1223 - to start WTC cancer certification process

Please note: FDNY WTC Doctors have NO duty determination responsibilities Questions RE FD WTC Healthcare Services? Call WTC Nurses - (718) 999-1878

www.ufanyc.org

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Photo Credit: Stephen N. Symbolik III

NO. 1 2014

On March 6th, UFA members rallied on the steps of City Hall in support of FF Elizabeth Osgood. (L-R) Criminal defense and civil rights lawyer Ron Kuby; UFA President Steve Cassidy; and FF Elizabeth Osgood.

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www.ufanyc.org


Legislative Update

NO. 1 2014

O

by James M. Slevin, Vice President

See You in Albany

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n April 29th the UFA will once again be making a return to our State Capitol to press our legislative agenda. This year we will also be thanking the legislature for passing the first bill that became law in the 2014 legislative session. In January, Governor Cuomo signed the Legacy Credit Bill that made technical corrections to the existing credits. As a result 13 candidates, each of whom had a parent die as a result of a WTC illness, were able enter the FDNY training academy on January 27th. Please be sure to thank your legislators for passing this important bill that meant so much to the families of our fallen brothers while you are in Albany. If you have not already done so you should let your delegate know that you would like to attend UFA Lobby Day 2014. Busses will be departing from every borough. You should also make appointments with the legislators that represent your home district. Full information on Lobby Day is available in a separate 65-2 and on the UFA website. When new Firefighters are hired many of them go into pension Tier III & VI. The UFA is lobbying to gain back the benefits that were lost as a result of the 2009 veto of the Tier II Extender. Tier III/VI members have significantly reduced disability benefits and no protection of the presumptive bills such as Heart, Lung and Cancer Bills. Every single one of these members should make it to Lobby Day if they care about getting these benefits back that will protect them and their families. Additionally, every member that has Tier II benefits should be looking out for the next generation of firefighters to ensure that they get the same protections. Once again an on-time budget has been reached in Albany. Funding for pre-k and increases for education were included. There were no major provisions in the budget that had any impact on our members. However, there was one piece that the UFA was supporting along with 20 other unions that was left out of the budget. The Education Investment Tax Credit would have provided tax credits for donations to support either programs at public schools or

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scholarships giving more children the chance to attend a good private or parochial school that their families might not otherwise be able to afford. This credit would have benefited many of our members that unfortunately may be living in a district that has an underperforming public school and unable to afford the tuition for a private or parochial school. Specious arguments were made that the tax credit would have diverted funds from public schools. This would not have been the case and the UFA has always supported quality public education. We expect this item to be on our future legislative agendas. Please watch out for Lobby Day updates in 65-2â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and the UFA website. We need your help for a successful UFA Legislative Agenda. Tier III/VI fixes will remain a top priority along with preventing any future cuts to pension, VSF, and disability benefits for both current and future retirees. We oppose any changes to Triborough and Binding Arbitration. In addition we will be lobbying for a re-opener of the registration period for the WTC Bill, CUNY Tuition Waiver, changes to the periods of conflict that qualify for Military Buyback and the LOD Widows COLA. A full description of these bills, along with a briefing memo, will be available on the UFA Website and also distributed at Lobby Day. This is an election year for every legislator. Please come to Albany to get the legislators to support our agenda. Come November, the UFA will support those that support us. See you on April 29th!

UFA LOBBY DAY TUESDAY APRIL 29, 2014

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NO. 1 2014

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Finally, the article quoted an anonymous female firefighter’s comments, expressing her frustration that the candidate had received such special treatment. The anonymous firefighter had appropriately stated her opinion that no one should be permitted to graduate if they can’t “meet all the requirements - male, female, black or white.” She also was quoted as stating that the FDNY, under Court pressure to hire more minorities, “want their numbers - that’s all it is.” Finally, she was quoted as stating that such special treatment made all female firefighters “look bad” and “undermined everything we’ve strived for and achieved on our own accord.” These opinions are certainly shared by nearly every active firefighter in the Department. Nevertheless, Commissioner Cassano directed that the Bureau of Investigation and Trials [BITS] to launch an investigation to determine who had the audacity to speak to the Post reporter and express her honest views. BITS immediately focused on the female instructors at the Fire Academy who worked with the candidate who was permitted multiple chances to pass the running test. Those instructors included Firefighter Elizabeth Osgood. She is a 10-year veteran of the Department who was on the Lieutenant’s list and expected to be promoted in February 2014. We have learned that BITS, acting with the Fire Commissioner’s approval, abused the Commissioner’s subpoena power by covertly subpoenaing Firefighter Osgood’s cell phone records (and probably the cell phone records of several other firefighters) to see if she had made or received calls from Post reporter Edelman. They did this before ever asking Firefighter Osgood if she had spoken to the Post. Even worse, they issued their subpoena to Verizon without first having the subpoena reviewed by the Corporation Counsel’s Office, as contemplated by the statute granting the Commissioner’s subpoena power. Further, aware that Verizon’s policy was to notify its customers if their cell phone records

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were subpoenaed (except in criminal matters), the Department pressed Verizon not to notify Firefighter Osgood of the subpoena. When questioned by BITS, Firefighter Osgood readily admitted that she had spoken to the Post reporter as a private citizen, but also truthfully denied that all of the information in the Post article came from her. The Fire Commissioner, however, claiming that the Department is still “investigating” the facts and circumstances of the Post article, refused to promote Firefighter Osgood to Lieutenant in February and continues to hold her promotion hostage. The actions by Commissioner Cassano and his staff in this matter are deplorable. They are a classic example of illegal retaliation against Firefighter Osgood for her valid exercise of her First Amendment rights. The Department’s thin-skinned and excessive reaction to the Post article is an insult to every member of this Department. The UFA will take every step it can to vindicate Firefighter Osgood’s rights and get her the promotion which she has earned. She is an excellent firefighter who deserves the respect of every member of the FDNY. We will also do everything we can to prevent any future abuse of the Department’s subpoena power. Hopefully, the next Fire Commissioner will have a greater respect for the First Amendment and your privacy rights than illustrated by the current office holder. As always, stay safe!

www.ufanyc.org

The Fire Lines - April 2014  

The Official Publication of The Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York - UFANYC.org

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