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For Immediate Release: October 4, 2006

Slevin Testimony in Opposition to the Disbanding of the NYC Fire Patrol

Good morning, Chairman Martinez and members of the council. My name is James Slevin and I am the Vice President of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. I would like to thank you for the opportunity to testify here today on behalf of my members. The Uniformed Firefighters Association stands in strong opposition to the disbanding of the Fire Patrol. The Fire Patrol provides a valuable service to commercial properties here in NYC. The money that they save businesses and insurers each year can not be quantified. The decision by the Board of Fire Underwriters is penny wise but pound foolish. Their services will not be replaced and it will result in higher losses for businesses, longer down time, increased costs to insurers and ultimately an increase in policy premiums.

NYC Firefighters do not perform salvage work at commercial properties. We have no intention of doing this work should the Fire Patrol be disbanded. This work is the responsibility of the insurers. We can not allow them to shirk their responsibilities to the policy holders. There is a system in place that works. That system is the Fire Patrol. The savings that they generate more than fund their operation. In addition, the surchargeon insurance companies provides subsidies for the operation of the Fire Patrol.

Any plan to have NYC Firefighters perform this salvage work will have a detrimental effect on public safety. The time Firefighters will spend doing the salvage work will increase their unavailability. It is simply a waste of resources. Highly trained Firefighters and units will not be available to respond to life threatening fires and emergencies. NYC's Fire Department resources are already stretched thin due to the increased number of fires and emergencies along with the closing of six engine companies. This will further compound the problem.

If the administration attempts to have NYC Firefighters do salvage work at commercial properties, we will immediately seek an injunction and a demand to bargain over the increased workload that will result. We will not base our demands on the actual cost of operating the Fire Patrol, but rather on the actual savings that Fire Patrol provides to insurers every year. This actual number is probably ten times as much.

This work is the responsibility of the insurance companies and they should not be allowed abdicate it. In addition, no attempt should be made by the NYC Fire Department to have this work performed by any Ladder Companies. It would be far too dangerous to have theses units unavailable to respond to Fires and Emergencies.