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Kearny firefighters protest cuts in funding


Guest President FMBA Local 18
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Guest President FMBA Local 18

Published: Thursday, May 31, 2012, 3:03 AM Updated: Thursday, May 31, 2012, 11:48 AM

Kearny firefighters are speaking out against a recently enacted plan to reduce costs by cutting a fire company.

While town officials say placing an aerial ladder stationed on Kearny Avenue was necessary to help balance the department's budget, firefighters maintain that reducing the number of personnel covering the town on each shift places Kearny residents and firefighters in danger.

The plan, which was reluctantly enacted by Chief Steven Dyl, reduced the number of personnel on each shift from 17 to 15.

Earlier this month, Dyl said he planned to test a number of options, including cutting a fire company or closing a firehouse, to meet tight budget restrictions. James F. Carey, Jr., president of Firefighters' Mutual Benevolent Association Local 18, which represents Kearny firefighters, said the union's membership is "adamantly opposed to this action."

"As a lifelong Kearny resident and homeowner, I feel I'm not getting the proper protection I'm paying for," said Carey, who will retire July 1 after more than 25 years with the department. "I feel the residents of this town should get at least the minimum standards of fire protection."

Before the most recent cuts, Kearny already fell below coverage standards recommended by the National Fire Protection Association, a situation acknowledged by both sides in the budget battle.

Both elected officials and firefighters also agree that the mutual aid system, which enables surrounding departments to assist and cover for other departments is broken.

Mayor Al Santos suggested that current contract negotiations between the union and the town should focus on the department's salary structure, which enables a new firefighter hired for approximately $30,000 to attain a salary of $98,000 in seven years.

"We need the salary structure looked at because we don't meet the NFPA standards," Santos said. "I think we recognize the importance of safety and want to achieve those standards. I'm supportive of the NFPA. I just want to do it within our budget."

Dyl said the situation won't change without more cash to pay firefighters.

Their words did little to appease Carey, who said firefighters are frightened that the staff reductions have placed them in danger. "I don't know what it's going to take." Carey said. "Someone will die, whether it's a citizen or a firefighter. I understand the budget constraints, but I want to go on record as adamantly against this lowering of manpower."

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Guest Guest

Just retire already.We all know you couldn't give a crap about the people of Kearny.Run down the shore with your big fat undeserved pension and join your local volunteer fire dept, You and the other "FIREBOY" losers can sit around the southern "Frathouse" drink beer and tell war stories.

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Guest Guest

"Someone WILL die." What kind of an idiotic comment is that to make to any educated person in the free world. This guy either has a crystal ball or has made a very weak and disheartening comment as a sort of threat to the public. This "might" happen or this "could" happen means nothing. Stick to the facts and not the "what if's?" Maybe Joe Hero can tell us if there will be a Triple Crown winner this year? If Joe Fireboy & Co. were truly concerned about the citizens safety, they underachieving frat boys would take cuts in pay and sacrifice the top heavy structure (ranks) which could easily free up the cash to hire a few more guys. That's not going to happen (that's a REAL prediction) because the issue they are trying to scare people with is NOT ABOUT SAFETY, it's about $MONEY$ and nothing else. Whatever happened to the strong, silent types that did their job with some dignity or pride? These current frat clowns are soft, pampered babies who have 24 hr. shifts to do nothing but sleep or sit around the giant screen TV and complain about how life is so unfair to them. If you don't like this part-time nepotism and crony land you are currently receiving taxpayer money to live in, then quit. Any fireboy could easily be replaced by someone at half the salary. How about working 5, 8 hour days and dealing with the traffic going out of town where most fireboys live and be AWAKE to cut down response times. More people are saved by private citizens and Police Officers than fire personnel everyday in this state because they are FIRST responders and firemen ARE NOT. Keep mouthing off and I'm sure our Honorable Governor Christie will cut more state aid to Kearny because of the greed and complaining. Firemen are unskilled laborers and get paid too much already.

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Guest President Local 18

To the Anonymous Guest, your uneducated rants @ 5am or 10pm don't reallydeserve a response, but you should try to stand up in person in front of your employer instead of remaining anonymous! You say more people are saved by citizens such as yourself but you can't put a name on your guest rants. Most men in this world have a name for you & you know what it is! I won't respond to your rants again, but you can call me anytime, HERO!

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Guest Guest

Take candy from babies, they cry. Take a penny away from fireman, they cry. Same mammal, same behavior with no evolutionary evidence from birth to adulthood. Unfortunately the Wisconsin union issued exempted Police and Firemen, but at least it will be progressive in discarding sub-par teachers and teachers who can't keep their libidos in check due to mental issues. As New Jersey evolves into a similar structure, it should include fireman as to the out of control unnecessary expenditures attached to their strong, but yet pathetic in substance union endeavors. Government having slightly more control will also reign in the multiple position/quadruple dippers in the educational field and politicians in general. Police Officers and Teachers are skilled trades and deserve more recognition in general, but the very concept of naming fire service a profession is absurd. Those are solely my opinions.

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Guest Goeorge Jetson

Please Mr. FMBA Pres. Local 18, enlighten us with more of your wisdom of what the future will look like. Will volunteer firemen be flying around town in little space capsule fire engines with their fire dog Astro to protect the citizens? Who is the mystery fire victim who WILL die, as you said, so I can send flowers before the price goes up. Your sad response is due to the fact that your bold words of empty predictions about the future holds were just a desperate cry for more $$$$ for your fire buddies and more no work jobs in your world of slumber. Beg on at warp speed Mr. Sadsack but the word, "Hero," has no place when referring to fire service. The word hero is the most overused word in the English language and should be saved for true acts of heroism and not for small town overpaid firemen plucking cats from trees.

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Guest Guest

What an interesting and informative response from the Patriot. Yet another rube who cannot dispute the plain truth so he resorts to insults similar to Joe Hero FMBA Pres. What Guest printed is the solid and obviously undisputed truth. Most people see thru the public safety crap and right to the greed and that is why there is no debate on this issue. The blowhard self-proclaimed bravest know it's a lost cause to try and respond because any response would be a futile lie and a further embarrassment of frat house boys everywhere. Take your present smackdown as best you can with some type of grief counseling and try to dry your tears, change your diaper, and move on. Further, I cannot see why a person's name is required to post an opinion. It is the content of the post that matters, not who said it. For instance, Mr. FMBA would have been better off not using his name and associating himself with his uneducated post and comments predicting that, "People WILL die." He has solidified the fact that he is an underachiever after having unlimited time for his composition and made a complete fool of himself. That is the guy the ff's chose to represent them. Very, very sad.

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George,

The above referenced statement is about reduced spending maybe you missed that. Wanna talk about money? The Firefighters of Kearny voluntarily gave hundreds of thousands of dollars back to the Town by agreeing to wage freezes and comp-time last year in an effort to preserve a minimum manpower level for the Town and it's taxpayers.

Don't you remember? You wrote several scathing little tirades stating that we had sold out the younger Firefighters in doing so.

Guess you changed your mind.

Now after all the Unions of ALL civil service workers in this Town have done to help in controlling costs the Town is reducing manpower levels anyway. And whether you like it or not lives and safety of both Firefighters and Citizens are being put at risk.

Disagree? Then show up at the next Town Council meeting and tell the Chief of the Kearny Fire Dept. that he's wrong.

And while your there you can tell the "Honorable Mayor Santos" as you like to refer to him what a great job he's doing in a Town he does not even deign to own a home in.

Obviously it's not his taxes he's concerned about going up but in case your wondering......mine have. because I do own a home in this Town as does the President of the Kearny FMBA.

A claim I am most certain you cannot make.

jus sayin

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Guest Guest

For those who want a Volunteer FD..Please explain how this Town, that couldn't field a Volunteer Ambulance 24/7/365, and had to go paid days, then were unable to even cover nights and weekends and folded completely are going to be able to get enough volunteers to man a whole fire Dept??? If we couldn't keep TWO PEOPLE around the clock, what makes you think Volunteers are going to magically appear now???

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Guest George Jetson

I continue to hold the Honorable Mayor Santos in high regard to control costs in a tax and spend Democratic town. He is a very conservative Democrat to his advantage. The Kearny FF did sell out the new and future hires in the past but now that the Honorable Mayor Santos is leveling the playing field for everyone it has become organized tantrum time. There, to my knowledge, have not been any increase in fire related deaths or any at all in Kearnys history that can be attributed to manpower shortages. As to your taxes going up, a small tax increase has always been soothed by a $25,000.00 promotion to Captain making the tax increase negligable to the chosen few underachievers. It the citizens that do not work for the "welfare state" town government that the Honorable Mayor Santos is trying to protect. That history of town govt. isn't to the Honorable Mayor Santos liking. The B.O.E. is the next financial leaky bag of crap that needs to totally reorganized and salary structures scaled down with sweeping reform. When a family looks to move into a new town they often ask how safe the area is and not how many fires does the town have. You should bolster your position by insisting that Police Officers get promoted directly to the rank of Captain by eliminating Sgt. and Lt. ranks. By your rationale, that would be a positive to Kearnys fiscal future.

The current fire chief is subjective in his ideas, so he cannot have objectivity in addressing any issues. He is pro-hiring, pro-promotion, and pro-money to the firemens pockets and his pension without regard to public safety. In his eyes, hiring 200 more frat house boys at 100K each with automatic raises of 10% for their tenured slumber party with an automatic $500K for the chief would be ideal. You are out of gas!

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Nice post, what's it mean?

As far as your knowledge is concerned you have yet to show any, you just throw out inane numbers,facts and accusations with no substantiation whatsoever.

Over the years I've volunteered to show you anything you'd like to see or know and told you where to go to find any documentation you may want for proof yet you choose ignorance time and again.

I guess that's why they call it bliss, you've also never told us what it is exactly that you do for a living, are you ashamed?

As you stated in your past post there's no reason to put a name to it because the content is all that counts and you may look stupid and then people would know who you are and therefore know you are an idiot.

So you do read your posts then.

I am glad to see that your spelling has improved.....George.

jus sayin

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Guest You get a red flag

Hey Jus Sayin,

I'll reduce it to basic facts so that you can understand. He meant to say Kearny can't afford to pay 25 Fire Captains $135,000 each and 5 Deputy Chiefs $174,000 each. That adds up to over $4 million a year for the top brass, not including their health and pension benefits.

BTW, you should not attack a poster by asking what he or she does for a living. The discussion is about public funds/tax dollars in the Fire Department. The poster can be a clerk or sanitation worker or lawyer or unemployed. Whatever he or she is, It doesn't matter here.

Jus Said.

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Guest guest

What it asks, clearly, is that can you show proof that deaths due to structure fires have increased due to a decrease in manpower at the FD's in Kearny or Harrison? Can you answer that question? It's simple even for you.

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Guest Guest

Hey Jus Sayin while you are volunteering to show George to show him anything he wants to see documentation and substantuation why don't you show all of taxpayers how many fires you have been involved in fighting. as compared to how many hours you slept, ate, and watched t.v. at the "Frathouse". My guess is the eating, sleeping, and watching t.v. wins hands down.

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Guest Guest

Let's keep in mind that the 'Honorable Mayor Santos' lives at home with his Mom, drives a Hudson County paid for car, has no wife or kids to support and, generally has no real idea of what it's like to live like most Kearny residents. He is out of touch but continues to get elected because no one really wants to be Mayor of his near dead Town he has turned Kearny into.

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Guest guest

Jus Sayin has some need to know what a persons job is apparently to assess their level of knowledge. Yet he should surely realize that the knowledge of the majority of Firemen is, at best, a high school diploma. As to the beginning of his asking intimate questions such I what someone does for a living, this a a discussion/opinion board. It is not a dating website which I am sure he is familiar to using because I think this is going to a weird place with this frat boy. I just hope his next question isn't, "What are you wearing?" Creepy guy this Jus Sayin. In advance to this sicko: boxers, not briefs. That's all you're getting creep. Find a real man/women to meet your sick needs, not a person discussing public employment and economic issues.

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Guest Not an ATM

Let's keep in mind that 'jus sayin' is one of the privileged few in Kearny where multiple members of the family work in taxayer-funded jobs, some of which are high-salaried like in the Kearny Fire Deparment. It's never enough, however, because they still can manage their personal budgets. They then treat the Kearny taxpayer as their personal ATM.

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Guest Guest

People respond too readily to highly emotional arguments, unfortunately they are rarely helpful in a discussion. First: Firefighters do save lives. Fire departments are a needed and critical public service and in all likelihood the individuals that choose to become firefighters, are hard working, honest, decent individuals. Every profession has lazy individuals, not just public workers.

With that said, the unions that represent firefighters do not necessarily have the best interests of the community as their main priority. There is an agency conflict between the union and the general public, as not every action that benefits firefighters necessarily benefits the community they serve. (This is the same for every union, though not relevant for this discussion.) For example, it would be in the best interest of the firefighters to have the maximum number of people earning the maximum amount possible working the fewest hours without bankrupting the municipality or fire district they work for (because then they wouldn't have those jobs). The union leadership has a fiduciary duty to the members of the union, not the municipality. That's OK in some regards. Unions were created so people weren't exploited against corporate or other political interests. (Again, whether or not that is how it works isn't relevant to this discussion.) The main point is that there is an agency conflict with the union and the municipality. The union will always use the argument that the interests are necessarily aligned, but that just isn't the case. For example, by saying things like "People will die if we don't have ____(insert higher salaries, larger pensions, early retirement, more firefighters, etc. etc.)____, because we are the ones that fight the fires that save your lives and you want us to be happier than we are at present and thus more effective." This is a faulty and highly emotional argument.

More importantly: There are significant budget constraints that must be addressed. The total costs of employing a firefighter are far too substantial (salary, healthcare, pensions, training/equipping) and growing far faster than tax receipts (or inflation, for that matter). But it isn't that firefighters are bad people or lazy. it's a system that is broken, not individuals. Both sides on this chain of posts has been wrong: one for vilifying firefighters, the other for using highly emotional arguments to frighten citizens and distract from the legitimate budgetary concerns and for blocking any attempt to fix the dysfunctional, top-heavy, expensive system.

What is needed:

-Regional consolidation or service sharing. This is the best and probably most obvious thing Kearny could do. Create a regional, West Hudson force with E. Newark, Harrison, and possibly even North Arlington. Why? This reduces the level of administration required. A single chief. A flatter bureaucracy. Would this be less safe? Possibly, but substantially cheaper, and better than cutting the lowest entry level firefighter or stations/companies. Joint agreements don't really hit this, because they don't flatten the force structure.

-Reformed pension systems. The public pension systems are underfunded and not designed to keep up with the changes in demographics. When they were designed people were having many more children and there were substantially more workers to retirees. As people live longer but still retire at the same age and there are less workers paying into the system, you have an underfunded system. It isn't that public workers are bad people or somehow not deserving of a retirement system, it's just that the current one isn't designed correctly. In addition, the politicians that create the laws that govern the system (and appoint people to manage the boards that run the systems) use accounting tricks to make the system seem better than it is. For example, using the assumption that the system will grow at 8% or more a year forever (if you know any of those investments, please share the information.) What really is needed to control these costs is a switch to a defined contribution system (like a 401K) with generous matching from the government. That is a state issue, not a Kearny one though.

-A greater use of volunteer firefighters. Some municipalities have all volunteer forces. This is almost certainly less effective than the professional, paid force. Still, it is substantially cheaper. The union would say "you can't put a price on safety". That is nonsense. Of course you can. We do that every day. That's why we don't have 500 more officers, with a station on every street corner. It would be crazy to do that, wouldn't it? We have limited resources as a society, and need to figure out what is the level of funding/resources we can allocate to the Fire Department. One way we could reduce our expenses is cutting the paid force and using more volunteers. A larger firefighter auxiliary. Admittedly, this could be very hard to do.

There are obviously holes in some of the fixes I propose here and would be very hard to implement. But the main point is: 1) firefighters are important public servants, 2) the system is unsustainable, dysfunctional, bloated, and far too expensive (and more expensive each year) so something needs to be done to fix it, and 3) public servant unions have an agency conflict with the people they serve and should refrain from scare tactics and instead focus on solving the issues.

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Guest Guest

Jus Sayin, or Superfreak from the Rick James song for his disturbing need to know others intimate items, seems to be stumped by the question as to whether his weeping about allegedly low manpower at the fire dept. has led to an increase in fatalities from fires in Kearny. FMBA Joe hero pres. or the current Kearny frat house chief seem unable to answer the question either. They claim to have a copious amt. of records and statistics available, so why the delay in responding?

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Ok lets see if I can take a stab at this,lol....

1. I'm not an Officer promotions are a matter of management (Town Council/ Mayor) and wages are a part of negotiations between the Town and the Officers Union of which I am not a part.

2. Asking a person what they do for a living is hardly a personal attack it is in the manner of polite conversation a common subject between two persons especially when the conversation is about jobs that said if you asked a person what they did for a living and they responded with the type of underwear they preferred.....well there's your sign.

3.The statement made was that people WILL DIE not HAVE DIED and I'm sure we all hope that prediction will turn out to be wrong but we're certainly not heading in the right direction.

4. Please feel free to stop by the Firehouse with a time card and I will be happy to filll it out for you.

5.I am the only person in my family employed by the Town of Kearny.

6. Everyone has a personal budget and has had to cut back, I worked over 200 hours for free last year and there are others that have worked even more, the Town saved an incredible amount of money because of that.

jus sayin

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Guest another Guest

8% is an average over decades, it's real, not a myth. If we were in an economy such as we were 15 years ago, we wouldn't even be talking about this. Investments will improve over time but if we make radical changes in government structure because of a temporary problem, there will be no going back.

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Guest Kearny Senior

Ok lets see if I can take a stab at this,lol....

1. I'm not an Officer promotions are a matter of management (Town Council/ Mayor) and wages are a part of negotiations between the Town and the Officers Union of which I am not a part.

2. Asking a person what they do for a living is hardly a personal attack it is in the manner of polite conversation a common subject between two persons especially when the conversation is about jobs that said if you asked a person what they did for a living and they responded with the type of underwear they preferred.....well there's your sign.

3.The statement made was that people WILL DIE not HAVE DIED and I'm sure we all hope that prediction will turn out to be wrong but we're certainly not heading in the right direction.

4. Please feel free to stop by the Firehouse with a time card and I will be happy to filll it out for you.

5.I am the only person in my family employed by the Town of Kearny.

6. Everyone has a personal budget and has had to cut back, I worked over 200 hours for free last year and there are others that have worked even more, the Town saved an incredible amount of money because of that.

jus sayin

You'll never make Barney stop hating the FD that rejected him. His bitterness will haunt him until he dies. We should all pity poor old Barney and wish him well.

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Guest Lucid Luke

Hey jus sayin,

That was a bad stab.

To say it was a matter of "polite conversation" when you went after a poster's livelihood is a ridiculous statement and you know it. This is what you said above: "I guess that's why they call it bliss, you've also never told us what it is exactly that you do for a living, are you ashamed?"

But that wasn't enough for you in your attack on the poster. You also added: "As you stated in your past post there's no reason to put a name to it because the content is all that counts and you may look stupid and then people would know who you are and therefore know you are an idiot."

The original poster has definitely gotten to you. And the follow up post that you and family members are employed in government jobs is probably right on considering your anger and attacks.

By the way, you didn't work for free last year. You received compensatory time, which means you got time off from your regular schedule that was PAID by the Kearny taxpayer. Which leads me to ask, how much did you make in salary from Kearny taxpayers in 2011?

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