Fire union members decide not to vote on city proposal

Middletown firefighters met Thursday night and decided to abstain from voting on the proposed tentative agreement, The Journal has learned.

Greg Justice, president of the firefighter union, said they made suggestions and agreed to cost savings of almost $630,000 over the two-year period. Part of that agreement would have included the allowance of part-time firefighters to be employed by the city in lieu of full-time firefighters along with other concessions, Justice said. However, Justice said, Fire Chief Steve Botts was “insistent” on including the “first emergency first,” operational profile as part of the tentative agreement.

Though the “first emergency first” operational profile is really a “non-monetary issue,” Justice said, the firefighters felt the profile would “dilute” the fire suppression capabilities of the Middletown firefighters and “severely jeopardize” the safety of the residents of Middletown and the firefighters.

He said the firefighters are hopeful they can reach a deal to head off the closing of Fire Station 84 and laying off of 11 firefighters. However, he said, it is unlikely a deal will be reached if the fire chief continues to propose the “first emergency first” operational profile.

The city has announced that 11 firefighters will be laid off on Aug. 30, two weeks after the original deadline. The union members were scheduled to vote on the city’s proposal Thursday through Saturday and announce the results Sunday.

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This story will be updated throughout the day.

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