Fairfield firefighters union demands chief's resignation, votes no confidence
The two-year fight between the Fairfield firefighters union and their chief lingers on - now with a vote of no confidence.
Most recently, the union demanded the resignation of Chief Denis McCarthy. At their last meeting, members unanimously voted no confidence in McCarthy.
The vote followed the Uniformed Professional Fire Fighters Association of Connecticut's unanimous censure of McCarthy for "putting the health and safety of firefighters in jeopardy."
In response, Fairfield's fire commission chairpeople issued a response this week, saying in part, "the chief worked hard to do right by the citizens, his fellow firefighters and the taxpayers."
This week, the commission reiterated it hopes to work with both parties for years to come.
Back in August, both sides agreed to a new contract following two years of negotiating.
Pay issues that persisted through the fall have now been resolved.
The union says it remains frustrated with safety concerns, a lack of staffing and McCarthy's alleged use of town resources for political donations.
"His actions are against our safety, as well as the residents of the town," says Mark Smuda, secretary of the union.
Another disagreement between the two sides is how to address staffing shortage.
To improve response times, particularly in the northeastern part of town, the chief and commission chairs want to add another station in town.
Union members say simply increasing staff will not solve the problem.
"Having a new station with an apparatus with three people on it is still understaffed. Those three people would have to delay their actions on scene to wait for a full complement of firefighters to arrive.
"Having a new station an apparatus with three people on it is still understaffed. Those three people would have to delay their actions on scene to wait for a full complement of firefighters to arrive," says Smuda.
The union's pitch to increase staffing is based on the National Fire Protection Association's guidance of 2 firefighters in, and 2 firefighters out during a dangerous situation.
They say the current contact leaves them a man short.
"Currently, engines 3, 4 and 5 don't have 'two-in, two-out' required by OSHA law," says Smuda.
The commission chairs and Chief McCarthy are calling for a study to determine whether or not to build a new station, a discussion the union will be at the table for.
"We're not opposed to working with the town, working with the commission, working with the chief. Are we going to do our job? All the time. We would just rather do it safely, and as effectively as we can," says Smuda.
Below is the full statement from the Fairfield Fire Commission chairs.