I.A.F.F. Local 955
Uniontown Fire Fighters Back on the Job
September 24, 2010
A panel of three arbitrators has ruled that all of the laid-off fire fighters in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, must be rehired.
Six members of Uniontown Local 955 were laid off in December 2009. During the IAFF 50th Convention in San Diego, Local 955 President Mark Lovey received a letter from the City warning that all remaining fire fighters would be laid off by January 1, 2011, and that the City would replace its career fire fighters with a volunteer department.
The members of Local 955, their legal counsel and the Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Association responded, applying intense pressure on Uniontown Mayor Edward Fike.
Under the terms of the arbitrators’ eight-page ruling, the City of Uniontown will call fire fighters back in a matter of days, and there will be no layoffs over the next four years. Arbitrators also gave fire fighters a 3.5 percent wage increase each year for the next four years.
“Our attorney worked his butt off, but the truth is we had a lot of support from the International, the Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Association and members from throughout the country who heard about what we were going through. They talk about this being a brotherhood and it really is,” Lovey says.
Layoffs reduced staffing from 13 to seven.
“With the help of the IAFF, and especially General President Schaitberger and Fourth District Vice President Bill Taylor, we were able to prevail in a situation that could have been tragic for the fire fighters and the residents of Uniontown,” PPFFA President Art Martynuska says.
Delegates at the IAFF Convention unanimously passed an emergency resolution condemning Mayor Fike for announcing his intent to eliminate the city’s entire career fire department. "We are going to bring money, marbles and chalk! Whatever it takes to win this fight, we will be in union!" Schaitberger told delegates.
“Uniontown is proof-positive that when the IAFF and its members stand together and take care of their own, we prevail,” DVP Taylor says.
Who are we? Well, we're basically just regular people, working for a living. We are husbands, fathers, homeowners, taxpayers, and voters. We have bills to pay and projects to finish. We cut our own grass, and many times work on our own houses or cars. We love to spend time with our families, go on vacations, play and have fun, and be involved in our communities. We're just your regular, blue collar type, working class Americans. The only difference between us and many others is instead of going to work in an office or factory; we go to work at the firehouse.
We are the 13 full time, career professional firefighters of the City of Uniontown Bureau of Fire. We provide a vast array of services to our public, which includes not only firefighting, but also rescue work, emergency medical services, inspections, code enforcement, and public fire education and fire prevention programs, just to name a few. We are one of only a few fire departments within our portion of the state who provide full service building inspections and code enforcement, per the PA Uniform Construction Code and the International Code Council. Who better to enforce codes concerning the safety and well being of others than the fire department? We are also one of only a few departments in this end of the state to have a PA Department of Health certified Advanced Life Support Fire Engine, staffed with a Paramedic. Our fire prevention programs reach thousands of people yearly, ranging from school age children to the elderly. We are involved in fire evacuation and emergency planning as well. We are also one of only a few departments to offer a Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Program.
Our staff also provides fire fighting and emergency services to our public. We work together and work well with our department's volunteer members to provide fire and rescue services which are among the best in the area. Our staff holds many certifications including personnel with Professional Qualifications Board certifications as firefighter, instructor, rescue technician, and driver/operator to name a few. All staff hold medical certification as well, with many certified at the E.M.T. level and two certified as Paramedics. We have two PA State Fire Academy accredited and certified local level training instructors on our paid staff as well.
But, the service does not come without a cost, unfortunately. If you look at the cost of our service to our taxpayers, however, you will find it is minimal in comparison to the services they receive. Unfortunately, also, there are people in the public who feel our service isn’t necessary, or feel it is a waste of taxpayer money. How wrong are they? Without our full time staff, we would not be able to provide the services our department currently provides. We also would not be able to guarantee that a fire unit would arrive at your emergency within 3 minutes or less, like we are able to do now. And while we have volunteer members, who we both appreciate and rely on, their numbers are dwindling. Volunteer membership in fire departments across the state is declining very rapidly, and our department is no exception! Please feel free to explore our website further and learn more about our full time firefighters, and find out what it would cost everyone if we did not have them. Thanks for stopping by!
Local 955 Officers and Executive Board
Mark Lovey, Sr - President
Charles Coldren - Secretary
Timothy Gratchic - Treasurer
Scott Conn - Executive Director
Mike Oleksik - Executive Director
Dane Griffith - Executive Director
Pennsylvania IAFF Local Links
Pennsylvania Professional Firefighters Association
Allentown Fire Department - IAFF Local 302
City Of Johnstown Fire Department - IAFF local 463
Lebanon PA Firefighters - IAFF Local 1952
York Professional Firefighters - IAFF Local 627
Other IAFF Links
Morgantown, WV Professional Firefighters
Complete List Of All I.A.F.F. Links
I.A.F.F. Locals Online