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Board Seeks To Douse Union Fire

Trustees reconsidering dual firefighting model

At a Thursday, May 2 village trustees meeting, Trustee Dennis Donnelly read a statement that in part mentioned the possibility of seeing if the model for a dual department of paid and volunteer firefighters remains a viable option for the Village of Garden City.

In February, the board voted by a margin of 6-2 to fire six firefighters and demote one officer to cut an estimated $900,000 from the village budget. The debate over these layoffs has raged ever since, with the two sides digging in. Donnelly’s statement publicly accused New York unions of intimidating volunteer firefighters—and not only those in Garden City.

“Since the village laid off six firefighters last month, a series of events have occurred which are unacceptable and repugnant in the village,” Donnelly said. His public statement further alleged “harassment of Garden City’s volunteer personnel on their personal jobs by union representatives in solidarity with the Garden City Fire Union” that was “conveyed by the NYC PBA, the NYC Fire Union, the fire dispatchers union and the teachers union.”

The statement went on to further say that some volunteer firefighters here who have full-time union jobs elsewhere “have been told that they will be denied benefits and be considered outcasts by their own unions if they do NOT resign as a Garden City fireman. In addition, any resident of Garden City who is currently a NYC firefighter, (active or retired), is prohibited from volunteering in Garden City.” Donnelly added that approximately 100 people were prohibited by this ban despite the fact that many of these active and retired NYC firefighters are serving as volunteers in a number of neighboring communities, including Hempstead, Mineola and West Hempstead.

In vowing to “not put up with union thuggery and harassment,” Donnelly added, “The village will support our volunteer firefighters who offer our residents the comfort in knowing that they will respond to any emergency.” He ended by saying, “With all this in mind, I think the BOT should reengage International City Management (ICM) to review what training and operational options should be considered by the village in the future.”

A call for comment to Lt. Peter Clancy, president of Local 1588, the union that represents Garden City’s professional firefighters, was not returned by press time.