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Austin Firefighters Association


03/20/2019

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

The online vote to decide on the AFA constitutional amendment before us is ongoing and will end tomorrow, Thursday, March 21st at 5:00pm.

If you have issues logging in to vote and access the discussion board, please call 512-441-7572 during the hours of 10:00am to 6:00pm.

The online discussion board has had 1445 views and 87 posts on the AFA constitutional amendment. I recommend you read through these posts to educate yourselves on this issues. Please Scroll down to see the amendment.

To clarify several process items:

  • Current practice under the AFA Constitution: All motions and Bylaw amendments require a simple majority of those participating in the vote to pass. All Constitutional amendments require a two- thirds majority of those participating in the vote to pass. There is one exception to this in the AFA Constitution; Bylaw Article 3, Section 10: Membership in Affiliated Labor Organizations. 
  • This motion to amend has been properly made and it is totally legitimate to support or oppose this proposed change to the AFA Constitution. It is up to the will of the membership to how we will operate moving forward.
  • Currently, a proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is ratified by the AFA membership with a simple majority of those participating in the vote to pass.
  • If the proposed constitutional amendment passes AND if we negotiate a CBA that contains "a change to shift change times or shift duration" then (2) votes would be required to ratify the CBA, the first to decide the "change to shift change times or shift duration" that "will require a two- thirds majority of those participating in the vote." Then after the first vote is determined, a second vote would be conducted to ratify the entire CBA. This may be a little more cumbersome but if this is what the membership wants it can be done. 
Bob Nicks
President, Austin Firefighters Association 

March 19, 2019

Online voting begins today - Tuesday, March 19th at 8:00A for Motion 19-4 to change Article 9 of the AFA Constitution and Bylaw and voting will close on Thursday, March 21st at 5:00 PM. 

PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO VOTE ON MOTION 19-4


Brother and Sister Freifghters,

Tomorrow we begin the online vote to decide on an amendment to the AFA Constitution. For some of you this may be your first online vote as a new member and you may have questions like:

  • What is the AFA Constitution and what does it do?
  • How are motions brought before the membership for online vote consideration?
  • How are big decisions made within the AFA and who determines this?
  • What are the impacts of the Constitutional amendment before us?
Thanks to a very spirited online membership discussion board debate that has been ongoing since last Wednesday, all of these questions and more have been addressed. Scroll down to access the "member only" discussion board. Please read through the amendment that is up for online vote consideration starting tomorrow, educate your self on the process and the amendment and vote. So far the online discussion board has 64 posts and 644 views. 

03/13/2019

Brother and Sister,

The motion below will go to online vote next week, with the vote starting on March 19th @8:00am and ending March 21st @ 5:00pm. This motion is an amendment to the AFA Constitution and therefore requires a two- thirds majority of those participating in the vote to pass. Please post your comments and questions to the discussion board found at the link below. 

Motion 19-4: Motion to change Article 9 of the Austin Firefighter's Association (AFA) Constitution and Bylaw. The proposed Constitutional amendment in red, the wording in black is existing language that is included here to provide context.

ARTICLE 9: MOTIONS AND AMENDMENTS

A motion is a proposal directing the Local to take certain action or express a certain view.  To amend this Constitution, a two- thirds majority of those participating in the vote is required.  To amend the Bylaws, a simple majority of those participating in the vote is required. A motion that requires a change to shift change times or shift duration will be an online vote and will require a two- thirds majority of those participating in the vote.

Motion by Donny Caldwell / Second by Alex Vanegas

 

PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO DISCUSSION BOARD FOR MOTION 19-4


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3/17/2019

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

It has been reported to the Austin Firefighters Association that some active and retired firefighters are having problems under the new City of Austin health insurance plan. Others are reporting good experiences. 

The survey below that the AFA has developed is an attempt to quantify the insurance experience of COA insurance users, identify trends and seek solutions.  

Whether or not you have used the new insurance plan or if you have had positive or negative experiences, please take the survey. We need to capture both positive and negative experiences to draw an accurate picture.  If you have nothing to report, the survey should take round 30 seconds. 

Click here for the survey

The AFA will be meeting with COA Risk Management Office soon to discuss health insurnce coverage issues under the new plan, so please take the survey.  

If you have future health insurance issues, please retake this survey or call AFA Hall at (512) 441-7572. 

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 


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March 4, 2019

Austin Firefighters,

As we attempt to gather donations and support for San Jacinto night and in particular the silent auction please review the attached guidelines. We are going to ask everyone to attempt to gather donations for our silent auctions. As well as encourage our department members to attend the event.

What need assistance from our board and any member of AFD and Local 975 that can contribute a small amount of time to seek support from businesses or anybody willing to donate an item of value to the auction!

In addition to help with gathering items for the silent auction we really need help pushing the event and ensuring that our large number of new Firefighters are aware of the event and the amazing experience of enjoying an evening with their other AFD members!   I promise that you cannot find a better deal than the one you get here. Tickets are only $40 each and I know that there is not a better deal in Austin.

The attached letter (scroll down to the bottom of this page for a link to this letter) is for solicitation of donations and community support, feel free to contact friends, businesses   and anyone that you think might be able to help. If you contact a business and receive a donation please pass that on to Kristen Wade. Kristen will keep a running spread sheet of donations.

Tips:

1.       No item is too small, we can always pair items to make a package

2.       Physical items are best.

3.       Provide us a suggested value

4.       Services or gift cards, consider an expiration date and parameters for use.

5.       We are a 501(c), tax exempt charity and donations may be tax deductible.

6.       Print the attached flyer on bright paper and take it out to local businesses.

Please email us with any donations collected and we will make arrangements to collect the item!

We would like all donation to us by April 1st 2019

As soon as someone commits to a donations please notify Kristen so it can be added to our documents.

Email Kristen.wade@yahoo.com or t.vocke@yahoo.com  for items, questions and concerns.

Let's make this a great event and ensure our firefighters have an opportunity to have a great time and hopefully we can raise a little money as well.

CLICK HERE FOR LETTER TO SOLICIT DONATIONS

 


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March 1, 2019

Brothers and Sisters,

After the passing of the motion involving DA Moore and our response of her treatment of Sister Gall, we are forming a committee to start our work. We will be meeting periodically and hopefully partnering with some community organizations to best approach this work. If you are interested in being part of the committee, being invited to open committee meetings, or simply have questions, please contact me, Vanessa Schaefer, at ms.vmschaefer@gmail.com.

Thank you!

FF Schaefer

16C"

 

 


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February 28, 2019 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

The AFD Peer Support team has been assembled for a couple of years and has grown in size and scope with great support from AFD management, AFA Leadership and IAFF Peer Support training. The AFD Peer Support Group has provided outstanding discreet and confidential service to our Brothers and Sisters in their time of need. The Austin Firefighters Association fully supports the AFD Peer Support Team 

Please take the time to read the short message below and take the very short confidential survey.

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association 

Peer Support Recruitment

The truest mark of a great Peer Support Team Member is that they are already fulfilling the role every day. They are the people that their coworkers already turn to for support in the daily routine of work. These natural helpers are found in every station and office, and may be operations (of all ranks), staff members, and civilian employees. They are those coworkers who are willing to take an extra step to help.

Some of the characteristics these people possess:

-          Are respected and trusted

-          Show compassion and empathy

-          Listen actively

-          Accept people with different opinions and values
      
The key is to find these people that are "natural" peer supporters. The people that we already go to for support and advice, both professional and personal.

As you read the above, what people in the department came to your mind? Please help us by sharing their names. This survey will be used by the Peer Support Team Coordinator to help identify and reach out to the next group of people that may want to join the Peer Support Team.

Thank you for your time and input.

 

PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO PEER SUPPORT GROUP SURVEY

 

 


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February 21, 2019 

All 3 Motions have passed and congratulations to Les McKay on being elected the new AFA Trustee. Over 500 votes were cast for each of the motions and we would like to thank the membership for taking the time to participate! 

Motion 19-1: Move that the AFA will educate the public on DA Moore's failure to prosecute sexual harassment and assault cases, evidenced in part by the experience of Sister Kelly Gall.  The AFA will research other candidates that the AFA can support for the upcoming 2020 Travis County District Attorney election.  

Motion by Vanessa Schaefer / Second by Mike Leone

This motion passed with 78% YES votes. 

PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR RESULTS OF ONLINE VOTE FOR MOTION 19-1

 

Motion 19-2: Move that the AFA educate the Fire Chief and Command Staff on a 48/96 work schedule and lobby the Fire Chief and Command Staff to conduct a trial within the Austin Fire Department of the 48/96 work schedule.

Motion by Kyle Melton / Second by Christian Ward

This motion passed with 56% YES votes. 

PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR RESULTS OF ONLINE VOTE FOR MOTION 19-2

 

Motion 19-3: Move that the AFA membership officially condemn the unsafe practice of operating auto aid agreements under two or more Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Changes to Auto Aid SOPs should utilize a needs assessment using A101 as the starting point. Unilateral adoption of "Blue Card" like SOPs or other SOP's should be condemned as a breach of the original Auto Aid Agreement, not comporting with national SOP standards and therefore unsafe to responding firefighters. In addition, any Automatic Aid Agreement that states that three-person firefighter staffing is acceptable or lacks a backup line pre-assignment pertaining to offensive firefighting operations and/or early emphasis on RIC would lower the safety of responding Austin Firefighters.   

The AFA membership implores Chief Baker to continue to support four person staffing and ensure, for Auto Aid responses, A101 remains our SOP for all offensive firefighting operation responses inside and outside the City of Austin 

Motion by Randy Denzer / Second by Christine Jones 

This motion passed with 91% YES votes. 

PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR RESULTS OF ONLINE VOTE FOR MOTION 19-3

 

Les McKay won the vacant AFA Trustee position with 63% of the total vote. 

PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR RESULTS OF ONLINE VOTE FOR AFA TRUSTEE

 


 

 

February 21st, 2019

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Today is the last day to complete your on-line vote on three important membership motions and for the open  AFA Trustee position. Please vote soon! Soon after the vote ends at 5:00pm, the results for all votes will display if you click back on the "Click Here to Vote" link.

Please encourage your fellow firefighters to vote. One hallmark of a strong and effective union is an educated membership that directs its leaders through their votes. Small vote counts will pass a motion but will not have as strong an impact when it comes to persuading policymakers. So please vote and encorage others to do so!

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

IAFF Local 975

 

February 20th, 2019

On line vote reminder. There are 4 votes. To register all 4 votes correctly, make sure that you select your choice for the 1st vote and then click the button below to accept this choice. Then scroll down and repeat for each of the 4 votes.

 

 

February 19.2019

The on-line vote for the open AFA Trustee position and three motion is active at 8:00am today and will remain active until 5:00pm on February 21st. Please take the time to educate yourself on the issues and vote.

Please remember to scroll down after each vote to view the next vote.

Click Here To Vote

February 18, 2019

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Tomorrow, online voting for three motions and an open AFA Trustee position begin. There are several comments on the three separate motion discussion boards that you may wish to review. 

Please take the time to become educated on the issues and vote. If you have questions about the motions or how to log in to vote, please contact any of your AFA Officers (see link below for contact info).

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association 

(512) 217-3474

 

February 13, 2019

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Elections for the vacant Trustee position as well as the following 3 Motions (see below) are up for Online Vote next week. The vote starts at 8:00am on February 19th and ends at 5:00pm on February 21st. If you have a question on any of the three motions, please post your question on the respective discussion board.  If you have trouble logging in to post on the discussion board or voting, please contact me directly by responding to the email or call any AFA Officer (click here for contact info).

Firefighters on probation should have full access to the discussion board (so post if you like) but will NOT be able to vote.

Discussion Board Tip: If you want to receive an email whenever somebody adds a post to the discussion board, simply go to the discussion page and click on "reply to this discussion" in red at the top of the page, write for reply only in the text of the post and check trhe box that says "Notify me when someone replies". If you do this, an email will be sent to you whenever a post is made to the respective discussion board. 

 

Trustee Election

First of all, I would like to thank Aaron Brooks for her many years of Service. During the nomination period, we recevied two nominations for the vacant position of Trustee. The two candidates for Trustee are Les McKay and Pat Sconci. 

Please click on their names below to see their respective Bios. 

Les McKay

Pat Sconci 

As mentioned above, online voting for the open Trustee position will take place next week - beginning February 19th at 8 AM and ending February 21 at 5 PM. 

 


 

Motion 19-1: Move that the AFA will educate the public on DA Moore's failure to prosecute sexual harassment and assault cases, evidenced in part by the experience of Sister Kelly Gall.  The AFA will research other candidates that the AFA can support for the upcoming 2020 Travis County District Attorney election.  

Motion by Vanessa Schaefer / Second by Mike Leone

CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO MOTION 19-1 DISCUSSION BOARD

 


 

Motion 19-2: Move that the AFA educate the Fire Chief and Command Staff on a 48/96 work schedule and lobby the Fire Chief and Command Staff to conduct a trial within the Austin Fire Department of the 48/96 work schedule.

Motion by Kyle Melton / Second by Christian Ward

CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO MOTION 19-2 DISCUSSION BOARD

CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO 48/96 PAGE

 


 

Motion 19-3: Move that the AFA membership officially condemn the unsafe practice of operating auto aid agreements under two or more Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Changes to Auto Aid SOPs should utilize a needs assessment using A101 as the starting point. Unilateral adoption of "Blue Card" like SOPs or other SOP's should be condemned as a breach of the original Auto Aid Agreement, not comporting with national SOP standards and therefore unsafe to responding firefighters. In addition, any Automatic Aid Agreement that states that three-person firefighter staffing is acceptable or lacks a backup line pre-assignment pertaining to offensive firefighting operations and/or early emphasis on RIC would lower the safety of responding Austin Firefighters.   

The AFA membership implores Chief Baker to continue to support four person staffing and ensure, for Auto Aid responses, A101 remains our SOP for all offensive firefighting operation responses inside and outside the City of Austin 

Motion by Randy Denzer / Second by Christine Jones 

CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO MOTION 19-3 DISCUSSION BOARD

 


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2019 Softball Tournament - Honor Fallen Brother - Cohnway Johnson

February 11, 2019

Please see below email regarding Softball Tournament to honor fallen brother, Cohnway Johnson. 

Mr. Nicks,

This is Jason Ramsdell from Oak Hill, Local 4253. I have attached our annual softball tournament flyer for 2019. We had three AFD teams out last year with Austin Heat winning the trophy. We would appreciate your continued participation. This tournament was organized to honor our fallen brother, Cohnway Johnson. Proceeds go to a fire academy scholarship in his name. The flyer should have all the important information, but if anyone has any questions, please call me. Thanks.

Jason Ramsdell


Proceeds go to the Cohnway Johnson Scholarship Fund for the Oak Hill Fire Academy sponsored by Cohnway's parents, Mike and Candy Johnson

Players must be TCFP certified
Friends and family welcome to
cheer on their teams

The first 10 teams to register will be entered
in the bracket and able to play

Contact Jason Ramsdell (512-656-2899) or Aaron Lyngaas (512-619-6706)
for additional information or to register your team

PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR 2019 TOURNAMENT FLYER

 


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AFD Peer Support Group

A year ago, the AFD Peer Support Group was formed.  Comprised of AFD firefighters we know and trust, they received training on ways to help members through tough issues they are facing, whether related to fire/ems calls, marriage, children, finances, drugs or alcohol, or anything else members of our AFD family may struggle with. 

They had over 220 contacts and conversations in 2018.  We are so glad that members are taking advantage of this amazing group of people, and we want to make sure that EVERY member knows about them.  

Crewmembers, friends, and family often see the signs of a problem before the person going through it is even aware of the toll it is taking.   Keep your eyes and ears open and let's continue taking care of our AFD family.

Link to Video Message

Hotline: (888)-4-AFD-HELP or (888) 423-3435

Mike Leone

VP, AFA 975 


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1/14/2019

See below the nominations announcement for the open AFA Trustee Position and a link to Letter of Appreciation from AFD Chief Finalist, Chief McGee. 

Brothers and sisters, 

I received word from Chief Nicks this weekend that our longtime Trustee Aaron Brooks has resigned from her position. We all owe Aaron a huge debt of gratitude for her hard work and dedication to the Department and our Union.  

On the business side, we will start accepting nominations to fill the vacancy created by Aaron's departure this Monday, January 14th.  The nomination period will close Saturday, February 2nd.  The nominees will be presented at the General Membership Meeting on Tuesday, February 12th, with the vote being held the week of the 18th. Please send all nominations to nominations@iafflocal975.org for them to be considered an official nomination.

  • Nomination period - Monday January 14th - February 2nd  -

    Please forward your nominations to the AFA Election Committee at:

    nominations@iafflocal975.org

  • Slate of Nominees presented at the Regular Membership Meeting, February 12th
  • On-line Vote for Trustee Position the week of February 18th 

 

Respectfully, 

C. "Wade" Crain IV 

Elections Committee 

 

 


 

Below is link to letter received from Chief McGee, who was one of the finalists for Chief of the Austin Fire Department.

 

CLICK FOR LETTER OF APPRECIATION FROM CHIEF MCGEE / AFD CHIEF FINALIST


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01/16/2019

The next and probably final AFA 48/96 Committee meeting will be Friday January 18th at 0900. The main purpose of this meeting is to consider additional information to include in the final report. If you cannot attend, please scroll down to the discussion board link and provide your suggestions.

 


 

12/31/2018

 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

 

Since the membership motion to form the Committee occured so long ago, I want to comment on what the AFA Committee Report on the 48/96 Schedule is and what it is not.

 

What it is:

  • The Committee that published this report was created via membership motion.
  • A Committee Report was published strictly for the education of the AFA membership
  • A Committee Report could have be sent to the Eboard with recommendations for possible action. This report was NOT sent to the Eboard with recommendations, it was simply sent to the membership without recommendation.

What it is NOT:

  • An opinion, position or any action to be taken by the AFA.
  • As Chair of the 48/96 Committee my role is to facilitate the Committee in achieving their purpose and I will not take sides or express my professional opinion on the matter.
  • There currently is NO membership motion offered to take any action on the information contained in the report.
  • There is currently no Eboard recommendation on this report.

 

History

 

This Committee Report started out as a membership motion brought forward by two members in good standing that was determined by on-line vote and passed with 58% voting in favor. Click here for the March 2018 vote result

I Chaired the Committee and tried to select an equal number of people that were Pro and Con to serve on the Committee. In the end, there were more Pro members on the Committee but only because of the lack of Con members that volunteered. I believe that all members of the Committee adhered to the guiding principle laid out on our first Committee meeting; to try create an "even handed" report so the membership can be better informed on this issue.

The motion directed the AFA to: "create a committee to investigate the feasibility, benefits and consequences of the 48/96 work schedule and related items pertaining to scheduling, leave, cost benefit analysis, health, sleep, et al as deemed appropriate by the committee."

I have been asked what the Fire Chief, Command Staff and Council thinks about the 48/96 schedule. I do not really know. I am NOT lobbying for this scheduled in any way, shape or form.

IF a motion comes forward from the membership to take action, the AFA will follow the direction of this motion if it passes. Until then no action will be taken by the AFA,  we work at the direction of the membership.

The 48/96 Committee will be meeting again in January and we will publish the date/time/place of this meeting so any interested party can attend and participate. At this meeting we will be discussing publishing additional information into the report from member suggestions now that the report is being reviewed by the membership.

 

Also, The Committee has developed a survey to be sent directly to the members of 10 Fire Department that are currently using the 48/96 work schedule. When these results are available, they will be release within the Committee Report and to the AFA membership.

 

I hope this answers some of your questions. Please contact me directly (or any member of the Committee) if you have further questions.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 


 

12/28/2018

This page includes two discussion boards. The first discussion board (NEW DISCUSSION BOARD), is intended for comments and questions on the report by the 48/96 Committee. The second discussion board (OLD DISCUSSION BOARD) was used by the 48/96 Committee during the research phase and is intended for informational purposes only. 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Please review the information and click on the link below for the Discussion Board to address any issues or questions that our members may have about information reported here or from other sources. If you would like to see the discussion board used during the 48/96 Committtee research - please click on the link below in the body of this post. 

PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR NEW DISCUSSION BOARD ON 48/96 REPORT

 

This is the report from the 48/96 Committee to the membership.   

This AFA Research Committee was created by a membership motion brought before the membership and determined by online vote.

48/96 Committee Members:

Mark Bridges / Antwaine Hobbs / Brad Landi / Ed Lee / Kyle Melton / Victor Mena / Daniel Miller / Stephen Truesdell / Christian Ward 

The Process:

The AFA committee has been formed to research the pros and cons of changing to a 48/96 shift schedule. The committee will make recommendations to the Eboard. The Eboard will publish this committee report to the membership for review. If the committee makes recommendations to change our existing shift schedule and the Eboard accepts these recommendations, another motion would be offered to the membership to decide, by online vote, if they wish to accept the committee's recommendations. Of course, any changes to the shift schedule would have to be approved by management. 

This page has been created to keep our membership informed with regards to the progress of the 48/96 Committee. 

The link below is the discussion board that was used during the research phase of the 48/96 Committee.  

PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR OLD DISCUSSION BOARD USED DURING RESEARCH PHASE

 

Reports:

Opinion Pieces of Pros and Cons for 48/96 Schedule. In addition to the Pro Con report above, the committee selected 2 of its members to write Pro and Con opinion pieces. 

PROS for 48/96 - by Kyle Melton

CONS for 48/96 - by Ed Lee

 

Resources:

Comparison of the 24/48 Schedule to the 48/96 Schedule - Local 1660

St. Anthony Hospital Report 

Fort Worth Fire 48/96 - by 48/96 committee of Local 440 to educate their membership on the pros and cons of trialing the new schedule 

Project Mayday conducted by Don Abbott that surveyed 293 maydays from 264 departments. "Less than 9 percent of participating departments work a 48/96 shift schedule, but this shift accounts for 39 percent of maydays." Committee statements from Kyle Melton and Mark Bridges:

Kyle Melton - Project Mayday Synopsis

Mark Bridges - Project Mayday Synopsis

NIOSH Report 2008 - for cardiac arrest of California Lieutenant after working three consecutive 24 hour shifts. "Recommendation #2: Limit the number of consecutive shifts a FF can work... Allowing fire fighters to work consecutive shifts may represent not only an injury and illness risk issue for individual fire fighters, but also a safety and health risk for their coworkers."

NIOSH Report 2015 - for cardiac arrest of fire Engineer, working a 48-96 schedule, found unresponsive at the beginning of his second, regularly scheduled, 24-hour shift. However, this would have been his third consecutive 24-hour shift as he worked a 24-hour overtime shift the day before. "Recommendation #5: Limit the number of consecutive shifts a fire fighter can work." The investigation concedes that there is no data linking chronic sleep deprivation with sudden cardiac death but still warns that, "Allowing fire fighters to work consecutive shifts may represent not only an injury and illness risk for individual fire fighters, but also a safety and health risk for their coworkers and the public." The CDC was contacted and they have no official recommendation on firefighter shift schedule.  

International Fire Chiefs Association article addressing addresses 48-96 and the lack of studies regarding shift-work in general. "While 24-hour shifts have been the norm for quite some time, it's not uncommon for large, busy agencies to work 10/14s, 12s or some other modified shift of less than 24 hours. Yet, in the western U.S., a number of departments have gone to a 48/96 schedule. That's right, 48 hours on, 96 hours off. Most members love that schedule, but is it appropriate? Quite frankly, I'm surprised that fire and EMS haven't already been regulated away from shifts that are more than 12 hours... Regardless, if we're not careful, we're going to be told how many hours we'll be allowed to work, and it will probably mean the death of the 24-hour shift."

Annals of Occupational and Environmental Medicine articles acknowledges the lack of information regarding long term effects of consecutive shifts worked and proposes a hypothesis. "Despite the fact that very long (> 48 hrs) shifts are common among firefighters in the United States, little is known about the impact of consecutive 24-hr shifts on the cardiovascular health of firefighters... Based on the "heuristic" concept, we hypothesize that the control capacity of the cardiovascular system in firefighters will decrease to some extent through a single 24-hour shift, but it will return to its initial level of capacity following 24-hr off-duty days. However, if a firefighter does 24-hr shifts consecutively, particularly 72 or 96 hours of consecutive work, the control capacity of the cardiovascular system in the firefighter will decrease significantly due to increased work and rest imbalance, which results in accumulating cardiovascular strain over consecutive 24-hr shifts."

FEMA 2017 - recent study investigated 24/48, 48/96, and Kelly (on/off/on/off/on/off/off/off/off) at six fire departments. "The 24on/48off shift schedule is associated with the best sleep quality and the Kelly shift schedule is associated with the poorest sleep quality. 

PLEASE CLICK ON ANY OF THE ATTACHED LINKS FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

1) Document Library: Surveys, 48/96 Department Information, Meeting Minutes, Research papers

2) AFD Opinions

3) AFD Runs

As more information becomes available, it will be sent out to the membership for your review. 

 

 


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January 18, 2019

Dear Austin Fire Family,

Many prayers have been answered and our Owen Coulter may be discharged from Dell Children's in a few weeks.  We have decided to keep on loving on the Coulter family through bringing lunches to them for five people at Dell Children's by extending the meal calendar through February 2, 2019.  So much appreciation and thanks goes out to all of you that have taken the time and effort to reach a helping hand out to the Coulter's through visits, food, prayers and kindness.  Your hearts are indescribably amazing and very appreciated.   If you would like to sign up to bring them lunch, there are still a few dates available below.  Thank you from the bottom to the tops of our hearts.  It is an immense blessing, a huge inspiration and an absolute gift to get to see the love of our fire family at work. 

The link for the lunch calendar is as follows:

Take the Coulter Family a Meal at Dell Children's

Contact at the Hospital: Allie Orton

Password:  4348

Link to Meal Schedule:  http://www.TakeThemAMeal.com/BAKV4001

Location:  3 South Family Lounge, Room 3Y.074

Please continue to visit the Coulter's at Dell Children's Hospital.  It is best to visit during the hours of 9:30am to 4pm.

 

Much love & appreciation,

Kristen Wade, 210-823-2521

Wade.kristen@yahoo.com

Auxiliary to the Austin Firefighters Association, Local 975

Austin Firefighters Relief and Outreach Fund

 

1/12-1/15/19 Coulter Family Update from Aunt Allie Orton on Facebook at #PrayingForOwen:

"Our transition to rehab has been SO smooth. We are spoiled yet again with Amazing nurses and therapists! Owen has had a great couple of days with continued progress! This past weekend Madelyn and Hudson visited which always lifts his spirits. He asked them to bring him a couple of his Christmas presents under the tree so that they can open them together! We have told him we are keeping the Christmas tree up until he comes home. He also showed off some of his new harmonica skills. During music therapy, he was given a harmonica to help strengthen his lungs. ‘Jazz Club 372' was rockin' when Owie got to jam with Eddy & Emmy when they came to play their guitars for him. We might have a musician in the making! He surprised his therapists on Monday during OT and PT when he began to sit up on his own. He worked hard to do it over the weekend with us. He also got to meet a new robot "Moxi" that will be making 3 south (Rehab wing) its home beginning in February. A local Austin robotics company is launching Moxi in 3 hospitals in Texas to help the nurses with various tasks. Owen wanted to give Moxi a note during the demo. The note asked Moxi where she lived? The developers kept the note and asked to take a picture with Owen. Darin and Kristin met with his team of therapists, Nurse Practitioner, and Social Worker today (1/15) to review their assessments, goals, and discharge plan. They are tentatively looking at a 2-3 week discharge timeline. This might mean coming home with a feeding tube, wheelchair, walker, leg braces, etc. and continuous out-patient OT and PT; however, this means we will get to bring our warrior HOME!! This week we are praying for a final week of drug weaning to be seamless with no withdrawals, big time strength to have a strong core, crawl, stand, and walk, and removal of his feeding tube and the ability to take his medications orally. We can remove the NG (feeding) tube once his appetite is back in order to meet his daily calorie and fluid goals.

We look forward to seeing how Owen's miracle story continues to unfold as we continue to pray for a FULL recovery!

More about Moxi the robot ?? here: http://diligentrobots.com/moxi/

 

Lastly, hopefully you've read Uncle Brian's post in this group, so please consider sending your stories of how Owen's journey has impacted you to PrayingforOwen@gmail.com

# PrayingforOwen ? ?"

The Post on #PrayingForOwen from Uncle Brian:  "On behalf of the family, I want to express our greatest appreciation for the love and support, thoughts and prayers, donations and (especially the fabulous) food that that you have blessed us with during Owen's miraculous journey.

I use the word miraculous because I truly believe that God was intimately involved in the events surrounding Owen's life threatening experience. The moment I walked into Dell Children's Hospital and saw the outpouring of love and support from the firefighters, coworkers, and friends, I was overwhelmed. I witnessed family members on bended knee desperately pleading for God to intervene. I heard nurses and doctors drawing on every bit of knowledge and training to save the life of a young boy that they now have an unprecedented connection to. And I felt my phone light up as prayer chains were activated all over the world. #PrayingforOwen now has 1031 followers. Through it all, I felt an extraordinary peace enveloping us all. A peace that can only come from God.

In my spiritual walk with Christ, I have yet to personally experience what Psalm 23:5 refers to in the phrase "my cup runneth over". It wasn't until the first day at the hospital that I experienced God's love so abundantly present. A cup runs over when it cannot hold all that is being poured into it. There were no other words for me to describe how unmistakably present God was. He not only gives us what we need, but he provides it abundantly during times of difficulty. In Owen's greatest hour of need, God provided abundantly.

I share that story as an encouragement to others. Owen continues on his miraculous journey and I'm not sure he will fully understand the impact his experience had on those that were praying for him. I was talking with Darin the other day about writing down all of the stories and experiences that we have had but neither of us had the time to write. To that end, we would like to compile a book of letters to Owen but we need your help.

We have set up an email account

PrayingforOwen@gmail.com.

Please use this address to send a letter that tells him how God has impacted your life while praying for Owen.

For consistency and future book editing sake, please follow these simple guidelines:

1. Address the letter to Owen - remember he's 5 so use words he would understand

2. Share a personal story of how God revealed Himself to you, or how God has impacted you during this time.

3. Keep it short. No more than 1 page. (Feel free to submit multiple times if you have multiple stories)

If you have a picture or a song that particularly impacted you during this time feel free to attach it as well. We will need some artwork for the book.

God Bless,

Uncle Brian"

 

 


 

 

January 9, 2018

Dear Austin Fire Family,

Big Huge AMAZING News!  As of today, Owen Coulter has been moved out of the PICU!!  Our little warrior is now on the 3rd floor!  God is so good!

Thank you so much for your incredibly caring and giving hearts!  All the love and support that continues to be expressed for the Coulter family is phenomenal.  You all loving on them through food has been an immense blessing.  We have extended the meal calendar till January 19th to bring lunch or have lunch delivered for five people to Dell Children's Hospital.

 

The link for the lunch calendar is as follows:

Take the Coulter Family a Meal at Dell Children's

Contact at the Hospital: Allie Orton

Password:  4348

Link to Meal Schedule:  www.TakeThemAMeal.com/BAKV4001

Location:  3 South Family Lounge, Room 3Y.074

Please continue to visit the Coulter's at Dell Children's Hospital.  It is best to visit during the hours of 9:30am to 4pm.

 

Much Love,

Kristen Wade, 210-823-2521

Wade.kristen@yahoo.com

Auxiliary to the Austin Firefighters Association, Local 975

 

 


 

 

 

December 29th, 2018

 

Dear Austin Fire Family,

Thank you to all who have taken care of the Coulter family in numerous ways including bringing lunch to them at Dell Children's hospital.  One of the best ways to show love is through food, and you all have done just that.  We have decided to add three new dates to the lunch calendar.  If anyone would like to sign up to bring lunch for eight people January 3rd, January 4th or the last date, January 5th the link is as follows to sign up:

Take the Coulter Family a Meal at Dell Children's

Password:  4348

Link to Meal Schedule:  www.TakeThemAMeal.com/BAKV4001

Location:  Family Lounge, Room 2Y.076. There is a sign that says, "Coulter Waiting Area."

Please continue to visit the Coulter's here at Dell Children's! Darin and Kristin are actively part of shift changes and doctors rounds, so it is best to visit during the hours of 9:30am to 4pm.

Thank you,

Kristen Wade, 210-823-2521

12/27/18 Update from Aunt Allie Orton:

Happy 5th Birthday to Owen & Hudson!! It was a moving day... moving forward that is. Owie has transitioned off of 24hr dialysis and will be starting a hemodialysis 4 hours per day. Due to this, Owie had a ‘fun' little ride in his bed as he was moved down the hall in PICU to a new room so that the new dialysis machine can be set up. He is still pushing through the narcotic withdrawals as they wean him off. With the help of the physical therapist he was able to sit up and hold mama's hands. This was very exhausting due to muscle fatigue but every day he will grow stronger and stronger. He got a little bite of vanilla ice cream for being so brave. Mom even got the drs to clear some ice chips and sips with a straw. Owie's amazing nurses and PICU staff decorated his room for his birthday. They continue to not only provide the best care, but also love him like he was their own. Our waiting room also moved today! The new waiting area is just down the hall from our previous basecamp, and is now the Family Lounge room 2Y.076 (see picture below). Please continue to visit us! Darin and Kristin are actively part of shift changes and doctors rounds, so it is best to visit during the hours of 9:30am to 4pm.

Today we are Praying for kidneys to continue to kick into full gear, vomiting and nausea to cease due to the drug weaning, and for continued progress in his occupational, speech and physical therapy. We want to thank you for all the birthday wishes, visitors, and continued prayers! #PrayingforOwen ??

 

December 27, 2018

From Aunt Allie Orton:

Hi All! We've moved to a new designated waiting area today... we are now located in the Family Lounge, Room 2Y.076. This is located just down the hall from our previous "basecamp" on floor 2.

Take Care,

Kristen Wade, 210-823-2521

Auxiliary to the Austin Firefighters Association, Local 975

CLICK HERE FOR IMAGE OF NEW LOCATION

 

 


 

 

12-24-2018

Update on Owen Coulter: 

Dear Austin Fire Family,

Merry Christmas Eve!!  So excited for this phenomenal update about the Coulter Family!! 

Owen's update for 12/23/18 Update from Allie Orton:

"Owie had a good day today! He had a strong heartbeat, and other vitals. Was very responsive to mom, dad & nurses. He had longer sessions of being awake, answering yes/no questions with head nods. Breathing was very strong and they are looking at removing the ventilator the next day or two as well as an MRI. There is a possibility for a mid-week surgery to remove the dialysis catheter and/or move it depending on his kidney function. Owie also had a sedation vacation long enough to watch a few episodes of paw patrol & Arthur. A big thank you to nurse Becky & RT John and all the other nurse staff who continue to visit Owie.

Madelyn & Hudson had a great weekend visit at Ronald McDonald House with visits to the Thinkery, visits with friends, and more family that has arrived from out of town.

Please continue to visit us here at Dell Children's! Darin and Kristin are actively part of shift changes and doctors rounds, so it is best to visit during the hours of 9:30am to 4pm in the Sibling Clubhouse waiting room on the 2nd floor PICU.

Please pray for a clear MRI, continued improvement to heart and lungs, full kidney function, and 100% brain recovery. Darin and Kristin continue to give the Lord all the glory in this amazing Christmas miracle! #PrayingforOwen ??"

Much appreciation,

Kristen Wade, 210-823-2521

Auxiliary to the Austin Firefighters Association, Local 975

 


 

12-19-2018

Latest updates on progress of FF Coulter's son, Owen

Beginning of Day from Dell Children's - December 19, 2018

Big day started off early. Family met with doctors at 6am to discuss how Owen will be cared for today. He was wheeled upstairs to the OR to begin the process of weaning him off one of the machines. A crowd of people gathered in the hallway to see him off. May or may not have been a few tears shed.

Lots of family, friends and firefighters already stopping by this morning lending support to the Coulter's. The hospital staff continues to root for Owen, with frequent visits from anyone that has been involved in his care here at Children's.

Family hopes to build on the success of the past few days. Keep on prayin'!

 

End of Day from Dell Children's - December 18, 2018

More good news from Owen, Doctors took him off sedation for a bit today to assess his progress. Along with the previous movement of arms and legs noted earlier in the week he spontaneously opened his eyes and was able to keep them open. He also began to track people around the room, and looked at his momma when asked.

Bright and early tomorrow doctors will begin to ween Owen off of some of the machines to see how much work his body can do on its own. This could take from 1 to 7 hours depending how quickly and how well he responds. It will offer up some idea as to how his healing is going. If all goes as planned, this would be the first step in getting him on his own again. Think of it as slowly turning all his systems back on.

Visitors and food keep making their way to the family gathering point in the "Sibling Clubhouse". Big thanks to Chief Ruiz and Chief Bredahl for the Kerieg machine. Coffee is king here at Children's and there was much rejoicing when they brought it in.

Housing situation just about solved, with only 1 set of parents needing to be placed. That should be Wednesday.

Wednesday day is a big day for Owen and the Coulter's. Send all the prayers and good ju ju you have this way. Let's rally.

Goodnight. 

 

 


 

 

 

12-18-2018

Two updates from AJ and Allie Orton

End of Day from Children's

Owen continues to surprise the PICU staff and improve daily. Eyes are opening periodically with continued movement in toes and arms. His heart is strengthening and there is no longer fluid in his lungs. Doctors are eliminating possible causes and hope to have it narrowed down soon.

The AFD family keeps streaming through the hospital to visit. The continued support is lifting the spirits of the Coulter's high. Please keep coming by, if even for a brief visit. Command staff is welcome as well.

The staff here at Children's is pulling hard for Owen. They have never seen anyone be revived after 90 minutes of CPR, let alone survive this long and show the dramatic improvement he has these past few days. This is a Christmas miracle in the making.

I've secured access to a van from training to shuttle family to and from the airport on Saturday. Long term lodging is still a challenge. Kristen Wade continues to be solid in this effort. Several AFD personnel have offered places to stay, and we are trying to match resources with needs while respecting the wishes of the family.

The lunch sign-up calendar is full through the first few days of January.

A GOFUNDME account is being set up to help with future expenses. Details to follow soon.

Keep the thoughts and prayers coming. They work.

Goodnight,

AJ Padilla

 

Dear Auxiliary and Fire Family,

12/17/18 Update from Allie Orton:

"We felt the power of your prayers for Owen today! His heart & lungs were stronger today than yesterday, he responded to requests to wiggle his toes, and he opened his beautiful eyes!! His heart is at 52% which is a huge improvement!  Owen is still on the ECMO machine which is helping his heart and lungs but we are seeing small improvements.  The team here had never done an ECMO in the ER before Owen and because of this they saved another patient today with the knowledge!  His team of doctors and nurses are incredible and we are so grateful for their skill, knowledge and compassion. They did not give up on him and continue to provide the best care in the world.  He has his brother's Georgie with him and is fighting so hard to get better.  Darin & Kristin want to thank you all for your prayers and visits and support, as it is truly making a difference! Please keep praying for continued healing for his heart, his lungs, his kidneys and especially for his brain.  #PrayingforOwen"

If you utilize social media, the Coulter's family and friends have started a Facebook page for prayer and updates.  If you would like to be a part of this group, please ask to be a member #PrayingForOwen.  The page can be found at the following link:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/2106142653031664/?ref=group_header

You all are beyond amazing!  The lunch meal calendar has been completely filled through January 2, 2019.  We will keep you all updated depending upon the length of Owen's hospital stay on whether or not more lunch dates will be added in the future.  Thank you for you phenomenal support and loving the Coulter family so much.

Password:  4348

Link to Meal Schedule:  www.TakeThemAMeal.com/BAKV4001

Austin Fire Lt. AJ Padilla's phone number is 858-273-4394. 

 

Take care,

Kristen Wade, 210-823-2521

Auxiliary to the Austin Firefighters Association, Local 975

 

 


 

 

12-17-2018

 

Two Messages from AJ and The Auxiliary on  Owen Coulter's Progress

 

1. End of Day from Dell Children's from AJ Padillia
 
 
-family rally point in the hospital is now the "Sibling Clubhouse", 2nd floor by the PICU. All AFD personnel are encouraged to come by as often as they wish. The Coulter's are blown away by the support shown by the fire family and want to keep it coming. Please pass this on.
 
 
-Owen has shown marked improvement today. He again had purposeful movement in his extremities and appeared to be trying to "chew" his way through his oral adjunct. As a result he had to be sedated, which the hospital staff and the family (after being mostly unresponsive the first 36 hours) are taking as a big positive development.  
 
-family continues to arrive, with long term (several days or weeks) housing solutions being explored with the help of the Auxiliary.  
 
-sign up sheet to provide lunch is being finalized by Kristen Wade and will be available soon. She is awesome. 
 
- continued prayers for Owen are appreciated. He's one of us. Let's get him home.
 
2. Message from Auxiliary
 

Dear Auxiliary and Fire Family,

 

Hope you all are doing well this evening.  The following is the link to sign up to bring the Coulter family lunch during the day at Dell Children's Hospital.  Please contact Austin Fire Lt. AJ Padillia on the day you sign up to bring lunch, so that he can assist you in where at Dell Children's hospital on the second floor to drop it off as the location needs to stay a bit fluid due to hospital construction work.  Lt. AJ Padillia's phone number is 858-273-4394.  Thank you so much for all of your sweet hearts, prayers and giving spirits, please share:

Password:  4348

 Link to Meal Schedule:  www.TakeThemAMeal.com/BAKV4001

 

Take care,

Kristen Wade, 210-823-2521

Auxiliary to the Austin Firefighters Association, Local 975

 


 

12-15-2018

Dear Auxiliary and Fire Family,

Thank you so much for the outpouring of love, support and prayers for our much loved Coulter Family.  They are so very appreciative, and your prayers are working!  Owen is still very sick in the PICU at Dell Children's hospital, and he is need of all the prayers we can give.  He is proving to be fighter!  We just got word that he is starting to try to breathe on his own.  He made the monitor ding.  His nurse caught it on her stethoscope.  Which makes us all happy!

We are working and coordinating with Auxiliary member/AFD Fire Wife, Katie Iverson as she is a very close friend of the Coulter family and serving as our fire family liaison for them during this extremely tough time.  Katie can be reached at 512-417-3267.  It is my understanding that Austin Firefighter AJ Padilla and several other firefighters are helping as well and coordinating with the family to help them in the best way possible.

You can sign up to pray for Owen.  We received the following message and here is the link to signup to pray:

Please pray for our little Owen. We love him so much. ??????

https://www.timetosignup.com/owencoulter/sheet/1275448/

 Please share and ask everyone to pray.

Pray that the medicine works to remove the blood clots so he won't need open heart surgery.

Pray that it's a virus that caused this issue and not an intrinsic issue.

Pray that the swelling stops.

Praying for strength, peace, and hope for Kristin and Darin.

"Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always." 1 Chronicles 16:11

"He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." Mark 5:34

 Thank you,

Kristen Wade, 210-823-2521

Auxiliary to the Austin Firefighters Association, Local 975

 


 

 

12-14-2108

Dear Auxiliary and Austin Fire Family,

We are asking for prayers for our Austin Firefighter Darin (Engine 8/ B shift) & his wife, Kristin Coulter, their young son Owen, and everyone who loves him dearly including his sister and brother.  He is a very sick little guy at Dell Children's Hospital right now.  

A "helper" care calendar has been set up by friends and family of the Coulter Family for people to sign up to visit them at Dell Children's Hospital, 4900 Mueller Blvd., Austin, Texas:

The helper logon to access Kristin and Darren Coulter's Care Calendar site, visit: https://www.carecalendar.org/logon/277783

Please enter the following information in the appropriate spaces to gain access to the calendar:

Calendar ID   :   277783

Security code :   2701

Please spread the word about this calendar amongst our fire family. The Coulter's need as many prayers as possible, and we will be there for them in any way we can.  We will let you know if we can help this sweet family in any other ways.

Thank you,

Kristen Wade, 210-823-2521

Auxiliary to the Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 


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12/24/2018

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Retired Assistant Chief Thomas Brady Pool passed away Wednesday, December 19, 2018 at the age of 92. Brady joined AFD in 1948 and retired in 1987 with 39 years of service, which included a period of time as Interim Fire Chief.  He was the grandfather of AFD Firefighter Jacob Boesch, who works at Central Station on the A-Shift.

 

Brady served in the US Navy from 1944 until 1946, and during his career with AFD, he built and remodeled houses. Retired Deputy Chief Tommy Anderson says Brady was a good leader and a good guy.  Tommy describes Brady as energetic, dependable, honest, and well-thought-of, and says that he succeeded at almost anything he tried. 

 

Retired Battalion Chief Harold Bloomquist says Brady was friends with everybody, and that he and his wife Wanda loved to dance.  Retired Lieutenant Ken McGary says Brady was intelligent, quiet, and made time for others.  According to Ken, you couldn't have asked to work for a better man than Brady Pool.

 

A visitation will be held at 1 PM Thursday, December 27, 2018 at Harrell Funeral Home, 4435 Frontier Trail, in Austin.  The funeral service will take place immediately afterwards, at 2 PM at the same location. Burial will follow, at Live Oak Cemetery, 6400 Twin Creek Road, Manchaca, Texas.

 

Brady was a member of the Benevolent Fund.

Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers. 

(Above from AFD)

 

Brady Pool retired in 1987, so for many of us we may not know him. Chief Pool shaped the Austin Fire Department through his service and dedication like few others. Many of the benefits and working conditions you enjoy today can be directly attributed to his service.

Brady was a Pension Board Trustee for 17 years and was instrumental in breaking our pension away from a State pension and creating our own independent pension system (under State Statute). He was an AFA President for a period of time, a Battalion Chief and a true friend to all that knew him. For years and years, he would send Christmas cards to all the AFD Fire Stations and make visits to many of them each Christmas Season.

 

Here are some excerpts found on the Retired Austin Firefighters Facebook Page from folks who have worked with him:

Wonderful man who truly cared about everyone he worked with. Chief Pool was so nice and so personable. Loved working with him on 5th street where I began my career at AFD. I have always had the utmost respect for him. Rest in peace Chief <3

Brenda Petty Brumbelow

 


 

RIP, Chief Pool! My Dad worked with him at Central. Little did I know that years later I would work for him. He was forced into the Fire Chief's position when Chief Kirkham was forced to resign. He didn't want the job but would do it until the City found the new Fire Chief. He became known as the Firefighters' Fire Chief, as he was passionately protective of his Firefighters. He led by example. Truly one in a million.

Scott Arbuckle

 


 

At IBM fire a huge fire total loss....Chief Brady Pool pulled the firefighters back from harms way. I saw Chief Pool arguing with the Chief of the Fire Department. For our safety.  All of my encounters with Chief Pool were positive! His wife Wanda gave me the best coconut cream pie recipe.

Laura Matau

 


 

 Chief Pool was a wonderful person and a great leader. I remember the Fire Dept. Picnics in the 80s that he was a big part of hosting. I also remember him stopping by the station just to visit with the troops. I count myself very lucky to have known him.

Steve Grove

 


 

I remember how Chief Pool and his wife loved to dance together .

He did what a Chief should do, stood up for'em .I got called on the carpet for a run in with other city department (won't mention which one) after he heard my story he said to me "I would have done the same " , forget about the incident ,this happened twice .

Ken Polk

 


 

Another one of my heroes and mentors gone. He saved my career in 82..

Billy Webb

 


 

Please share other stories and accomplishments and I will send them out to the firefighters.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association 


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12-14-2018

 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

 

Austin City Council passed a 4-Person Staffing Ordinance yesterday. As long as this ordinance stays in effect, it will ensure 4-person staffing will continue to be funded in future budget years. I wish to thank Councilmember Ann Kitchen for sponsoring and truly fighting for this important firefighter safety initiative. The co-sponsors on this ordinance were Leslie Pool, Kathie Tovo, Delia Garza and Pio Renteria.  

Chief Baker expressed his staunch support for 4-person staffing at the Fire Chief finalist public engagement event on 10/25/2018 (49 sec.) and this was very important to the passage of the ordinance. Please watch the video his stance on 4-person staffing: https://vimeo.com/302939538

On the dais yesterday the City Manager orchestrated an attempt to weaken the 4-person staffing ordinance along with Councilmember Alter and the Labor Relations office. Mayor Adler and Councilmember Kitchen were instrumental in defeating this effort and the harmful amendment was voted down 9-1. The final ordinance ended up passing 9-1.

Click here for AFA Press Release

Click here for Statesman Story

The strength of Council's commitment to firefighter safety in the face of heavy opposition highlights the great relationships the AFA has been able to cultivate since the inception of the 10-1 Council. The passage of this ordinance completes a 5-year AFA project where we have asked and have received 100% affirmative answers to the AFA Council Candidate question:

1.       Would you support a 4 person staffing ordinance that would continue to ensure the Nationally Recognized Safety Staffing standards on all engines, ladder trucks, and rescue units?

 

I want to thank all of those who worked long and hard over the years to get us to the point where are have 4-person staffing.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 

December 10, 2018

Chief Baker will be at the Membership Meeting between 1:45 and 2:00pm.

We will NOT need firefighters to show up at the Council Workshop tomorrow BUT...

we may need firefighters to show up at Council on Thursday to support the 4-person staffing ordinance.

We will not know until Thursday morning whether we need firefighters to show up for support. As soon as I know, I will email and text the memebrship an update.

 

Bob

 

December 9, 2018

MEMBER ACTION ITEM:

We MAY need firefighters to show up at Council Tuesday, December 11th (8:45) and Thursday, December 13th (to be announced).

  • If the 4-person staffing ordinance is pulled for discussion for the Council Work session on Tuesday, I will need firefighters to show up in support of the ordinance and greet Council members as they assemble to attend the work session which starts at 0900. We had FF's come in and perform this same function for the sucessful #CareforCarrie and it worked wonders. I WILL EMAIL MEMBERS ON MONDAY EVENING IF WE NEED YOU TO SHOW UP BEFORE COUNCIL WORKSESSION ON TUESDAY.
  • IF the ordniace is pulled for discussion on Thurday, I will text and email members as soon as i know. Again, please try to attend if you can.
If there are any questions, please response to this email or call me directly at 512 217-3474.
 
Bob

 

December 7, 2018 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Some upcoming events of interest:

12/10/2018 - Chief Baker swearing in @ City Hall, 10:00 AM

This event should begin on-time and last less than one hour.

12/11/2018 - Chief Baker at AFA Membership Meeting - Question and Answer Session, 1:00pm

Chief Baker will be at the AFA Membership Meeting for a question and answer session. Chief Baker has said the same thing wherever he visits, "ask me your toughest questions". He wants a frank and genuine exchange so please come ready with your questions for our new Fire Chief.

12/13/2018 - 4 person staffing ordinance up for vote at Council - NOT time certain

The AFA has been working toward a four person staffing ordinance for over 4 years and it will finally be before the Austin City Council for a vote. (item 45 on the December 13th agenda).

Item 45 - Approve an ordinance requiring four-person staffing for all Austin Fire Department emergency response apparatus.


Sponsors: Council Member Ann Kitchen, Council Member Delia Garza, Council Member Leslie Pool, Council Member Sabino 'Pio' Renteria, Council Member Kathie Tovo.

The proposed ordinance does NOT change current practice but does codifiy these practices and ensures that firefighter safety will not be used as an option to balance the budget.  In the past, there have been proposals to reduce four-person staffing to generate money to increase library hours and reduce OT costs.  

This has been an important AFA initiative for many years and every Council member since 2014 that has filled out AFA Council Candidate questionnaire, has answered affirmatively to our #1 question:

"1. Would you support a 4 person staffing ordinance that would continue to ensure the Nationally Recognized Safety Staffing standards on all engines, ladder trucks, and rescue units?"

Chief Baker expressed his staunch support for 4-person staffing at the Fire Chief finalist public engagement event on 10/25/2018 (49 sec.). Please watch the video and review the transcript of his stance on 4-person staffing: https://vimeo.com/302939538

Transcript: Question: Would you consider reducing staffing to less than four person?

Chief Baker: Absolutely not! Human resources are the number one priority at all costs. It is not even good for the citizens of Austin. If you have one firefighter death you will wish you had 10 firefighters on the truck. The benefit just does not outweigh the cost, you just cannot reducing staffing. I encourage those who think you can to go ride on a fire truck and go on one of these fire calls and you will see in some cases you may need five on the apparatus, so no, we will not reduce staffing, we will find other means. We may need to ____ we may ask the firefighter to bring his own toiletry to work but no we can't do it.

The four-person staffing ordinance should pass without strong opposition. If we need firefighters to show up at City Hall next Thursday to support the ordinance, we will contact you.

We hope to see you at some or all of the three events listed above.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 


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2019 PROPOSED BUDGET - EDUCATIONAL PAGE - ONLINE VOTE DEC. 18 TO DEC. 20

December 20, 2018 - PM

Both Motions up for online vote have passed:

Motion 18-15 to approve proposed 2019 Goals and Enabling Actions has passed with 92% YES votes. 

CLICK HERE FOR RESULTS OF ONLINE VOTE

 

Motion 18-16 to approve AFA proposed 2019 Budget has passed with 93% YES votes. 

CLICK HERE FOR RESULTS OF ONLINE VOTE

 

Thanks to all of you that took the time to vote. 

 


 

 

 

December 20, 2018 - AM

REMINDER - ONLINE VOTING ENDS TODAY AT 5 PM FOR 2019 AFA PROPOSED BUDGET AS WELL AS THE 2019 PRIORITIES. 

CLICK HERE TO VOTE ONLINE

 

 


 

 

December 18, 2019

REMINDER - ONLINE VOTING BEGINS TODAY AT 8 AM FOR 2019 AFA PROPOSED BUDGET AS WELL AS THE 2019 PRIORITIES

Click here for link to on-line vote

scroll down for links to AFA 2019 budget, goals and discussion board.

 


 

 

December 17, 2018,

REMINDER - Online voting begins tomorrow, Tuesday - December 18th at 8 AM through Thursday - December 20th at 5 PM for 2019 AFA proposed Budget as well as the 2019 Priorites. 

 

 


 

 

December 5, 2018

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

The AFA Membership Discussion Board link below will serve to discuss the 2019 Proposed Budget as wells as 2019 AFA Priorities. PLEASE review the discussion board before voting. The only way to make an informed decision is to participate by asking your questions on the discussion board and reviewing the questions and answers of others.

 

Click here for Discussion page

 

Online Voting will be conducted 12/18 to 12/20

 

Click here to VIEW the 2019 AFA Proposed Budget (Comparison with 2018 Approved Budget)

 

Click here to VIEW the 2019 AFA Priorities

 

 

 


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2019 PAC Board Nominations

Nominations for the AFA PAC board will close Wednesday - December 5, 2018.

Please forward your nominations to the AFA Election Committee at:

nominations@iafflocal975.org

 

Thanks for your time,

Geoff Mitchell A

Chair, AFAPAC 

 


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12/11/2018

Election Day Today! If you have not already, and especially if you live in City Council Districts 1,3 or 8, try to get out and vote

11/29/2018

Austin Firefighters Endorsements for the City Council Runoff:

District One - Natasha Harper-Madison https://www.natashafordistrict1.com/

District Three - Pio Renteria https://www.d3forpio.com/

District Eight - Frank Ward https://www.wardforaustin.com/

 

Early voting began today for three City Council District races, Distinct 1, 3 and 8. If you live in District 1, 3 or 8 please make the effort to vote. Runoff races have very small turnouts and every vote matters.

Click here for early voting locations, dates and hours.

Click here to see which City Council District you live in (scroll down)

Early Voting is November 29th through December 7th - Election day is December 11th

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 


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11/25/2018

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Here is the AFA 2019 Proposed AFA Goals and Objectives and Budget 

 

Link to AFA 2019 Goals

Link to Proposed Budget

Remaining 2019 Budget Process:

  • AFA Membership Budget Workshop - 0900 on November 27th. 
    • Please bring your ideas for both the proposed budget and 2019 goals
  • AFA Eboard finalize proposed budget at December Eboard Meeting on December 3th
  • Final 2018 Proposed Budget and Goal presented at December Membership Meeting on December 11th
  • 2018 Final AFA Goals and Budget approved by on-line vote starting December 18th.
 
Please plan on attending the AFA Budget Workshop on Tuesday, November or send us your ideas by responding to this email.
 
Bob Nicks
President, Austin Firefighters Association 
 

 

 

 

 


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November 22, 2018

RESULTS OF ONLINE VOTING:

- Motion 18-13: Motion to increase Active Member dues by $2 per month has passed with 74% YES votes. 

CLICK HERE FOR ONLINE RESULTS OF VOTE ON MOTION 18-13

 

- Motion 18-14: Motion to increase Retired Member dues by 50 cents per month has passed with 72% YES votes. 

CLICK HERE FOR ONLINE RESULTS OF VOTE ON MOTION 18-14

 

- 2019 Executive Board:

Jeremy Copus

Randy Denzer

Michael Duffee

Mike Leone

Congratulations to the aforementioned elected nominees who will serve on the Executive Board for the 2019/2020 Session. 

CLICK HERE FOR ONLINE RESULTS OF EXECUTIVE BOARD ELECTIONS

Thanks to all of you that took the time to vote.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

 

November 14, 2018

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Both the (2) dues increase motions (one for active and the other for retired members) along with the AFA VP Officer elections will be decided by an on-line vote November 20th (starting at 08:00) and ending November 22nd (ending at 17:00). See below for dues increase motions and AFA Officer election information. 

The retiree dues increase is proposed to cover the increases from the IAFF. The current dues that the AFA charge for retiree membership is $7.00 per month but because of recent IAFF dues increases, the AFA pays $7.29 per month to the IAFF for the retiree. We normally increase retiree dues by .50 cent increments to cover future increases. 

After the dues increase vote is concluded, the AFA will be hosting an AFA membership budget workshop starting at 09:00 on November 27th. During this workshop the AFA Eboard will hear from the membership on budget ideas and priorities and then we will work toward finalizing the 2019 AFA budget. The proposed AFA 2019 budget will then be approved by the AFA Membership via an on-line vote in mid-December. 

 

AFA Dues Increase Motions

18-13: Increase AFA Dues for AFA active members by $2.00 per month.

Motion to be determined by on-line vote. As per the AFA Constitution and Bylaws, only Active AFA Members may vote

Motion Maker - Lynn Eichler / Second - Greg Pope

 

18-14: Increase AFA retired members' dues by .50 per month.

Motion to be determined by on-line vote. As per the AFA Constitution and Bylaws, both Active and Retired AFA Members may vote.

Motion Maker: Robert Nicks / Second: Lynn Eichler

 

AFA Members-only discussion board for Active and Retiree Dues Increase:

CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO DISCUSSION BOARD ABOUT DUES INCREASE

 

2018 Elections - Austin Firefighters Association

- Secretary / Treasurer:

Greg Pope - Accepted Nomination and won by Acclamation

 

CANDIDATE BIO's

Click on names to see candidates Bio's

- Vice Presidents: 

There are (5) candidates for AFA VP positions and (4) open AFA VP positions. Each member will be able to vote on-line for (4) AFA VP's. 

Jeremy Copus

Randy Denzer

Michael Duffee

Mike Leone

Alex Vanegas

 

- AFA Trustee:

No nominations accepted. All nominees declined their nomination. Nominations for the open trustee position will be open starting today (11/14/2018) and will close on December 1st. The election for the open Trustee position will occur by on-line vote in mid-December. 

 

 


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11/22/2018

Happy Thanksgiving and please vote. This is the last day to online vote and the vote ends at 5:00pm today. Scroll down for details.

Bob

 

11/212018

Vote for dues  increase and AFA Officer election ends tomorrow at 5:00pm. Please look below for online vote link and AFA discussion board.

Click here for article on the new Fire Chief

Click here for article on AFD Consent Decree ending

 

11/20/2018

Online voting for AFA Officer Elections and Dues increases start today. Click here to vote.

11/18/2018

Sister and Brother Firefighters,

 

We have (2) dues increase proposals before you to decide by online vote starting at 0800 Tuesday November 20th and ending at 1700 on the 22nd.

Please click here to visit the discussion board

We do not need a dues increase but I do not oppose this one as I have done in the past. This will be the first dues increase in 9 years, so we have been frugal with your dues dollars. The dues increase will allow us to invest in our salaried office position, budget 20k for the EMS merger study and continue to spend at the same level as previous years on our legislative efforts to protect our pension and make other gains at the State level. 

These are the items I will be proposing at the membership budget workshop on November 27th.

IF we do not increase dues, we will need to reduce our legislative expenditures by about 10K.

Also, there are (5) members running for (4) AFA VP Officer positions. Three of the candidates are current incumbents and all three have been an excellent job, (1) is a former AFA Officer and current AFA PAC Officer and (1) is an AFA Bargaining Team member, so all are well qualified for the position.

Unfortunately, because of the way it is structured, the AFA Officers elections can be more of a popularity contest instead of an election based on one's merit. Therefore, I do want to relay some positives for one of the current AFA VP's, Mike Duffee.  I'm not sure all of you are aware of the outstanding work that he has performed. In Mike's, bio he says that he shows up, and this is an understatement. Mike will be at nearly every event that I attend. When we need him, he is there. The work he has accomplished on the AFA Facilities Committee, for which he is the chair, has been outstanding. He has made my job much easier by taking this important issue off my plate.

Please save the date to vote for both the dues increase and AFA Officer elections that begin starting on Tuesday.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 

 


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PAC Elections

PAC Call for nominations:

Nominations are now open for all six positions on the Austin Firefighters Association Political Action Committee (AFAPAC). 

The AFAPAC is a standing committee of your Local 975 which educates and supports candidates and issues which benefit current and former firefighters. Our primary focus is ensuring the continued good health of our pension, the Austin Firefighters Relief and Retirement Fund. The AFAPAC is nonpartisan and supports candidates and issues all over the political spectrum. 

Any member of AFAPAC, current or retired, may nominate themselves or another member. Meetings occur on the second Tuesday of the month just before the general membership meeting of Local 975.

Nominations should be emailed to elections chair Lt. Wade Crain at ccrainiv@gmail.com.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me by phone, text or email.

Thanks for your time,

Geoff Mitchell

Chair, AFAPAC

engine5b@gmail.com

512-587-5592

 

 


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11/2/2018

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Please join me in welcoming our new Austin Fire Chief Joel Baker. Chief Baker worked his way up the ranks and served the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department for over 30 years. He retired from Atlanta Fire February of 2018 and will become our new Fire Chief on December 10th 2018.

https://www.ajc.com/news/local/atlanta-fire-rescue-chief-joel-baker-retires/CKIgH1mfkYbmJEciMqTRqN/

To research all of the six Fire Chief finalist I spoke with fire association presidents, members of their departments and their command staff members when possible. I have heard both positive and some negatives about all of the candidates during this query.  After spending considerable time with Chief Baker since first meeting him on October 17th during the candidate panel review process, I strongly feel that he will be able to solve our morale issues and move our great fire department to the next level.

From my discussions with Chief Baker, I believe he will articulate a clear vision for our department and then make the right moves to support this vision. I believe this vision will center around supporting the men and women of the AFD in the important things that truly matter so we can do our jobs better and therefore serve the citizens at the highest level possible.

It is my understanding that Chief Baker will be confirmed by Austin City Council on November 15th and start as our Fire Chief on December 10th. He has already made plans with me to hit as many fire stations as possible before December 10th to hear from Austin Firefighters directly.

The Austin Firefighters Association is committed to supporting Chief Baker and I ask that we all pull together to help him be as successful as possible. With the Cadet hiring consent decree now over and with a new Fire Chief at the helm, our future looks bright and working together I know we can make it a great one.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association


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Official Notification of a Proposed Dues Increase Vote & AFA Officer Nomination Period

This Notification will also be posted at www.local975.org

10/14/2018

 

The AFA Eboard has approved, by a 7-2 vote, to PROPOSE an increase in active members' dues by $1.00 per pay period from $26.50 to $27.50. According to the AFA Constitution and Bylaws (C&B) ONLY, active members will participate in the active member dues increase on-line vote. The PROPOSED dues increase vote will be held on-line in the 3rd week in November (November 20th - 22st).

Also, given recent IAFF per cap increases, the AFA Eboard approved to PROPOSE an increase in retired membership dues from $7.00 to $7.50 per month. Retired AFA members are only responsible for paying the IAFF per cap fee which is now $7.30 per member. We normally propose moving up to the next ½ dollar so as the retiree dues increase at the IAFF level, we are not constantly coming back to the members to propose an additional increase. As per the AFA C&B, both active and retired members will on the retiree dues increase.

An AFA Member-only discussion board will be up starting next week to discuss the PROPOSED dues increase the motion for both active and retired members.

 

AFA Officer Nomination Period (10/14/2018 through 11/03/2018)

The nomination period for (1) AFA Secretary/Treasurer position (4) AFA VP Officer positions and (1) AFA Trustee positions will run from 10/14/2018 through 11/03/2018. As per the AFA C&B, all AFA Officer elections will be held via on-line vote in the 3rd week in November (November 20th - 22st).

If you want to nominate an active or retired member for these positions, please send an email to  nominations@iafflocal975.org with your name and contact info, along with the person you are  nominating and the position for which you are nominating them.

 

Here is nomination and officer election requirements from the AFA C&B:

Section 2: Nominations. Only Members in good standing shall be eligible to hold office.  Any Member in good standing may nominate an eligible Member for office.  All nominations must be submitted in writing to the Nominations, Elections and Voting Committee no later than ten (10) days prior to the November Regular Meeting.  The Committee shall be responsible for accepting nominations and determining eligibility for office.  All nominations of eligible Members must be accepted by the Committee.  The Committee shall present the election slate at the November Regular Meeting.  If only one (1) candidate is nominated for candidates shall be declared elected by acclamation.  

 

Section 3: Rights of the Candidates. Every candidate for office shall have the right to request a distribution of campaign literature to all Members in good standing at the candidate's own personal expense.  There shall be no discrimination in favor of or against any candidate. 

 

Section 4: Use of Funds Prohibited in Elections.  No funds received by the Local shall be used to promote the candidacy of any person for election of office.  This section does not prevent the expenditure from Local funds for notices, factual statements of issues and other necessary expenses to conduct elections so long as they do not involve promotion of any candidate.

 

Section 5:  Elections.  The Nominations, Elections and Voting Committee shall be responsible for the election process.  Officers and Trustees will be elected by utilizing the On Line Voting process.  The Elections shall take place the week immediately following the November Regular Meeting.  The On Line Vote will take place between 0800 Tuesday and 1700 Thursday.  The results of the vote will be posted on the Local 975 web site by 1200 Friday that same week.  For the office of President, Secretary/Treasurer and Trustee, the candidate receiving a majority of the votes shall be declared elected.  If no candidate receives a majority of the votes, the two (2) candidates receiving the largest number of votes shall face a run-off Election. For the office of Vice-President, open positions shall be filled by the candidates receiving the most votes.  If there are candidates tied for the last open position, those candidates shall face a run-off Election. Any run-off shall be conducted two (2) weeks following the Election using the On Line Voting process.  

Section 6: Voting Eligibility.  Only Members in good standing shall be eligible to vote.  There will be no voting by proxy for the elections of officers.

 

 

 


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10/21/2018

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Early voting starts tomorrow, October 22nd and lasts through November 2nd. Election day is November 6th.

Below are the Austin Firefighters Association (AFA) endorsements for local candidates. The AFA has a long standing policy of supporting candidates that support Austin Firefighter issues and, almost without except, will re-endorse "friendly incumbents" who have kept their promises to us.

 

Austin City Council

Mayor - Steve Adler

District One - At this time, no endorsement

District Three - Pio Renteria

District Five - Ann Kitchen

District Eight - At this time, no endorsement

District Nine - Kathie Tovo 

 

Texas Senate

District 14 - Kirk Watson

District 25 - Donna Campbell

 

Texas House

District 47 - Paul Workman

District 49 - Gina Hinojosa

District 50 - Celia Israel

District 51 - Eddie Rodrigues

District 136 - Tony Dale


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10/26/2017

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

 

I will be heading to Houston to block walk with our Brother and Sister firefighters. This week Houston Mayor Turner did the unthinkable by placing anti-firefighter's political signage on the very site where five Houston Brother and Sister firefighters made the ultimate sacrifice. Heated political battles should never devolve to this!

  http://www.fox26houston.com/news/anti-pay-parity-sign-posted-at-site-where-5-firefighters-lost-lives

If anybody would like to join me, my cell is (512) 217-3474 and we will be meeting at the Houston Firefighters Union Hall (1907 Freeman St, Houston, TX 77009) at 0800.

 

Bob

 

 


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10/17/2018

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Combined Charities is no longer offering the Austin Firefighters Relief and Outreach Fund as a contribution choice.  We would encourage you to make your contributions using AFA Payroll Deduction Form (CLICK HERE FOR AFA PAYROLL DEDUCT FORM).

Whereas Combined Charities charged a significant overhead fee to collect your contribution, when using the AFA Payroll Deduction Form, 100% of your contribution will go directly to the Austin Firefighters Relief and Outreach Fund.

Since the Annual Fishing Break fundraiser has come to an end after 20 plus years, and this event was our biggest fundraiser, now more than ever the Fund needs your contributions.

As an important aside...a big THANK YOU to Todd Purcell and all that assisted him for his many years of service running the Annual Fishing Break. The Austin Firefighters Relief and Outreach Fund would NOT be where it is today with him!

If you have any question concerning your current deductions please contact Tim our AFA Office Manager, at (512) 441-7572

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association 

 


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10/12/2018

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

I big thank you to all that stood in support of Kelly Gall today at the courthouse. The press conference was successful with at least six various news agencies in attendance. I would estimate at least 150 firefighters were there today to support Kelly along with EMS and Police personnel and members of the community.

Statesman Article

Austin Chronicle

Here is a "thank you" letter from Kelly:

 

Hello

I wanted to thank everyone for their support regarding this mornings gathering at the courthouse.  Many folks sent encouraging and positive messages to me which were incredible to receive, so thank you for those, as well.  For those that were able to attended, it was an honor having you all there and I am overwhelmed with appreciation and gratitude.  Although this continues to be a terrible personal journey, having the opportunity to report on duty and have the privilege of working side by side with all of you while serving the citizens of Austin instills a sense of strength and perseverance in me.  I will never be able to express how much I appreciate everyone's support, and the efforts that were made in an attempt to seek appropriate justice in this felony crime.  Although the outcome in this case was inconsequential, insulting and unjust, to say the least, knowing that I have such an amazing group of Brothers and Sisters that support and care for me, provides me with a sense of comfort and security only we could understand as a Public Service Family.  Thank you so much for your time and efforts.  Stay safe!

 

 

Kelly Gall

 

 

 


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10/11/2018 - 2

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

First and Foremost...we need as many people as possible to show up to support Kelly. Kelly has had to endure more than we can possibly imagine and this is our time to demonstrate to her that we care and will stand in support. 

Rally Point: Outside Courtyard of the Travis County Courthouse - 509 West 11th Street. 

Date: 10/12/2018

Time: 0830

Attire: NO AFD uniforms - Please wear AFA tee apparel or street clothes

Parking: Plenty of parking on the streets nearby at 0800. After 0800, the parking becomes difficult. Please plan on showing up early!

Entrance to the "Support for Kelly" rally point is across the street from San Antonio and 11th Street.

Walk through here and rally point will be under the overhead bridge shown in the picture.

 

Hope to see you there!

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association 

 

10/11/2018

Details on where to meet and parking for the Support Kelly Gall Rally will follow later today. Please check your email or www.local975.org web page

Two more very good stories about our support for Kelly and the wrist slap Former Lt Baker is receiving for his heinous crime.

 

http://www.fox7austin.com/news/local-news/upset-over-slap-on-the-wrist-for-lt-accused-of-recording-woman-undressing

 

https://www.kxan.com/news/local/austin/ex-afd-lt-accused-of-filming-women-s-shower-room-to-take-plea-deal/1514384178

 

I big thanks to Austin Firefighter Anna Watson who showed up to purchase a tee shirt yesterday and agreed to provide an interview for KXAN (see link to story above)

 

10/10/2018

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Please join us this Friday at 0830 at the Travis County Courthouse as we stand in support for our Sister Kelly Gall. We need as many people to show as possible to have maximum effect.

Here is a good news story from KVUE yesterday which talks about the event.

https://www.kvue.com/article/news/local/austin-firefighter-comes-forward-as-ex-lieutenant-gets-plea-deal-in-invasive-recording-case/269-602589494

 

Here are a couple of details:

  • Appropriate Attire: Local 975 shirts or street clothes
  • Event Demeanor: I expect a low-keyed "stand in support" for Kelly type of presentation. At 0915 all firefighters, Police and folks from the community can stand behind AFA spokespeople as a dignified backdrop from a press conference.
  • NO ABL will be allowed for the event, since it is political in nature.

 

If you have any questions, please call me or email

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

(512) 217-3474

 


 

10/04/2018

 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

As most of you are aware, Sister Kelly Gall was the victim of an invasive video recording at Station 1 that occurred on 9/4/17 by her supervisor, former Lt James Baker. This was an incredible breach of trust that has understandably greatly traumatized Kelly (please see Kelly's letter to the membership below for more details). To add insult to injury, we now know that very little will happen to Jim Baker in terms of criminal punishment.

Jim Baker will appear in court on October 12th at 0900 to receive his slap on the wrist. It is important that we show Kelly our support for her. We are asking all firefighters that can possibly make it to show up at the Count House at 0830 in support of Kelly Gall and in condemnation of this travesty of justice.

The Baker case will be heard at 450 District Court - 509 W 11th St, 9th Floor. We will have more information on rally points as the date gets closer.

Please response to this email to let us know if you will stand with Kelly at the Court House on October 12th.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

Here is Kelly's Letter to the Membership:

 

Hello!

As most of you already know, I am the victim of the Invasive Visual Recording at Station 1 that occurred on 9/4/17 by my supervisor, Lt James Baker.  I'd like to start off by saying ‘thank you' for the concern and support that you all have had for me.  I appreciate it.  This is a daily nightmare I have been living for over a year and it has been excruciating to say the least.

Over the last year, I have not always been in a position where I was able to disseminate information regarding the criminal side of the case; for that I apologize.  I have been working with APD, and the DA's (District Attorney) office throughout this process to ensure Baker is held accountable for the Felony Crime he committed against me.  The process has been personally terrible to go through as the victim.  Things seem to move so slowly, especially when you think about the evidence they have: Baker confessing to the crime, as well as, video recording himself placing the camera in my locker room to record me.  It has been hard, but I have tried to be patient with the criminal proceedings and have attempted to remain respectfully quiet to ensure the process successfully runs its course.

Criminally, there are 2 ways this case can go.  He could get CONVICTED of the Felony Crime he has confessed to, or it can be DEFERRED.  DEFERRED meaning Deferred Adjudication.  With Deferred Adjudication, his ‘guilt' of the crime is deferred for 5 years, and he will only be on probation during this time.  During this 5 year period of time as long as he doesn't get caught committing another crime or violating the terms of his probation, his State Jail Felony charge of Invasive Visual Recording will be DISMISSED like it never happened. 

As the victim of his crime, I have stated from the very beginning of this criminal process that a Felony Conviction is what I would like to have happen as the outcome of this case.  The Conviction has been the main priority of mine ever since I found the spy cam Baker placed in my locker room to record me while on duty.  Baker does not have to register on a sex offender list because of the nature of the crime and he will do no jail time.   

I forwarded the names and phone numbers of over a dozen AFD/APD witnesses who witnessed Baker's  concerning behavior over the course of his career to the DA's office (with the individuals' permission).  I was told by the DA's office that an Investigator would reach out to them.  This never happened.

After countless meetings, emails and phone calls with the Assistant District Attorneys from the DA's office that handle cases like this, they have come to decision.  They have offered Baker Deferred Adjudication with 5 years probation.  After the 5 year period of probation his charges will be Dismissed.  I respectfully told them I will never agree that is an acceptable resolution, but in our criminal justice system it has become clear that victims do not have a say.  I told them that the outcome of this case extended way past me into the community.  The outcome of this case will be sending a message to the public and it needs to be a positive and just one.  With this Plea Offer, it illustrates that Baker's behavior is "OK" and more people may be encouraged to act inappropriately because all they get is a ‘slap on the wrist' and their case will be Dismissed.  I asked to speak to Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore to explain my concerns. 

I had a meeting with Ms. Moore on 8/10/18 along with my husband and Attorney.  It was rushed and did not go well.  I attempted to communicate the above concerns I have during our meeting regarding the need for a Conviction vs. Deferred Adjudication (Dismissal). She interrupted me repeatedly during our conversation, and pounded her fist several times on her desk as she spoke to me.  She told me I offended her (because I did not agree that Deferred Adjudication was a suitable resolution for Baker's Felony Crime, nor was I satisfied with the message it would send to the public).  Ms. Moore quickly ended the meeting in what I felt was a dismissive manner saying she had another trial she needed to attend. I was shocked that the District Attorney of Travis County would not only behave this unprofessionally during a meeting in her office with a group of Citizens, but treat a victim of a crime the way she did.  She made me feel like I was an imposition, a waste of her time and an irritation because I did not agree with her.  I believe the term ‘victim shaming' is what happened at this meeting.  With all of the recent media attention her office has received regarding how they handle (or don't handle) cases regarding sexual misconduct, the impression could be concluded that she is not a strong supporter of protecting women, their safety or their rights.  There was an additional meeting at her office regarding Baker's case and their plea offer with members from the AFA and APA on 9/26/18.  When coordinating the meeting they were told by the DA's office that Ms. Moore would meet with anyone "except Kelly" to discuss the case.  Baker's Deferred Adjudication (and eventual Dismissal) plea offer with 5 years probation still stands.           

Baker was able to retire from the Austin Fire Department without being held accountable for his actions.  Based on what I have learned, it seems that the City of Austin had some knowledge of similar issues with Baker that had occurred in the past and were not properly addressed.  As a result, it allowed him the power and opportunity to victimize me. After the meeting with Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore I feel that the same thing is happening again.

Baker's next court appearance is currently scheduled for 10/12/18 (although resetting court appearances can occur regularly).  I have tried my hardest to do everything within my power to ensure there would be a Felony Conviction for Baker's Felony Crime.  I feel that outcome would hold him accountable for his actions and protect and educate the public on what he has done.  We do what we do in our job because we want to protect the community and ensure safety.  I believe the DA's office is failing the community because they will be Dismissing Baker's Felony Crime.  Obviously my voice alone has been ineffective.  No one deserves to be violated by a sexual predator.  Additionally, I don't believe that a victim of a crime should be re victimized by reaching out to the District Attorney who represents Travis County and holds the elected position responsible for serving justice.

Thank you all for your time, concern and support.  Stay safe out there.

 

Kelly Gall              

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Hi to all Local 975 members,

 

I wanted to say thank you to everyone for their support over the last year and a half, and in particular the last two weeks, during the lawsuit from the City.  I have been humbled, amazed and overwhelmed by the emails, phone calls, and social media efforts that not only our members participated in, but that were forwarded to friends and family so they might participate also.  Council member staff reported they received an influx of opinion and feedback about the lawsuit and it has made all the difference for my family and me, and for us regarding how future claims might be handled.  Please pass on my gratitude to those you know who took the time to support having the lawsuit dropped over the past two weeks.  I am always amazed at the size and influence of the IAFF, both locally and internationally, but it has been such a grass-roots effort recently to affect change for this lawsuit that really has been the most impressive.  Watch out for each other on scene as we continue to learn more about how to minimize our exposures with gear swapping and deconning.  The cancer risks are there but we can certainly do a lot to reduce them with our everyday efforts.  And don't forget about the golf tournament that's coming up on October 8th if you want to see how our membership and those that care for us are coming together to support during fights against cancer. 

 

Thank you again for all of the help and support - be safe out there!

 

Carrie Stewart

E28C

 


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9/18/2018

UPDATE - City of Austin drops lawsuit against Carrie Steward. Thank you to all that emailed and called City Council on behalf of Carrie. Your efforts really made the difference. 

KXAN Breaking Story

9/15/2018

 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

 

The campaign to get the City of Austin to drop the lawsuit against Carrie Steward is going well.

CBS Austin reported on our citizen fueled campaign to #CareForCarrie last night. Huge thank you to Council member Delia Garza for her affirmative stand last night in support of Carrie. 

Council member Garza said. "I really firmly believe that the city should drop this lawsuit."

Thank you Delia for your leadership on this incredibly important issue. 

http://cbsaustin.com/news/local/austin-council-to-discuss-city-lawsuit-against-firefighter

Austin City Council will be meeting in executive session to discuss the lawsuit against Carrie Steward on Tuesday September 18th. Now is the time to increase our efforts!

What you can do to help!

1.       We have added more posts to Facebook - Please go to https://www.facebook.com/AustinFirefightersAssociation and find the new posts, share the posts and comment. Also "like" the Austin Firefighters Association page please!

2.       More calls and emails to City Council. Follow this link to email the entire Austin City Council -> http://www.austintexas.gov/email/all-council-members Please call or email your City Council representatives today and tell them that Austinites support Austin Fire Fighters in the effort to drop the lawsuit against Carrie Steward.

3.       Go to Twitter @afa975 and retweet and quote the following link: https://twitter.com/AFA975/status/1040959569390972931

I big thank you is in order for all of you that have led the effort to help Carrie.  Please continue these efforts through Tuesday, leading up to the Council meeting. If the City Council does not drop the lawsuit on Tuesday, then we will initiate additional measures to drop the lawsuit that will no doubt require firefighters to show up in mass at City Hall. Remember, this effort is not only about Carrie, her fight will help all firefighters with cancer in the future. We will keep you posted.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 

 

 

 


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9/6/2018

Sister and Brother Firefighters,

Please help Carrie Stewart by:

Going to twitter link and retweeting

https://twitter.com/AFA975/status/1037699093882175488

Going to Facebook link and post, share link and like page

https://www.facebook.com/144178842284599/posts/1839597736076026/

This atrocity is brought to you by City of Austin Risk Management. AFD management is supportive of Lieutenant Stewart and Council is just learning about this issue.

Click here for KXAN Video About Carrie's City of Austin Cancer Denial

Austin firefighter, Lieutenant Carrie Stewart has committed 18 years to the City of Austin. Now the City is suing her to deny her care for an illness she acquired on the job. Worse, the lawsuit says they want reclaim their lawyers' fees as well, directly from her.

This lawsuit must stop and it must stop right now.

Follow this link to email the entire Austin City Council -> http://www.austintexas.gov/email/all-council-members

Please call or email your City Council representatives today and tell them that Austenite's support Austin Fire Fighters.

Then call the Mayor's office. Mayor Steve Adler - 512-978-2100 - steve.adler@austintexas.gov

Our city has a long history of supporting firefighters. Today should be no different.

Thank you for your support for Lt Carrie Stewart.

Bob Nicks - President
Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 


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Training Physical Standards Committee Vote

August 23, 2018

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

The on-line vote to form a committee to research best practices in Cadet hiring physical entry requirements passed with 78% voting "yes" and 151 total members voting. I will be selecting members for this committee soon so please response to this email if you wish to be a part of this committee.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

August 20, 2018

Online Voting on the following Motion begins tomorrow Tuesday, August 21st at 8 AM CST. 

Move that the Austin Firefighters Association form a committee to research best practices in Cadet hiring physical entry requirements. The committee will meet to create a report of their findings and publish this report to the membership upon completion. 

Motion maker: Richard Smith - Second: Nick Villanueva 

If you would like to post any comments or questions with regards to this Motion please go to the Message Board. 

Message Board 

Click here to go to the Message Board 

Online Voting 

Click here to go to Online Voting

 

8/16/2018

Look Below for motion and discussion board link - On-line vote to occur next week

Sister and Brother Firefighters,

All major business conducted by your AFA needs to be approved by the AFA Membership. The primary way that the membership provides these approvals is through a motion that are brought before and decided by the membership, normally by on-line vote.

There are three ways that motions can be brought before you for membership consideration:

  • Eboard makes the motion
  • A member, with somebody seconding the motion, makes the motion or
  • An AFA committee makes the motion

By far, most of the motions that come before you are brought forth by the AFA Eboard. Lately more motions are coming forth by way of membership motions, this is a healthly development and we encourage this but is has created some confusion. Some members mistakenly believe that the AFA Eboard supports ALL motions that go forward to an online vote.  The AFA Eboard may or may not support a motion bought forth by a member, just like you, each individual AFA Eboard Officer would need to look at the merits of the motion and then decide.

The AFA Eboard will always ensure that any properly made motion is handled in a fair and deliberate matter so the membership can decide how to vote on the motion based on its merits.

 

Move that the Austin Firefighters Association form a committee to  research best practices in Cadet hiring physical entry requirements.  The  committee will meet to create a report of their finding and publish this report to the membership upon completion.
 
Motion maker: Richard Smith

Second: Nick Villanueva 

Discussion Board Link

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Assocation 

 

 

 

 

 


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Results of Online Voting for 4 AFA Motions

July 19, 2018

Here are the results of the 4 AFA Motions that were up for online vote:

Motion 18-6 - Internship Program passed with 71% of the vote in favor.

Motion 18-7 - EMS Feasibility study passed with 77% of the vote in favor. 

Motion 18-8 - Change in Promotion Process did not pass with 53% voting "NO". 

Motion 18-9 - Payroll process change discussion with City Manager passed with 76% of the vote in favor. 

CLICK ON EACH OF THE MOTIONS TO VIEW THE ACTUAL RESULTS. 

Thank you for taking the time to participate and vote. 

 

July 17, 2018

Online Voting for the 4 Motions begins today - July 17th at 8 AM. Voting for these 4 Motions will end on Thursday - July 19th at 5 PM. 

Please take the time to review below information and the discussion boards prior to voting.

CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO ONLINE VOTING

 

July 12, 2018

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

There are four important motions up for online discussion and vote set for next week. 

These motions address:

  1. Internship Program
  2. AFD/EMS Feasibility Study
  3. Seniority Promotion Change Idea
  4. Kelly Day Discussion with City Manager
The first two motions are the two initiatives that the EBoard supports and has been working on for some time. AFA VP's have been making fire station and staff worksite visits to discuss these motions with the membership for the last several months. 

Each motion has a separate online member-only discussion board link along with additional motion information found below (scroll down). All motions will be voted on next week - Tuesday, July 17th from 8 AM to Thursday, July 19th until 5 PM.

Please take the time to review the attached information and refer to discussion board for any questions or comments. We will send out reminder next week with link for online voting on these 4 motions. 

In addition to the 4 above mentioned Motions up for vote, Motion 18-10 was voted on at the July 10th Membership Meeting and passed unanimously. Please scroll down to end of update to see details of the Motion and Letter that was sent to the Austin - City Manager. 

 

Motion 18-6Move that the AFA membership grants the AFA permission to make a request to the City Manager to negotiate an internship program. If permission is granted and the request by the City Manager is accepted, a new bargaining team will be elected, a negotiation will be started and the membership would vote to approve the negotiated deal. 

Motion Maker: Bob Nicks - Second: Mike Duffee

INTERNSHIP PROGRAM

The AFA will be seeking permission from the membership in Julyby online vote, to approach the City of Austin about reopening the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to discuss our firefighter internship proposal:

Regarding the AFA internship proposal:

  • It would need to be negotiated
  • It would require the election of a new bargaining team
  • If an agreement is reached during negotiations by both the COA and AFA Bargaining Team, the proposed internship must be approved by the membership via online vote after the conclusion of the negotiations. Of course, City Council would also need to approve.
  • May allow us to negotiate for other items of membership importance without the fear of impasse
  • It would be specific, with the details of the internship defined in the CBA.

Preliminary thoughts on the AFA Internship Proposal:

  • The LBJ Fire Academy would be reconfigured such that ALL High School students from AISD would be eligible to apply.
  • A specific number of successful students from the LBJ academy would enter the AFD internship program. This number may simply be a specific amount, could be a percentage or a capped amount per each hiring process; this would be determined during bargaining
  • Assignment of these interns to the Wildfire Division as fuels crews would allow long term evaluation by uniformed personnel.
  • Other activities and education could also be included during the internship 
  • During the internship program, the participants would be highly vetted and would need to demonstrate that they have what it takes to be successful as a member of the Austin Fire Department before moving forward to the Cadet Academy. 
  • The CBA will detail specifically the requirements to graduate from the internship program and move on to the Cadet Academy.

CLICK HERE FOR DISCUSSION BOARD FOR MOTION 18-6

 


Motion 18-7Move that the AFA membership grants the AFA permission to begin a feasibility study that's purpose is to research and develop best practices for a combined City of Austin Fire/EMS Department. 

Motion Maker: Bob Nicks - Second: Lynn Eichler 

AUSTIN FIRE/EMS Feasibility Study

This is NOT a process to begin negotiations to merge with EMS. It would be a breach of federal labor laws if the AFA would try to merge with EMS without the consent of the EMS Employee Association. 

A feasibility study is a process to determine what the two departments may look like if they were to consolidate. Of course, the way they would look is absolutely dependent on the input variables provided by the stakeholders. At a minimum, the AFA would invite members of the EMS Employee Association to participate. We would also seek input from Fire and EMS management. 

The IAFF has an entire technical division set up to develop a comprehensive feasibility study based on input provided by the stakeholders. 

Why this is important:

In last year's FY18 City of Austin budget discussions, discussions of Fire/EMS consolidation did come up. Toward the end of the budget talks, money to fund a Fire/EMS merger study, to be conducted by management, was nearly approved. This year the COA Audit Department has been directed to continue to scourer the public safety budget for savings and efficiencies. It is my belief that this budget savings exercise will result in more talks of Fire/EMS consolidation. 

We need to drive the discussion if the firefighters want a consolidation that will continue to serve our citizens well and contain the protections that the membership desires. A program designed by management may be driven by cost savings with little regard for what is best for the citizens, employee morale and protections. 

A membership approved, completed feasibility study places the AFA in a position to shape any future discussions of consolidation. 

 Any final fire/EMS feasibility study would need to be approved by the AFA membership after the study is completed.

CLICK HERE FOR DISCUSSION BOARD FOR MOTION 18-7


Motion 18-8Move that the next time that the CBA is open for negotiations that the bargaining team is directed to discuss changing the promotion process, Article 16 Section 3E, to a points in grade system versus the current seniority points system.

Motion Maker: Keith Radovcich - Second: Jeremy Burke

CLICK HERE FOR DISCUSSION BOARD ON MOTION 18-8

Examples to explain intent:

A Firefighter (FF) has 20 years of service and is testing for Fire Specialist (FS). The FF would receive 20 points added to the RAW passing score.

A FS with 21 years of service, 1 year in grade, and is testing for Lieutenant (LT). The FS would receive 1 point added to the RAW passing score versus the FF's 21 years of seniority.

A LT with 25 years of service, 7 years in grade, and is testing for Captain. The LT would receive 7 points added to the RAW passing score versus the FF's 25 years of seniority. 


Motion 18-9 - I move a motion that the AFA request to meet with the city manager to discuss any offer(s) that would improve pay and/or working conditions for members related to the implementation of a new pay and timekeeping system. A written report of any and all offers will be provided to the membership for consideration within seven days after the completion of the discussions. 

Motion maker: Chris Watson -  Second:  Randy Denzer

 

CLICK HERE FOR DISCUSSION BOARD ON MOTION 18-9

 

CLICK HERE FOR EDUCATIONAL INFORMATION ON MOTION

 


Motion 18-10Whereas the Membership has a vested interest in positively shaping the future of the Austin Fire Department, and

Whereas the Membership desires a leadership standard that will affect the outcome of the Fire Chief selection process,

And whereas the Membership has identified internal candidates that have the knowledge, experience, ability, and respect to lead this department with a vision towards the future,

We move that the AFA membership makes a recommendation to the City Manager of Austin to consider internal candidates that have exhibited AFD organizational accomplishments of a Fire Chief Candidate in lieu of stated minimal qualifications. 

Motion Maker: David Spidle - Second: Christine Jones

This motion was voted on at the July 10th Membership Meeting and passed unaminously. 

CLICK HERE FOR LETTER SEND TO THE CITY MANAGER 

 


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Round Rock Express - Devon Coney Scholarship Fund

July 17, 2018

The Round Rock Express are hosting the First Responders Appreciation Night on August 23rd, whereby a portion of all ticket proceeds from that game will be donated to the scholarship fund set up for Devon Coney's 5-year old son, Davian.

To get your tickets visit:

http://purchase.tickets.com/buy/TicketPurchase?orgid=22433&agency=MILB&pid=8482879 

and enter the code, "RESPOND".

CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO ADDITIONAL INFORMATION 

 


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Motion 18-5: Pay Averaging - Online Vote

June 21, 2018

Results of the Online Voting of Motion 18-5: This motion is to move that the AFA membership grant the AFA permission to make a request to the City Manager to meet and discuss a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to eliminate payroll averaging while still keeping the current Kelly Day schedule and 19-day cycle.

The Motion did not pass with 52% of the membership voting "NO".

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE RESULTS OF THE ONLINE VOTE

 

June 21, 2018 

REMINDER THAT ONLINE VOTING FOR PAY AVERAGING MOTION 18-5 ENDS TODAY AT 5:00 PM

 

CLICK HERE FOR ONLINE VOTING 

 

CLICK HERE FOR MESSAGE BOARD

 

June 19, 2018

MOTION 18-5: Pay Averaging

A reminder that online vote begins Tuesday - June 19th at 8 AM CST until June 21nd at 5:00 PM

This motion is to move that the AFA membership grant the AFA permission to make a request to the City Manager to meet and discuss a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to eliminate payroll averaging while still keeping the current Kelly Day schedule and 19-day cycle.

Eboard Motion 

CLICK HERE TO GO TO ONLINE VOTING 

 

June 14, 2018

David Girourd and Todd Pomoroy are a part of the part of the AFD team which is working on the new electronic timekeeping solution. David and Todd addressed the AFA Eboard to see if the AFA would query the membership about possible changes that would assist in the implementation of the new electronic timekeeping solution and may offer some benefit to the firefighters.

A survey on payroll averaging was conducted that produced the following positive result:

 

From this result the following motion will be put before the membership by online vote next week:

 

Move that the AFA membership grant the AFA permission to make a request to the City Manager to meet and discuss a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to eliminate payroll averaging while still keeping the current Kelly Day schedule and 19-day cycle.

Eboard Motion

 

IF this motion passes, a MOU would be negotiated and then the final wording of the proposed MOU would be AGAIN, placed before the members for an online vote.

 

PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR DISCUSSION BOARD 

 

Online Voting begins on Tuesday - June 19th at 8:00 AM CST and runs through Thursday - June 21st at 5:00 PM CST.  

 


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Kelly Day Survey Discussion

June 6, 2018

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Here are the results of the Kelly Day Survey that was distributed to the membership on May 29th:

Since it appears that the membership may be open to ending pay averaging, the Eboard decided to move this question forward to online vote. In regard to changing the kelly day, the survey shows that 2/3 of the membership disagree with this idea so the AFA will not bring this question forward to an online vote. IF the AFA can propose a way that would make the Kelly Day change pensionable, then we may revisit this question in the future.

Here is the motion that will be discussed at the membership meeting on June 12th at 1:00pm, and then moved to online vote the 19th through the 21st of June:

Motion:

Move that the AFA membership grant the AFA permission to make a request to the City Manager to meet and discuss a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to eliminate payroll averaging while still keeping the current Kelly Day schedule and 19-day cycle. 

Eboard Motion

 

Here is a member-only discussion board link to begin the discussion on this important upcoming vote.

CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO DISCUSSION BOARD 

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Frefighters Association 

 


 

May 29, 2018

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

The Kelly Day discussion board has been active for nearly two weeks. This discussion board was created so the membership could become more educated on the issues surrounding Kelly Day Survey questions BEFORE you would be asked to take the survey. 

Here is the Kelly Day Survey

Here is the Link to the Discussion Board

The AFA Eboard will review the survey results at the Monday June 4th Eboard meeting. If there seems to be interest in moving an online vote forward on the Kelly Day questions, the membership will see this specific motion listed on the AFA Membership Meeting Agenda which will be posted to COA email on June 5th. Please note that even an affirmative on-line vote would NOT change the Collective Bargaining Agreement or Kelly Day treatment.

The motion would only direct the AFA to approach the City Manager about negotiating for these changes. For the changes to occur, the City Manager would need to agree to negotiate, then labor and management would meet to negotiate. Only after the conclusion of successful negotiations and another affirmative vote of the membership would the proposed Kelly Day changes go into effect. 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

May 17, 2018 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,June 4

Please participate in the member-only discussion board so you can make informed choices when the actual survey is released in about one week. The AFA Eboard does NOT have a position on this issue, we are simply allowing two other members to send out the survey to determine your will in this issue.

 

CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO DISCUSSION BOARD

 

Here is the survey wording:

David Girourd and Todd Pomoroy are a part of the part of the AFD team which is working on the new electronic timekeeping solution. David and Todd addressed the AFA Eboard to see if the AFA would query the membership about possible changes that would assist in the implementation of the new electronic timekeeping solution and may offer some benefit to the firefighters.

Here is their statement below:

AFD is one of 7 City groups participating in a prototype for an Electronic Timekeeping Solution. Kronos, our solution provider, will help implement processes for time and attendance, labor scheduling, and leave management. 

These processes will automate many of our staffing and timekeeping procedures.  And while this new technology will bring some efficiencies and conveniences to AFD and its firefighters, it also brings some new system interface challenges as a result of our complex 19-day cycle and current practice of "pay averaging."

With new challenges may come new opportunities.  One of those opportunities is exploring solutions that require a change to some current practices.

Answering the following questions will help the Association determine the membership's interests in further exploring possible changes.

Survey Questions (actual survey will be released in around a week):

1.       Are you willing to allow the City to do away with "pay averaging"?  

Note:  Pay averaging was implemented to somewhat even out paychecks by making your base pay the same from pay period to pay period.  Doing away with pay averaging will result in fluctuations in base pay.  (i.e. big paychecks and smaller paychecks) but will reduce the need for an outside interface with the new software and thus increase the accuracy, reliability, and readability of your paychecks.

 

2.       Are you willing to do away with Kelly days, and essentially be paid for all the hours that would have traditionally accumulated to form your Kelly shift?

Note:  Another way of interpreting this question is, are you in favor of being paid for working your future Kelly days? Non-productive time within the 14-day cycle would determine if you would be paid added time or straight time. Doing away with Kelly's would allow for us to reduce our 19-day work cycle to a 14-day work cycle that coincides with our 14 day pay period. This shortened AT cycle makes it easier to manage productive/non-productive time, and increases the reliability and readability of our paychecks; however not having a scheduled Kelly Day off will result in more hours worked for the year than the current schedule.


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JUNE 5, 2018

 

Hello Brother and Sister Firefighters,

 

We are looking for volunteers to help place flags at the Texas State Cemetery. Please join me as well as other members of the Executive Board in honoring our Veterans this Saturday - June 9, 2018 at 10:00 AM at Texas State Cemetery.

 

Honor Veterans Everyday

Flags and Flowers for Vets

Join: Preston Sharp in Texas

June 9, 2018 - 10:00 AM

Texas State Cemetery

909 Navasota Street, Austin Texas

 

CLICK HERE FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION 

 

Flags and Flowers are provided. Please wear appropriate clothing.

 

Look forward to seeing you,

Bob Nick, President

 

 


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5/25/2018

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

The City Council did pass item 35, the new fire stations resolution late last night. Unfortunately the final resolution contains amendments that make temporary fire stations operational and staffed within 6 months only an option. 

essentially the amendment:

Places temporary  fire stations at Berdoll Farms and Travis Country within 6 months OR

As an alternative, the City may develop a plan to within 12-18 months to complete construction and staff permanent fire stations at Berdoll Farms and Travis Country.

OR...if construction is started within 12 months and the station is completed within the next 12 months, they can build permanent fire stations instead of the temporary stations. 

This alternate plan will be presented to City Council on June 30th.

I prefer the temporary fire stations being the only option because I remain Unconvinced that the City of Austin can meet a 12-18  month time line for building a fire station BUT 

I am excited about the prospect of rolling up our sleeves and actually trying to help the City of Austin figure out how we can build fire station quicker, on time and at a reasonable price point when compared to the surrounding central Texas area.

 

Given that City Council passed the resolution with amendments the AFA asked Council to:

 

  • Within the COA working group on the alternative to bring back to City Council on June 30th:
    • Include neighborhood stakeholders from Travis Country and Berdoll Farms
    • Include representatives from the Austin Firefighters Association
  • Then on June 30th I would recommend that Council set a very high bar on whether to accept the alternate solution. To accept the alternate solution we must be 100% convinced that the deadlines can be achieved
So we will be busy until the next City Council Meeting date on June 30th, we will keep you posted.

 

 

 

 

5/23/2018

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

We need your support at City Hall tomorrow to help us get the two temporary fire stations that the neighborhoods of Travis Country and Belldoll Farms have needed for years. The Temp Fire Station Resolution is set time certain for 6:30pm, so please plan on being at City Hall at 6:00pm. 

Please go to www.atxfiresafe.com for more information.

Contact me directly on my cell at 512-217-3474 if you have any questions.

Bob

 


 

5/20/2018

Dear Brother and Sister Firefighters,

 

On May 24th, The Austin City Council will be voting to approve a resolution that will direct the City Manager to place and staff two temporary fire stations at Berdoll Farms and Travis Country within six months.

The passage of this resolution will be very expensive and therefore will require great effort to achieve.

This Council Vote Will Be Very Close So We Need Your Help!!!

Here is how you can help:

  • Go to the AFA site www.atxfiresafe.com . Here you will find contact info for Council and City Manager. Call and email and have your friends and family call and email the Mayor, City Manager and ALL Council Members.
  • VERY IMPORTANT - Follow AFA on twitter and Facebook and re-tweet/repost/like/whatever all social media messaging we put out between now and May24th.
  • Plan on attending the May 24th City Council Meeting to speak, or donate time for others to speak, in favor of the resolution. The temp. fire station discussion will be time certain at 6:30pm. We need people to attend to sign up to donate time for AFA speakers AND speak if you want to.  
Go to the Austin Firefighters Association Facebook page and share and like the following post:
 
 
 On Twitter, go to @AFA975 and retweet the following:
 
 
 
 

If you have any questions response to this email or call me directly at 512 217-3474

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association 

 


 

5/14/2018

 

Dear Brother and Sister Firefighters,

 

Fire Station May 24th vote

On May 24th, The Austin City Council will be voting to approve a resolution that will direct the City Manager to place and staff two temporary fire stations at Berdoll Farms and Travis Country within six months.

The passage of this resolution will be very expensive and therefore will require great effort to achieve.

Here is how you can help:

  • Go to the AFA site www.atxfiresafe.com . Here you will find contact info for Council and City Manager. Call and email and have your friends and family call and email the Mayor, City Manager and ALL Council Members.
  • VERY IMPORTANT - Follow AFA on twitter and Facebook and re-tweet/repost/like/whatever all social media messaging we put out between now and May24th.
  • Plan on attending the May 24th City Council Meeting to speak, or donate time for others to speak, in favor of the resolution. More info on attending the May 24th meeting will be forthcoming.

 

Internship program

The AFA will be seeking permission from the membership in June, by online vote, to approach the City of Austin about reopening the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to discuss our firefighter internship proposal:

Regarding the AFA internship proposal:

  • It would need to be negotiated
  • It would require the election of a new bargaining team
  • If an agreement is reached during negotiations by both the COA and AFA Bargaining Team, the proposed internship must be approved by the membership via online vote after the conclusion of the negotiations. Of course, City Council would also need to approve.
  • May allow us to negotiate for other items of membership importance without the fear of impasse
  • It would be specific, with the details of the internship defined in the CBA.

Preliminary thoughts on the AFA Internship Proposal:

  • The LBJ Fire Academy would be reconfigured such that ALL High School students from AISD would be eligible to apply.
  • A specific number of successful students from the LBJ academy would enter the AFD internship program. This number may simply be a specific amount, could be a percentage or a capped amount per each hiring process; this would be determined during bargaining
  • Assignment of these interns to the Wildfire Division as fuels crews would allow long term evaluation by uniformed personnel.
  • Other activities and education could also be included during the internship
  • During the internship program, the participants would be highly vetted and would need to demonstrate that they have what it takes to be successful as a member of the Austin Fire Department before moving forward to the Cadet Academy.
  • The CBA will detail specifically the requirements to graduate from the internship program and move on to the Cadet Academy

 

EMS Feasibility study

This is NOT a process to begin negotiations to merge with EMS. It would be a breach of federal labor laws if the AFA would try to merge with EMS without the consent of the EMS Employee Association.

A feasibility study is a process to determine what the two departments may look like if they were to consolidate. Of course, the way they would look is absolutely dependent on the input variables provided by the stakeholders. At a minimum, the AFA would invite members of the EMS Employee Association to participate. We would also seek input from Fire and EMS management.

The IAFF has an entire technical division set up to develop a comprehensive feasibility study based on  input provided by the stakeholders.

Why this is important

In last year's FY18 City of Austin budget discussions, discussions of Fire/EMS consolidation did come up. Toward the end of the budget talks, money to fund a Fire/EMS merger study, to be conducted by management, was nearly approved. This year the COA Audit Department has been directed to continue to scourer the public safety budget for savings and efficiencies. It is my belief that this budget savings exercise will result in more talks of Fire/EMS consolidation.

We need to drive the discussion if the firefighters want a consolidation that will continue to serve our citizens well and contain the protections that the membership desires. A program designed by management may be driven by cost savings with little regard for what is best for the citizens, employee morale and protections.

A membership approved, completed feasibility study places the AFA in a position to shape any future discussions of consolidation.

 Any final fire/EMS feasibility study would need to be approved by the AFA membership after the study is completed.

 

Final Thoughts

The possibility of re-opening the CBA to discuss an internship program and conducting a Fire/EMS Feasibility Study are both very complex questions the AFA will be asking the membership to weigh in  via on-line vote in June. Therefore, I have asked your AFA VP's to visit every station and worksite on every shift in order to have a detailed, in-person discussion with the membership on these upcoming votes. The AFA will make active the member-only discussion board well in advance of the mid-June on-line vote to ensure all of your questions will be addressed.

 

As always, please feel free to contact me directly.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

Cell (512) 217-3474

 

 

 

 


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2018 Schlitterbahn Partner Discounts

May 11, 2018

For year-round fun at Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts, use the link below to access our Partner Discounts.  Discounts are available for admission, season passes, retail, food and beverage items, accommodations and more.  Although Partner Discounts are not currently available for Cabanas, Early-Access and Fast Passes through our Partner Program, they are available on the site for your convenience.

To view the park-specific offers, visit Partner Link listed below and follow the steps listed below.

  • Choose your Park.
  • Select the Item Type you wish to purchase from the Park Landing Page.
  • Enter your Quantities and Follow the Prompts.
  • Add your eTicket Code and Apply Promotion to receive your Partner Discount.
  • Visually Confirm that your Rates have changed.
  • Remember, if your eTicket Code is not entered before check out, you will be charged full price.

 

Partner Link:             https://www.schlitterbahn.com/partnerdiscounts

2018 Code:                 AFFLOCAL975

 

Feel free to share the link and code with coworkers, family and friends via any method other than social media sites.  With the exception of resort discounts, Partner Discounts are available online only and require an advance purchase.

Hope to see you at the parks this summer!  If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact us. 

 

 


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4/16/2018

 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

On November 23rd 2017, an AFA motion was passed that directs the AFA, in the first quarter of each year, to, "communicate to the AFA membership information reminding the members that the AFA, if requested by the member, will assign a representative to assist the member through the harassment complaint process and help ensure that the complaint is handled by AFD management appropriately."

Click here for motion wording

 

As the motion states, IF a firefighter requests assistance, AFA will provide a representative to help the requesting member through the process of filing a harassment complaint and assure that this complaint receives its due consideration by management.  Please contact any AFA Officer to make this request. AFA Officer contact information can be found at www.local975.org under the "about us" section of the web site.

Also, management and labor have been working together on an online harassment reporting system. This system will allow you to decide who would receive the complaint and you can choose to have an AFA representative.

Of course preventing harassment in its various forms within our workplace is our most important goal. My strong belief is that the far majority of our firefighters never intend to bring harm to their fellow firefighters, quite the opposite, we usually are incredibly supportive of each other both on and off duty.  However recent events inform us that we are not perfect as an organization. In fact, at the several AFA membership meetings we conducted to address the recent horrendous event several firefighters were empowered by the event to testify of other conduct that they found offensive.  

We cannot ignore the members that came forward with their stories.  I promise the AFA will not insult the good men and women of this organization by charactering the entire work force as abominable or pursuing overly aggressive approaches.

Working with the newly formed AFA Human Relations (HR) Committee and with technical support from the IAFF we will work toward improving the workplace where needed.  What we need is vigilant but fair follow up on harassment claims, as well as greater education on what constitutes harassment. My personal goal for the AFA HR Committee is that we can raise awareness of the effects of our actions, thus assisting each firefighter's self-improvement process and create a better workplace for all.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 

 


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3/22/2018

Vote ends today at 5:00pm, scroll down for vote and discussion board link. To date, on the member-only online discussion board for the motion, there are 39 posts and 599 views. Please take the time to view the discussion board.

Here is a good post by VP Jeremy Copus on the topic of how this motion came about and process:

"I think it's important to understand the process behind this motion. This is not a subject being driven by the union/Eboard. This was a motion that was brought forward and seconded by union members. When that happens, the motion has to be voted on and the Eboard isn't allowed to change the spirit of the motion (such as making it a survey instead of a committee). However, I'm pretty sure at the end of this we'll have a good idea of how many are interested in the idea and how many aren't (much like a survey). If people aren't interested then the motion will not pass." 

 

Remember, this vote is only to convene a committee. If this vote goes down we will not even do that. If the vote passes I will ensure that the committee is balanced with members that are both pro and con...even then, the committee only makes recommendations  to the Eboard so there are a few safeguards.

 

I promise you that this will be a as slow as needed deliberate process with a lot of communication to the membership along the way.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association 

 


 

3/19/2018

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

The online vote starts tomorrow at 0800 (3/19/20018) and ends on Thursday (3/22/2018) at 1700. Please take the time to view the member-only online discussion board for this vote (link in email below). There are currently individual 18 posts to the discussion board.

Click here to vote.

 


 

 

3/14/2018

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Just so we are all on the same page as to what this motion does and does not do...If next week this motion is approved by online vote, a committee will be formed to research the pros and cons of changing to a 48/96 shift schedule. The committee will make recommendations to the Eboard. The Eboard will publish this committee report to the membership for review. If the committee makes recommendations to change our existing shift schedule and the Eboard accepts these recommendations then another motion would be offered to the membership to decide, by online vote, if they wish to accept the committees recommendations. Of course, any changes to the shift schedule that the AFA membership decides to make by online vote, would need to be approved by management.

Please click here for member only, online discussion board.

The online vote will start next Tuesday at 0800 and will proceed through Thursday and end at 1700.

 

 

Motion:

 

18-2- Create a committee to investigate the feasibility, benefits and consequences of the 48/96 work schedule and related items pertaining to scheduling, leave, cost benefit analysis, health, sleep, et al as deemed appropriate by the committee.  To report findings and recommendations to the E-board and Membership within 4 months of the creation of the committee then every 2 months thereafter as needed.

 

Scope of Work:

 

Research. Studies have been done on various aspects of the 48/96 including quality of emergency service delivery during a 48, sleep pattern disruption while working a 48, recovery during time off, and more. We would thoroughly and objectively research these studies and apply them to AFD. Any information we are researching would be made available to the membership for study as well. We need to have as much information as possible to make good, informed decisions.

External Outreach. Many departments currently operate using the 48/96. These include departments both large and small, busy and slow. The committee would spend a lot of time talking to members of these departments and seeing the pros and cons they have experienced as well as implementation strategies.

Study Logistics of Implementation. As much as we need information, we also need to study the logistics and feasibility of implementation should we progress to that stage. Our committee would gather this information from AFD Executive Team members and Command Staff, Support Services personnel, COA and Human Resources personnel, and more.

Internal Outreach. This would be the most important task of our committee. The entire idea behind this push is to see whether or not this new schedule would be beneficial to us, the membership and all of AFD. We want to know what the will of the department is, and we need to talk to you! We would spend a lot of time talking to our fellow sisters and brothers to answer questions and listen to concerns.

Questions/ concerns we have already heard are things like:

How would it be implemented?

What would overtime look like?

What would trades/ vacation/ sick look like?

I really don't like the idea of being away from my family for 48 hours every time I go to work.

Will I be too tired on the back end of a 48 to effectively provide good customer service to the citizens I serve?

Will I be too tired at the end of a 48 to do my job safely, potentially putting myself and my crew at risk?

I work at a busy station; I really don't want to work 48's all the time.

Why have other departments gone to this?

Will this committee look at other work schedules or just the 48/96?

Will this committee suggest a shift change time other than noon?

What happens if this committee gets approved?

 

 

 

 

Submitted by Mark Bridges, Seconded by Brian Jameson

 

 

 

 

 

 


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4/4/2018

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

The motion to form a 48/96 work schedule research committee did pass (see below). The AFA is now in the process of forming the committee needed to satisfy this motion. 

Please respond to this email if you would like to serve on the 48/96 work schedule research committee. This committee will be staffed with interested members from both sides of the issue, both pro and con. 

The Process:

The AFA will form committee will be formed to research the pros and cons of changing to a 48/96 shift schedule. The committee will make recommendations to the Eboard. The Eboard will publish this committee report to the membership for review. If the committee makes recommendations to change our existing shift schedule and the Eboard accepts these recommendations then another motion would be offered to the membership to decide, by online vote, if they wish to accept the committees recommendations. Of course, any changes to the shift schedule that the AFA membership decides to make by online vote, would need to be approved by management. 

Please respond to this email if you have any questions.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association 

 

 

 

 


March 22, 2018

 

Based on the results of the online voting - Motion 18-2 - has passed (58% in favor).

This motion is to create a committee to investigate the feasibility, benefits and consequences of the 48/96 work schedule and related items pertaining to scheduling, leave, cost benefit analysis, health, sleep, et al as deemed appropriate by the committee.  To report findings and recommendations to the E-board and Membership within 4 months of the creation of the committee then every 2 months thereafter as needed. 

This motion was submitted by Mark Bridges and Seconded by Brian Jameson 

Please click here for Online Voting Results 

In the coming days we will send out a communication to see who would be interested in forming part of this committee.

Thank you to all who voted!


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3/28/2018 - REVISED AFD DISPATCHER UPDATE 

CORRECTION ON DATE OF AFA EBOARD MEETING - The next EBoard meeting is Monday - April 2nd at 9:00 AM. 

 

3/28/2018

 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

 

As an important part of their working conditions, AFD Dispatchers have been on a 24/72 work schedule for as long as I can remember. Many if not all dispatchers consider this work schedule desirable and do not want to see it changed. It is my understanding that on Monday (3/26/2018) it was announced to the Dispatchers that there will be changes to their schedule, management is not exactly sure what the changes will be as of yet and that these changes will occur within 60-90 days. There were also other issues/changes of concern that were addressed in the Monday meeting.

The AFA strongly feels that any changes to the Dispatcher work schedule must be negotiated, and the AFA will take any action necessary to make sure that the Dispatchers schedule remains where it is today, 24/72.

When we discussed the "Hours of Work" article during bargaining, I asked Chief Dodds specifically if there will be changes to any work schedules within the department and he answered "NO".  We are barely into a five-year labor agreement and it appears that the command staff is already attempting major changes to the AFD Dispatcher working conditions.

Since there are more issues than just the schedule change, the AFA would like to invite Dispatchers to the next Eboard meeting so the Dispatchers can inform the AFA Eboard of these issues and help direct the AFA response. The next E board meeting will be Monday, April 2nd ,April 5th at 09:00 AM. The AFA Eboard will start discussions with the Dispatchers at 09:00 AM sharp. If additional meetings need to be scheduled so more Dispatchers can attend, please let me know.

Chief Dodds did reach out to me and asked that a labor/management committee be formed to discuss these changes...I expressed to him in no uncertain terms that any change to the Dispatcher work schedule is a mandatory subject of bargaining and must be negotiated. My promise to you, is that the AFA  will take our direction from the Dispatchers on how you want us to proceed.   

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 

 

 


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3/16/2018

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Nominations for Delegates to the IAFF National Convention will be received at the April Executive Board Meeting .  The April Executive Board meeting will be on held on April 2rd at 0900 at AFA Hall, 7537 Cameron Road. 

Please respond to this email with your questions.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association 

 

 

 

 


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March 7, 2018 

 

2018 AFD Retirement Party

 

Come join us on May 1st at a new location

Creedmoor Community Center

12511 FM 1625

 

Dinner is served at 6 pm. Badge presentation ceremony to follow.

Door prizes will be drawn during presentation

 

Rafael Aranda

Mikel Borg

Allan Buie

Charles Buff

Ronnie Bushnell

Dawn Clopton

Ricky Crooks

Mario Gonzales

Eleuterio Gonzalez

Mark Greiner

Steven Hinojosia

James Hoad

M. Hollingsworth

Wayne Jackson

Marja Juraschek

Cliff Kealy

Alan Kirtley

Perry Koehn

Greg Krenek

Scott Kruemcke

Henri La Caille

Mark McCoy

William Mclain

Ricky Moore

Jack Morrissey

LC Nino

Brian Nolan

Mark Pigg

Terry Pogue

Chris Sandman

Laura Stephenson

Michael Sutcliffe

Stephen Tittle

David Turner

John Weller

Billy West

Robert White

Steven White

Kevin Wilson

 

Wesley Wright

 

 

Come eat some BBQ and help us honor our most recent retirees

 

 


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March 6, 2018 

 

Brothers and Sisters,

I am writing you all today asking for your assistance in the climb against cancer!  On March 11th 6 of your fellow AFD members will be climbing the 1,311 steps and 69 flights of the Columbia tower (Seattle, WA), in full gear and on air to help put an end to Leukemia, Lymphoma, Myeloma, and Hodgkins diseases.  Simply put we need your help to not only find a cure but also improve treatment options for those in the fight of their lives.  One such person Is Samara Watson (Daughter of Ryan Watson, Engine 2C) who Team Texas is climbing for this year and who, as many of you know, is currently in the climb of her life!  As a team we are simply asking that you can donate even just the cost of your morning coffee to the cause, every $5 goes a long way to helping us achieve our goal. 

 

Below is a list of our team members and their respective donations pages and we thank you in advance for any and all donations you can make to the cause.  Please note that all team members are traveling on their own dime and all donations made will go directly to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

 

Zach King

Engine 17 A

Team Texas

 

 

Adam Finkenbinder (Engine 17 A) - http://www.llswa.org/site/TR/Events/FirefighterStairclimb?px=1881976&pg=personal&fr_id=1560

 

Richard Smith -(Engine 8 C) http://www.llswa.org/site/TR/Events/FirefighterStairclimb?px=1881898&pg=personal&fr_id=1560

 

Ryan Livornese (Engine 17 B)- http://www.llswa.org/site/TR/Events/FirefighterStairclimb?px=1882453&pg=personal&fr_id=1560

 

Roth Lamb (Engine 17 A)- http://www.llswa.org/site/TR/Events/FirefighterStairclimb?px=1844681&pg=personal&fr_id=1560

 

Kyle Thon (Engine 3 A)- http://www.llswa.org/site/TR/Events/FirefighterStairclimb?px=1881949&pg=personal&fr_id=1560

 

Zach King (Engine 17 A) - http://www.llswa.org/site/TR/Events/FirefighterStairclimb?px=1581233&pg=personal&fr_id=1560

 

 

 


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March 5, 2018

 

ANNUAL SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT IN HONOR OF COHNWAY JOHNSON

 

We're coming up on our annual memorial softball tournament in honor of Cohnway Johnson, who passed away during a training run in Houston.

 

On behalf of Local 4253, would you please circulate this to your folks to see if they are interested in participating in our tournament?


PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

 

Thank you.

 

Jeffrey J. Wittig, CFE, CFO, EFO

Fire Chief

Travis County Emergency Services District #3

Oak Hill Fire Department

512-288-5534, ext. 214 Office

512-569-8380, Wireless

Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OakHillFireDept

or visit our website at www.OakHillFire.org

 

 

 


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Brother and Sister Firefighters,

The vote result for the motion to have AFA conduct an AAR on the AWU Wildfire escape passed with 94% voting "Yes". Click here for the full results.

If you have interest in participating in the development of the AFA AAR, please respond to this email.

The process for developing the AAR will be established and communicated to the membership in the near future.

Thanks to those who took the time to vote on this important membership issue.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 


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02/22/2018

Online Voting Ends Today at 5:00pm

Please visit the online discussion board, great comments by Austin Firefighters that were working  the prescribed burn before and after the escape.

Vote is now open through Thursday at 5:00pm. Click here to vote.  Also, very good posts on this motion can be found on the discussion post. Member-only Discussion Board link for Wildfire AAR Motion 

Motion:

18-1-Motion to initiate an AFA ARR (After Action Review) of the Onion Creek escape that occurred July 12017 resulting from an Austin Water Utility prescribed fire.

Motion by the AFA E Board

 

Here is a letter from the orginal motion maker:

 

Austin Local 975 Brothers and Sisters,

   I would like respectfully ask for your consideration to support the current motion made by our Local 975 executive board. I feel it is critically important for both the safety of all of our members who attend prescribed fires on all City of Austin property, as well as the citizens who live near these prescribed fires, that we ensure a true After Action Review is performed. Many of our brothers and sisters have worked hard for many years to ensure AFD is fully competent in our ability to fright wildfires and WUI fires. I can attest that we are truly looked at as leaders nationwide in both of these disciplines. We cannot allow this incident to be swept under the pollical rug just so that some outside our department will not get their feelings hurt. Below is my post to the discussion board. Please take the time to visit the discussion page to learn more and please take the time to vote on this motion.

Thank you in advance.

Randy Denzer

Discussion page post:

After reviewing the After Action Reviews (AARs) from both AFD and AWU, I realized a couple noteworthy things that brought me to bring this motion to the AFA E Board. 

1. The AARs do not match, so much so that they appear to anyone who does not know any better that they are two separate events/incidents.

2. The real reason for the escape is not clearly identified. While the AFD AAR does come up with some solid findings and recommendations, it still did not drill down to the core reason of the escape.

3. The AFD ARR was not released. The AFD ARR has a clause on the front page explaining that the AAR was classified as an official document and was not to be distributed without the written permission of the Austin Water Utility. Why would an AFD AAR be controlled by AWU unless they do not want the info out? What kind of AAR is not distributed? 

    Then, AWU publishes nationally an AAR of their own that leans toward laying blame on AFD.

4. Neither AAR was complete. A 23 year AFD Lt assigned to the line where the escape happened was not even interviewed. He has explained to those in the Wildfire Division that he was ordered by an AWU civilian (who plays FF 3-4 times a year) to leave the line he was on, even after the Lt explained to the civilian that he feared the fire would slop over. When he left, the escape happened.

Every AFD fire officer knows that to prevent something bad from happening again, we need to expose the real reason why it happened in the first place. Neither of these AARs drill down deep enough to expose the truth or provide solid enough recommendations to ensure this does not happen again. We spent a lot of time and energy on near miss fires and publish the results. Then we make solid changes to policies and procedures. While no firefighters were injured, this was a near miss fire, as was the previous AWU escape. Both had potential for catastrophic loss, both life and property.

 In wrap up, this is the second major escape that I know of that has happened under AWU command and control. The powers that be like to say we have command and control over AWU Rx fires but many of us know from experience that we do not (until its too late). One recommendation from the AFD AAR identifies the AFD Battalion Chief as a "Contingency IC" which means the AFD BC has no true authority until the AWU Burn Boss says she/he does (After something bad happens). I do not think "Contingency IC" is even a NIMS term

Too much grey area exists at AWU Prescribed fires and another escape is going to happen again, unless clear lines of authority exist.

 

 

 

 

February 15, 2018 

 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Next week, February 20th thru 22nd, the AFA will be conducting an online vote to decide the following motion:

18-1-Motion to initiate an AFA ARR (After Action Review) of the Onion Creek escape that occurred July 12017 resulting from an Austin Water Utility prescribed fire.

Motion by the AFA E Board.

Background: 

In 2017, the Wildland Conservation Division of the Austin Water utility (AWU) conducted a prescribed fire burn, in Buda, Texas, on property owned and maintained by Austin Water. This prescribed fire burn was planned by the Environmental Program Coordinator of the Wildland Conservation Division prior to the day of the burn and was coordinated with the Austin Fire Department and the Buda Fire Department. During the implementation of the prescribed burn, a "spot" fire developed and expanded rapidly onto an adjacent privately owned ranch. Resources on scene were not able to control the fire. A "wildfire" conversion was declared and additional resources from within the region were requested as emergency responders.  

This wildfire and response, damaged trees, vegetation and fencing on two different privately owned properties within Hays County. The wildfire was contained within 48 hours, with no report of injuries or loss of structures. Hays County officials and residents voiced questions and concerns regarding this fire, as it was conducted during a county-wide burn ban.

Two Very Different AAR's:

The ensuing wildfire that resulted from the prescribed burn was the largest wildfire in central Texas since the Bastrop fires years ago. Both AFD and AWU produced AAR's:

AFD ARR

The AFD ARR, in my opinion lacks specific recommendations but provides a good framework to build specific recommendations. My hope is that the AFA ARR will help us work with management to develop specific recommendations that will enhance fire-ground safety at prescribed burns and place AFD in the proper command role. 

AWU ARR

The AWU ARR, in my opinion, takes unnecessary and inaccurate swipes at Austin Firefighters. The AFA ARR would work to correct this misinformation. 

 

Please use the below link to ask your questions and review other responses

Member-only Discussion Board link for Wildfire AAR Motion

 

Robert Nicks 

President, Austin Firefighters Association 

 

 

 

 


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Hill Country FF Burn Fund - Event

 

Pinthouse Pizza - 4236 S. Lamar Blvd. is hosting an Event on Tuesday - February 13th (ALL DAY) to benefit the Hill Country Firefighter Burn Fund.

 

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION 


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February 5, 2018 

Funeral Form - Comments & Suggestions

The funeral form has been up and running on the Local 975 Website and we are looking for feedback before making the current format permanent. Please forward any comments or suggestions with regards to the funeral form to:  info@iafflocal975.org

This form can be accessed by clicking under Member Zone on the Local 975 website and then selecting the Funeral Form Page tab.

Thank you. 

 

 


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January 9, 2018

 

2018 Special Olympics Texas Winter Games 

Attention Medical Volunteers!

 

The 2018 Special Olympics Texas Winter Games are right around the corner and we need medical volunteers to fill shifts from Thursday, February 1 to Sunday, February 4.

There is a critical need for medical personnel certified in BLS to serve as medical volunteers for more than 3,000 athletes competing in sports competitions and special events. 

Medical volunteers play a crucial role at Winter Games by ensuring that our athletes have a safe, positive experience.  Please consider donating your time and expertise to Special Olympics Texas athletes and your community.

 

If you have some time and/or would like information about volunteering, please look at the schedule listed below and then contact Al Blunt at 512.633.6589 or email acblunt@austin.rr.comIT WOULD BE EXTREMELY HELPFUL TO US IF YOU WOULD INCLUDE YOUR TELEPHONE NUMBER ON YOUR REPLY TO ME.

 

Thank you all for your help and support of the Special Olympics.  Enjoy the holidays.  Keep warm.  Stay well.

 

Al Blunt

Volunteer Special Olympics Medical Coordinator for Central Texas

 

EVENT

LOCATION

THURS 2/1

FRI 2/2

SAT 2/3

SUN 2/4

Bowling

Dart Bowl

5700 Grover Ave

Austin, TX 78756   

 

8:00am - 1:00pm

1:00pm - 6:30pm

2 Medics per shift

8:15am - 1:00pm

11:45am - 3:00pm

3:00pm - 7:00pm

2 Medics per shift

8:00am - 12:00pm

12:00pm - 3:30pm

2 Medics per shift

Bowling

Highland Lanes

8909 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX 78757

 

8:00am - 1:00pm

1:00pm - 6:30pm

4 Medics per shift

11:45am - 3:00pm

3:00pm - 7:00pm

4 Medics per shift

8:00am - 12:00pm

12:00pm - 3:30pm

4 Medics per shift

Bowling

Mel's Lanes

1010 N Austin Ave

Georgetown, TX 78626

 

8:00am - 1:00pm

1:00pm - 6:30pm

2 Medics per shift

11:45am - 3:00pm

3:00pm - 6:30pm

2 Medics per shift

 

Bowling

Westgate Lanes

2701 W. William Cannon

Austin, TX 78745

 

8:00am - 1:00pm

1:00pm - 6:30pm

4 Medics per shift

11:45am - 3:00pm

3:00pm - 7:00pm

4 Medics per shift

8:00am - 12:00pm

12:00pm - 3:30pm

4 Medics per shift

Powerlifting

Round Rock High School

400 Bldg. - Fieldhouse

300 N Lake Creek Dr
Round Rock, TX 78681

 

 

6:30am - 12:00pm

12:00pm - 6:15pm

2 Medics per shift

 

Volleyball

Round Rock Sports Center (RRSC)

2400 Chisholm Trail Dr

Round Rock, TX 78681

 

8:15am - 1:00pm

1:00pm - 6:30pm

2 Medics per shift

7:15am - 12:00pm

12:00pm - 5:15pm

2 Medics per shift

7:15am - 2:30pm

4 Medics per shift

Athlete Village & Healthy Athletes

Norris Conference Center
2525 W Anderson LN
Austin, TX 78757

 

9:30am - 1:00pm

1:00pm - 4:00pm

2 Medics per shift

9:30am - 12:30pm

12:30pm - 3:00pm

2 Medics per shift

 

Opening Ceremonies

Victory Dance

Round Rock Sports Center

2400 Chisholm Trail Dr

Round Rock, TX 78681

 

 

6:00pm - 10:00pm

4 Medics per shift

 

 

 


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Voting Results of 2018 AFA Budget and 2018 AFA Priorities

 

Based on the results of the online voting - Motion 17-11 - Ratification of 2018 AFA Priorities has passed. 

Please click here to view results of Motion 17-11. 

 

Based on the results of the online voting - Motion 17-12 - Ratification of 2018 AFA Budget has passed. 

Please click here to view results of Motion 17-12. 

 

Thank you to all who voted. 

 

 

 


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2018 PROPOSED BUDGET - EDUCATIONAL PAGE - ONLINE VOTE DEC. 19 TO DEC. 21

(NO DUES INCREASE IN 2018 BUDGET) 

12/13/2017

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Your AFA Eboard is proud to present to you another responsible budget with NO dues increase. By watching the pennies carefully, we are still able to make significant investments in the AFA SPAC to prepare for upcoming City Council races, increase savings for the AFA Legal Defense Fund, fund training & travel, a stipend for the newly formed AFA Human Relations Committee and much more. 

VERY IMPORTANT - AFA can recommend dues increases up to 1.25% of a one year firefighters base pay (does not include longevity or other stipend pay). We are currently below this by $6.44 per month.  I continue to propose NO dues increase budget to encourage members to make voluntary contributions to the AFA Pension Protection PAC. Member donations to the Pension Protection PAC ONLY go to the protection of our most important and frequently attacked asset...our pension. Many firefighters give to the AFA Pension Protection PAC and this has been instrumental in keeping the Austin firefighters pension clear from the many pension attacks we witness each Legislative session

If you are not sure if you give to the Pension Protection PAC, please contact me directly by responding to this email and I will help you check to see if you do. 

If you do not contribute, I am asking that you do. Much more than a dues increase, we need your voluntary contributions to the Pension Protection PAC. Please response to this email if you would like more information about the AFA Pension Protection PAC.

Another example: a 12 year FF only pays .8% ($26.25 per pay period) of their salary to AFA dues, please consider contributing to the Pension Protection PAC. 

The AFA Membership Discussion Board link below will serve to discuss the 2018 Proposed Budget as wells as 2018 AFA Priorities. PLEASE review the discussion board before voting. The only way to make an informed decision is to participate by asking your questions on the discussion board and reviewing the questions and answers of others.

 

Click here for Discussion page

 

Online Voting will be conducted 12/19 to 12/21

 

Click here to VIEW the 2018 AFA Proposed Budget (Comparison with 2017 Approved Budget)

 

Click here to VIEW the 2018 AFA Priorities


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December 13, 2017

PRESS CONFERENCE - DECEMBER 11, 2017

I would like to start out by thanking our 4 speakers who showed great poise and courage to speak up during the Press Conference held on Monday - December 11, 2017. Thanks to Vanessa Schaefer, Erin Dempsey, Rikki Stankevitz and Christine Jones.

I would also like to thank all of the AFA members who showed up for the Press Conference. 

The combination of a strong contingent of Austin Firefighters as well as a well delivered message by our 4 speakers contributed to this extremely successful Press Conference. 

 

CLICK HERE TO SEE VIDEO OF PRESS CONFERENCE

 

- Here are some of the news stories that came from covering our Press Conference:

 

http://www.fox7austin.com/news/local-news/austin-firefighters-accuse-department-of-not-properly-investigating-sexual-assault-complaints

 

http://www.kvue.com/news/local/former-austin-firefighter-indicted-for-allegedly-recording-in-female-locker-room/498614699

 

http://kxan.com/2017/12/11/female-firefighters-say-afd-failed-to-investigate-misconduct-complaints/

 

http://cbsaustin.com/news/local/austin-firefighters-group-defends-its-leader-in-war-of-words-with-attorney

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Austin Firefighters Association - Local 975 - Logos

 

Click here for Logo 1000 X 1000

 

Click here for Logo 4233 X 4217

 

Click here for Logo 163 X 163

 

 

 


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12/07/2017

 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

 

In response to misleading media statements by Jim Baker and his attorney, The AFA will be holding a press conference at AFA Hall on Monday, December 11th at 10:45am.

 

The purpose of our press conference is for members to express their concerns regarding management's failure to investigate multiple allegations of inappropriate touching of female patients by Jim Baker, and  how this failure to investigate may have enabled the alleged illegal video recording in the Women's shower and lock room. 

 

Baker and his attorney have suggested that our union is on a witch hunt and that the allegations made against him in 2013 were wrong. Jim Baker's attorney stated "So what you have is some firefighters that don't know what the hell they are doing saying ‘Oh that looked inappropriate to me'  And they don't know medical procedures." The AFA staunchly opposes these ill-conceived notions and proudly stands behind our sisters and brothers in their attempts to maintain a safe workplace for all members.

 

We need the support of the entire membership at this press conference. Please plan on attending this press conference to support our union and your brother and sister firefighters who have been negatively affected by this issue.

 

Please respond to this email if you can attend. We already have serveral members lined up to speak. If you would like to make a statement at the press conference, please let us know by responding to the email.

 

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 


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12/08/2017

 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

 

The City of Austin (COA) risk management section has a blanket policy of denying all work related firefighter cancer claims. We currently have several Austin Firefighters being denied Workers Compensation benefits for work related cancer. This will be a major issue for the AFA Membership from this point forward until the COA changes their practices and recognizes that science demonstrates the strong correlation between firefighting and cancer and treats this as the on-duty injury it is.

Please review the news story below:

https://kxan.com/2017/12/06/retired-austin-firefighter-with-cancer-sues-city-after-being-denied-workers-comp/

KXAN brought those concerns to city officials, who responded saying the city has no blanket policy when it comes to any workers' comp claims and that a third party administrator evaluates each claim individually and follows the processes mandated by state law.

Essentially, the statement above made by the COA that they have no blanket policy  denying all firefighters workers comp cancer claims is, at a minimum, purposely misleading and objectively false.

COA Risk management does confer on a daily basis with the third party administrator to determine which claims will and will not be accepted; however, the COA has stated that when the claim involves cancer, the claim will be denied.  Even more important, during the entire appeals process  after denial of the cancer claim (one or more benefit review hearings; a contested case hearing,  and/or District Court) ONLY COA Risk Management, COA legal and other COA sections are involved.  The third party administrator, whom the COA states is integral to the decision-making process, is not involved in the appeal because in legal fact, they were not party to the denial. 

Another good recent story from KXAN on the firefighter problems:

http://kxan.com/2017/11/13/dogs-will-help-austin-fire-department-detect-early-signs-of-cancer/

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 


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12/01/2017

The latest news on the Baker allegations and Chief Kerr's failure to investigate in 2013, see below.

Both Jim Baker and Chief Kerr, in their various statements to the press, share the same narrative in spite of the evidence: that the firefighters that reported the alleged inappropriate conduct are wrong. 

If a firefighter would brush a curb with a fire truck, they were getting time off and public humiliation.  What does Chief Kerr deserve for not conducting the investigation of the evidence alleging inappropriate touching of a patient, continually exposing the public and the firefighters to the very person accused of this alleged conduct and not accepting any responsibility when one or more women firefighters were filmed in their shower and locker-room? 

It is the hallmark of a good leader to take responsibility for their actions or lack thereof. It is disgraceful that Chief Kerr potentially enabled Jim Baker to record in the woman's shower and locker-room but took no responsibility, and even worse continues to discredit the firefighters that came forward. 

12/01/2017 Austin Chronicle 

Old Story from Fox7 News

11/16/2017

http://www.fox7austin.com/news/local-news/former-afd-lieutenant-charged-after-setting-up-camera-in-locker-room

11/15/2017

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Given recent events that have come to light, I think it is very important to communicate to the membership, the AFA's position on harassment in our workplace.  As a whole, Austin Firefighters exhibit positive work place behaviors and are inclusive and respectful to our fellow firefighters and the community we serve. However, as we have seen from the recent incident in which at least one of our sisters, a female firefighter, was changing in her locker room after showering and was video recorded - as well as other incidents that have come to light since this incident, it is clear that there is still work to be done. To improve the workplace further - will require a cultural change and it will take all of us working together to help bring this about.  Harassment can be stopped in both its open and hidden forms by encouraging all people to live by the basic principle of respect and that every person is entitled to a healthy, professional and welcoming workplace. 

The AFA will be staffing and investing in our long dormant AFA Human Relations Committee. The HR Committee will help advise and direct both the AFA EBoard and members so as to bring about the cultural change necessary to end workplace harassment by working towards a more inclusive and respectful workplace.

If you have any interest in serving on the AFA Human Resources Committee, please let me know by responding to this email.

 

2018 AFA Membership Budget Workday: The workshop is scheduled for 9:00 AM on November 28, 2017. During this budget workshop we will be gathering ideas from the membership, developing AFA goals and objectives for 2018 and hashing out the 2018 AFA budget. Both the final 2018 AFA Goals and Objectives and Budget will be approved by the membership via online vote in December. If you wish to attend, ABL will be provided on a first come first serve basis.

 

Officer Election Results: At the AFA Membership meeting on November 14, 2017, the AFA Elections Committee reported to the membership that the AFA Officer Nomination period ended with only one person accepting the nomination in each of the open positions. Therefore, as per our Constitution and Bylaws, "If only one (1) candidate is nominated for (a position, that) candidate shall be declared elected by acclamation.".  So all candidates for the open positions are declared elected by acclamation.

Here are the elected candidates for the respective positions:

AFA President - Bob Nicks

AFA VP's - Christine Jones, Lynn Eichler and David Spidle

AFA Trustee - Aaron Brooks

Please join with me in thanking Geoff Mitchell for his many years of service as an AFA VP. Geoff is still an Officer on the AFA PAC Committee. Also, we welcome David Spidle as the newly elected AFA VP.  

 

New AFA Motions: The are four (4) new motions, two (2) addressing making the membership aware that your AFA Representative can assist members with harassments complaints. The two others motions are proposed changes to the AFA Constitution and Bylaws.

 

Click on link below to learn about and discuss the 2 Motions: 17-7 and 17-8 - related to Harassment Representation:

http://iafflocal975.org/forums/one/viewmessages.cfm?Forum=366&Topic=353

 

Click on link below to learn about and discuss the 2 Motions: 17-9 and 17-10 - related to Revisions to the Constitution and ByLaws:

http://iafflocal975.org/forums/one/viewmessages.cfm?Forum=365&Topic=354

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 


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Brother and Sister Firefighterrs,

This is a reminder of the upcoming AFA Budget Workshop scheduled for November 28th starting at 0900 at the AFA Hall. 

Please click here to review the proposed 2018 AFA Goals and Budget

 

Here is the remaing 2018 AFA Budget Process:

  • AFA Membership Budget Workshop - 0900 on November 28th. 
    • Please bring your ideas for both the proposed budget and 2018 goals
  • AFA Eboard finalize proposed budget at December Eboard Meeting on December 4th
  • Final 2018 Proposed Budget and Goal presented at December Membership Meeting on December 12th
  • 2018 Final AFA Goals and Budget approved by on-line vote starting December 19th.
Please respond to this email if you have any questions.
Bob Nicks
Preisdent, Austin Firefighters Association 

 

 


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Reminder to Vote on 4 AFA Motions

Reminder - The online vote for (4) motions ends Thanksgiving Day at 5:00pm

Latests News Stories on Chief Kerr Failure to Investigate 2013 Allegations of Inappropiate Touching of Women Patients

11/22/2017 KXAN Story

11/22/2017 CBS Austin-KVUE Story

Austin Chronicle 

11/22/2017 Front Page Stateman Story

NOVEMBER 21, 2017

Just as a reminder, this morning voting started on four (4) New AFA Motions: 

- two (2) addressing making the membership aware that your AFA Representative can assist members with harassments complaints

Motion 17-7: The AFA will inform the membership that if a member reports a harrassment complaint to their chain of command and the member wishes to receive assistance from the AFA, the AFA will assign a representative to assist the member through the process and help ensure that the complaint is handled by AFD management appropriately.  

Motion 17-8: During the first quarter of each calendar year, the AFA Secretary/Treasurer will communicate to the AFA membership information reminding the members that the AFA, if requested by the member, will assign a representative to assist the member through the harassment complaint process and help ensure that the complaint is handled by AFD management appropriately.  

- two (2) are proposed changes to the AFA Constitution and Bylaws

Motion 17-9: Move to revise ByLaw Article 7, Section 1 to read as follows:

All Officers will be elected at large and shall serve two (2) year staggered terms. The President and three (3) Vice Presidents will be elected in the odd-numbered years. The Secretary/Treasurer and four (4) Vice Presidents will be elected in the even-numbered years. Trustees will be elected at large and shall serve a three (3) year term. The Trustees terms of office will be staggered with one (1) Trustee elected each year.

Motion 17-10 - Move to add ByLaw Section 10 to Article 3 to read as follows:

Membership in Affiliated Labor Organizations. The same voting rules that the IAFF requires to unaffiliate with another labor organization will apply when voting to affiliate with same labor organization. 

 

Voting will end at 5 PM on Thursday - November 23, 2017

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 


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AFA Response to a KXAN Inquiry from a few minute ago:

Hi, Bob:

 

We saw the story in the Statesman about the investigation.

http://www.mystatesman.com/news/local/austin-fire-lieutenant-accused-recording-women-locker-room/72rmXJfOGPsJAEe18cUWnN/

 

Could you or the union provide KXAN a statement about this?

 

Sure, If these allegations end up being true...this is disgusting and despicable behavior that will not be tolerated by the Fire Chief, the Austin Firefighter Association or any of the fine men and women firefighters of the Austin Fire Department. This repulsive, sickening act is very much outlier behavior and not even close to the way Brother and Sister Austin Firefighters normally treat each other. If this allegations are true, he is not one of us.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 

 

 

 


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10/1/2017

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

The Proposed CBA was approved by Council Thursday so the new overtime rules are now in effect as of midnight 9/30/2017 (12 hour 9/30/2017 old CBA/ 12 hours 10-1-2017 new CBA). 

If you have overtime within your 19 day cycle and wish to recieve overtime pay (NOT straight time pay) to would need to ask your BC to use exception vacation instead of regualr vacation.

 

 


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09/21/2017

 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

 

The results are in for the online vote to ratify the proposed 2017 CBA. The CBA was ratified with 505 members voting "Yes".

Please click here to see a full report of the results.

City Council will take action to approve the proposed CBA at their regular meeting next Thursday, September 28th.

I wish to thank all of the members of the AFA Bargaining Team for their incredible efforts under difficult conditions. Also a big thanks to the membership who took the time to educate themselves on the proposed CBA and vote. Our Association can only be strong when we have an informed and participating membership. 

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association  

 

 


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9/18/2017

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Please click here to access the AFA Membership Education Page for the proposed CBA.

Click Here to On-Line Vote - Vote starts Tuesday September 19th at8:00am and continues until Thursday September 21st at 5:00pm


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9/17/2017

 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

The AFA is taking the alleged filming in a women's locker room very seriously but only condemning these activities is not enough. Coming to light are disturbing personal stories that, if true, may indicate an inadequate approach to past investigations (above the PSO level) that may have perpetuated this problem.

The AFA wants to discuss all these issues with the membership so we can determine what actions need to be taken. Please plan on attending the AFA membership meeting on Wednesday September 20th at 0900 - 11:00 to discuss these issues. This meeting will be held at AFA Hall, 7537 Cameron Road.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

The AFA will make ABL available for those who wish to attend If you wish ABL to attend, please respond to this email with your name, TXFER #, Supervisor name, assignment and shift. We will request ABL on a first come, first serve basis.

 

 


 

 

9/13/2017

 

Investigation Surrounding the Alleged Filming in a Women's Locker Room   

The association has been hearing that there are several individuals that either think they may have been victims, or believe they have information that could be helpful or relevant to the investigation but do not know what to do with this information. We have reached out to the Detective in charge of the case and are waiting to hear back. As soon as we have direction from APD on what they would like you to do with this information, we will let you know. In the meantime, please remember that Dr. Kruse is a resource for all members and can be reached at (512) 974-0225.

 

Bob Nicks

Preisdent, Austin Firefighters Association 

 

 


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9-/13/2017

The first of 4 AFA membership CBA education sessions begin this morning at 10:00am. PLease review education session and online vote scedule below.

9/8/2017

 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

 

Your AFA Bargaining Team was able to complete negotiations this morning and will be able to present a proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to the membership for your approval.

If the contract becomes approved through a ratification vote by the AFA membership, then the Austin City Council will decide whether to approve the agreement. Coucil approval will occur in late September. 

You can view the completed CBA now by clicking here and following the links.

Please click here to view video of Fire Department Management commitment to making changes to allowing transferability and to make changes to the practice of punishment for vehicle accidents. Although NOT a part of the CBA, this video was made by management in an attempt to satisfy membership concerns in these important areas.

The AFA Bargaining Team will be preparing an education page on our web site to help the members understand the proposed CBA before the ratification vote. Also, Bargaining Team members will be available, at the AFA Hall, next week to discuss the proposed CBA (see schedule below).

 

Here is the schedule for AFA Membership education on the CBA:

 

09/12/2017 - The CBA will be discussed at the Regular Membership Meeting at 1300

09/13/2017 - Two AFA Membership Education Sessions

  • 10:00am - 11:30am
  • 12:30pm- 2:00pm

09/14/2017 - Two AFA Membership Education Sessions

  • 10:00am - 11:30am
  • 12:30pm- 2:00pm

 

If you have questions before the educational sessions, please click here to pose them on the on-line AFA discussion board.

 

The following week, Tuesday September 19th (starting at 0800) through Thursday September 21st (ending at 1700) AFA will be conducting the online vote to ratify the proposed CBA.

 

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 

 


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09/03/2017 - update

John Stirling can be reached at (512) 417-3921 please disregard below phone number. 

 

09/03/2017

I eveyone is willing, we need 2 more volenteers to form a demo team for tomorrow. Please contact Lt John Stirling directly at (512) 417-3821 if you are interested.

Report from Yesterday:

 

Chief,

 

Today we started our day as usual, transporting the team to Local 341 to begin work.  After HFD shift change at 0700, we had a surge in FFs coming by to seek disaster assistance.  We spent the entire morning processing claims and issuing relief funds.  The afternoon was spent doing mostly the same for myself.  FF Oakley took the IAFF Health Officer to pick up a batch of vaccines.  They transported the shipment to the Pearland Airport, where the vaccines were immediately flown out by helicopter to east Texas.

 

Also of note, FS Derek Zwernaman provided a huge boost to the effort by arranging for a helicopter to take medical supplies to flood affected areas.

 

We had another crew of volunteers come to the area to assist with demo of flood damaged residences.  Austin FF Hector Valdovino, FS Nick Ganci, Lt Kregg Philips, and retired FS Rusty Wilkins all volunteered their time to work today.  They completed work at a home in Victoria and then proceeded to NW Houston to work more.  Great work by those folks.  

 

09/02/2017

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

The AFA Firefighters who helped out our Brothers and sisters in Houston Yesterday did a fantastic job.

FF Adam Aguirre, FF Jake Bailey, FF Brady Glos, retired LT Ricky Moore (and family), LT Kregg Philips, LT Jamie Baxter, and Capt. Joe Ridgeway all volunteered on their day off to drive down to the area and work.    Click  here to see pictures!

Today, a team of three AFA members answered the last minute call to work in Houston today.

There is still much more work to be done and the Houston Firefighters have asked if we can stand up more teams for tomorrow and probably every day next week.

Lt John Stirling (along with FF Sacey Oakley) are stationed in Houston over the next week and will be coordinating the effort. Please call Lt. John Stirling directly at (512) 417-3821 for details and scheduling. 

One need that has been reproted to me is box fans. Please bring your old box fans with you if you help out in Houston or to the AFA Hall so we can deliever them. Many of the firefighter homes that require demo can be greatly assisted in drying out if we have more box fans.

Thank you to all AFA members for their overwhelming response.

 

Bob

 

 

09/01/2017 - Update

Well, what can  i say...they need people now to demo houses tomorrow. If you can help please call Lt John Stirling directly for assignment. John is stationed at the IAFF disaster center in Houston and he can provide you thei details. It sounds like they will need two teams, one to Houston and another to Victoria.

 

Bob

 

9/01/2107

We have received word that no volunteers will be needed for the Houston area tomorrow.

The influx of people due to Hurricane Harvey is less than what was expected. Due to this fact, volunteers for shelters in the Austin area are not needed at this time. 

We will continue to update you as soon as we have any new information.

We appreciate all of you who have volunteered and will let you know if any new needs arise.  

8/30/2017

The water delivery that was requested late last night was made. Three Austin Firefighters, Tim Bailey, Jim Richardson  and Mike Nascimbeni used two personal vehicles and one trailer to deliver 180 - 35 bottle cases to Houston Firefighter Union where the IAFF disaster team is stationed. 

No more help is needed at this time but thank you for the many folks, both active and retired, that volunteered to hot shot the water delivery late last night.

AFD has offered to send on duty FFs and equipment to Houston today to augment the water delivery effort. Again, I thank Chief Kerr and the Department for their continued support during this acute time of need.

If you wish to help in Houston once we have a better plan on the needs OR to can volunteer at a local shelter, please respond to this email.

 

Bob

 

 

8/29/2017 - UPDATE

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

The IAFF disaster team has just contacted me and they are in desperate need of bottled water. Are there any AFA members that with a large truck and/or trailer that can meet up with me so we can get water delivered tonight or early tomorrow morning? Please contact me directly  at my cell - 512-217-3474

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association 

 

8/29/2017

 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Many Austin Firefighters have contacted the AFA asking if there is anything they can do to help out with the relief and recovery efforts in Houston and the surrounding areas. There are two areas where help may be needed so we would like to start a volunteer list now so we can be ready. Please respond to this email with your name and contact info if you wish to help.

 

1.       The IAFF launched a disaster recovery team today that will be based in Houston to help with firefighter disaster relief. Many firefighters in and around Houston have lost their homes to flooding. Over the next week, Austin Firefighters Lt. John Stirling and FF Stacy Oakley are driving the IAFF disaster team into Houston and the surrounding areas. Once they are in place they will report back to us if there is a need for additional personnel. If you are interested in helping please respond to this email.

Note of gratitude - I made a request to Chief Kerr for two AFD apparatus to be used by the IAFF disaster team during their relief efforts. Chief Kerr immediately went above and beyond obtaining two Ford Explorers and assisted with getting ABL pushed through on short notice for the two drivers.

Thank you Chief Kerr for your help!

Also, Chief Jansen, Chief Frick and Chief Cherry are appreciated for their efforts for making this happen with little notice when they already have so much going on locally.

 

2.       The Austin Red Cross is in need of volunteers to help run Austin Area shelters which are filling up quickly.  If you are interested in helping please respond to this email.

 

As the AFA becomes aware of more volunteer opportunities, we will let you know.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 

 


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Voting Results for Motion 17-6

Based on the results of the online voting - Motion 17-6 - Honorary Membership for Premal Amin has passed. 

On behalf of the Officers, Executive Board and all of the Brothers and Sisters of the Austin Firefighters Association, Local 975, we would like to officially welcome Premal Amin as an Honorary Member of Local 975. 

Thank you to all who voted.

Please click here to view results. 


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Voting Results for Motion 17-5

Based on the results from the online voting - Motion 17-5 - Collective Bargaining Term Clarification has passed.

Thank you to all who voted.

Please click here to view results. 


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8/5/2017

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

There is NO truth to the rumor that if a certain number of ESD4 firefighters do not make it through the AFD Taining Acadamy that the ESD4 merger deal is shut down.

Bob


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7-29-2017 AFA Membership Update

 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

 

I have heard there are concerns among some of the membership about the AFA support of ESD4 firefighter and ESD4 Local 4848 President Drew Garcia in his bid to challenge his disqualification from the ESD4 merger process.  Some of the concerns are:

-Why helping out a non-member?

-Will this support harm AFA membership issues, especially during bargaining?

I believe that the limited support we are pursuing for FF Garcia has helped AFA membership issues. The issues that surround the discharge of ESD4 FF Garcia are essentially the same issues that we have censured the Fire Chief for, over punishment and problems with due process. These problems have plagued the AFA membership for some time now (not the least of which is discipline for vehicle accidents) and are now receiving attention across a broad spectrum of the community. I have heads of community organizations and City Council members, Travis County Commissioners and others calling and asking how to help FF Garcia. During these conversations they are also learning about the importance of our issues and they are more supportive than ever. Many of these politicians and community organizers know FF Garcia personally. The community at large is driving the call to reinstate FF Garcia back into the process.

Also, the ESD merger template is in the AFA/COA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). One of the more important functions of the AFA Eboard is the protection of the CBA. The disqualification of a candidate falls under appendix C of the CBA, requiring an empanelment of the labor/management board. This was not done until after the decision was made; it was a unilateral decision by Command Staff, and therefore was a CBA violation.  The ESD Merger Template contemplates standards that must be met but also a fair process for those who participate. The promise of fair treatment is important, not only to the ESD4 merger but also for potential future mergers.

The main evidence against FF Garcia can be easily explained if the investigators would have simply called FF Garcia and asked him to explain the inconsistencies, but they did not. Much like investigations against our own members, no exculpatory evidence was brought forward. As the investigated was nearing its end, Command Staff never reached out to Drew for explanation to attempt to clear up inconsistencies in their findings. For instance, during ESD4 merger workgroup sessions, FF Garcia advocated that AFD had access to all of the ESD4 personnel files so they could complete a picture of ESD4 firefighters. If he was looking to hide the event, why would FF Garcia advocate for AFD to look into his personnel file?

The Command Staff is doubling down on their personal attacks against FF Garcia. The latest is that he denied 5 times the event before admitting to it As soon as FF Garcia understood what the investigators were inquiring about, he admitted to the event and explained his confusion in answering the question.

To be fair, in the end only FF Garcia knows for certain if he intentionally misrepresented himself or did not understand the question correctly when he answered. Having  worked with FF Garcia on this project for over a year, I believe him when he says that his mistake was unintentional.

History of the ESD Merger Template and the ESD4 Merger

  • The entire ESD Merger Template was a product of four AFA sub-committees driven by Membership surveys.
  • These sub-committees combined their work product and formed a final ESD merger template that was placed before the membership twice for a full membership vote.
  • The ESD Merger Template contemplated standards that must be met but also a fair process for those who participate.
  • In 2015, at the direction of the AFA membership vote, the AFA Bargaining Team successfully placed the ESD Merger Template into the current CBA
  • Last year the AFA Membership voted to have AFA lobby for the ESD4 merger.
  • Local 975 (AFA) and Local 4848 worked side by side with AFD management and ESD Board members for close to a year to work out the details of the merger

 

In terms of bargaining, the first two bargaining sessions were rough but the last two have been very civil and productive. The best way to understand what is going on in bargaining is to watch the videos and judge for yourself. You do have permission to watch the videos, vote online and surf the www.local975.org website while on duty, as long as this does not take away from your regular duties. I would recommend doing this as a crew so you can discuss among yourselves and provide your feedback to bargaining team members.

I hope this eases any concerns you might have had. Please contact me directly if you have further questions or would like me to stop by for a station visit.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 


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Firefighter Cancer Screening Dog Trial

Firefighter Cancer Screening Dog Trial

AFA Members

After additional vetting and reading the totality of Cancer Screening Dog Trail we wanted to update our Disclaimer so that members are able to make informed decisions regarding this test.

 

Local 975 Disclaimer: 

The cancer screening dog trial is not FDA approved and is still experimental.   Members who choose to participate must understand that there are false positives, as well as false negatives ("missed subjects").  AFA Local 975 is not offering medical advice and is merely attempting to facilitate ordering and testing for our members who wish to participate.  There are several scientific studies conducted on the accuracy of cancer detection tests conducted by cancer sniffing dogs, and results vary.  If you Google "cancer sniffing dog studies" you can find a variety of sources to review so you can draw your own conclusions on whether this test is right for you.   In any case, the member should treat this screening as supplemental. 

 

AFA Local 975 will be working with Cancerdogs in the upcoming months.  CancerDogs is a cancer screening service that uses specially trained dogs to detect the odor of all types of cancer preset in a person's exhaled breath.  They have developed an inexpensive and non-invasive breath sample kit that collects breath odor with a simple surgical mask that is worn for 10 minutes and sent to their lab.  

Please visit our information page to read more about the service and process.  If you wish to participate, follow the simple steps listed to sign up and pay for your kit.  We will follow up with you after we order the kits.  Thanks.

Click here to go to the information/Signup Page: https://your975.org/cancer-screening-trial/ 

Mike Leone

AFA Local 975

Firefighter Cancer Screening Dog Trial


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2017 Schillterbahn Discount for AFA Members

02/23/2017

For Waterpark Admission Discounts follow the bullet points-

 Visit www.schlitterbahn.com/partnerdiscounts

  • Select the appropriate park's logo
  • Proceed to the section for those with an eTicket Code
  • First-Time Buyers - Follow the prompts. You will need to create an account with your email and a password.
  • Returning Guests - Follow the prompts.
  • ETicket Code: 2017000034
 


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Promo List Length Question

02/11/2017

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

There have been many questions about whether the Fire Chief can set the promotional eligibility list length at two (2) years when the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is set to expire on October 1st 2017 IF the CBA is not renewed.

We have asked the AFA attorneys to research this question so we can provide you the answer that best satisfies the intent of the CBA.

After this legal review, it is the AFA's position that the fire chief can set the recently released promotional

eligibility list length at 24 months, but the list length will be modified if the CBA expires.

I think it is important to note that we do not believe the CBA will expire and the AFA anticipates a renewal.  

The Details:

Our attorneys advise us that the fire chief has the ability to set the promotional eligibility list length from 12 to 24 months.  If the CBA is renewed (therefore does NOT expire), the length of the list will remain as specified in the posting for promotional examination.

If the CBA is NOT renewed and therefore expires, then the length of the eligibility list is modified as follows:

  • No promotional list shall extend longer than six (6) months after the expiration of the Agreement.

However, the expiration of the CBA can be extended by mutual written agreement, see below:

  • If the parties are engaged in negotiations for a successor Agreement at the time this Agreement expires, the Association's and the City's negotiating teams shall have the authority to extend this Agreement in thirty (30) calendar day increments by mutual written agreement, during any period of good faith negotiations after such termination date, not to exceed a total of six (6) months

So, if the CBA is not renewed and therefore expires, the promotional eligibility list will be modified from 24 months to as little as 11 months or as many as 17 months, depending on if there are agreed extensions and the number of these extensions. If during the extention period the AFA Bargaining team reaches an agreement, then the list stays at 24 months.

I hope this explanation helps. Please contact me directly if you have further questions.


Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association


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Bargaining Rumor

02-10-2017

A rumor has come to my attention which I will dispel. The AFA did NOT turn down a 2% offer from the City to sign a CBA extension. No offer was made to AFA and no offer turned down.

I believe that the City has changed their position and now is planning on full scale bargaining, but the AFA has not been formally notified of this development. I have learned about this only by talking to APA and ATCEMS Employee Associations.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me directly to discuss.

 

Bob Nicks

 

 


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4/9/2017

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

After discussions with the Assistant City Manager, Mayor Adler and Councilmember Delia Garza, I find the announcement made at the last BC meeting (4/4/2017) of impending station closures or reductions to 4-person staffing to be unlikely. There exists a 4th option that was not mentioned at the BC meeting that does NOT close fire stations or reduce staffing. This 4th option is to increase the AFD budget by 3.5 million dollars, it has the support of the City Managers Office (money already identified) and therefore this option is likely to be adopted by City Council. 

This announcement of staffing cuts and station closures is very similar to statements made at a BC meeting in February, which I researched and disputed (please see AFA membership email below dated 02/08/2017).

At the last BC meeting it was announced that Chief Kerr had been told by the City Manager's Office/COA Budget Office that she would either have to shut down fire stations or reduce 4 person staffing to make up for the 3.5 million dollars that AFD is projected to be "over budget" for 2017. It was relayed at this BC meeting that this choice of all bad choices would need to be made within a couple of weeks.

Here are the 3 bad options that were laid out at the BC Meeting in no particular order:

  • Return to pre-SAFER Grant staffing levels (2-person staffing on rescues and dry ladders)
  • Regress to 3-person staffing on certain central core fire units
  • Close either station 9 or 33

However there is a 4th and much more favorable option which has the support of the City Manager's Office, Mayor Adler and Councilmember Garza. The 4th option is to increase the AFD 2017 budget by 3.5 million dollars to cover the current OT shortfall. According to the ACM, this will be the recommendation of the City Manager's Office and the money has already been identified.

It is the purview of City Council to select any of the four options (or any others which they desire to approve) but given that the money for the budget adjustment has been identified and the City Manager's Office has said they will recommend the budget adjustment to City Council, I find this outcome to be likely.

The three bad options are scenarios that the ACM is having Chief Kerr cost out and they MAY be discussed at the Council Meeting where the 3.5 Million AFD budget adjustment will be discussed. It is possible that the budget adjustment will be approved without discussion.

You can rest assured that AFA has already begun lobbying Council to make sure they understand how unacceptable the 3 bad options would be to firefighter and citizen safety.

I would like to send Kudos to Mayor Adler and Councilmember Delia Garza for their assistance on sorting this issue out.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 


 

02/08/2017

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

It was relayed to me today by several AFA VP's that there are questions and concerns about the 2017 Council Budget Workshop where Chief Kerr presented this morning. Specifically 4-person staffing and fire station 9 seem to be the biggest areas of concern.

I do NOT think there is anything to be overly concerned about at this point.

The City Council is starting the budget process earlier than past years to ask deeper questions in order to get a better understanding of how all the different departments operate. Naturally, there will be more detailed questions asked. Also, many of the more probing questions came from the two new council-members, again, this is to be expected.

If you go to the link below entitled " AFD Budget Presentation", then go to the second to the last page, you will see a series of questions that the City Manager provided AFD last Friday to be addressed before Council. I believe this question set may have raised some concern among the Command Staff.

I attended the presentation this morning but had to leave at 10:50 to head to the Capitol so I have not yet seen the last hour of the presentation. Station 9 was not discussed during the part I attended and was not included in the City Manger question set sent to Chief Kerr. See link below to view the entire video.

AFA will review the presentation video, identify any concerns raised by City Council and meet with each Council-member individually to discuss. I am certain this follow up will help to satisfy their questions.

If there are is anything to worry about after these meetings, we will then absolutely let you know.

 

AFD Budget Presentation

Video to entire 2017 AFD budget presentation

Video from AFD Budget Workshop Presentation

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association


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Mandatory AT Letter

01/09/2017

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

First and foremost, let me clear up a misconception: the AFA has NOT supported or endorsed the mandatory Kelly day sign up procedure (scheduled to begin 3/7/17). AFA was aware that mandatory Kelly day sign up was being considered by management, but the AFA was not a part of the final decisions that led to the Special Order below. The AFA and management do share the common goal of ensuring that four (4) person staffing is maintained and we acknowledge that developing a mandatory AT system that is agreeable to everyone is difficult.

I believe that management is open to changes to the mandatory AT procedure if the suggestions meet their goals of filling seats and the suggested changes are not too complicated to implement and utilize. Since the new mandatory AT procedure does not begin until March, there is enough time to work toward this if the membership wishes to do so.

Click here to see Special Order on Kelly Day and Mandatory Add Time Procedure 

Going forward, the AFA will be involved in two (2) major ways:

  • Continue to vet this new policy to ensure it comports with the CBA and all applicable laws. There are a couple of CBA issues that are still being reviewed and discussed.
  • Engage our membership via direct interaction, discussion boards, and surveys to attempt to discover if there is a method of requiring mandatory AT that is more universally acceptable. This could mean anything from suggesting tweaks to the current management procedure to recommending an entirely different system.
  • AFA will be forming a committee to further explore possible mandatory AT procedures and make recommendations. Please respond to this email if you are interested in participating on the AFA Mandatory AT Committee.

Click here for the AFA on-line discussion board. This may be the best place to ask questions and provide your feedback.

AFA's initial legal analysis shows that the Fire Chief can compel firefighters to sign up for AT on their Kelly Days as long as they follow applicable laws, which they are proposing to do. There are some outstanding CBA issues (Kelly Day Trades, Call Back and others) that we are working through with management and hopefully this will result in a system that is more tolerable for all.

Information posted to the discussion board explaining why a Kelly Day is not a paid day off

In addition to taking the survey and participating in the on-line discussion board, please consider attending the upcoming membership meeting (this Tuesday at 1300 @ AFA Hall) where an extended conversation on mandatory AT will occur. Results from the first AFA survey can be found below.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 


 

 

 

Information from the first Mandatory Membership Survey

In November, the AFA survey asked a variety of questions pertaining to potential elements of possible mandatory AT systems. There were 325 surveys completed with 160 excellent additional written responses lodged.

Although there were no strong trends found in the results, the written responses provided some direction by which the AFA put together a draft proposal for your scrutiny.

First here are some of the results from the survey:

Although this question produced somewhat mixed results, the many great additional membership comments which will be helpful in our discussions with management:

The results of the OT "opt out" question is at the link below. If accepted by management, the program would include an open enrollment period in early January. Anyone that "opts out" in January would not be able to sign up for OT for a one year period.

 

 

 

 


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Pension and Vehicle Discussion Board Links

12/18/2017

New Additions to Pension Discussion in Yellow Below

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

There have been many good questions and answers exchanged on the AFA Member-only Discussion Board for both the AFD excessive discipline for vehicle accidents and the emerging attacks on your pension. Click here to access both discussion boards.

I will leave these links toward the top of the AFA web page for easy future access. Below is the link to our webpage:

Poorly researched Statesman article. We will be visiting with this journalist to discuss the big picture of pension system as well as the strengths of our system:

Article from a friend of defined benefit systems which counters some of the recent attacks on Texas pension systems. This article discusses the recent attack on the Austin pension systems by the Arnold Foundation

Videos below from the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) Symposium on "Rethinking Texas Retirements":

If you do not have the time to watch all the video below, please read this June 2016 Report from the TPPF, here is the final recommendations from the report:

"Recommendation:The 85th Texas Legislature should restore local control of local retirement systems that are currently governed by state law. Policymakers should restore management and authority over these systems back to the community oftheir origin, so that stakeholders can implement necessary changes and ensure these systems' long-term viability and recovery." 


Here are a few recent articles on Texas pensions:

 

This article is powerful explanation of the exploitation of Public Pensions:


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Lawsuit filed today in Travis County

9/7/2016

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

As you may have already heard, a lawsuit was filed today in Travis County District Court against the City of Austin and the Austin Firefighters Association (see Goldwater Institute press release below). This lawsuit claims that the use of Association Business Leave (ABL), which is defined and agreed upon in our collective bargaining agreement, somehow violates the Texas Constitution. 

Click here to see lawsuit

Why the AFA is being targeted in this lawsuit is unknown. The use of ABL by the AFA is similar to the way many police, fire and employee associations utilize ABL across the State of Texas. In fact, the Austin Police Association (APA) and the Austin Travis County Emergency Medical Services Association (ATCEMSEA) both use ABL like the AFA does with very few differences.

Let me be clear, this lawsuit is a state-wide attack on all public sector employee groups, NOT just the AFA.  If this is to be our fate then so be it. We have not shied away from tough battles in the past and we are not ready to start now.

We started the approval process for IAFF  legal, financial and other assistance today. Given the state-wide implications of  this lawsuit, I have every confidence that the IAFF will have our backs and put the full weight of their resources to work for us.

That is all the information we have for you on this subject today. How the COA will respond to this challenge is unknown for now. We will keep you informed as this troubling situation unfolds and more information becomes available. 


Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association 

IAFF Local 975


Subject: Goldwater Institute & TPPF File Lawsuit to Halt Taxpayer-Funded Union Employees

Goldwater Institute & TPPF File Lawsuit to Halt Taxpayer-Funded Union Employees


AUSTIN - The Goldwater Institute and Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) filed a lawsuit in Travis County District Court today against the City of Austin and the Austin Firefighters Association, Local 975 challenging the City's labor agreement with Austin Firefighters Association, Local 975. The lawsuit, Pulliam, et. al. v. City of Austin, et. al., seeks to halt the practice of "release time" also known as "association business leave," and "union leave," which assigns city employees to work for their labor union at taxpayer expense. The agreement violates the Texas Constitution "gift clause" provision that prohibits government from giving taxpayer funds to private entities without a public purpose. 

Click here to see lawsuit

The use of ABL by the AFA is similar to the way many police, fire and employee associations utilize ABL across the State of Texas. In fact, within the City of Austin the Austin Police Association and the Austin Travis County Emergency Medical Services Association (ATCEMSEA) are use ABL like AFA does with very few differences. 


DIAL IN NOW FOR A LIVE MEDIA CALL with Q&A session on lawsuit

10:00 AM Central Time

Dial-In: 1 (877) 615-4337

Passcode: 7979 639#


"Under the Texas Constitution, the government is prohibited from spending public money for purely private purposes," said Jon Riches, Director of National Litigation and General Counsel for the Goldwater Institute. "With release time, Austin Taxpayers are required to foot the bill for the activities of a private union. This is an abuse of tax dollars and violates Texas law."

TPPF General Counsel and Director of the Center for the American Future Robert Henneke said, "Allowing full-time public employees on the government's payroll to work for a private union at taxpayer expense is even more egregious as the City of Austin's proposed budget would increase taxes on all residents. All taxpayer resources should be put into services for citizens not directed to the benefit of private entities."

 The Goldwater Institute originally discovered this illegal use of taxpayer money in 2011 and filed suit to stop the City of Phoenix from paying police officers their salary and benefits while they were working for the police union. Police officer release time was costing Phoenix taxpayers nearly $4 million each year. Since that initial discovery, the Goldwater Institute has found the practice is widespread across the country, including in federal government contracts. For example, while some military veterans wait an average of 115 days to get an initial appointment with their primary care provider, the Veterans Administration spends over $40 million a year on release time for VA employees. When release time contract provisions are added up across the country, taxpayers spend over a billion dollars each year to pay government workers to clock in at the union desk, not to do the government work they were hired to do.

The Goldwater Institute's successful lawsuit against the City of Phoenix has put an end to release time in Arizona. This is the Institute's first legal challenge to the practice outside of Arizona and its first lawsuit in Texas. 

Bills to ban taxpayer-funded release time have been introduced in Maine, Michigan, Nevada, and Washington State; and other lawsuits challenging the practice have been filed in Idaho, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.   


Read more about Pulliam, et. al. v. City of Austin, et. al here


###


About the Goldwater Institute

The Goldwater Institute drives results by working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and strengthen the freedom guaranteed to all Americans in the constitutions of the United States and all 50 states. With the blessing of its namesake, the Goldwater Institute opened in 1988. Its early years focused on defending liberty in Barry Goldwater's home state of Arizona. Today, the Goldwater Institute is a national leader for constitutionally limited government respected by the left and right for its adherence to principle and real world impact. No less a liberal icon than the New York Times calls the Goldwater Institute a "watchdog for conservative ideals" that plays an "outsize role" in American political life.

About the Texas Public Policy Foundation

The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit free-market research institute based in Austin.


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response to Kerr letter

7/29/2016

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

The Austin Firefighters Association (AFA) is in receipt of Chief Kerr's response to the censure vote that was taken this week.

Despite the increased media coverage, it remains the intent of the AFA is to have a positive and constructive dialogue with Chief Kerr and her administration to find solutions to the concerns we have raised. As we have said from the beginning, we are always willing to meet to discuss the issues.

Thank you for the calls and Emails of support. We will have more on this issue next week.

In the meantime, enjoy your weekend. And most of all, be safe out there

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association


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7/20/2016


AFA Membership Educational Piece for Chief Kerr Censure


Brother and Sister Firefighters,

I am asking that you approve the 2016 proposed censure of Austin Fire Chief Rhonda Mae Kerr.  Voting to approve the censure will help the AFA protect the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and return the firefighter's due process rights, including ending excessive punishment by the Fire Chief as a method to avoid the appeals process. Ultimately, what happens with the censure is up to you, please carefully read the provided education materials on the censure, discuss among yourselves, and online, and vote. The greater the turnout to vote on this issue, the greater a mandate for us to go forward strongly with this censure. Your response determines how we go forward, how public we are with the censure, who we send it to. Please stay involved and let us know your will.

Link to Chief Kerr Censure Discussion Board Active Now

Link to Chief Kerr Censure Online Vote Starts Tuesday July 26th @0800 thru Thursday July 28th ending @ 1700

The 2016 censure contains both legacy items from the 2014 censure plus four new and current issues. We believe Chief Kerr is not using fair judgment when applying civil service law; is violating the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA); is not in concert with other progressive departments regarding health and discipline (AFD is out of step with agreements made with nine other fire departments of the Wellness Fitness Initiative*); and is, in general, not using fair judgment in supporting the rights and working conditions of firefighters.  The IAFF legal team has vetted this censure and agrees the evidence for our claims is solid. We will provide the evidence supporting the newest censure items.

*The Wellness Fitness Initiative (Austin, Calgary, Charlotte; Fairfax Co,  FDNY, Indianapolis, Los Angeles Co,  MetroDade FL, Phoenix, Seattle) unanimously agreed to the following statement, with Chief Kerr in attendance: "Identification of drug misuse, either through reasonable suspicion or random testing, should result in referral for treatment and help. These are treatable disabilities.(see side 21)"  As you're aware, Chief Kerr continues to invoke a zero tolerance policy. Nationally, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is very much on the rise within the firefighter population, which may lead to alcohol, substance abuse and/or suicide. This is not included as a censure item this time due to logistical and evidential issues.

What is a Censure? A censure is a formal and severe disapproval of specific actions by the Fire Chief. Essentially, it is a reprimand, aimed at reformation of the person and prevention of further offending acts. When a censure is submitted to the IAFF for adoption, the IAFF legal Department researches each item of the proposed censure for accuracy. The IAFF will not allow an item to remain in the censure unless there is sufficient evidence to justify each claim. The 2016 Rhonda Mae Kerr censure before you has already been researched and approved by the IAFF to move forward to the 2016 IAFF National Convention for approval, pending the approval of the membership.

New Censure Item 1:

WHEREAS, Chief Kerr is in the process of
adopting a "transferability" policy that would
prohibit fire fighters from applying for or remaining
in a staff position that they are capable of performing
if the fire fighter is not "operations qualified" by the
department wellness center. This could force fire
fighters to end their careers even if they can meet the
specific job qualifications of an open staff position.


Understand that this will have the effect of ending your career if you suffer an IOJ (or off-the-job injury) from which you cannot return to Operations. Firefighting is physically demanding so the potential for serious injuries is high. To perform at their highest level firefighters need to know that the Fire Chief and the leadership of this organization have a better plan for them than termination if they suffer a serious injury. Here was a letter from AFA to Chief Kerr on the issue of "transferability".

Our collective bargaining agreement is clear:

"all economic benefits, privileges, and working conditions which are properly and lawfully in effect in the Austin Fire Department as to matters subject to mandatory bargaining under Local Government Code Chapter 174, and enjoyed by the Fire Fighters of the bargaining unit as of the effective date of this Agreement, but which are not included in this Agreement, shall remain unchanged for the duration of this Agreement." Article 27 Maintenance of Standards, 2015 CBA

Working conditions are not within the authority of the Fire Chief to change unilaterally; she must negotiate these changes. This right was given to firefighters by the citizens of Austin when they voted to give Austin Firefighters the right to collectively bargain in 2004. Collective bargaining means nothing if we do not defend it.

Regarding this censure item, the hard, vetted evidence to the IAFF will be presented to you in the follow-up email Friday.

 

New Censure Item 2:

WHEREAS, when alleged improprieties by the
Professional Standards Office (PSO) were brought to
the attention of the Fire Chief, including intimidation
of a union officer, Chief Kerr's administration
responded by refusing the union's requests for certain
due process protections that had been granted during
past investigations.


After a Local 975 VP reported to me potential improprieties by the PSO and I reported this information to the AFD Chief of Staff, a threatening letter was sent to the Local 975 VP by the office of the PSO.   The Executive Staff and the PSO then changed investigatory practices that had been granted during past investigations and became uncooperative with Local 975.

Regarding this censure item, the hard, vetted evidence sent to the IAFF will be presented to you in the follow-up email Friday.


New Censure Item 3:

WHEREAS, Chief Kerr has used the threat of
indefinite suspension to coerce fire fighters into
waiving their appeal rights and accepting harsh
suspensions, thus undermining fire fighters' due
process rights under the Texas State civil service
Statute.


Chapter 143.052 of Civil Service Law states:

"The head of the fire or police department may suspend a fire fighter or police officer under the department head's supervision or jurisdiction for the violation of a civil service rule. The suspension may be for a reasonable period not to exceed 15 calendar days or for an indefinite period. An indefinite suspension is equivalent to dismissal from the department."

Before Chief Kerr's reign, most suspensions were of a reasonable period of 15 days or less and these suspensions came with the right of appeal. By masquerading nearly every firefighter mistake or misjudgment as a punishment commensurate with indefinite suspension, Chief Kerr is coercing our members to sign an agreement for higher punishments (16 to 90 days) with no right of appeal.

The purpose of the civil service law is to protect firefighters by acknowledging that even good firefighters can make a mistake and the punishment should not be excessive, 15 days or less. However, hearing examiners and civil service boards tend to give extremely wide deference to the disciplinary decisions of the fire chief; therefore, a strong statement from the membership revealing the true motive of the fire chief will be invaluable in protecting our civil service rights.

Regarding this censure item, the hard, vetted evidence sent to the IAFF will be presented to you in the follow-up email Friday.

Pro Tip: The Officers that attend the chain of command meeting are probably not briefed by management about firefighter protections under civil service law. If you are following the letter of civil service law, when you recommend a punishment greater than 15 days, this indicates that you believe that the infraction is so egregious that termination is justified. If you do not feel that the infraction reaches the level of termination, then your recommendation should be 15 days or less.

Only if termination is truly justified can the fire chief, if she is acting in good faith, be more benevolent and offer a 16 -90 day punishment and thus increase the punishment over the 15 day limit and deny the firefighters right to appeal . 


New Censure Item 4:

WHEREAS, Chief Kerr's administration has not
secured a timely solution to the important
membership issue of adequate fire station bathroom
facilities, which negatively affects our current fire
fighter population and may harm efforts to recruit
female fire fighters.

 

History of the AFD restroom project:

Phases I thru 4 were designed and funded before Chief Kerr's arrival. Phase V was funded in 2012 through a bond. Although the money is available, Phase V construction is not even out to bid yet.  Chief Kerr has also been unsuccessful in obtaining funding for phase VI.

Here is a message from the AFA Facilities Committee. This committee is made up of both concerned male and female Austin Firefighters:

"More than 1/3 of the stations identified as inadequate for equitable joint use still do not have bathrooms for both men and women firefighters. Chief Kerr has stated over the years that this project is a priority and that she would push to have it moved along-seventeen years and counting, it still is not finished. Chief Kerr began her tenure in early 2009, she has been the Chief of the department for seven of the seventeen year history of the bathroom renovation process. Voters approved a bond package in 2012 to build a fire station in Onion Creek and to retrofit 6 of the 12 remaining stations without women's locker rooms. In mid 2016, there still has been no dirt moved, no construction started on the projects approved by the voters in 2012. Estimated completion date to remedy only one half of the remaining inadequate facilities have been pushed back to the spring of 2018. Zero timeline even estimated for the second half, those most in need.   In her capacity as Fire Chief, Chief Kerr has failed to get equitable facilities for her firefighters' most basic needs. These phases started with great fanfare, but under Chief Kerr's leadership the project has limped along with little forward progress."

Regarding this censure item, the hard, vetted evidence sent to the IAFF will be presented to you in the follow-up email Friday.

 

What is the history of the 2014 Chief Kerr censure?

In June 2014, prior to the IAFF National Convention, the AFA assembled a censure of Austin Fire Chief Rhonda Mae Kerr.  Prior to the IAFF vote, the AFA Membership was educated on the issues (Click here to see 2014 Kerr Censure Education Page) and an online vote was conducted. The result: 85% of the membership voted to approve the Kerr censure (Click here to see 2014 Kerr censure vote results). The AFA took the censure forward to the 2014 IAFF Convention seeking national approval. Out of the five Fire Chief censures submitted for approval, only Chief Kerr's censure was approved and it was approved unanimously by the entire convention body.  The other four Fire Chief censures were pulled before the vote, meaning the fire chief and the local were able to reach some form of agreement before the vote. Rhonda Mae Kerr was the only fire chief censured nationally at the last IAFF convention.

If approved by the AFA membership and adopted by the IAFF, how will the censure help us?

This depends on how we choose to use it once adopted.  We mean for this new censure to be more publicly discussed and the pressure continually maintained until our reasonable requests are satisfied, hopefully at the bargaining table. In 2014, the aim of the censure was to demonstrate that we will not sit idly by while our labor agreement is trounced and harm is done to our fire department and working conditions, but it was a measured effort that ended short of public criticism.  We had hoped that this formal admonishment would give Kerr pause and back her off from her anti-firefighter rhetoric and actions; sadly, it did not.

As is stated earlier, ultimately, what happens with the censure is up to you, the greater the turnout to vote on this issue, the greater a mandate for us to go forward strongly with this censure. Your response determines how we go forward, how public we are with the censure, who we send it to.


Sincerely,


Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

IAFF Local 975






 


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AFA Wildfire Resolution

Here is information on the proposed AFA wildfire resolution to be presented for adoption at the 2016 IAFF National Convention.

AFA is seeking IAFF Locals that may be interested in co-sponsoring this proposed wildfire resolution. We are willing to meeting with your Local to discuss if this would be helpful.

Click here to see proposed AFA Wildfire Resolution

 

Current Sponsors

Austin Firefighters Association, Local 975   

Montana State Council of Professional Firefighters, A0025

Round Rock Firefighters Association, Local 3082

San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association, Local 624

Cal Fire Local 2881

South Carolina Professional Firefighters Association Local A0039

Florida State Fire Service Association, Local S0020

Oklahoma City Firefighters, Local 157

Professional Fire Fighters of Oklahoma, A0035

Alberta Fire Fighters Association C0003

Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts A0020

Houston Professional Firefighters Association Local 341

Travis County ESD 4 Local 4848

Washington State Council of Firefighters A0045

Southern Federation of Professional Firefighters voted to recommend adoption

 

Please contact Bob Nicks at bob_nicks@yahoo.com or Randy Denzer at randy_denzer@yahoo.com (cell: (512) 825-0731) for more information or if you would like to add your name to the sponsor list.


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5/9/2016

Brother and Sister Firefighters,


A request of the AFA Membership: If you live in or around the neighborhoods of TRAVIS COUNTRY, GOODNIGHT RANCH, MOORES CROSSING OR CANYON CREEK - Please respond to this email with your preferred contact information. We need inside information on neighborhood leaders, associations, clubs and the like to help AFA with this project.


Update on Fire Station Project: We have achieved important progress on one of our major AFA projects: Building new AFD fire stations and reducing response times.

As you may remember, the response time reduction project is the newest AFA project.

For a good overview of the issues and the solutions contained within the proposed resolution, please watch the March 4th Public Safety Commission AFA/AFD presentation: https://vimeo.com/159644217 (audio poor at beginning but quickly gets better)

 Click here for presentation PowerPoint contained in the presentation video.

On March 24th the Austin City Council adopted a response time resolution (click here to see). This resolution directs the City Manager to, each budget year, present a plan to City Council to fund and build the top 5 priority fire stations. The resolution also stipulates the AFD and AFA, will each year update this list of priority fire stations. The presentation will occur each budget year in open sessions so the AFA and affected neighborhood groups can comment.

CM Delia Garza and the AFA worked very closely on this resolution.  In essence, this resolution will stop the practice of the City Manager and the COA Budget Office blocking from Council important information regarding critical response time deficiencies and fire station needs.

Please go to the AFA Community resource page www.austinsafetyfirst.org to find  more information on the project.

Next Steps: Among other things, the adopted resolution directs the City Manager to:

"The City Manager is directed to develop a comprehensive plan for consideration during the FY 2016-17 budget process with proposed funding mechanisms and timelines for building fire stations in five areas of immediate need identified by the Austin Fire Association and the Austin Fire Department, which include the Travis Country area, the Loop 360 area, the Goodnight Ranch area, the Moore's Crossing area, and the Canyon Creek area."

In June CM Ott will present his plan to build more fire stations. Until then, AFA is reaching out to committee leaders, especially in the 5 critical response time areas, to provide them with the right information and resources so they can contact CM Ott and Council and express how urgently they need these fire stations. This community outpour will help to ensure that Ott takes the project seriously.

Please let me know if you would like to help on this important membership initiative by responding to this email.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association 

 

PS - Links to media stories and other info related to the AFA Fire Stations Project:


2/24/2016

http://kxan.com/2016/03/24/austin-fire-department-wants-5-new-stations/



KEYE News Story


http://keyetv.com/news/local/life-or-death-austin-fire-response-times-differ-dramatically-across-the-city

 

Money Mag growth

http://money.cnn.com/2015/05/27/news/economy/us-fastest-growing-cities-texas/


http://www.forbes.com/pictures/mlj45hfdf/1-austin-texas/

forbes - econ growth rate


https://www.texastribune.org/2015/05/21/interactive-texas-population-growth-2010-2014/


No matter how you slice it, Austin set for huge population growth, report says

http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/news/2015/01/26/no-matter-how-you-slice-it-austin-set-for-huge.html

Even under the most pessimistic projections - if some sort of plague and economic slump were to take hold in the region - the Austin area's population will still grow by more than 30 percent over the next 15 years, a report from the Urban Institute shows.




 


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Brother and Sister Firefighters,

911 responder health care benefits are in serious trouble. By the end of next week, Congress must reauthorize and extend the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 or those sickened by Ground Zero toxins will stop getting the health care and compensation they need and deserve. 

Jon Stewart has come out of retirement and has done solid work shaming Americans worst responders, the US Congress, into doing the right thing and supporting the reauthorization of the 911 Zadroga Act. 

These first responders need and deserve our support. Here is what you can do to help, it's as simple as going to the link below and either calling or emailing a Representative or Senator.

 

http://www.renew911health.org/take-action/take-action-contact-your-members-of-congress/?xrs=synd_facebook_120715_tds_38

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association 


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AFA formal request to ATCEMS

Click on the image below to view entire Letter from AFA to ATCEMS as a formal request to begin discussions regarding consolidation.


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