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Union questions potential changes to promotion requirements for Cohoes Fire Department

August 12, 2019 11:29 PM

COHOES – It was a heated Civil Service Commission meeting at Cohoes City Hall Monday night. Outgoing Mayor Shawn Morse is suggesting changes be made to the requirements for promotions in the Cohoes City Fire Department.

Mayor Morse said Monday night was meant to be a simple introduction and discussion of the idea. Morse said instead of the required three years on the job as lieutenant in the fire department to take the civil service test to become captain, he wants to make it a one year requirement as lieutenant before you can become captain.

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"The reality is if you're able to be a lieutenant and be in charge of the whole city fire department in the absence of the Chief and the captain with one day out of Lieutenant school, how can you not be qualified with one year on the job,” explained Morse.

Morse said the big reason behind the change is that he says there isn’t a big enough pool of qualified firefighters that could become captain. There are four captain positions in the department, currently one of those positions is vacant and Morse anticipates another captain retiring in the future.

"If two of them left today, right now, we may not have enough members in the ranks of lieutenant to fill those positions,” said Morse. “And if you don't have qualified people what happens to that position it sits there."

Morse said the city would then be paying out overtime money for someone to work and fill that role. However, the union that represents Cohoes firefighters said one year experience to become captain isn’t enough.

“It’s a lot of training that goes into being a lieutenant or captain then you're responsible for not only the safety of the firefighters, but also the safety of all the residents of the city,” explained President of the local 2562 Firefighters Union Brian Bullock.

Bullock also said this is a problem the union brought to Morse’s attention years ago. The union said the city has exhausted the promotional list they have, since a test has not been given in four years.

“By having a test every year every other year you're keeping the list up to date,” explained Union Vice President Robert Johnson. “You got plenty of people to choose from, we don't get into these issues and problems that we're having."

Credits

Emily De Vito

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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