IAFF Local 1839, PFFM DVP Reddy and Attorney Barrault Persuade Arbitrator To Increase Safe Staffing in Chelmsford

March 28, 2018

An interest arbitration panel, including a neutral professional and a management representative, has ordered an increase in fire apparatus staffing for at least one Town of Chelmsford fire station, preferably headquarters. Matt Reddy, a District Vice President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts, served as the labor representative on the panel. Attorneys Leah Barrault and Mark Macchi represented the Chelmsford Fire Fighters, IAFF Local 1839.

The Panel agreed with the Union's arguments and evidence, which included testimony from Boston Deputy Fire Chief Jay Fleming, an expert in fire department staffing, and rejected the Town's arguments that the Union pursued this measure purely to increase overtime.

"...Firefighters have a valid reason to be concerned with their safety. In addition, it is clear that Chief Ryan and Town Manager Cohen are concerned about Firefighters safety and the problem must be addressed. Finally, the vast amount of evidence established that firefighting is a dangerous occupation and the lack of proper staffing on per piece of apparatus substantially increases Firefighters’ safety and decreases risk of injury."

The Panel directed the Town to incrementally increase staffing, starting with one additional fire fighter on an apparatus at one of the Town's five fire stations. The Panel recommended headquarters but left the final decision about where to increase staffing with the Town.