Tag Archives: Uniformed Firefighters Association

Op-Ed: Risking it all for $27/day

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


When the FDNY began its efforts to recruit New York City firefighter candidates back in 2011, it sold them on the merits of “the best job in the world has the best benefits in the world.” Now, several years later, it appears that the city failed to tell these prospective first responders the truth.

Since 2013, the city has hired more than 1,400 new FDNY firefighters, most of whom don’t have disability benefits. What the city recruitment posters should have read in 2011 was, “Don’t get hurt in the line of duty or else you and your family will be in trouble!”

Here’s why: If any probationary (rookie) firefighters hired by the FDNY since January 2013 are seriously injured, paralyzed or permanently disabled on the job, the approximate value of their disability protection amounts to only about $27/day.

This all began when Governor David Paterson vetoed the New York City firefighter and police Tier II extender bill in June 2009, forcing all future FDNY and NYPD hires into Tier III, which has no real disability benefits. Today virtually every firefighter and police officer in New York State has real disability benefits, except for those in the FDNY and NYPD.

It is wholly unacceptable for newly hired city firefighters to face the same dangers as fellow veteran firefighters but only be protected to the sum of $27/day, or less than $190 per week, if they’re seriously injured.

It’s already a highly dangerous profession and firefighters need to be 100 percent focused on their responsibilities in a fire/emergency situation and not distracted with “what if” concerns about who is going to take care of their family if they’re seriously injured. Having this lingering concern — especially among firefighters who are married or have children to provide for — clearly jeopardizes public safety, and simply doesn’t serve taxpayers’ interests.

How can the city demand new hires enter a burning building, or conduct a dangerous rescue or take other risks, while denying them the same disability protections?

I believe most New Yorkers will stand united with New York City’s firefighters to declare that it is immoral for the city to ask the young men and women of the FDNY to risk their life and health without a safety net. What’s more, the public is best served when every firefighter is solely focused on their job, because they know that if they are seriously injured in the line of duty, they will be taken care of.

The Uniformed Firefighters Association is advocating and fighting for necessary corrective legislation that requires the support of a majority of the New York City Council and passage of legislation via the state Assembly and Senate and signed into law by the governor.

What legislation would do is guarantee that each of our city’s firefighters and police officers who risk their lives would have similar disability protections that more senior New York City firefighters and other first responders across the state are granted.

New Yorkers should want and expect a fire department with members who will never have to think twice about if their family would be cared for if they were permanently disabled. New Yorkers should join with firefighters and call upon city and state legislators to take action and correct this serious problem.

Steve Cassidy is president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.


As Queens grows, so does the number of building fires in 2014

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Riyad Hasan

The number of structural fires in Queens surged last year by 7.7 percent, well above the average increase for the entire city, as firefighters responded to reports of 5,170 burning buildings in the borough in 2014, new statistics compiled by the Uniformed Firefighters Association show.

Citywide, structural fires increased 5.7 percent for a total of 25,097 buildings set ablaze.

Overall, 2014 was the busiest year on record for the FDNY since it began keeping records 150 years ago, the report found.

The sharper rise in fires in Queens was likely due to the faster pace of new development in the borough, said Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.

“Queens has been growing in leaps and bounds. And the more people you have, the more likely you will need us,” Cassidy said. “The borough is growing faster than any other borough.”

With the fast pace of new development in Queens, Cassidy said he believes the FDNY needs to provide more firefighting resources to the borough. “We’ll see how the department responds to that,” he said.

Non-structural fires — cars, brush and rubbish — were up 6.48 percent, with 15,512 calls to firefighters for these types of fires in 2014, compared with the prior year.

Overall, the single largest increase in responses by firefighters was for emergencies involving gas, water and steam leaks; elevator rescues; carbon monoxide and fire alarms; and scaffolding and building collapses. Those calls increased 13.85 percent in Queens for a total of 42,630 last year.

“Today, New York City firefighters are trained to deal with a wide range of emergencies. Going back decades, it was fires, fires, fires. And now we’re dealing with so many more things than just structural fires,” Cassidy said. “Firefighters are ready to deal with emergencies that are either man-made or natural.”

Queens FDNY emergency responses during 2013 and 2014:

Structural fires up 7.71 percent
2013: 4,800 vs. 2014: 5,170

Non-structural fires up 5.83 percent
2013: 3,363 vs. 2014: 3,559

Emergencies up 13.85 percent
2013: 37,443 vs. 2014: 42,630

Medical emergencies up 3.9 percent
2013: 44,436 vs. 2014: 46,169

False alarms up 6.57 percent
2013: 4,204 vs. 2014: 4,480

Total calls up 8.24 percent


FDNY boxers take the ring for charity

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

This time, instead of their gear, they donned boxing gloves.

Several FDNY firefighters took part in the “Battle of the Badges” on Friday, September 14 at Resorts World Casino New York City — the first-ever boxing match at a city casino.

The action in the ring started with the first match of amateur boxers Ali Salem and Omawaie Adewale.

The night really began, however, when Todd Velten, a firefighter in Lower Manhattan, took off his robe — fashioned after an FDNY service jacket. Every blow from the boxer resulted in cheers from his fellow firefighters. Nearly every spectator from the FDNY became a coach, yelling advice for Velten as he took on opponent Angel Castro.

When the referee lifted Velten’s arm to officiate his victory, the cheers from the scores of firefighters and FDNY supporters could be heard throughout the third floor of the Racino.

Velten’s match was followed by super heavyweight and fellow FDNY John Phillips, who faced John Rosales from Universal Boxing Organization. Though the two tired as the match went on, the energy from the crowd only continued to grow.

Eddie Brown, the Bronx trustee for the Uniformed Firefighters Association, sat ringside and was one of those cheering on the FDNY boxers. A former fighter and trainer on the FDNY team, Brown said it was amazing how dedicated some blaze battlers were to another kind of fight during their downtime.

“These guys work hard,” Brown said. “They’re going to fight fires, and then they’re training on their days off.”

The matches were intended to be primarily against members of the New England Law Enforcement team, whom the FDNY fought at Foxwoods in Connecticut earlier this year, said Bobby Maguire, who organized the event. Because of problems with the northeastern team, only a few were able to fight, including Jose De la Rosa, who sparred off against Shariff Farrow from the FDNY.

Most of the money raised by ticket sales to the event, after costs to organize the matches are handled, will go toward a number of charities to help veterans and fellow firefighters, Maguire said. Along with ticket sales, a 50/50 raffle raised about $2,600 to go toward the Wounded Warriors Foundation, which helps disabled veterans get new homes.


| tcimino@queenscourier.com




The New York Lottery has announced the names of area Lottery players who claimed a winning ticket from one of the Lottery’s live drawings between October 9 and October 15. The following winners each received a cash prize valued at $10,000 or more.

• Patricia Beneduce of Richmond Hill who won $10,000 on the Powerball drawing of October 1. Beneduce’s winning ticket was purchased at the Amar Groceries at 117-19 101st Avenue in South Richmond Hill.

• Ruth Garner of Jamaica who won $10,000 on the Mega Millions drawing of October 11. Garner’s winning ticket was purchased at the C-Town Supermarket at 142-36 Foch Boulevard in Jamaica.

• Robert Myers of Whitestone who won $33,747 on the Take Five drawing of October 10. Myers’s winning ticket was purchased at the S. Michael & Son at 82-06 Astoria Boulevard in East Elmhurst.




The following local students have graduated from Excelsior College:

Gung T. Lo

, a resident of Flushing, has earned a Bachelor of Science.

Nancy Muyal

, a resident of Flushing, has earned a Bachelor of Science.

Rachel Nisanov

, a resident of Flushing, has earned a Bachelor of Science.

Sylburn V. Peterkin

, a resident of Jamaica, has earned a Bachelor of Science.

Faige Rand

, a resident of Far Rockaway, has earned a Bachelor of Science.

Ruchy Schwartz

, a resident of Far Rockaway, has earned a Bachelor of Science.

Esther L. Winer

, a resident of Far Rockaway, has earned a Bachelor of Science.




Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley was presented with the Public Service Award for her dedication to the Fire Department of New York at the Fourth Annual Friends of Firefighters Fall Fundraiser.

As Chair of the Fire and Criminal Justice Chair, Crowley has worked hand-in-hand with Friends of Firefighters to ensure that our fire companies have the resources they need.

This past year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed closing 20 fire companies throughout New York City. Despite difficult budget negotiations, Crowley joined City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, the Uniformed Firefighters Association and FDNY supporters, like Friends of Firefighters, to fight the mayor’s decision.

Actor Steve Buscemi, former member of Engine Company 55 and an active advocate for the widows and survivors of 9/11, was inducted into the Honor Roll for his dedication to the group. President of the Uniformed Firefighters Association Steve Cassidy and President of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association Al Hagan were also named Friends to the Friends of Firefighters.

“In the past decade, Friends of Firefighters has provided exceptional care to hundreds of FDNY families,” said Crowley. “It was an honor to be recognized at their fundraiser.”


Actor Steve Buscemi and City Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley.



Paul Halvatzis, a notable Queens-based businessman, has accepted a challenge from his children, including his autistic son, to shave his 35-year-old mustache off to benefit those living with autism.

Halvatzis, a civic leader in Astoria, has been a board member of the Astoria Civic Association for over 20 years, past president of the Astoria/L.I.C. Kiwanis Club for 25 years and a board member of the 30th Avenue Merchants Association. He also serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors of Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC).

The momentous occasion will take place at the Redken Saloon Salon located at 36-16 30th Avenue in Astoria on Friday, December 30 at 6 p.m.

The public is invited to attend, and as this is a fundraiser, people are being asked to make contributions in honor of the statement Paul Halvatzis is making by shaving his mustache. Donations can be made at the event or by going to www.qsac.com/shave.

“Paul has had his mustache longer than QSAC has been in existence,” said Gary Maffei, QSAC Executive Director. “We are thrilled to be working with him on this innovative fundraiser to bring much needed resources that will both improve and expand our services to those most in need across New York and Long Island.”





Dr. Catherine Reid, a veterinarian who has done extensive research on endangered species, has been named Acting Director of LaGuardia Community College’s Veterinary Technology program.

Reid’s research, which she describes as “conservation-type medicine,” focuses on threatened species whose existence is being drastically impacted by disease or environmental or human-animal conflicts. She has been doing research on the deadly herpes virus that strikes wild Asian elephants in Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand, and reproductive studies on white rhinos in captivity.

The new acting director, who also works at the East Side Animal Hospital on the weekends, hopes to bring her passion for wild animal research into the classroom.

“The students already know about laboratory research in pharmaceutical companies,” she said. “I want to show them that a whole other world of research exists and where they can fit into that picture.”

Adding this new dimension to the students’ academic experience, she said, can only enrich the already comprehensive program.

“LaGuardia goes out of its way to give its students more of a four-year college experience,” said Reid. “I can guarantee that there are four-year colleges out there that do not offer the quality that I have seen here.”

And students’ results on the national exam support the acting director’s claim. Last year, 100 percent of LaGuardia’s 2010 vet tech graduates passed the exam on their first try at a time when only 70 percent of the nation’s vet tech students passed.


Dr. Catherine Reid, a veterinarian who has done extensive research on endangered species, has been named Acting Director of LaGuardia Community College’s Veterinary Technology program.



At The Queens Courier/Home Reporter’s “King of Kings County” event recently were Borough President Marty Markowitz; Philippa Karteron, Executive Director, Council for Airport Opportunity; City Council Speaker Christine Quinn; Malikka Karteron, Director of Education and Outreach, B’Above Worldwide Consortium; and Jacques Karteron, Treasurer, Guy R. Brewer United Democratic Club.