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Thread: FDNY Overhauling Upper Ranks

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    FDNY Overhauling Upper Ranks

    FDNY Overhauling Upper Ranks

    Mayor Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta on Wednesday announced widespread changes in the upper ranks of the Fire Department.

    Top commanders will now work more regular hours, and new commanders will be assigned to oversee each of the five boroughs. Bloomberg and Scoppetta said they hope the new structure, though decentralizing some responsibilities, will help the commissioner work in closer concert with his management team as a whole.

    "We will be able to take advantage of the expertise, the experience of our most senior chiefs in the department and bring them back into the daily management of every aspect of the department," Scoppetta said.

    Previously, regional commanders worked one 24-hour shift followed by three days off, meaning they were only at work 87 days a year. Now they will work a regular five-day week, covering a 24-hour shift once every two weeks.

    To accommodate the new positions and workload, eight more regional commanders will be appointed for a new total of 18.

    The changes come amid reports that several high-ranking officers are retiring and just before the release of a consultant

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    Bloomberg Announces a Revamped Fire Dept. Command Structure With More Chiefs

    Bloomberg Announces a Revamped Fire Dept. Command Structure With More Chiefs


    By AL BAKER


    The Fire Department's top management will be expanded and reorganized, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday, moves he said would improve day-to-day operations and make better use of the force's most experienced people.

    Standing next to Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta, the mayor outlined the changes at a news conference at the Fire Department's headquarters, in Brooklyn, where an escalating exodus of retiring senior commanders and rank-and-file firefighters has weighed heavily of late.

    Now, the officials said, the number of staff chiefs, who are the highest-ranking uniformed members of the department, will increase to 18 from 10. Five of those men will each be given direct authority over one of the city's five boroughs, instead of all being responsible for the entire city.

    The chiefs, who are among the department's senior surviving members, will also trade the timeworn practice of working 24 hours straight and then taking three days off for a five-day work week, the officials said. (Firefighters work a schedule of two 9-hour tours two days in a row followed by 48 hours off and then two consecutive 15-hour night tours followed by 72 hours off.)

    The changes are reminiscent of the decentralized command structure the department had in 1990, and will go into effect Sept. 1, said Francis X. Gribbon, the department's chief spokesman.

    Such a sweeping transformation is among the first of many changes expected for the department, which lost 343 members in the terrorist attack. It comes as a consultant's study of the department's response Sept. 11 has exposed many shortcomings, some of which the new borough commanders will play roles fixing, Mr. Scoppetta said.

    The changes, which Mr. Scoppetta said he had been thinking about since January, are in line with Mayor Bloomberg's style of management. He believes that managers must match their workaday schedules to the business cycles of the rest of society.

    "Its intent is to produce greater continuity in the day-to-day direction of field units and in management of a broad range of issues, including budget, personnel and planning," the mayor said. "It will create a new pool of senior borough commanders who will be on duty, day after day, instead of on a rotating 24-hour-shift basis."

    The two unions that oversee the department's more than 11,100 members said yesterday that the changes were an improvement.

    In a written statement, Capt. Peter L. Gorman, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, which represents 2,500 lieutenants, captains, battalion chiefs, deputy chiefs and others, criticized the Giuliani administration, which it said "systematically dismantled command and control of the F.D.N.Y." Union officials said 25 staff chiefs existed when former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani took office, and on Sept. 11, 11 remained. Two died that day.

    Stephen J. Cassidy, the president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, said the changes were a "no-brainer," but said they failed to fix what he called the core problem, the mass retirements.

    "That chain of command, of handing down that knowledge gained through the years from the senior firefighters and officers, will be broken unless the Bloomberg administration does something to stem the tide of retirements," Mr. Cassidy said.

    Changing the hierarchy is clearly a rejection of the view that senior staff chiefs best serve the department and the city by applying their experience to calamities, like subway derailments and explosions, rather than working mostly in administrative jobs, some former and current officials said yesterday.

    Former Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen had pushed for accountability and tighter management at the top, one former senior fire official said, and had wanted chiefs to work Monday through Friday. He did not want the staff chiefs, who will be paid about $143,000 annually, to do the kind of managerial tasks that they did not enjoy, or that were technically beyond them and that lower-paid officials could perform, the former official said.

    But the five new borough commanders and their deputy assistant chiefs will also respond to major emergencies, fire officials said.

    To cover every hour every day, each chief will also work one 24-hour citywide shift every two weeks. Seven of the 18 chiefs and all five deputies for the borough commanders have not yet been named.

    Commissioner Scoppetta said he would have more personal contact with the commanders, meeting with them as a group at least once a week and more frequently individually. His philosophy is that as a uniformed agency, the department must have many top chiefs engaged every day in running it, like the Police Department's approach.

    Assistant Chief Harold Meyers, a 34-year veteran who will be the Manhattan commander, said the new structure would keep top commanders from rushing to the scene of a catastrophe all at once, as happened on Sept. 11.

    Assistant Chief Joseph Callan, a 37-year veteran who will be the Bronx commander, said more chiefs spread throughout the city would foster the kind of human links necessary to defend against terrorism.

    In the past, "If there was something serious that happened and there were people that were injured or not available to do their job, we didn't have excess people available," he said. "Now we will. Now we will."



    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/08/nyregion/08FIRE.html

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    Bravest are reorganized

    Bravest are reorganized

    Staff chiefs to nearly double in attempt at better coverage

    By ALICE McQUILLAN
    DAILY NEWS POLICE BUREAU

    Being one of the city's Bravest has never been a 9-to-5 job, but the Fire Department had been taking that maxim to an extreme - having senior chiefs work 24 hours a day, then get three days off.
    City officials ended that practice yesterday as part of a reorganization launched after Sept. 11, when 343 members of the FDNY were lost.

    Mayor Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta, who announced the changes, said the number of staff chiefs would nearly double to 18 from 10 so the chiefs could become more involved in day-to-day operations.

    They also created five borough commander positions to "produce greater continuity in the day-to-day direction of field units and in management of a broad range of issues, including budget, personnel and planning," Bloomberg said.

    Scoppetta said the changes, which cost about $800,000, allow him better access to his most experienced staffers.

    "It is absolutely essential that we do this, especially at this time," he said.

    These changes resurrect a borough-based management system last used by the FDNY in the early '90s. Under the new system, the 18 staff chiefs will only work a 24-hour tour once every two weeks, and not have the three straight days off.

    9/11 review

    A private consultant has conducted a review of the FDNY's response on Sept. 11. The report by McKinsey & Co., expected to be released in the next few weeks, will make anumber of recommendations, including improvements to the FDNY's communications systems.

    Scoppetta also said the FDNY is keeping pace with a wave of retirements at all ranks, saying he has promoted 653 senior officers and hired 1,200 new firefighters since Sept. 11.

    Union officials disagreed, saying the FDNY is losing key veterans because their pension is based on their last year's salary, which has grown with disaster-related overtime.

    A new law would persuade firefighters to stay if they could secure their highest-earning 12 months for pension purposes, and then stay on the job beyond that, union officials said.

    FDNY officials said 661 firefighters of all ranks put in retirement papers through July of this year, while 274 retired over the same period the year before.



    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/story/9306p-8752c.html

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