NY town's fire contract removes chief from union

The tentative agreement would remove Troy Fire Department Chief Thomas Garrett from the union, and require him to reach his own agreement with the city

By Kenneth C. Crowe II
Times Union

TROY, N.Y. — The city’s second-highest paid employee in 2017 will soon be without union protection if the City Council approves a new contract Thursday with the Uniform Fire Chiefs Association.

The tentative agreement signed by Mayor Patrick Madden and Deputy Fire Chief Dave Paul, president of the UFCA, would remove Fire Chief Thomas Garrett from the union. Garrett would have to reach his own contract agreement with Madden’s administration after he leaves the UFCA on Feb. 8, 2019.

Troy Fire Dept. Chief Thomas Garrett will soon be without union protection if a new contract is approved. (Photo/TFD)
Troy Fire Dept. Chief Thomas Garrett will soon be without union protection if a new contract is approved. (Photo/TFD)

Garrett, who has been chief since 1996, would become a management employee and no longer covered by the contract’s overtime provisions. This would put the fire chief in the same category as the police chief – relying on an individual contract.

The city's budget showed Garrett's budgeted base salary at $103,245 compared to $135,600 for Police Chief Brian Owens. In the past, overtime and other payments resulted in Garrett making the same or more than the police chief. Garrett earned $146,617 in 2017.

Garrett referred all questions about the contract to Paul.

The fire chief title was to come out of the contract when Garrett retired, Paul said. The provision as part of a new contract sped up the process, said Paul, who declined to offer any further explanation.

This will be the first contract between the UFCA and the city since the last one expired on Dec. 31, 2010.  The new contract would run through Dec. 31, 2022.

Garrett celebrated the start of his 46th years as a Troy firefighter Monday.  His first day on the job was Dec. 3, 1973.

“Effective February 8, 2019 the title “Fire Chief” shall be removed from the UFCA and shall not be represented by the UFCA. The Fire Chief shall have a separate employment contract with the City Of Troy. Said contract shall be personal to the individual named in the contract and will not pass forward to the benefit of their successor,” the contract provision reads.

A spokesman for Madden did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the new contract provisions regarding the fire chief.

“It’s a good deal,” Paul said regarding the overall contract which will cover the assistant fire chief, deputy fire chief and four battalion chiefs.

The contract continues provisions for the chiefs to receive the same pay raises as the Uniformed Firefighters Association, which represents the city’s rank and file department members; pay the chiefs the same paramedic rate as the firefighters; increase health insurance co-pays; and shall pay the health insurance costs for a spouse if a UFCA member is killed in the line of duty or dies after retiring.

Copyright 2018 Times Union

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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