Official Statements

August 31, 2017 - Official Statement on the Return of Medical Unit 78

After being out of service for six years, Medical Unit 78 has returned to service at 144th and Corby St., effective September 1, 2017. The return of M78 will provide improved response times to the citizens of northwest Omaha, ensuring the exemplary level of emergency services that Omahans expect of their first responders.

Our goal is to always protect our members and the public by exceeding national standards for response times and quality of emergency services, but the absence of M78 has made it difficult to do so in certain parts of the city. Since the last time M78 was in service, medic call volume has increased by 19 percent. Where we once had one medic unit that exceeded 4000 calls yearly, we now have four. Local 385 has advocated for the return of a med unit to northwest Omaha for years, and we support the mayor and chief’s decision in this regard. M78 will immediately have a positive impact on the lives of the citizens that we are sworn to protect.

Sincerely,
Steve LeClair
President, Omaha Professional Fire Fighters, Local 385



May 3, 2017 - Official Statement on Fire Fighters for Better Government

The ad created by Fire Fighters for Better Government is factual, accurate and properly cited, and I stand firmly behind it. I have attached the script citation herein. As recently as last night, there were “no cars available city-wide.” The Mayor’s reckless annexation plan with no regard for a correlating build-up of vital city services has stretched all departments too thin.

The backlash to this ad is an attempt by the Mayor to distract the citizens of Omaha from the weak public safety policies she has implemented over the past four years, and an ineffective attempt to deflect blame for the fact that there are no cars available for citizens, fire fighters and police on a daily basis. However, as you see in the ad, there are always cars available to patrol the Mayor’s gated community 9-15 times per day. If the Mayor and the Chief are so concerned about crime that her gated community requires this amount of special attention, then neither one of them is doing their job. One advantage to the Mayor living in a gated community is that if she is so concerned about crime, she can close the gate. Most Omahans do not have that luxury.

I am disappointed that the Mayor and Chief Schmaderer have chosen to politicize the recent events in Pottawattamie County by introducing those tragic events into political discourse in Omaha. The Mayor and Chief Schmaderer are fully aware that the commercial in question was produced weeks ago and that the media buy was made last week. Furthermore, it is woefully inappropriate that the Mayor’s campaign representatives asked Chief Schmaderer to call me last week and ask me to pull the ad.

It would serve the Mayor and Chief Schmaderer well to remember that the Chief of Police is a classified position, with civil service protection, not a political appointment. The Chief of Police serves the citizens, not the Mayor. I think Omaha deserves better from its leaders.

Sincerely,
Steve LeClair
President, Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association



May 2, 2017 - Official Statement from President Steve LeClair on passing of Deputy Mark Burbridge


On behalf of the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association, Local 385, I would like to express 
our most sincere condolences to the Pottawattamie County Sheriff Department and the loved ones 
and family of Deputy Mark Burbridge who was tragically killed in the line of duty today. We also 
express our condolences and wishes for a quick recovery to Deputy Pat Morgan, who was injured 
during the same tragedy that took Deputy Burbridge’s life.

Police officers and first responders put their lives on the line every time they put on a uniform, 
and we are proud to stand side-by-side in our shared mission to protect and serve others. 
This is a tragic loss and a sad day for our community. Please join us in fully supporting 
Deputy Burbridge’s fellow officers and family as they mourn this tragic loss.

Sincerely,
Steve LeClair
President, Omaha Professional Fire Fighters, Local 385


March 14, 2017 - Official Statement from President Steve LeClair Announcing Endorsement of Heath Mello

I’m Steve LeClair, president of the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association.

Today, I’m pleased to formally announce that the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association has voted to endorse Heath Mello for Mayor of Omaha.

This endorsement comes after a lengthy and thorough vetting process. After careful consideration, we believe Heath Mello is the candidate who is most dedicated to keeping our first responders safe, and maintaining excellence in public safety for residents in all Omaha ZIP codes.

Heath’s record speaks for itself:

  • During his time in the Nebraska legislature, Mr. Mello consistently voted in support of public safety issues.
  • Mello has a record of supporting defined benefit pensions, and has supported hearings in the retirement committee by offering positive testimony in favor of maintaining the pension structure best suited for public safety workers and their families.
  • He also introduced LB278, a 2009 legislative bill that allowed fire fighters to collect money on our city streets for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for degenerative muscle disorders that we have supported for more than 60 years. That bill passed with zero opposing votes.
    • Unfortunately, Mayor Stothert championed local legislation that opposed MDA and cost $45,000 in donations in 2010. That money wasn’t going anywhere other than to fund research, treatment and programs for children suffering from muscular dystrophy. Opposing such legislation really has no place in our great city.

With Heath Mello, Omaha has the opportunity to be led by a mayor who exemplifies our city’s values. Mr. Mello has a long history of working on tough issues across all parties, resulting in solutions that are in the best interests of the people. In addition, he has a keen understanding of finances and an ability to manage a city budget – without compromising public safety.

Heath Mello also has the highest regard for processes and understands the importance of following them, as opposed to our current mayor, who chose to disregard a city ordinance with her recent appointment to the position of fire chief. Although we respect the office of fire chief, we do not support or agree with the political, decision-making process that led to the appointment.

Over the years, we have raised numerous public safety concerns with Mayor Stothert. All of the ways in which she has disregarded our concerns will no longer be an issue with Heath Mello in office.

Heath supports the need for additional medic units, especially in northwest Omaha, where preliminary numbers from a national study, as well as the Omaha Fire Department’s own statistics, show an immediate need for additional medic units. Since 2009, when Mayor Stothert sat on the City Council, calls for ambulance service have increased by 26%, while the number of medic units remains the same. Providing additional resources is a critical step in maintaining excellence in emergency response services in an area of the city that continues to grow.

When we tried to engage Mayor Stothert in a discussion about adding medic units in this part of the city, it took a formal public records request, a Freedom of Information Act request, and one full year before the requested information was provided.

Heath Mello understands that, when it comes to keeping response times down in all parts of the city, these matters are of critical urgency. There is no reason a request of this type should take one year to fulfill, unless the administration has something to hide.

Heath Mello will bring transparency and a sense of urgency back to the mayor’s office. His record as a well-respected and effective Nebraska state senator shows us that he will also bring back a willingness to work with others. By contrast, Mayor Stothert’s unwillingness to negotiate with any opinion that differs from her own, only hurts the citizens and public safety workers she is supposed to be leading.

If you live in Omaha, if you raise your family in Omaha, if you think your life, your home, or your livelihood could ever be impacted in a way that requires the services of emergency personnel, then you should also vote Heath Mello – the candidate who values public safety and those who put their lives on the line every day to provide it – for Mayor of Omaha.



March 7, 2017 - Statement on Mayoral Endorsement

On February 3, 2017, the Political Action Committee of Local 385 forwarded a candidate questionnaire to Mayor Jean Stothert, along with other candidates for Mayor. After nearly three weeks of not hearing from the Mayor, the committee went forth with interviews, and the endorsement of Mr. Mello was made at the February 21 and 22 union meetings.

On March 3, 2017, Mayor Stothert’s campaign communicated to the PAC that the Mayor would like to participate in the interview process. On March 6, 2017, the Mayor commented to the media that she was unhappy that the Fire Fighters Association endorsed a Mayoral candidate without giving her an opportunity to interview.

First, there was ample time for the Mayor to respond, and, for whatever reason, she or her campaign chose not to send back the questionnaire until it was general knowledge throughout the fire service that Local 385 had endorsed Mr. Mello.

Second, it can hardly be a surprise to Mayor Stothert that the Association’s endorsement did not go her way.  Her track record on public safety, and particularly the fact that she did not respond to our questionnaire or participate in the interview process in 2013, should have left little doubt in her mind that she would receive the endorsement of Local 385. Her voting record on the Council in bringing fire fighters off the streets after 50 years of collecting for the MDA, her status as the only mayor in Omaha history under the Charter system to issue layoff notices to Firefighters, and her failure to adhere to the Contract she negotiated while on the Council when it came to national standards relative to staffing and response capacity are all factors that are not lost of the members of our Association. Mayor Stothert’s body of work has been one of contention and division, and while we proudly serve the citizens of Omaha no matter who serves as Mayor, when it comes to choosing who should be selected by the voters to hold the highest office in City Government, it is that body of work that will inform our opinion – not political expediency.

Sincerely,Steve LeClairPresident, Omaha Professional Fire Fighters, Local 385



February 14, 2017 - Legal Action Filed Against Mayor Stothert

On Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, legal action was filed challenging Mayor Stothert’s decision to appoint a Fire Chief of the Omaha Fire Department in violation of city code. It is our belief that the City has violated portions of the Omaha Municipal Code, including section 23-232 by misinterpreting the “rule of four” to achieve an outcome that was predetermined.

On behalf of the 630 men and women of Local 385, I can confidently say that our membership is not satisfied with the explanation the City has provided in support of its interpretation of the rule of four. Filing this complaint is a necessary step in order to achieve a resolution on questions surrounding the propriety of the Mayor’s decision-making process.

Local 385 demands transparency and fairness, in all promotional processes, department-wide. With inconsistency in the interpretation of the rule of four, it is impossible for me to assure our members that the promotional processes in which they will one day participate are fair, transparent and impartial. This filing is necessary to maintain the integrity and validity of all promotions within the Omaha Fire Department.

I will provide updates as this process unfolds.

Sincerely,Steve LeClairPresident, Omaha Professional Fire Fighters, Local 385

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



January 27, 2017 - Statement Regarding Passing of Salvatore Fidone III

From Steve LeClair, president of Local 385: On behalf of the men and women of the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association, Local 385, I would like to express condolences to the family, friends and co-workers of Salvatore Fidone III. City workers, like Salvatore and thousands of others, risk their safety every day in order to make our community a better place. Although inherent risk remains in many of the public services provided to the people of Omaha, the dedication of the men and women who do those jobs every day will serve as a reminder of the service provided by Salvatore, and all those who have gone before him in the line of duty.

 

 



December 28, 2016 - Chief Olsen Appointment

We acknowledge Chief Olsen’s service to the City of Omaha and we will continue to work with him to protect the interests of the 630 men and women who serve our city as members of the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association.

Our members demand transparency and fairness throughout the promotional process and expect that those values were followed during the Mayor’s selection of the Chief of the Department. Two of our members were among the final four candidates. Those members, the members-at-large of the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters, and the general public should demand assurance that the process the Mayor followed was fair and impartial.

Regardless of who the Mayor has selected as Fire Chief, the process used to select him, and her reasons for doing so, our primary goal is to protect our members and the public and exceed the national standards when it comes to response times and quality of emergency services. We will carry on that mission today, tomorrow and in the future.

I will take questions from the media at 2:30 p.m. today at the Fire Union Hall at 60th & Grover.

Sincerely,Steve LeClairPresident, Omaha Professional Fire Fighters, Local 385



June 22, 2016 - Engine 3 Accident

 

This morning, Engine 3 was responding to a medical emergency call when it was involved in an accident with a civilian driving a personal vehicle near 15th & Leavenworth Streets. The four fire fighters on Engine 3, along with the civilian, suffered injuries and were transported to area hospitals. Additionally, a nearby building was hit and damaged by the fire truck.

The fire fighters involved in the accident immediately began rendering care to the civilian, in spite of their own personal injuries, until additional response units arrived on the scene. I could not be prouder of the selflessness, heart and determination those fire fighters put forth in a deeply unfortunate and accidental situation.  We are hopeful that everyone involved in today’s accident will make a full and timely recovery.

Sincerely,

Steve LeClair
President
Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association, Local 385



February 24, 2016 - Chief Kanger Retirement

We acknowledge and thank Chief Kanger for his years of service to the City of Omaha. However, the duty of the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association is to protect our members and provide excellence in emergency services to the people of Omaha, regardless of who is serving as Chief of the Fire Department.

We look forward to continuing that mission today, tomorrow and in the future. On behalf of the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association, I thank the Omaha community for their continued support.

Sincerely,
Steve LeClair
President, Omaha Professional Fire Fighters, Local 385



January 26, 2016 - Heafey Heafey Hoffman

We were reminded once again by the fire this morning at Heafey Heafey Hoffman that firefighting is a dangerous job.

Fortunately, those who were injured today will make a full – and hopefully a speedy – recovery. Please keep our fire fighters and civilian in your thoughts as they recover. We extend our sincere gratitude to the University of Nebraska Medical Center and their entire staff for providing the injured with such excellent care.

On behalf of the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association, Local 385, I thank the Omaha community for their continued support as we continue to work hard every day, in all kinds of conditions, to keep our city safe.

Sincerely,
Steve LeClair
President, Omaha Professional Fire Fighters, Local 385



January 11, 2016 - Old Market

On behalf of the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association, Local 385, I would like to offer our sincere gratitude to the people of Omaha and the local businesses that supported us as our fire fighter Brothers and Sisters battled frigid temperatures and an aggressive fire at M’s Pub in the Old Market on Saturday and Sunday.

The support of our community affirms our dedication to providing the exemplary services Omahans have come to expect of their emergency personnel. I am proud not only of the effort put forth by our fire fighters, but I also could not be more proud of the way our city united.

It is our hope that the residences, M’s Pub and the other Old Market businesses impacted by the devastation of this fire rebuild as they recognize how important their presence has been to the history and livelihood of Omaha.

Let us not forget the individuals who lost their homes and possessions who are now displaced as a result of this fire. We keep them in our thoughts and prayers, now and always.

Sincerely,
Steve LeClair
President, Omaha Professional Fire Fighters, Local 385



May 20, 2015 - Officer Kerrie Orozco

On behalf of the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association, Local 385, I would like to express our most sincere condolences to the Omaha Police Department, the Omaha Police Union, and the loved ones and family of Officer Kerrie Orozco, who was tragically killed in the line of duty this afternoon.

Our police officers put their lives on the line for the citizens of Omaha every day, and we will always be proud to stand by their side and support their mission to provide excellence in public safety. We are extremely saddened by the tragedy of this loss, which will be felt by the community for many years to come.

It is a sad day for our city, our police officers and all of the public safety officials who risk their lives to protect others. Please join us in fully supporting Officer Orozco’s fellow officers and family as they mourn this tragic loss.

Sincerely,
Steve LeClair
President, Omaha Professional Fire Fighters, Local 385



April 30, 2015 - Vote Passes

I am pleased to announce that the members of the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association have voted to ratify a tentative agreement that was reached with the City of Omaha on March 20, 2015. This agreement was reached through careful negotiations on complicated issues by both sides, and I commend both negotiating teams for their hard work and perseverance. I also thank the membership for carefully considering the issues and voting to ratify the agreement that both sides worked so hard to reach.

The tentative agreement maintains the exemplary quality of emergency services that Omahans have come to expect from their emergency service providers. In this four-year agreement, service to the citizens of Omaha will be maintained and even improved with the addition of a new Truck. Our fire fighters can work without fear of layoffs, and we are proud to announce that we will add a new recruit class in 2016.

In addition, we are pleased that the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association will be taking on the management of healthcare for its members beginning in 2016, which will keep costs level for the City. This was a solution that the Union brought to the negotiating table in the best interest of our members and taxpayers. We are proud to be the first and only city union in Omaha that is able to offer these cost-cutting measures.

The Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association negotiated this agreement with the City in good faith and with the protection of all Firefighters and citizens of Omaha, in mind. We are eager to move forward now that the tentative agreement has been ratified and look forward to City Council approval and to continuing our commitment to our members, the City of Omaha, and its citizens.

-Steve LeClair, President of Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association



March 20, 2015 - Tentative Agreement Reached

I am pleased to announce that the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association has reached a tentative agreement with the City of Omaha. This agreement is tentative pending approval by the membership of the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters, the City of Omaha Personnel Board and the Omaha City Council. This agreement was reached through careful negotiations on complicated issues by both sides and I commend both negotiating teams for their hard work and perseverance.

First and foremost, the tentative agreement maintains the exemplary quality of emergency services that Omahans have come to expect from their emergency service providers. In this four-year agreement, service to the citizens of Omaha will be maintained and improved upon with a new truck company being added. Our fire fighters can work without fear of layoffs, and we are proud to announce that we will add a new recruit class in 2016.

In addition, we are pleased to announce that the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association will be taking on the management of healthcare for its members beginning in 2016, which will keep costs level for the City. This was a solution that the Union brought to the negotiating table in the best interest of taxpayers and our members. We are proud to be the first and only city union in Omaha that is able to offer these cost-cutting measures.

The Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association negotiated this agreement with the City in good faith and with the protection of all citizens, and our firefighters, in mind. We are eager to move forward now that a tentative agreement has been reached and look forward to continuing our commitment to our members, the City of Omaha, and its citizens.

-Steve LeClair, President of Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association



October 21, 2014 - Official Statement

The Omaha Professional Fire Fighters, IAFF L385, strongly supports the City Council’s vote this afternoon to remove the City of Omaha’s final offer from the consent agenda of today’s City Council meeting.

The decision to layover the City’s final contract offer until a future meeting allows our organization to continue conducting good faith negotiations that maintain the excellence in emergency response services that Omahans deserve. We look forward to reaching an agreement that is fair to both the citizens we serve as well as the fire fighters who protect them.

Steve LeClair, President



September 10, 2014 - 9/11 Serves as a Reminder that Fire Fighters Risk it All

Thirteen years ago this week, 343 fire fighters died in one day as a result of the 9/11 terrorist
attacks. The lives of the fire fighters who survived are still at risk as a result of being there that
day because of their increased odds of cancers such as thyroid, prostate and multiple myeloma,
asthma, congestive heart failure, PTSD, and other potentially devastating illnesses.

And yet, despite knowing they might die, despite having families at home that they loved, despite
being there to experience first-hand the horror that had the whole country reeling, these men and
women did not turn their backs on the danger and fear. They jumped right in, over and over
again, for days and weeks, sometimes with no relief. Many who weren’t even from NYC
volunteered to be there.

Not everyone in the world can be the person who rushes in when others are rushing out, but
that’s what fire fighters are. I observed the first responders from my television here in Omaha
that day, and right after that I re-enlisted in the Army Reserves (I had served for eight years in the
late ‘80s, early ‘90s). Within a year, I decided to become a fire fighter myself.

No one becomes a fire fighter for the money, the benefits or the social status. It is because we
feel a strong and sincere commitment to helping our community. We enjoy having the
opportunity to save or make a difference in someone’s life when they are in their darkest
moment.

We also have families that we need to provide for, and whose future we need to know will be
secure if we die on the job or contract a job-related illness. The reality is that about 100 fire
fighters die while putting out fires every year, and that our kids learn from an early age that when
Dad or Mom goes to work, there’s a chance that we might not come home. They also know we
have a shorter-than-average life expectancy.

On 9/11 and every day that surrounds it, we hope you will take a moment to remember the fire
fighters who have made the ultimate sacrifice, whether fighting a fire here in Omaha or
elsewhere. We are all prepared to make that same sacrifice, every day, if it means keeping you
and your loved ones safe.

Steve LeClair
President, Local 385



May 30, 2014 - Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association Mourns Loss of Scott Petersen

Scott PetersenThe Omaha Professional Firefighters Association, Local 385, is deeply saddened by the passing of our Brother, Fire Fighter Scott Petersen. Scott was a devoted family man and highly respected friend, and he worked hard to protect our city throughout his 7 year career with the Omaha Fire Department. With his tragic passing, we mourn for his family and for those who knew and loved Scott. On behalf of the family, we ask that you respect their privacy during this devastating time.

Sincerely,
Steve E. LeClair
President Local 385



April 22, 2014 - Nebraska Legislature Passes LB 811

On behalf of The Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association, I am pleased to see our state senators at the Nebraska Legislature pass LB 811, which will make assaulting a firefighter, paramedic or social worker carry a stiffer penalty, similar to those already in place for the crime of assault on a police officer.

We especially would like to thank state Sen. Steve Lathrop for his work introducing the bill and helping advance it through the legislature.

This bill not only applies to emergency response personnel but also provides protection to out-of-hospital care workers and employees of state corrections and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

It is our hope that this law never has to be enforced, but unfortunately we saw the need for such a law last summer. In July 2013, one of our members, a paramedic, was shot in the back of an ambulance by the patient he was called upon to help. In January, the woman who fired at him was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Protecting our members and the safety of all the citizens we serve is our top priority, and the passing of LB 811 will help us do just that.

Steve LeClair
President



December 6, 2013 - Vote Outcome

The Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association is pleased to announce that its members voted tonight to accept the tentative agreement developed with the City of Omaha and Mayor Jean Stothert.

This tentative agreement maintains the exemplary quality of emergency services that Omahans have come to expect; no rigs will be taken out of service, and no fire stations will be closed. Additionally, the tentative agreement extends layoff protection to all fire fighters who were employed as of Feb. 4, 2013.

The Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association negotiated this deal in good faith and with the protection of all citizens – and our fire fighters – in mind. We are eager to finalize the tentative agreement and look forward to approval by the Omaha City Council.

–Steve LeClair, President



November 13, 2013 - Tentative Agreement Reached


I am pleased to announce that the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association has reached a tentative agreement with the City of Omaha that is in the best interest of the citizens we dedicate our lives to serving every day. This agreement is tentative pending approval by the membership of the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association, the City of Omaha Personnel Board and the Omaha City Council.

First and foremost, the tentative agreement maintains the exemplary quality of emergency services that Omahans have come to expect from their emergency service providers. In this agreement, no fire trucks or ambulances will be taken out of service, response times will not be affected and no fire stations will be closed. These policies will stand until the current agreement is replaced by a successor agreement.

The agreement also allows the 19 fire fighters whose jobs were on the line to maintain their positions as Omaha fire fighters. The tentative agreement extends layoff protection to all fire fighters who were employed as of Feb. 4, 2013.

The Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association negotiated this deal with the City in good faith and with the protection of all citizens — and our fire fighters — in mind. We are eager to move forward now that a tentative agreement has been reached and look forward to continuing our commitment to the City of Omaha and its people.



November 8, 2013 - Updates

The following is a statement from Steve LeClair, president of the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association:

News reports that the city has accepted the counter offer made by the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association’s are false. An agreement has not been finalized.

As I stated during our news conference this morning, we received a new offer from Mayor Stothert with additional conditions, and we are considering it.

We will continue to negotiate in good faith with public safety remaining our top priority.