JAMES LEMONDA: Speaks of challenges ahead.

FDNY Battalion Chief James "Jake" Lemonda was unanimously re-elected as the president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association at its annual reorganization meeting Sept. 1.

He has held the post since 2014.

"It is truly an honor and a privilege," Mr. Lemonda said during a phone interview. "In the year ahead, we will be facing many challenges and I am just thankful to have such a committed and talented executive board behind me."

Uncertain Times

Mr. Lemonda was re-elected as the prospect of the city laying off 22,000 city civil servants looms minus any action in Albany or Washington to help the city close its $9-billion coronavirus-related budget hole.

Union sources close to the negotiations between the Municipal Labor Committee and the de Blasio administration reported "slow" progress on identifying $1 billion in immediate savings to stave off the layoffs.

For the first time in nearly 20 years, the city's uniformed ranks are concerned about layoffs or possible demotions.

"Obviously the challenges before us have been the fiscal crisis that the city and the state have been plummeted into due to the COVID pandemic," Mr. Lemonda said. "And as committed union members, we will work alongside the city while at the same time protecting the benefits of our members that they have rightfully earned."

Firefighters Spared

While several members of the Emergency Medical Service have died from the virus, there have been no deaths among firefighters, although at the height of the outbreak in April, thousands of employees from both groups were sidelined.

Mr. Lemonda said the union was closely monitoring any potential long-term health complications.

"Right now, the data is raw. Any case is significant and the UFOA will be working alongside the Bureau of Health Services and other health professionals and we will be watching this very closely," he said.

The UFOA president noted that even though 9/11 was 19 years ago, some of his members were still dying from the toxins they inhaled while working at the World Trade Center searching for remains.

Referring to a memorial ceremony Sept. 9 honoring a recent group of post-9/11 casualties. Mr. Lemonda said "that wall of names continues to grow, and there is no doubt we continue to pay that price." 

While 343 members of the FDNY died on 9/11, the FDNY estimates that more than 225 have died from WTC-related illnesses since.

Among the 27 names added to the FDNY World Trade Center Memorial Wall were these UFOA members:

Capt. Robert E. Collis, Engine 304;

Lieut. Richard G. Estreicher, Engine 248;

Capt. Dennis M. Gilhooly, Engine 67;

Lieut. Paul W. Deo, Jr., Engine 317;

Battalion Chief Dennis J. Moynihan, Battalion 18;

Lieut. Kevin C. Dunn, Engine 251.

The UFOA represents about 2,600 members, including Lieutenants, Captains, Battalion Chiefs, Deputy Chiefs, Supervising Fire Marshals and Medical Officers. 

In addition to Mr. Lemonda, the UFOA executive board includes: George Farinacci, vice president; Jim McCarthy, treasurer; Jim Brosi, recording secretary; Chris Jensen, financial secretary; Kevin Judson, sergeant-at-arms, and pension trustees Jack Kielty, Liam Guilfoyle, and Paul Mannix.

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