Fardy To Would-be Mayors: Get Off Your Butts, Address Public Safety

police department
Bridgeport cop house not as full.

Retired city firefighter Andy Fardy writes if the potential candidates for mayor (crickets) won’t weigh in about public safety, he will. From Fardy:

It’s time for the mayoral candidates to step up and address public safety. To date none of the potential candidates have done so.

The Police Department is down from approximately 420 officers to a present day staff of 370. There is a class of 17 in training but that is just a drop in the bucket. The lack of officers is hurting the overtime budget thus hurting the taxpayers. Before the exodus of police officers due to retirements and leaving for other jobs we only had 21 patrol officers patrolling our streets per shift.

There seems to be two main reasons people are leaving the police department and they are morale and and the new lucrative pension system. First, morale is at an all-time low and the average cop feels he is being supervised to death and that may be true as we have 105 sergeants, lieutenants, Captains and Chiefs in a total force of 370.

The pension Finch and company negotiated allows officers to retire after 25 years with an average of the three largest-earning years. Here is an example, a patrolmen has three years in which he earns $100,000 per year, he retires with 25 years on the job, his pension will be $50,000. Under the old pension contract Finch got rid of, that same officer would have retired at $31,000. To add insult to injury, the officer can use their outside overtime to add to their pensions.

The problems facing the fire department came home to roost this past week. Previous mayors have closed down so many fire companies, we now depend on the surrounding towns to help us fight many of the fires we have today. But I believe and I could be wrong, the city has closed six fire companies in the last 20 years. They also have negotiated downward the number of men who man each piece of equipment. The fire department has the same pension as the police department but not the overtime the police department has.

There are other issues no one wants to address and that is a maximum age for public-safety candidates and areas where recruits come from.

First, maximum age limits are perfectly legal in the public-safety arena. We keep putting people on the police and fire department who are in their mid-40s and 50s. This is too old and in many cases the applicant will not be able to perform the job when they are 65 and still can’t retire.

The present class has two candidates in their 50s who will need to be 75 years old to retire. What 23-year-old thief are they going to chase down? Same with the fire department candidates in their 40s and 50s, just can’t do the job without jeopardizing themselves and those they work with. Hiring these older people also puts a strain on the pension system. Federal firefighters are required to retire at age 57.

Second, the candidate list is drawn from all over whereas in the past you had to be a Bridgeport resident. Why we went to the extreme and allow anyone from anywhere take the exams is beyond me. There is no Federal ruling that states you have to open up your testing to more than your residents. What’s wrong with hiring just Bridgeport residents, they know the city and more so they know the people who live here. The public safety contracts allow police and fire to live outside the city but who knows, maybe the city candidates will stay. We need to put our citizens to work.



  1. How does putting age limits at mid-30s contribute to the effort of getting more qualified folks interested in BPD? I understand where you are coming from, but with the public safety situation we currently face, isn’t it counterintuitive to narrow the playing field? If folks in their 40s and early 50s can pass the same physical and written testing requirements as younger candidates, what makes them less qualified?

    The pension and overtime situations are a different story. The pension and overtime situations are kind of a byproduct of the shortage, no?

    What about property tax incentives for recruits if they live here?

    Clearly I am not in the know, and there are likely many complexities my limited understanding is not taking into account, but from a simple sideline perspective, this is what I see and it looks like a cluster f..k.

  2. Mustang Sally, while it is true a candidate in their 50s may pass the physical agility test, it’s what happens in the intervening years that presents a problem. In 10 years this 45- or 50-year-old will be 60 years old and too old to function in these very demanding jobs. I can tell you from experience I could not do a firefighters job in my 50s or 60s.

  3. Andy,
    Thank you for raising questions as to long-term physicality of public-safety candidates. You also have raised the issue of retirement plans that have been settled on the taxpayers but the consequences of paying for them, or even being alert to how they are doing, are withheld from public information flows.

    As an idea why don’t Bill K. and Brett B., mouthpieces for the Police and Mayor’s office, look up the latest funding plans for Pension A, Pension B Police and Pension B Fire, which continue to be handled by the City. Then let’s look at the annual funding requirements for Fire and Police in the State MERF system. As the City puts in money along with employee contributions, who is on the hook for the retirement income increases Fardy talks about if overtime earned while active doubles the base pay that comes to Plan B retirees?

    Finally, how does the City agreement to use Police officers to handle traffic disrupting contracting activities work out in the light of future MERF payouts to retirees? Do current charges to contractors fully cover ALL POTENTIAL CITY MERF FUNDING OBLIGATIONS? Will Bill and Brett report on this topic? It’s for the public benefit of taxpayers who are paying their salaries today. Will it build better relations? With whom? Time will tell.

  4. The City under the leadership of David Dunn changed the entire testing process for the Bridgeport Fire Department. The City uses the Candidate Physical Ability Test, this test has eight different steps that must be passed and all eight of these steps are what firefighters would do and more importantly they use fire department equipment. Well this gives volunteer firefighters an unfair advantage because they can practice this test any time they want. Volunteer firefighters are all people who do not reside in Bridgeport. Bridgeport candidates don’t have the ability to practice on that type of equipment. There is a cost to take CPAT, at $150-plus you had to pay $45 to take the firefighter exam, now the City got federal money to give the exam so Bridgeport was making money giving the exam. Back to Candidate Physical Ability Test, the so-called reason for giving that test is they were getting the physical firefighter but that test is only one to those new firefighters, one year that firefighter could gain 60 pounds because it wouldn’t matter because he will never have to pass that test again, plus all the current firefighters on the job have never taken CPAT and never will, so why give that test?

  5. One of the glaring problems Andy alluded to is the hiring of people who don’t live here, don’t pay taxes here and those who have no interest in making Bridgeport their home. The fire department just hired nine people, three residents and six non-residents. One of those residents was fired after two weeks in training because it was said he couldn’t handle the training. How could they evaluate this person’s fitness to be a firefighter after just two weeks? Did I mention this kid was Latino?

    With the substandard education Bridgeport youth receive, how in hell do they compete with suburban white males for jobs in the city where they grew up, were educated and pay taxes?

    It’s obvious Mayor Finch does not have the best interest of the residents or the City of Bridgeport in mind with his hiring of public safety personnel.

    Bridgeport, you deserve better than you are getting.

  6. DBA David J. Dunn Consulting, 3380 Main Street, Stratford, CT 06614, 203-378-6857, Really! David J. Dunn, Provisional Director of Civil Service, Bridgeport, CT 06604. Really!

    David Dunn, a protégé of Mayor Mandinici, was actively involved in the fight against the integration of the Bridgeport Fire Department. Enough said! Same guy hired his own daughter to work for him in Civil Service. Nepotism at its worst!

    The Common Council must take a stand on the hiring issue of out-of-town firefighter candidates as well as the CPAT. There should be absolutely no more FD hires until both of these issues are corrected to benefit the city, its residents and its taxpayers. When Jack Colligan was CS Director the issue of granting 10% to city residents was accomplished. And it wasn’t because Jack wanted it or Rooney! You must deal with Dunn and Rooney the same way. Look, the fire chief doesn’t think enough of the city to live there, but gets a pension payment plus a salary. Who are the fools in this scenario? The fire chief doesn’t have the required credentials to be a chief officer in the two cities that border BPT, much less be their fire chief. How many deputy chiefs and assistant chiefs live in the city? Not many!

    The Bridgeport Fire Department has outsourced/contracted its fire department to non-residents who pay no city taxes and have zero stake in the city. The same firefighters who demand good wages and benefits to cover them and their families. How many fires occur where they live or illegally volunteer too? Do you think their kids go to underserved or underfunded schools? Doubt it! Do you think their town taxes are high? Doubt it! Do you think their insurance premiums are high? Doubt it! Do you think their kids have plenty of after school activities? Probably! And as a city resident you get the shaft. How does it feel?

    The CPAT, the IAFFs and any local union that allows it … is the practice of slowing the integration of fire departments across the nation. A one-day physical agility exam whose results are good for one year from date of passing the exam. So pass it today 9/18/14 and you’re good ’til 9/18/15. Great, so how does it determine if you will be a good firefighter. Listen up, it doesn’t! All it means on 9/18/14 you passed the CPAT. The CPAT is the lazy fire department’s way of preparing candidates both physically and mentally for the stresses of firefighting. Hello Bridgeport! So after 9/18/14 be a slug and hopefully Bridgeport will hire you before your year is up.

    The Common Council needs to and must take a stand for its residents; tell Finch, Rooney and Dunn no more. We are going in another direction, which improves the lives of our residents. Enough with the outsourcing of our fire department.


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