9/11 FDNY Firefighters Deserve Rehabilitation, not Termination
  • Petitioning Mayor de Blasio & FDNY Commissioner

This petition will be delivered to:

Mayor de Blasio & FDNY Commissioner

9/11 FDNY Firefighters Deserve Rehabilitation, not Termination

    1. Jessica Locke
    2. Petition by

      Jessica Locke

      watertown, MA

This petition questions the terminations of 9/11 FDNY firefighters under the current Zero Tolerance Policy for substance abuse. As it stands now, a first offense is punished by termination with no opportunity for rehabilitation back into the firehouse. The policy does  not recognize the unprecedented events of 9/11 and does not address the extreme problem of Post Traumatic Stress disorder within the fire department. The punishment of termination and loss of benefits is harsh, severe and inhumane, considering the context of what these firefighters have been through.

I have been a volunteer working with these firefighters since 2002. I am deeply troubled by this policy and the terminations, knowing how incredibly heroic these men are and how selflessly they served the City after 9/11.

The stigma surrounding counseling is overwhelming within the fire department. The culture is one where firefighters are strong, and they handle things on their own or internally. If a firefighter sought counseling, it meant he was weak and couldn’t be relied upon at a fire. The motto is “I got it”. They do not want their fellow firefighters to detect a dent in their armor. They feel they are supposed to be able to handle even the most traumatic events on their own. That’s what they do. They handle things.

These firefighters attended over a hundred funerals, lost countless friends and colleagues, were exposed to dangerous toxins while cleaning up the World Trade Center site and still did their jobs. But they are not flawless, and as one compassionate judge stated, “Even the bravest can be broken.”

Men who did make their way to the Counseling Services Unit were met with student interns, instead of top level medical professionals. Records were lost, confidentiality was violated. Men looking for help were met with staff equally traumatized and ill-equipped to deal with the situation. The student interns were not qualified to diagnose or treat PTSD.

This coupled with the fact that the Counseling Services Unit was located over a firehouse (which meant confidentiality was impossible to achieve), it is reasonable to conclude any efforts to bring these men to the CSU after 9/11 would fail, leaving these men to deal with the events and their stresses on their own.

The suicide rate within the FDNY is currently the highest ever in the department’s history. This is perhaps the most troubling issue, and the biggest indicator something is terribly wrong. The effects of a Zero Tolerance policy that strips a firefighter of his job, his benefits and his pension with no offer of rehabilitation or a second chance can only add to the increase in this statistic.

So much senior talent was lost to the FDNY on 9/11. Would it not make sense to preserve the senior talent that is still there? Let us not waste the valuable experience these men bring to a job where experience means the difference between life and death.

This petition asks that you authorize the FDNY Commissioner to change the penalty for substance abuse from one of termination to one of rehabilitation and give these firefighters a second chance. The policy does not work, it is cruel, and it does not take into consideration the contribution and sacrifices these men made, the horrors that they have been through or the culture of the organization they love. Stripping these men of their jobs, their benefits and their retirement dismisses everything they have done in their careers and their commitment to the job. It unfairly penalizes both them and their families.

Mr. Mayor, I respectfully ask that you amend this policy. Put firefighters back to work who can be rehabilitated, and grant those who cannot work the rights to their benefits and their pension. It is just the right thing to do.

Jessica Locke
Executive Director, Jessica Locke Firefighters Fund

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 2,000 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Edward Fahey PATERSON, NJ
      • 5 days ago

      I am one of these mem

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • julie foti NEW SMYRNA BEACH, FL
      • 23 days ago

      my best friend was fired the day after the one year anniversary for a "not random drug test" a proud and dedicated fireman for 19 1/2 years....that's how NY thanks their heroes

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
      • 9 months ago

      yes

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • SCULLY JONPAUL CORNWALL NY, NY
      • 10 months ago

      I am a Firefighter hired 5may2002 and unfairly fired for small infractions. Accusations brought on by the department’s internal investigation team were manipulated by their technicalities. At the time of the infractions the captain of my fire house was not able to properly run the fire house due to PTSD, let alone instruct me properly as to how to handle my infraction. The technicality was in the fact that I was supposed to inform headquarters that I received a class-c summons when in fact I informed the captain. The class-c summons was later dismissed. I was suspended without pay and put on additional probation. While on extended probation I was constantly under a microscope. Every small incident became topic of debate in the fire house, for example, my car was stolen with my journal and misunderstandings about what to do while at other fire houses. Basically, I became a scapegoat for everything else; it was these further incidents that even with doing everything I was told to do, I was let go. Even though I was not employed during "911," at the time I was hired I thought we were going to war and thought more buildings were going to meet the same fate. "I was ready to die." I knew that I too might have to walk in to a building I knew was going to fall. After I got fired it was always so hurtful to see other tenure firefighters keep their job for far worse infractions like, assault or inappropriate behavior.

      Today I still have emotional problems from “911” and cannot stand being reminded of it. I cannot get close to any movie about “911” without crying. Not one day in my life goes by that I don’t think about the loss of that job. My life has profoundly been affected by it. I’m not sure if I would take my job back, but I would like a chance to redeem myself. It certainly doesn’t look good on my resume.

      I am intrigued by the mission of this website, - jessica@firefightersfund.org -and what they are trying to do. When you are a Probationary Firefighter, there is no support for you legally. There is no one to tell you how the department is going to put together their case.

      Years after I was let go, I was saddened by the death of several Firefighters that jumped out of a window. I was deeply depressed for a while because while I was employed I was working on one of many ideas/inventions to allow a firefighter to survive a window jump; an idea that I abandoned do to the depression of PTSD and getting fired. Additionally, I couldn’t go to funerals because of the embarrassment of being fired. There is no way of coming out from under the rug of being terminated.

      COMPLETE DEPARTMENTAL SEPARATION WITHOUT ANY REDEMPTION OPTIONS IS NOT A FAIR WAY TO TREAT AN INDIVIDUAL WHO UNCONDITIONALLY PUTS HIS OR HER LIFE AND MIND IN THE ARTILLERY RANGE, NO MATTER HOW SHORT OR LONG THE SERVITUDE.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
      • 10 months ago

      I want save some life from fire incident

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

    Develop your own tools to win.

    Use the Change.org API to develop your own organizing tools. Find out how to get started.