WINDSOR LOCKS, Connecticut (WFSB ) — The new year is bringing changes to Bradley International Airport, as a battle is brewing between firefighters and the Connecticut Airport Authority.
On Thursday, 2020 gave one final scare for Bradley Airport as a private plane landed with no landing gear.
Thankfully, everyone was safe, as firefighters and other emergency responders were called to the scene.
On Friday, the firefighter’s union made grievances over staffing known.
The Uniformed Professional Fire Fighters Association of Connecticut says the Airport Authority cut 25 percent of positions, forcing them to work longer hours.
All of this putting the flying public in “peril,” they say.
“It’s just not fair to the firefighters because management has gotten raises over the past how many years now and we can’t even hire firefighters or paramedics. It’s not safe and not right,” said Chris Albani, union vice president.
However, Executive Director of the Connecticut Airport Authority Kevin Dillon says that’s not true.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, Dillon said the 25 percent cut is actually a hiring freeze, not layoffs.
In fact, he says the fire department is operating with just six fewer firefighters than they did in 2015, even when the airport traffic has slowed by 75 percent.
“What we’re trying to do is adjust the operations to what the new conditions are in terms of the substantial reduction in activity which results in a substantial reduction in revenue,” Dillon said.
When it comes to longer hours, Dillon says it’s just an additional two hours a week, saying “of which they’re being compensated extra for.”
“The airport is not hurting for money like they say they are because they made record revenues since probably 2015,” Albani said.
While the union and the Airport Authority sort out their issues, the question remains are passengers truly in peril?
Dillon says Bradley is covered more than most airports, thanks to the Air Guard.
“We are one of the few airports in the country that actually have two fire departments. We not only have the Airport Authority fire department that we run, but the Air Guard also has a fire department that responds to all of the same aircraft emergencies, medical calls, that our fire department responds to,” he said.
The union says the Air Guard can only do so much.
“They don’t have medical control for the state, so it’s actually illegal for them to respond to medical calls at Bradley Airport,” Albani said.
Dillon says managers have not taken raises this year and he hopes that once things get back to normal, the hiring freeze can be lifted, but he projects “normal” could return in 2023.
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