The head of the Altoona Firefighters Union expressed concern to city council Wednesday night over their commitment to a grant that would add three firefighters to the department’s roster.
Bryson Peterman also accused Chief Tim Hileman of violating unfair labor practices for discussing contract negotiation matters. Officials say the negotiations have now gone to arbitration. Hileman tells WRTA News the FEMA SAFER grant, which would add the firefighters to the force, has to comply with both FEMA regulations and the city’s ACT 47 recovery plan. Hileman says that’s been the hold-up.
"This process takes a while to complete," Hileman said. "There are some restrictions that we have to address before we accept the plan...we can't jump right into it."
Peterman says adding the firefighters would allow the city to increase staffing at two stations. Hileman says the firefighters would be used to help reduce the department’s overtime budget.
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