Station 7 was the first to respond to the fire that destroyed Trace Elementary School. Its relationship with the school did not end once the flames were put out though. At a ceremony at the Fire Station on Wednesday, firefighters presented the school with two gifts. The first was an American flag that they found as they dug through the smoldering ruins, making sure the fire was out. It had survived the damage intact, and was called “almost a small miracle amidst all the destruction,” by Fire Captain Jason Suarez.
The flag was accompanied by a $5,000 check from the San Jose Firefighters Burn Foundation to help rebuild the school. “We have such a huge appreciation for teachers and educators, we just wanted to do this special thing for them,” said Suarez.
While this was happening, the city rejected an offer by Firefighters Union 230 to take a 5.25 percent pay cut and increased health insurance co-pays to help cover the municipal deficit.
“It’s $6 million short of what we need,” said Alex Gurza, who led the negotiations for the city. Instead, he asked the union to allow its members to vote on a 8.91 percent cut in salaries and benefits. This, he said, would enable the city to hire back all 49 firefighters who were laid off this week and restore one fire truck and four fire engines.
Union President Randy Sekany was not happy with the offer. “It looks like this is politics over public safety,” he said. Gurza responded that he is just as disappointed.
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