Toledo Fire Chief Luis Santiago addresses the city’s newest class of fire recruits on Dec. 1.
Photo credit: Toledo Fire & Rescue Department
Dec. 11–Toledo’s fire chief and Local 92 president are looking to the new year with a strengthened working relationship.
Chief Luis Santiago and Pvt. Jeff Koenigseker recently sat down for a joint interview with The Blade at Toledo Fire and Rescue Department headquarters. They both stressed a desire to support the work firefighters do.
“I think the thrust of this relationship is that both the chief and I realize that the resolution is more important than the argument,” Private Koenigseker said. “We have been striving to resolve issue, after issue, after issue, and we have more issues. But it’s the way you resolve, I think, that’s most important.”
Chief Santiago said he is pleased with the amicable relationship between the organizations. He praised Private Koenigseker for attending weekly staff meetings and offering input.
“It’s no secret where we’ve been, but I think it’s a good story where we’re at. I think it’s even a better story where we’re going,” Chief Santiago said.
Local 92 — which represents privates, lieutenants, and captains — in May 2015 voiced no confidence in the city’s fire chief by a vote of 319-46. Union officials criticized Chief Santiago for poor leadership, repeatedly calling for his resignation.
Union members then elected Private Koenigseker as their president the following December. He expressed at the time a desire to work together.
Private Koenigseker emphasized late last week that at no time during the dispute was service in the city compromised. Services continued, instead, at a “supreme” level, he said.
This improved relationship and communication is good for the city, he said.
“Neither one of these parties can stand alone. We cannot. The fire administration, without Local 92, can’t put out fires. The firefighters, without the administration, we can’t do our jobs, because there’s no structure that’s paying us, organizing us, etc.,” he said.