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Mayor Coogan on his letter regarding Fall River Fire Department contract: “I made a mistake”



In a letter to the city council that was labeled as “Confidential” but has now been made public, Fall River Mayor Paul Coogan discussed the recent contract negotiations between the City of Fall River and the Fall River Fire Union, IAFF Local 1314, which resulted in an Arbitration Award. According to Coogan, the intent of the letter was to explain to the council the process on voting to fund the award, but some people feel the letter took it further and wrongfully highlighted reasons why the council should not vote in favor of the award. Speaking with Fall River Reporter last week, Mayor Coogan says he regrets some of what he wrote in the letter.

“I made a mistake.”

Fall River Firefighters have been without a contract since 2021 and were unable to come to a collective bargaining agreement with the City. The previous contract expired on June 30, 2021, and Coogan stated this is the first time his administration has had an arbitration award come forward. Coogan states in his letter that the city had been able to reach collective bargaining agreements with seven of its eight municipal labor unions with Fall River firefighters being the only exception.

The letter goes on to say that the fire department “insisted on reaching an agreement similar to that of the Fall River Police Association.” Mayor Coogan also lists why he disagrees with their contract request, at times positioning the Fall River Fire Department (FRFD) against not only the Fall River Police Department but also other fire departments such as New Bedford. Mayor Coogan provides data surrounding the number of calls the FRFD receives as opposed to those of FRPD and speaks to the hiring and retention challenges that the Fall River Police Department faces that he says the FRFD does not.

“I’m not perfect. I make mistakes and this was a mistake. I should not have added those additional items in the letter. I should have just stuck to explaining how to vote on it,” said Mayor Coogan.

When asked if it was his own idea to write the letter, the Mayor stated it was a joint decision between him, his administration and corporation counsel. “I do regret the majority of the letter. I have a lot of respect for our fire department,” said Mayor Coogan.

District 8 Vice President at Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts Jason Burns saw the letter and felt it was a clear attempt to sway the city council to vote against the award:

“We were disappointed with the letter that was sent to the city councilors from the Mayor’s office.

Your Fall River Firefighters have followed the process at the Joint Labor Management Committee and a neutral tripartite panel has issued a fair decision that resolves our long-standing contractual dispute with the city subject to City Council funding.

We look forward to putting this long-standing matter behind us.”

The decision will award the Fall River Firefighters a three-year contract covering July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2024, with wage increases of 4% effective July 1, 2021, 4% effective July 1, 2022, and 4% effective July 1, 2023. The union will be back at the table to negotiate a new contract again next summer.

You can read the whole decision here:

The matter goes before the city council at their next meeting on December 12.

Primary correspondent for the Greater Fall River area, Jess focuses on human interest stories and investigations into political corruption. She is a former fill-in host and digital contributor at The Howie Carr Show, former host of The Jessica Machado Show and SouthCoast Tonight on WBSM in New Bedford, former blogger at The Herald News and a former fill-in host at WSAR in Fall River.



  1. Ccullen

    December 5, 2023 at 5:13 am

    Mistake or attempted payback for not supporting Cogan in the elections . you decide.

  2. FD sleep cell

    December 6, 2023 at 12:48 pm

    Maybe coogan finally realized FD have always rode the backs of the PD when they would fight for their contracts. It’s been like that for 30 years. FD, news flash. It ain’t the same job! At. All.

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