NOFD Union chief: ‘Firefighters do not belong in riot gear’

Liberty Place monument removal.

NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Firefighters Union is asking the City of New Orleans to keep firefighters out of the Confederate monument removal process for safety reasons.

“While the Union is not here to take a stand on the removal of the monuments, we are here to defend our membership when they are used to perform tasks that they are not trained to do and put them at unnecessary risk,” union president Nick Felton said.

The NOFD began to draw heat this week when it emerged that firefighters were present at the removal of the Battle of Liberty Place monument, the first of four monuments scheduled to come down.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said workers involved in the removal process donned protective riot gear and covered their faces due to a torrent of death threats that have been pouring in since the City Council first voted to declare the statues a nuisance and remove them.

In a statement issued on April 26, city spokesman Tyronne Walker confirmed that firefighters were on hand as the Liberty Place statue came down, and he praised every first responder’s dedication to “protecting the lives of all involved.”

But in today’s statement, Felton said members of his union should have never been involved in the first place.

“Firefighters do not belong in riot gear doing police-type work,” Felton said. “Firefighters are being threatened because the City Administration has drug us into this, and we want the public and everyone to know – that we feel Firefighters have no business being involved in this divisive issue. Our commitment and mission remains to protect the citizens of this city from the perils of fire.”

The city called threats that have been directed at fire stations “reprehensible.”