But in Lamonda’s eyes, they’re also the voices of their communities in which they live and serve.
“We’re advocates for safety,” he said. “Not only our safety, but the citizens’ safety. That’s one of the paramounts.”
Along with the Uniformed Firefighters Association, which Lamonda says has a parallel mission, the UFOA fights for adequate fire protection for New York City neighborhoods. That can be a challenge.
“If you look at what has happened in the city, we’re approaching a population of 9 million people,” Lamonda said. “In every single borough, there’s an economic boom, residential and commercial.”
“We have Hudson Yards, we have Long Island City,” he added, referring to growing neighborhoods. “When this planning is going on, no one considers the emergency infrastructure.”
The FDNY’s mission is to save life and property, which is already a difficult task.
“With fewer resources and more people, there’s more and more the Fire Department has to do every single day,” Lamonda said. “We can’t do it with less services.”
While he realizes it’s not possible to have a firehouse on every corner of each city block, Lamonda said each neighborhood deserves fire protection. Closing fire companies, which has been done in the past due to budget shortfalls, only hurts communities.
“One of our biggest challenges is to convince the elected officials, those people who control the city budget, that they have to consider emergency infrastructure,” he said.