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Female firefighters under protective ban

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CLEARWATER, Fla., Sep 20, 2005 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- The Clearwater, Fla., fire chief banned female firefighters from entering burning buildings, citing threats they received for expressing anti-union views.

The unidentified women had voiced displeasure with the International Association of Firefighters Local 1158 and their intent to withdraw from the union, Clearwater Fire & Rescue Chief Jamie Geer wrote in an e-mail message made public Monday, the Tampa (Fla.) Tribune reported.

"It has come to my attention and with the most absolute disgust and concern, that our people have been threatened if they resign their union membership," Geer wrote.

Geer banned the nine women, who are among 179 firefighters, from entering burning buildings to ensure their safety.

Local 1158 Treasurer and Secretary Dave Hogan told the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times he was surprised by Geer's accusation.

"We have nothing but e-mails and innuendos," Hogan said. "I don't think there's a single member of our fire department that would threaten anybody, let alone a fellow firefighter."

The order was the latest evidence of sour relations between the union and Geer's 13-month-old administration.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International.

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