Schaitberger on USFA’s Onieal: “Take Him Out”

Harold Schaitberger

IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger has reportedly indicated that he will “take out” Denis Onieal, the acting administrator of the United States Fire Administration (USFA).

Schaitberger is said to have made his threat at a recent meeting of Metro Chiefs.

His reason?

The National Fire Information Reporting System (NFIRS) and the National Fire Operations Reporting System (NFORS).

NFIRS has been around for decades and is the data collecting tool used by 25,000 fire departments to capture activity.

NFORS is a new product centered on staffing and deployment conceived with an IAFF father, a surrogate mother and paid for with federal grants.

(Everyone knows who the father is, we’re just not supposed to talk about it in a fire service version of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings.)

Jefferson by Peale

Sources say Schaitberger wants NFORS to replace NFIRS, but he has an opponent in Onieal who has long supported the NFIRS collection system.

It’s unclear why the two data collection tools cannot coexist until you factor in Schaitberger’s propensity to bully and play the tough guy even when doing so achieves nothing and is, in fact, tremendously counterproductive.

Assuming that NFORS gives a boost to fire company staffing, it doesn’t have to be at the expense of other data initiatives.

Schaitberger indicated that he would go to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly over the issue.

DHS’s Kelly

That should be an interesting meeting.

IAFF staff has long bemoaned the fact that Schaitberger is disengaged from the actual facts of most issues and is a terrible lobbyist as a result.

He speaks in generalities and remembers the last thing he was told, a dangerous habit when conversing with people who actually know what they are doing.

The thought of Schaitberger holding forth on databases is laugh-out-loud funny.

You can bullshit so-called IAFF “leaders” and the board over copious red wine and an expensive steak but it’s much tougher out on the street where people make decisions based on facts and outcomes.

Not to demean the collection of data, but this is how Schaitberger spends his sober waking hours, few they may be?

Having failed to gain collective bargaining and after flaking out entirely on the 2016 general election he now busies himself with the finer points of data gathering.

It’s fair to wonder whether or not there is a bit of envy in Schaitberger’s attack on Onieal as he is everything Schaitberger is not.

Onieal is an Army veteran, drafted in 1968, and went on to a lengthy career with the Jersey City Fire Department.

Denis Onieal

In fact, Onieal’s union credentials are rock solid.

He was a long time member of both Jersey City IAFF Locals and served on their executive boards, as well.

Schaitberger served as a firefighter for only a handful of years.

Picking a fight with the USFA or Onieal achieves nothing except providing an ego boost to a man who has greatly diminished our union as we approach our 100th anniversary.

Union firefighters deserve much better.





  • IslaFire says:

    At the Vegas Convention, I spent some time the NFORS person at their booth. While it seemed like a decent initiative, it also seemed very much nebulous. I asked about integration with NFIRS and could not get a clear answer. FIRECARES was being pushed as a complementary data collection program. But again, there seemed to be thin information available.

    I appreciate IAFF efforts to be an active player in the improvement of the fire service. However, this has an odd taste and seems completely backwards. Instead of pouring money into development without a blessing from the USFA, why not go to USFA first with both an implementation and integration plan?

    FIRECARES utilizes GIS data. Even smaller communities use GIS for planning and utilities and a host of other government services. Why reinvent the wheel? The process seems backwards to me.

  • Mike Mohler says:

    My first question is it possible for our dear leader to have a personal financial stake in this matter. If so that would explain his passion. Secondly, Dennis my friend hang tough shady schait is nothing more than a Trump mini-me

  • Joe Blow says:

    Having seen Kelly on TV, I doubt he will be bullied NY Shitburger.

  • Matt Loewen says:

    Found the article of interest more because of the accusations leveled against Schaitberger and the IAFF Board then the title claiming Schaitberger “taking out” Mr.Onieal. Here’s why. First, it was “reported” by whom?
    Second, Schaitberger is pictured in his IAFF motor cycle garb (to make him look bad or threatening) ? While the other two gentlemen are pictured in suits with the American flag behind them. Also, is mentioned Mr. Onieal’s military service. Why? 3rd, the article suggests that Schaitberger may have “few” sober waking hours. 4th, the article goes on to suggest that IAFF board members can be bullshited over copious amounts of red wine and expensive steaks. This piece is supposed to be about Schaitberger “taking out” Mr. Onieal, why is the IAFF board being insulted? Maybe….Schaitberger suggested taking Mr. Onieal out for a steak? Lastly, bloggers begin to throw insults. What good does that do? Exactly what the author wants, that’s what.

    • Eric Lamar says:

      It is impossible to insult, either individually or collectively, a herd of swine who annually swindle nickels meant to help sick children and then dine on their ill-gotten proceeds.

  • Mike Mohler says:

    I don’t need Eric’s Blog to hurl insults at our dear leader. I’ve done it to his face on the floor of the convention. Your review of Eric’s forum shows just how unenlightened you are.

  • Stan Mettinger Jr. says:

    I have never been a fan of “Harold” based on his actions and the many unanswered questions regarding his high taste of spending. I was a long time union member in a previous department but because of my position I can not be one here. He certainly has many folks fooled as I know a Union President that thinks he walks on water and throws his name around like candy at a parade. Birds of a feather I suppose! On the other hand, I have the highest level of respect for Dr. Onieal. Certainly all do not agree with him, but he is genuine. NFIRS works, why complicate matters by inserting some other system? If it is not broke, don’t fix it. “Harold” is the one who needs to go.

  • Matt Loewen says:

    Mike your correct, I am unenlightened. The article caught my eye because of headline “Take him out” . The article states that it was reported that Schaitberger was going to “take out” Mr. Onieal. I don’t know either individual personally and was looking for info concerning what Schaitberger’s supposedly said. I didn’t find what I was looking for. I too have been a union member for 30 plus years with half of it on our board. I think, civil discussion, rather than leveling insults goes much further when attempting to make a point especially to someone who is unenlightened such as myself.

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