"Thanks, Jeb!"

Those fun firefighters at Local 1403 are at it again

Barbera and Rainey were handing out T-shirts left and right. Another firefighter exhorted his colleagues in their red T-shirts to show their support for their fallen New York brethren by voting for Bush. But the festivities came to a quick end once the TV crews from channels 4, 10, and 51, as well as CNN, started filming the protesters outside the station. Bush and Giuliani were spirited off in a black Ford Expedition before you could say "ground zero."

Among the protesters was union critic Faye Davis, a member of the Progressive Firefighters Association, a grassroots group representing minority firefighters. She held up a sign that asked Rudy why his administration hired only 300 black firemen during his two terms as the Big Apple's mayor. Davis said she found it ironic that the county allowed Local 1403 to hold the staged political event. "It's wrong," she said. "If any of us tried to do what the union did, we'd be subject to discipline."

Barbera refused comment for this story. "I've got nothing to say to you," the two-time union president said as he slipped out the back door of the station.

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