1. #1
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    Default Call-time pay for fire fighters

    I am one of three full-time paid firefighters plus our chief, in a Georgia small town fire department. Our shift consists of 24 hours on duty, 24 hours on call and 24 hours off. During the 24 hours I am on call, I am required to carry a pager and respond to the station when the on-duty firefighter has an emergency call. We run both city and county calls out of one station. On my on-call day, I must stay in our county within 20 minutes of normal driving time to the station. I must respond to man the city station if the on-duty firefighter has a call.

    Presently, we are not compensated for our on call days unless we actually go into the station but as you can see, we are extremely restricted during this 24 hour period. What rights do I have on this matter?

    I have contacted the Labor Department in Georgia and am waiting a response. I have been told thus far that my city can claim "condition of employment" since I took the job 18 years ago with knowledge that call-time is handled in this manner. Also, the Labor Dept tells me that my hourly rate will be figured on a scale using minimum wage including my hours worked as well as call time. Then that amount will be compared against my actual salary. If I make more in my actual salary than I would make if being paid minimum wage for all hours worked plus call-time, then I may not have a case. Is this true? Over the past 18 years I have finally worked up to a "decent" salary and have thus "given" the city many hours I will never receive compensation for through this call time. My city already claims overtime exemption which they are able to do legally.

    Any assistance or information you can give me regarding this matter is greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Federal labor laws provide for compensation when an employer retains an employee "on call" which restricts an employees freedom due to a duty to the employer. Compensation may not be and usually isn't the same rate as normal hours. That is negotiated between management and the bargaining unit (or employees). Whether it was a "condition of employment" or not, employees are to be compensated for "on call". Just because they did it in the past doesn't make it right. It sounds as if you're from a small dept. If you are union, file a grievance, if not ..good luck.
    On the other hand, if it is volunteer on call, that would be altogether different.

    [ 07-02-2001: Message edited by: ntvilleff ]

  3. #3
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    You might be better off checking in the Federal Labor Law. There have been a number of departments that have been told that full-time members of their department could not even choose to volunteer for their department. I am sure they have issues to address on-call issues as well. You might want to also post in the Career Firefighters forum.
    Tom
    The Fire Service ... where there is a right way, a wrong way, the Chief's way, the Deputy's way, the Captain's way, the Lieutenant's way ....

  4. #4
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    OSUfirepro's Avatar
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    Try this one. At my dept we work 8 hr shifts with 2 set days off a week. 2 days a week we have "volunteer" call back days. They call this call time "volunteer" but i know a few guys who were fired for "betterment of the city" who were not taking call. We only get called back in for ambulance runs. The pay scale is $20 for the first hour of the run and $10 for the rest of the call. We also my go to work and work a shift and then have to be back at the station in 8 hours. This 8 hour turn-around day may also be our call day so we may not get much sleep. Firefighters at my dept work on the ambulance and also DISPATCH for the PD. We are not union. All the union members quit or were fired. But I am only gonna be here for a few more months. I just got on the hiring list at a local large dept. Man....do I feel I put in my "dues" this past year.
    Shawn Clark
    Firefighter/Paramedic
    Tulsa Fire Dept. E-23 "C Platoon"
    I.A.F.F. Local 176
    Tulsa, OK

  5. #5
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    Whether or not the dept is union, federal laws are federal laws. You must be compensated, period. If you are still obliged to answer a call on "off" days it is not volunteer, you are still on the clock, but to a lesser degree. That's why wages will usually be less than normal pay. If you're dept is like stated in the first post and you have a choice of going to another dept, then you have to decide whether to fight it out or bale. If there is no union, you will probably be fired until the matter is settled legally. Good luck to all you F.F.'s who have real bastards for commissioners.

  6. #6
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    I currently work for a fully paid F.D. that works 24 hours on and 48 hours off. I used to work for a smaller town that worked us 8 to 5, monday through friday, with a pager to carry while off duty. We weren't required to stay in town. When we did respond to the station for a off duty call we recieved compensatory time(comp time). For every hour we worked OT, we recieved an hour and a half comp time. We were compensated for our time by taking a hour and a half off at the city's scheduled discretion. But, at least we were compensated for our actual time worked. Maybe you might approach your employer with this option. Legal action will get their attention, but may be costly. But, if you have been giving them your time for years, it may be a investment in monetary compensation to litigate.

    joejoe33

    These opinions and statements are mine and do not represent the organization I amm affiliated with or Iaff Local 3358.

    [ 07-15-2001: Message edited by: joejoe33 ]
    joejoe33

    Comments and opinions are mine and do not represent the agency or IAFF local that I am affiliated with.

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