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Thread: Sound Familiar?

  1. #1
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    Default Sound Familiar?

    Officials Protest City Fire Contract

    Firefighters Cannot Volunteer Elsewhere

    August 2, 2003
    By Thuy-Doan Le, Courant Staff Writer

    The town managers and mayors of Newington, Rocky Hill and Wethersfield on Friday sent a second letter asking local legislators to fight a new Hartford fire contract banning its paid firefighters from volunteering in other towns.

    The letter, reiterating what was said in the first sent out a month ago, urged the senators and state representatives to "initiate action at the state level that will invalidate all similar provisions in existence and prohibit any municipality from taking action to adopt such a provision."

    A new contract between the city of Hartford and the Hartford Firefighters Association forbids full-time firefighters to be on active duty and combat fires as volunteers elsewhere. The restriction would take effect June 30, 2008.

    Officials in smaller towns around Hartford fear the ban will strip their volunteer fire departments of as many as 80 of their most seasoned volunteers. Several Hartford firefighters have already left unpaid volunteer departments since the new contact was signed.

    Newington Town Manager Paul Fetherston said the ban is a statewide issue that affects everyone.

    He said the ban was in "direct contradiction" to the legislature's efforts to encourage volunteering in the state.

    The letter mentioned a couple of public acts that offer incentives for residents to volunteer in organizations such as the volunteer fire department, including one that allowed municipalities to provide tax relief to emergency volunteers and another public act that extended the benefit to non-salaried local directors of civil preparedness.

    State Rep. Paul Doyle, who received the letter, said that in recent years, the legislature took measures to encourage volunteers.

    Doyle said Hartford's recent action was not appropriate for the safety of nearby citizens. He said he hopes the issue can be worked out among the towns.

    "I believe the city of Hartford is reviewing this provision," Doyle said. "Recently Hartford and the neighboring towns were working on a number of things and this provision is not a good step."

    Rocky Hill Mayor Barbara Surwillo said this was "a very serious issue that has to be addressed."

    "A person should be free to do what he or she wants to do without the jobs stepping in," she said. "It's an abridgement of freedom of choice. This country depends heavily on volunteers, and they are at the top of the list of being appreciated, because that's the way America works."

    She said most city and town governments and boards are made up of volunteers.

    "If we had to pay every volunteer, we couldn't do it," she said. "It'd be outrageous."

    Kitch Breen Czernicki, the mayor of Wethersfield, said she would like to see Hartford rescind its decision and allow the town's firefighters to volunteer in town well beyond the year 2008.

    Wethersfield's volunteer fire department is 200 years old, the oldest in New England.

    She was disappointed that Hartford officials did not discuss the matter with the surrounding towns before making a decision.




    ****************************** *******************

    Craig Sharman
    Director of Government Relations
    National Volunteer Fire Council
    1050 17th Street, NW, Suite 490
    Washington, DC 20036
    csharman@nvfc.org
    Vintage Firefighter:
    "The older I get the braver I was!"


  2. #2
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    Default 2 hatters and the IAFF

    The issue of "Two Hatters" and the IAFF has been boiling over in Ontario, Canada for a few years now. I will attempt to find some 'neutral' web links between the two in the coming days and I will post them here. Stay tuned. It's looking like Canada was a 'trial and error' for what may be really starting to gather momentum in the USA. Be warned! If there are any Brothers or Sisters in Ontario, Canada (Hamilton area..?) that can provide these links quicker, please feel free. thanks.

    Pat

  3. #3
    Forum Member Trkco1's Avatar
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    Default

    This has nothing to do with the IAFF. It's an issue between the City of Hartford and it's employees. Bottom line!!
    FTM-PTB-EGH-RFB-KTF

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    Default

    Hi Trkco1. I realize that this particular issue is between HFD and its employees. I should have been clearer in my post. My point was that the 'two hatter' issue is popping up everywhere these days. Stay Safe.
    Pat

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    Question

    Being from a right-to-work state, I may be confused, but doesn't the talk of "new contract" for firefighters inherently mean "union"? I do mean this as an honest question. The deal here is you work two weeks, get paid for two weeks, end of contract. We do have the union here, of course, but legally, that really is the bottom line.
    I'm just here as myself, my views here are not presented on behalf of my dept.

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber jaybird210's Avatar
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    Default Is this REALLY a union issue?

    It has been stated before in this thread, that this is not necessarily a "union-pushed" issue. The City of Hartford is concerned about potential liability claims under Worker's Compensation for chronic lung and heart ailments, that can be blamed on firefighting duties. The City does not want to be responsible for, and have to PAY for, a duty-disability that may have had it's roots in, or been aggravated by exposures that ocurred while volunteering. Is this stupid? Depends on your point of view....:

    If I am a city manager, my responsibility is to protect the best interests of my employer (the TAXPAYERS of Hartford, in this case). Is it in the City's best interest to pay out a disability claim that may have been the result of a tire fire in Newington three years ago? How can I prove that it was (or wasn't)? I can't, and so, to PROTECT MY EMPLOYER, I am going to push for a no-volunteering clause (since I can't push or enforce a residency requirement).

    Now, I don't know this area at all, but to continue to play devil's-advocate, I would say that the surrounding towns probably don't have that great of a call volume, or they wouldn't be able to get by with volunteers. So realistically, what's the likelyhood that a volunteer is going to contract chronic, debillitating lung or heart disease from running 5 or 8 or 10 fires per year? I suppose it depends on what's burning; maybe only one would be enough. But the odds are, this is not a likely scenario.

    So, how do I, as a negotiator in a contract situation, protect my employer? I put in a clause that forbids volunteering; now if a volunteer gets sick, the volly company pays the claim (okay, their INSURANCE), and there is no question where the disease came from. And if a firefighter from HFD gets sick, there is no question we are liable. And I know we are not paying a claim that may have been the result of an exposure someplace else. I probably will throw in some carrot, to make this provision palatable (maybe a larger increase, or more kelly days, or more vacation time, whatever). Does it suck for the volunteer departments? You bet, but until they start to provide somebody to manage their best interests, they'll get crapped on. And I don't know what the answer is there; who did you get, and what could they do? Maybe state or federal legislation is the answer there. But, again, as somebody from Hartford, I wouldn't like that very much, either.

    I tell you where else this is going, and the impact that the volunteer/POC departments will see from this:

    Suppose I have a guy on my department who works as a welder. Eight or ten hours per days, he is a weldng fool. We get 3 or maybe 4 structure fires per year. He makes most of 'em. In fifteen years, he develops lung cancer (non-smoker). We go to file paperwork to begin the disability process, and our insurance carrier, says, "Hey, hang on, this guy worked in noxious fumes all day. This isn't a FD claim." Now he'll have to fight for years betwen our insurance company and his (or his employer). Who ends up paying?

    Stay tuned, kiddies, this one can only get worse.
    Omnis Cedo Domus

    www.hinckleyfd.org

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    Default

    Suppose I have a guy on my department who works as a welder. Eight or ten hours per days, he is a weldng fool. We get 3 or maybe 4 structure fires per year. He makes most of 'em. In fifteen years, he develops lung cancer (non-smoker). We go to file paperwork to begin the disability process, and our insurance carrier, says, "Hey, hang on, this guy worked in noxious fumes all day. This isn't a FD claim." Now he'll have to fight for years betwen our insurance company and his (or his employer). Who ends up paying?
    I understand this point and the illustration is right on....so how come all FF in Hartford are not prohibited from welding, pest control, carpentry(sp), floor repair, and all the other off duty jobs fulltime firefighters work? Where do you draw the line and why only draw it at volunteering? I dont know how active the volunteer companies are up that way for fires and other Haz-Mat calls but if the volume is so high I would think they would be staffed by career guys and gals.

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