1. #1
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    Post Another firefighter suit-Alabama

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - The City of Birmingham has sued the City
    of Pelham for the cost of a Birmingham firefighter who took a job
    in Pelham.
    The lawsuit, filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court, demands
    $14,000 in training costs, and cites a state law that entitles a
    municipality to training reimbursement if a firefighter quits
    before two years to join another department.
    The firefighter, Thomas Nails, quit the Birmingham department in
    November 2002 after 18 months on the job and was hired in Pelham,
    where salaries begin at $42,000, said Pelham Fire Chief Gary
    Waters.
    Firefighters in Birmingham begin at $27,500 and top out at
    $42,700, said Carl Harper, assistant chief with Birmingham Fire and
    Rescue.
    "Birmingham is not in the business of training another city's
    fire staff," said John Edens, an assistant city attorney in
    Birmingham.
    The City of Pelham will pay a prorated amount since Birmingham
    benefited from the firefighter for 18 month, said Frank "Butch"
    Ellis, Pelham's attorney.

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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  2. #2
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    Default

    I can see both sides to this issue.

    First off I'm curious to see exactly how that law is written, as I doubt its verbatum, but rather a law that they feel applies.

    Second off, with a pay scale like that, the dept probably has a high turnover rate for firefighters leaving for better paying depts. Can't say that they shouldn't be expecting that. Perhaps they should put it in their contract that the firefighter, or someone, will be responsible for reimbursement in these situations.

  3. #3
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    Default Ask and ye shall receive

    Here's the law:
    -------------------------
    Section 36-21-7
    Reimbursement by new employer for training expenses.
    In those instances in which a law enforcement officer, certified corrections officer, fire protection personnel, or firefighter of any municipality, county, sheriff's department, fire district, or the state is employed by the State of Alabama, any county, sheriff's department, fire district, or another municipality, within 24 months after completing the training requirements mandated by Article 3 (commencing with Section 36-21-40) of this chapter, or by Chapter 32 (commencing with Section 36-32-1), the total expense of the training, including, but not limited to, salary paid during training, transportation costs paid to the trainee for travel to and from the training facility, room, board, tuition, overtime paid to other employees who fill in for the trainee during his or her absence, and any other related training expenses, shall be reimbursed to the municipality, county, fire district, or the state which paid for the training. The municipality, county, fire district, or the state which paid for the training shall submit an itemized sworn statement to the new employer of the law enforcement officer, fire protection personnel, or firefighter, as the case may be, shall demand payment thereof, and may enforce collection of the obligation through civil remedies and procedures. The term "law enforcement officer", shall have the same meaning as in Section 36-21-40 and the term "fire protection personnel and firefighter", shall have the same meaning as in Section 36-32-1.
    ---------------

    I'm surprised this hasn't come up before in the Birmingham area. Birmingham is surrounded by wealthy suburbs that all pay significantly more than the city. For comparison, here are area firefighter salaries from the Alabama league of municipalities:
    Code:
                   Starting   Average
    Birmingham:     $27,581   $36,275
    Hoover:         $35,942   $43,545
    Mountain Brook: $29,910   $41,787
    Pelham:         $40,196   $45,504
    Hueytown:       $30,492   $38,864
    The pay difference is more significant for officers so you can't really blame folks for heading to greener pastures. On the other hand, Birmingham FD is far larger than these other departments combined so the suburbs can be very selective in who they hire.

    Edited to add: The take-home pay difference between Pelham and Birmingham is really a little worse than this reflects. Jefferson County (Birmingham) has an occupation tax (county income tax), and Shelby county (Pelham) doesn't.
    Last edited by EFD840; 11-06-2003 at 11:04 AM.

  4. #4
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    Question Weird...............

    Never heard of something like this before. 1. Has the constitutionality of this law been tested? 2. What do the IAFF Locals think of the situation? 3. I know how popular the American Civil Liberties Union is in the South, They might take a dim view of this. And last, I don't see it as a "Fire Dept." problem, it's a people problem. When someone is not free to leave their employer for something better, (No matter what the occupation) that's a problem. Stay Safe....
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  5. #5
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    Default

    Hwoods,

    I don't know if it has ever been challenged in court but it is a pretty old law. It was first passed in 1980 and applied to police officers. Some time later, it was expanded to include firefighters. The situation still comes up for LEOs much more than firefighters because there aren't that many career departments in the state.

    It really doesn't keep someone from changing jobs, it just makes them unattractive to potential employers because the new employer has to reimburse the old agency for the cost of the individual's training.

    This particular case is different because the usual situation is a LEO or firefighter going to work for a small town, getting trained at the town's expense, and then leaving for the bright lights and big city before the ink is dry on his certificate. Here, the smaller town is stealing from the big city.

  6. #6
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    Default

    That is absurd. I can understand the training portion of the expenses of it... But I have never heard of Pelham, I have heard of Birmingham... So with such a big city that it is (Birmingham), I would think the pay would be greater, guess not! Additionally, the department in which the individual went to work for should not be liable in any manner for reimbursement, but it should be the responsibility of the former employee.

    the total expense of the training, including, but not limited to, salary paid during training, transportation costs paid to the trainee for travel to and from the training facility, room, board, tuition, overtime paid to other employees who fill in for the trainee during his or her absence, and any other related training expenses
    The salary paid, and overtime paid (to fill in for any absence) is 100% wrong! It would be like me (or you) working for McDonald's and then quitting the job before my (your) probationary period was up, I still worked and am entitled to the pay... even when I (or you) fell ill, stuff happens that we can't control! Like I said, the training expenses I can understand.

    Average salary here in the San Francisco Bay Area...

    Trainees (probation) is about $57,630 annually.
    A Battalion Chief (this is from San Jose, CA) after 5 years with that title is about $130,000 annually.

    With the figures I have seen... I guess I will not be moving out of state to get a job as a firefighter!

  7. #7
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    Default

    Well hang on a sec there.. its all in relation to the cost of living.

    For example, base top out at my dept is about 57k, which ends up being about 61-63k w/o much overtime, about 65-70k if you work a decent amount of overtime. I'm at step 3 and will make a little over 60 this year (i worked a LOT of overtime) but with that, I support my wife, 7 year old, and twin 2 year olds (all girls) and afford a 4 bedroom house in a nice suburb neighborhood. So obviously, the cost of living is much lower here than out there. I'm also assuming, by salaries, that the cost of living down in Alabama is much lower than up here.

    Its all in perspective my brother..

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