Thread: Another firefighter suit-Alabama
11-05-2003, 02:49 AM #1
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
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
Firefighters in Birmingham begin at $27,500 and top out at
$42,700, said Carl Harper, assistant chief with Birmingham Fire and
"Birmingham is not in the business of training another city's
fire staff," said John Edens, an assistant city attorney in
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.
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11-05-2003, 08:52 PM #2
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.
11-06-2003, 10:51 AM #3
Ask and ye shall receive
Here's the law:
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:
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
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.
11-06-2003, 01:41 PM #4
- Join Date
- Jun 2002
- Glenn Dale Md, Heart of the P.G. County Fire Belt....
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....Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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11-06-2003, 04:28 PM #5
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.
11-06-2003, 06:47 PM #6
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
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!
11-06-2003, 08:28 PM #7
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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