1. #1
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    Default Constitutionality of residency requirements?

    In recent news stories about the firefighter who was attacked by another firefighter in Staten Island, it has been reported that the city is investigating whether some of the firefighters live outside the city limits. I am from the Cleveland area, and the firefighters here also have a residency requirement. I am wondering if any firefighter has ever gone to court to question the constitutionality of residency requirements. It seems arbitrary to require one group of city workers to maintain residence in the city while allowing other city workers-like teachers-to live outside the city limits. Any thoughts on this?

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    If it is based on emergency call back responce times
    I dont see how you could fight it. But before 911 when
    was the last time you heard of a BIG city recalling all
    members? Just my thoughts,.... dont have a clue if I
    am right or way off target.

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    I don't know about the "constitutionality" of residency requirements, but if your department deems it as a necessity then so be it. I have never heard of a teacher being called back in on a sunday to give an emergency test. Living within a close proximity to the department could be detremental in the event of a disaster. However the departments that require this should also be aware of the cost of living in a prescribed area.

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    I'm not sure how the laws work in the US, but this was tried in one city that I know of in Alberta, and it was tossed before it even got to court. It was stated that the employer did not have the right to dictate where a person could live. I know in some smaller volunteer depts, residency reasonably close to the station is a requirement, but this makes sense due to call out times. As someone stated, when did a big dept last call everyone back for an emergency? I imagine it happened on 9-11, but I don't know this for a fact.

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    I can remember Cincinnati FD recalling a large part of it's membership when the riots occured. The City of Dayton recalls members for floods and other such natural disaters. The only difference is Cincinnati requires it's firefighters to live in Hamilton County, Ohio and The City of Dayton, Ohio requires it's firefighters to live in City limits. Another difference is Hamilton County has many great places to live, and Dayton is, well, not so great of a place. Cincy is able to attract better personnel, Dayton is not.

    A lot of places do it for tax money, so they get a return on what they put in. I don't think that's right. Personally I would work in Dayton if they did away with their residency requirements. It could be seen as unconstitutional, restricting your right as an indivdual right as a person who wants to live where they see fit and within a reasonable distance from work. Or, if you're a parent, your right to see that your child goes to a school that meets your standards. This would be all fine and good unless you agreed to it in your contract, then you could use the constitutionality case when your contract is up.

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    I really don't think that the residency laws that require you to live in a particular state (as opposed to a city) have anything to do with callbacks.

    As a NJ LEO, I am not permitted by State Law to live outside the confines of NJ. I believe that this has been challenged and upheld, although I really don't see the reasoning. I can live in Wildwood, NJ, which is about 3 hours from my home. But I cannot live in the Poconos, PA, which has a lower cost of living, better quality of life and is 40 minutes from my home.

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    The Detroit Firefighters Union had numerous court battles over residency requirements throughout the 70's and early to mid eighties. The question actually ended up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on more than one occassion (3 times I believe).

    The Supreme Court ruled that residency requirements were constitutional but there was a clitch in the ruling that upset the city fathers.

    The Supreme Court stated that the employee had to retain a residence within the city but that the city could not require the Firefighters wifes and children to reside within the city limits. They stated that the prove of domicile did not include where the wifes and children lived. In order to meet the requirements the court said if the Firefighters took the following actions, the residency requirement was met.


    Firefighters had to rent apartments or houses and register to vote and have the address on their drivers license and utilities in their name, thus proving residency (as many as 3-5 Firefighters rented the same place). They also had to have all their utilities at their suburban homes in their wive's name. They also had to have thier suburban house in the wifes name. The Firefighters had to stay at the city residence the evening before their shift and must go to that address after leaving the shift. Bottom line was the employer could not tell the employees family where they could live.

    The city spent millions of dollars trying to discharge Firefighters by hiring a private security firm to follow the Firefighters suspected of living outside the city limit. Over a 20+ year attempt and many discharges, only one discharge was upheld due to the individuals personal screwup (didn't follow the rules). All the others were ordered to be reinstated with all seniority and back pay. Some of these cases took 3-4 years of court battles.

    The city never went after any single firefighters as they could not tell them they had to go home or leave their home for shift purposes. As long as they had a city address they were untouchable.

    The unions lobbied in the state legislature for 8 years to bring about a state law abolishing all residency reuirements in the state of Michigan. In 2000 the law became reality and now residency is a thing of the past in Michigan. State residency is required to get hired on most departments but once your on there is no law that I can find stating that you must remain a resident of the state in order to continue employment. This part has not been contested by any employer as of this time. This law also included Police Officers.

    We actually have individuals that have residences in other states and commute but they also have an apartment here.
    Last edited by FireLt1951; 01-07-2004 at 10:36 AM.

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    For some reason the courts have consistantly maintained that it is the right of a municipality to have a residency requirement.

    The State of Ohio has pending legislation that would abolish residency requirements in the state.

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    This is yet another example of the value of collective bargaining rights. Every time I read about an arbitration case involving residency, the municipality loses. This has been true in cases of police and fire departments. Most often the issue is residency within city limits.

    Chicago still requires residency for all city employees. An interesting note to this is that aproximately 80% of Chicago police officers send their kids to private schools. The added cost has been used successfully at the table during contract negotiation. That should give you an idea of how bad their schools are.
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    We used to have a clause in our contract stating that we had to live within a 15 mile radius (air miles) of the city limits.

    This provision was removed in our last contract because of the high cost of housing in my community ( new construction in a small development just down the road from me ranges from $699K to $1.2 million).
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    Capt. Gonzo, You live in my neighborhood? That is one thing that gets my attention. Some Cities/towns (or whatever) seem to fail to realize that educators and public safety employees can not afford to live where they work. Back to residency, I am all for a federal law banning residency requirements. I'll also support any other laws that prohibit an employer from telling you what you can do on your own time. Stay Safe....
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    posted by hwoods

    I'll also support any other laws that prohibit an employer from telling you what you can do on your own time.
    Call the cyberspace air marshals! We have a thread hijack in progress!
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    The city spent millions of dollars trying to discharge Firefighters by hiring a private security firm to follow the Firefighters suspected of living outside the city limit.
    What an appropriate use of tax dollars. Millions to follow me around, fire me, fight the lawsuit, the appeal, and the re-appeal. I'll bet that the city complained of being broke all the time too.

    I used to work for 2 career departments. The first recognized, but never really enforced, the state mandated 15 mile residency requirement (as the crow flies).

    The second had no residency requirement other than that you had to live within the state borders (another state law). So I can work, hypothetically, in Fitchburg, MA but cannot live in Rindge, NH two towns away with much better schools, cost of living, infrastructure, and benefits. It makes no sense.

    I suppose that if you wanted to fight it, you would most likely win. The biggest thing is that you can argue that if the community wants you to live in the city / town, you need to pay me enough to buy a residence in that community. At the same time, that salary shouldn't relegate you to living in one section of town either.

    Boston requires, as does Chicago I believe, that all municipal employees be required to live in the city limits. I read an article from teh BPPA (Boston Police Patrolmen's Association) that compared teh cost of living in each of the city's main neighborhoods with what police officers and EMTs / Paramedics made (the Boston EMS folks are part of the BPPA membership.)

    They found that a single person could not afford to buy a residence in all but one of the neighborhoods. The union is still trying to fight and change the city's home residency rule but have not succeeded as of yet.
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    Post Residency Information

    I am compiling a database of Departments that have residency, those who don't, and those that have been repealed.

    If you would email me about your Dept.'s requirements I would really appreciate it. I am concentrating on communities with greater than 100k population, but do welcome all size dept. information, it will all be used.

    TIA - Joe

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    www.memphisfire.net

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    Default Call back?

    The residency issue rears its ugly head in a few NH cities. My question is this: Who's to stop me from running a landscaping business that keeps me tied up for the 6 days I have off in an 8 day cycle in the fire service? In working that job, I'd be completely unavailable for callback at times other than overnight or held over on a shift. So whether I live IN town & have another job that doesn't allow me callback, OR I live an hour away and STILL make it to my shift 45 minutes early, what's the freakin difference?
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    There have been multiple court cases throughout the years that have upheld the constitutionality of residency requirements. Also, just having a mailing address in a particular city does not constitute living in that city that person must spend the majority of the time in that location. If the city decides to dig deep in a court case, then they may look items like where you kids go to school and where you mail is delivered.


    Good luck to the Ohio house bill on abolishing residency requirements but it looks like it is not going to be voted upon as it has for the last couple of years. There is strong opposition from the Fire Chiefs Association.

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    The career department that I work for has strict residency, starting 6 months after your date of hire. It is not a department rule, but a city ordinance. It is a law here for all city employee's including teachers requiring city residency as a condition of employment. Because it is a law, it is not part of collective bargaining. I have no idea whether or not this is constitutional. What I do know is that if you are found to be living out of the city, you are fired the same day. No second chance. We are a department that does about 95,000 annual alarms, with no off duty recall. I should say none in my 10 years of employment, so it would seem this law is in place to keep tax dollars in the city.

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    Residency requirements were at one time used frequently here in Connecticut, falling out of fashion in the recent years. It was a long held belief that if an employee lived within the jurisdiction he/she worked in it would somehow create a more tight knit community.
    If you listen to the arguments closely you will here the undertones of city politicians saying that if you live here you will perform better and be a better employee, I know of no quantifiable statistics to back that up.

    Residency requirements have nothing to do with recall, utilities, tax base or mill rates. It was a way to close the hiring practices in order to give preference to city residents. As this practice has fallen out of favor, the polticioans get around it by giving residents an extra 10 points on hiring tests.

    No matter which side you stand on, employing only residents does not provide you with any better work force than any other community.

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    We do not have a residency requirement in Calgary. We have guys that don't even live in the same province. As far as emergency call backs go, if the city wants me to sit at home on my days off waiting for a call in, they can pay me standby time. On my time off(4&4) if I want to go on a holiday or drive 6 hours to my home it makes no difference. It is my time that I am not payed for.

    I do live in the city though. I grew up commuting from outside the city and decided I was done with it when I got on the FD. For those that want to drive the distance, all the power to ya.
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