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    Default One more time and YOU'RE FIRED!!!!

    How many of you are protected by laws that allow you to respond to calls without fear of punishment at your workplace? An article at www.iacoj.com explains pending legislation in Illinois.

    If so, how is your law worded?
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    Thumbs up Great Idea!..................

    I'm all for it. I'm not sure where we are here in Maryland with this, it's been brought up before and dropped due to technical points, rather than actual opposition. I'd like to see it a federal statute, with the full weight of the Federal anti-discrimination laws behind it.
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    Massachusetts has a law on the books
    Here is a link to the MGL
    http://www.state.ma.us/legis/bills/st01577.htm

    I had an issue with a previous employer regarding this law, and had to bring in a copy of it to show him. We had a working structure fire the night before, and got called back for rekindles the following day (the chiminy had collapsed, and since it was suspicious, the fire marshall didn't want us moving the debris)
    I usually don't like causing waves, but the employer was a real bonehead about the whole thing, and especially didn't like me bringing in a copy of the law to prove he was wrong.
    The comments made by me are my opinions only, not of the Fire and EMS services I am affiliated with.

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    Here is Ohio's from the Ohio Revised Code 4113.41

    4113.41. Volunteer firefighter or emergency medical services provider not to be terminated for missing work due to emergency.

    (A) No employer shall terminate an employee who is a member of a volunteer fire department, or who is employed by a political subdivision of this state as a volunteer firefighter, or who is a volunteer provider of emergency medical services because that employee, when acting as a volunteer firefighter or a volunteer provider of emergency medical services, is absent from or late to the employee's employment in order to respond to an emergency prior to the time the employee is to report to work. An employer may charge any time that an employee who is a volunteer firefighter or a volunteer provider of emergency medical services loses from employment because of the employee's response to an emergency against the employee's regular pay.

    (B) An employee who is a volunteer firefighter or volunteer provider of emergency medical services shall do all of the following:

    (1) Not later than thirty days after receiving certification as a volunteer firefighter or a volunteer provider of emergency services, submit to the employee's employer a written notification signed by the chief of the volunteer fire department with which the employee serves, or the medical director or chief administrator of the cooperating physician advisory board of the emergency medical organization with which the employee serves, to notify the employer of the employee's status as a volunteer firefighter or volunteer provider of emergency services;

    (2) Make every effort to notify the employee's employer that the employee may report late to or be absent from work due to the employee's dispatch to an emergency.

    If notification of dispatch to an emergency cannot be made either due to the extreme circumstances of the emergency or the inability to contact the employer, then the employee shall submit to the employee's employer a written explanation from the chief of the volunteer fire department with which the employee serves, or the medical director or chief administrator of the cooperating physician advisory board of the emergency medical service organization with which the employee serves, as applicable, to explain why prior notice was not given.

    (C) At the employer's request, an employee who loses time from the employee's employment to respond to an emergency shall provide the employer with a written statement from the chief of the volunteer fire department or the medical director or chief administrator of the cooperating physician advisory board of the emergency medical service organization, as applicable, stating that the employee responded to an emergency and listing the time of that response.

    (D) An employee who is a member of a volunteer fire department, or who is employed by a political subdivision of this state as a volunteer firefighter, or who is a volunteer provider of emergency medical services shall notify that employee's employer when the employee's status as a volunteer firefighter or volunteer provider of emergency medical services changes, including when the employee's status as a volunteer firefighter or volunteer provider of emergency medical services is terminated.

    (E) If an employer purposely violates division (A) of this section, the employee may bring a civil action for reinstatement to the employee's former position of employment, payment of back wages, and full reinstatement of fringe benefits and seniority rights. An action to enforce this section shall be commenced within one year after the date of the violation in the court of common pleas of the county where the place of employment is located.

    (F) As used in this section:

    (1) "Emergency" means going to, attending to, or coming from a fire, hazardous or toxic materials spill and cleanup, medical emergency, or other situation that poses an imminent threat of loss of life or property to which the fire department or provider of emergency medical services has been or later could be dispatched.

    (2) "Emergency medical services" and "emergency medical service organization" have the same meanings as in section 4765.01 of the Revised Code.

    (3) "Volunteer firefighter" has the same meaning as in section 146.01 of the Revised Code.
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    Here's California's law:

    DIVISION 2. EMPLOYMENT REGULATION AND SUPERVISION
    PART 1. COMPENSATION
    CHAPTER 1. PAYMENT OF WAGES
    Article 1. General Occupations
    Section 230.3

    (a) No employer shall discharge or in any manner discriminate against an employee for taking time off to perform emergency duty as a volunteer firefighter, a reserve peace officer, or emergency rescue personnel. (b) Any employee who is discharged, threatened with discharge, demoted, suspended, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of employment by his or her employer because the employee has taken time off to perform emergency duty as a volunteer firefighter, a reserve peace officer, or emergency rescue personnel shall be entitled to reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits caused by the acts of the employer. Any employer who willfully refuses to rehire, promote, or otherwise restore an employee or former employee who has been determined to be eligible for rehiring or promotion by a grievance procedure, arbitration, or hearing authorized by law, is guilty of a misdemeanor. (c) Subdivisions (a) and (b) of this section shall not apply to any public safety agency or provider of emergency medical services when, as determined by the employer, the employee's absence would hinder the availability of public safety or emergency medical services. (d) (1) For purposes of this section, "volunteer firefighter" shall have the same meaning as the term "volunteer" in subdivision (m) of Section 50952 of the Government Code. (2) For purposes of this section, "emergency rescue personnel" means any person who is an officer, employee, or member of a fire department or fire protection or firefighting agency of the federal government, the State of California, a city, county, city and county, district, or other public or municipal corporation or political subdivision of this state, or of a sheriff's department, police department, or a private fire department, whether that person is a volunteer or partly paid or fully paid, while he or she is actually engaged in providing emergency services as defined by subdivision (e) of Section 1799.107 of the Health and Safety Code.
    Chris Gaylord
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    I've never had to look in to it, so I don't know if BC or even Canada in general have a law prohibiting responders from retribution by employers for being late/leaving suddenly to emergency calls.

    In the time I have been with the fire service, I have been either late or left early maybe 4 times in the past 4 yrs because of calls. In the four Bosses I have had during that time, only one ever "grumbled" about my pager and that was during a minor earthquake that happened about 3yrs ago. Dispatch and the associated units all called to ensure that the radio masts were still operational, and to confirm their landlines. The Chief gave me grief for that, he didnt see why I should be listening in the first place. I always found his attitude particularly strange because I knew his wife (although they did not live in my area I could monitor the unit that does respond) was a cardiac patient, with other associated medical problems. I am sure that hearing your wife was having an episode via someone elses pager is not exactly the most happy way to find out, but it would have been faster than waiting for the hospital etc to call.
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    Does this allow workers to walk off the job to respond to a call? Does it allow them to miss work the day after a "all-nighter" to rest? It seems to me that this could cause undue hardship on many small businesses. How much are laws like these abused?

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    Interesting. Sort of like the protection afforded to National Guard and REserve military. I don't know if Louisiana has anything like this. Should make for interesting research. Thanks.
    Personally I've never had a job which I could leave to respond to calls. Everything around here is chemical plants or Prisons neither of which let you leave once you enter the gates until your shift is over. In fact, the only person in our department who can leave his job is a guy who owns his own convinance store and will leave his deli person on the register until he returns.
    Last edited by cellblock; 05-27-2004 at 12:25 PM.
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    I know Indiana doesn't have any legislation. One of my fellow firefighters ran into a situation where his employer was coming down on him for coming in late after a major structure fire. I contacted the Indiana Volunteer Firefighter's Association (IVFA) to see if they knew if we were protected. They stated we were not and that they have been lobbying for this type of legislation for some time now with no success. I guess I'm lucky. The company I work for has even put in their handbook that volunteer firefighters are able to miss work to answer an emergency call. Of course it's unpaid but at least I won't be facing the axe after a call.

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    If Pres Bush is serious about citizens volunteering to serve their communities he would get behind a national law simular to the one protecting National Guardsmen. Instead of making a patchwork of state laws have one uniform national law covering everyone.
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    Originally posted by ThNozzleman
    Does this allow workers to walk off the job to respond to a call? Does it allow them to miss work the day after a "all-nighter" to rest? It seems to me that this could cause undue hardship on many small businesses. How much are laws like these abused?
    If you read it says is absent from or late to the employee's employment in order to respond to an emergency prior to the time the employee is to report to work

    then the employee shall submit to the employee's employer a written explanation from the chief of the volunteer fire department with which the employee serves, or the medical director or chief administrator of the cooperating physician advisory board of the emergency medical service organization with which the employee serves, as applicable, to explain why prior notice was not given. This isn't an issue for me now but it was at one time. And around me their are very few Career dept. So most people really don't have an issue. And if they do....the heck with them, explain it to your insurance company that no volunteer responded due to they can't be late for work.
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    deleted by user
    Last edited by superchef; 08-11-2007 at 08:16 PM.

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    Originally posted by superchef
    I am also lucky in that in addition to the state law, it is also written into our employee handbook/contract that we can not be penalized if we have to leave work to respond to an emergency. They did not even mind that I have to leave early for my NERT classes (or if I have to leave early to get to anything related to my studies). Of course San Francisco does not have volunteers so the chances of me needing to run out the door to respond to an emergency are pretty slim.
    You can be "called in" to provide meals for the troops!

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    Nice job 'stayback500' this is a great discussion. Does anyone know what the laws are in NY?

    My senerio, I've been with the same company for about eight years now. The three bosses that I have had have been great as far as me coming in late. Just recently my fire department put together a call out list. This of course is only used when additional manpower is needed. Again, leaving early is no problem. Works out well.

    Stay safe.


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    The California law prevents employees from being terminated/punished/discriminated agaist for taking time off for emergency calls. It doesn't mean your employer has to pay you for that time. In other words, if I went on a strike team for 10 days for a wildfire, I'd either have to take 10 days vacation or ten days unpaid leave unless my employer decided to pay me for the time. However, since I'd get paid by the lead agency for a strike team, I'd never expect my employer to pay me as well.

    For the shorter calls, my employer allows me to respond during work hours without any issue so long as it doesn't interfere. I work from my house and am essentially self-directed, so if I end up spending 2-3 hours on calls during the day, I just make up the time by working in the evening or on a weekend (call it comp time if you want).
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    So, these laws do not actually allow firefighters to answer calls once at work, only allow them to be late or not have to come in the following day. That's basically what I was trying to figure out. Most employers around here would laugh in your face if you asked for time off to fight fires, or recover from fighting one the night before. Of course, if businesses don't want to do this, I guess they can pony up the taxes and hire full-time firefighters.

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    As an employer of 2 volunteer firefighters and being a volunteer myself I have mixed feelings on this. In 4 years I have left work once for a confirmed commercial structure fire with multiple calls for manpower. The bread and butter house fire tends to be a quick knockdown and unless you work in the district leaving will get you nothing but overhaul. My guys who volunteer typically run into my office if they get a worker asking if they can go...my rule is a commercial structure or people trapped and they can go, beyond that if they are screaming for manpower I will usually let them leave. I have a business to run and losing an employee hurts the bottom line and has negative effects on the morale of employees who do not volunteer. If one of the guys is late due to a call I usually turn my head the other way, the same goes for a sick call if I know that they have been out on a run all night. My guys understand that during working hours they should be at work and leaving is a priveledge, no one leaves for EMS, automatic alarms or the typical BS runs. I also pay my guys should they need to leave for a call of a serious nature. A law on the books would do nothing for me...in my mind it would give a guy an excuse to run calls all day that were not of a serious nature (not saying my guys would do that but Im sure that some would), this would be a headache for me and I can see where an employer may shy away from hiring a volunteer for that very reason, call it discrimination if you will but it will happen. Both my guys have only left a couple of times, neither abuse it. Last time one of the guys went it was right after he and I had a little disagreement, he was not to happy with me and didnt want to ask if he could leave, when I heard his tones a second time I told him to go and he didnt look back. At the end of the day being a volunteer firefighter does not pay my bills, nor does it pay my employees bills, I can see abuse of a law it it were implemented and I can see a negative affect on employees from the employer if this were implemented. Most employers have an informal policy on leaving for calls, it should be left that way, dont give me one more headache of a law to deal with, I already have enough. I am responsible for making sure that my company meets or exceeds all goals and pays the mortgages of 15 families, in this day and age it takes all hands to do that and having an extra guy to "cover" is a luxury that I dont have.

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    Of course, if businesses don't want to do this, I guess they can pony up the taxes and hire full-time firefighters.
    Yep, that's the choice.

    Alabama doesn't have any law now. Like most of the other folks, our volunteers have mostly worked out informal agreements with their employers. In most cases, they leave for major stuff only.

    I work too far away to respond on anything short of a major disaster but I have been late to work several times and once or twice taken a day off to recover. I do have to use vacation hours, no freebies.

    Pullthehook has some good points, and any system would be ripe for abuse but all things considered I wish we had a law.

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    Being a Federal employee (USPS), I know they frown on it if I come in late from answering an early morning alarm. I usually have to take personal leave, or work whatever time I came in late.

    hwoods
    I'd like to see it a federal statute, with the full weight of the Federal anti-discrimination laws behind it.
    All this sounds great, but again, you will still have the individual department discrimination. A few years ago, there were wildfires on Long Island (NY). Making the news was the fact that there were a dozen or so Postal employees helping fight this fire. They were active in this alarm for over a week's time, and their employer (USPS) was not amused. Senator Alfonse D'Mato, tried in vain to have the Postal employees covered for their time spent saving life and property to no avail. Postal employees had to submit leave requests (of their own time) and have them approved to get paid for the time they were fighting these fires. The same thing would happen now, as the Postal Service has cut staffing, and has no backup agenda in case of an emergency.

    cellblock

    If Pres Bush is serious about citizens volunteering to serve their communities he would get behind a national law simular to the one protecting National Guardsmen. Instead of making a patchwork of state laws have one uniform national law covering everyone.
    You'll never see it happen. Politicians only blow smoke to the people they want to influence. The President is not worried about Small Town, USA burning down, because rebuilding the town would create jobs.

    sbfdco1

    Does anyone know what the laws are in NY?
    I do not believe that there is a specific law on the books for this in NY. I know employers who allow their employees to respond to calls, and others who don't. Some of the larger companies will give you up to 40 hours a year if you are late for work due to an alarm, as long as a slip, signed by the Chief, is turned in.
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    I work full-time for the State of Ohio. We have a policy that was implemented in July of 2003, that allows a State employee whos is a 1st Responder, EMT, or volunteer firefighter, to use 40 hrs per year of paid emergency service leave to respond to calls. It dosen't specify if you can actually leave work to go on a run, but you can be late, or miss an entire shift if you have enough leave time remaining. I have only used this twice in the last year or so, and it was only for an hour each time.

    I understand that this is a huge privlage and could cause a coworker to get forced overtime so I only use it sparingly.

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    Unhappy

    My Employer does NOT support my VFF service. I asked if the nursing home was on fire and I was working the floor (as an SCA) could I attend to the fire. The answer was NO!!

    Enough said.

    May the need never arise............

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    pullthehook150, some good points, but people, please remember, this bill is only about coming in late or not coming in at all due to a call. It has 0, nothing, nada, zilch to do with leaving work for a call. I don't know what your departments are like, but this bill will do nothing for my members. No one has ever had a problem or even asked about something like this. They are more concerned over the ability to leave work for a call and make up the time. And that is handled on a person by person level with their employer, as it should be.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Putting a law in place would have a few snags that I dont think could be easily worked out.

    A.) Who determines what degree of an emergency employees can respond to, in other words who is to say that the probie with 3 months on who wants to run every call wouldnt leave for automatic alarms and expect his employer to agree with that, on the flip side of that if I work in the district and am the only driver available I do need to go, my employer would not know that.

    B.) Most people dont have a clue what we do, while I may know when one of my guys gets a run that they need to be on most mangers are going to be skeptical if an employee leaves frequently, although a law may say that I cannot discriminate against you reality is that any manager can find a way around that, screw me today and leave and you are working forced OT, your review is a little late or not as good as you expected, you didnt get that promotion, that day you needed off is suddenly unavailable, etc. etc. My volunteer dept does not pay my bills, if my dept is unable to staff calls while I am at work then we have deeper problems that I am not going to solve on my own.

    Putting a law on the books would hurt us more than it would help, should I put on my resume that I am a volunteer firefighter...if I do will my employer look at that in a positive light or hire the next guy who is not a volunteer knowing full well that the other guy isnt going to use a law to leave him high and dry on a friday afternoon when a house fire comes in and leave and not finish that order that all the employees need to have done by a deadline to meet payroll that week. Some large companies have formal policies and I commend that, however most employers cannot afford such a policy.

    In the end an informal policy is the best bet IMHO, if your employer will not let you leave for emergency calls and you dont like that then find a new job, no one has handcuffs on at work and you chose to work there. If your a responsible employee and you are needed elsewhere I personnaly have no problem with you leaving, but if a law were passed saying that I had to abide I would think twice about hiring a volunteer firefighter. I answer to shareholders, owners and employees, not your volunteer fire department. Both chiefs of the guys who work for me know my stand and appreciate it, both my guys are a little older and realize what pays the bills, I interviewed a young guy who was referred to me by another firefighter, throughout the interview all he wanted to know is what calls he could leave for, I did not hire him because I forsaw a problem. Two years ago we had a storm that kept all local depts running non-stop for a week, all my other employees pitched in and the three of us were rarely in the office that week, we were truly needed. We are not truly needed at 95% of the calls that any of our depts run, they can get by one man short.

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    pullthehook brings up some very valid points. We have been discussing this in the Illinois thread and I do see the potential for abuse. Way back when, I worked at a local apartment complex. There were 3 of us that were POC firefighters. We were able to leave for SERIOUS emergencies. Not every AFA or ambulance call. It was a good thing for the community and we were careful not to abuse our employers trust. Let me start another argument.. How about the paid firefighter who comes in late to his/her fulltime job due to a volunteer incident?
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    As has been stated, the law under consideration in Illinois does not allow for leaving work to respond to a call.
    Employers have mixed feelings about allowing employees to leave for an emergency call.
    But it's real simple; if employees receive calls to personal notification systems(pagers), then simply have a rule that says you are not permitted to have personal notification systems (pagers, cellphones) on while at work.
    If you receive your notification through a town siren, then a person cannot leave work until the magnitude of the incident has been determined.
    Now; this line of thinking can really hurt the small departments where response during the day is very low. But then, so is call volume. I would think that in smaller communities where calls are few and far between, that some flexibility could be afforded by the employer.
    But if you have an employee with an attendance problem and he also happens to be a volunteer firefighter, then you just gave him another reason to miss work.
    There will be abuse, but hopefully everyone will remember that they are adults and exercise restraint and common sense.
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