Thread: EMS 50-50 rule

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    Default EMS 50-50 rule

    I have heard numerous times about a FLSA overtime rule that prohibits career departments from making EMS trained firefighters ride more that 50% of the time on the ambulance - without paying them overtime. Unfortunately, I can't find that in writing ANYWHERE! Has anyone else heard of this rule? Is it even FLSA? The Dept. of Labor website doesn't mention it anywhere nor does the IAFF site. Maybe it has been posted here a dozen times and I just can't find it. Maybe I am the only Firefighter who is getting tired of spending 66-90+% of my time riding the ambulance while other FF/paramedics in the same department never see time in the back of the Box.
    Rant over. Any Help here??

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    I think the FLSA rule you are refering to is the OT exemption allowing FDs to pay OT after 53 hours instead of 40 hours. I recall reading debates on whether or not it applies to EMS but don't recall specifics (I was intersted when I worked EMS 10 years ago, haven't thought much about it since).

    I would guess its application to you would only apply if you were in a single role EMS position. I don't think DOL would look at individual employees just the classification, so if the department claims in the job description a FF spends 49% > of their time in EMS that would satisfy DOL.

    The fact you happen to spend 80%+ there due to senority probably doesn't matter in the big picture to DOL, but it could be an issue to bring up to your union.

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    It is probably a individual department policy for some, not an actual ruling (as my FF/EMT-P mentioned to me). Our particular job description does not specify amt. of time spent on the Box. As for the seniority issue... it is not that, it is actually a case of admin. not wanting to put weak medics on the MICU's... lucky me.

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    Hey bro if you are on the ambulance for the majority of the time you are considered EMS and they must pay you overtime for anything over 40 hours. Just because they are fire based does not mean they do not have to pay you. If they are makeing you work the box for the majority of the time then they must pay you overtime. If you can give me your email I will email you some info on this when I get off in the morning I might have something here at the hall about it also.

    Also where are you located if you dont mind me asking?
    IACOJ
    FTM-PTB

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    The 50-50 rule has been changed. A Fire Department that runs it's own EMS has no limitation on how much someone can be on the ambulance. They were going by that here, and it changed seems like several years ago.
    Bill Geyer
    Engine 27
    Memphis F.D.

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    Heres entire article


    This is from IAFF website on overtive issues.

    OVERTIME ISSUES FOR FIRE AND RESCUE PERSONNEL—THE FAIR
    LABOR STANDARDS ACT

    SPECIAL JOB CLASSIFICATIONS
    A. EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE (EMS) EMPLOYEES (If they are not
    cross-trained as fire fighters paid on a 40 hour week)
    Public employees who are not engaged in fire protection activities are, in general, entitled
    to overtime pay after working 40 hours in a workweek. However, to avoid overtime
    costs, some public employers attempt to treat EMS employees as fire fighters, thereby
    paying them overtime only when they work more than 53 hours a week. Under applicable
    federal regulations, a state or local government employer must demonstrate that
    EMS/ambulance employees meet all of the following criteria in order to treat them as
    being eligible for overtime pay only after they have reached 53 work hours in a week:
    n The EMS employee must be an "integral part" of the public agency’s fire protection
    activities;
    n The EMS employee must be trained in the "rescue" of victims of fires, crimes and
    accidents;
    n The EMS employee must be regularly dispatched to fire, crime scenes and vehicle
    accidents; and
    n The EMS employee must spend at least 80% of his/her work time and calls in
    conjunction with fire protection/rescue activities.
    Single role EMS employees whose jobs do not meet all of the above tests (including
    being cross-trained in fire and rescue activities) are required to be paid overtime
    compensation after they work 40 hours each week.
    Last edited by Tann3100; 09-30-2006 at 05:54 PM.
    IACOJ
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    Default Department of Labor changed firefighter job description in 1999

    This eliminated the 207(k) issue for municipal employers. There are still lawsuits covering the employment period from 1986 to 1999.

    Here are the gory details, from Fire Officer: Principles and Practice

    Once passed, federal legislation remains in place forever. It can be ruled unconstitutional (like NIRA,) amended (like Taft-Hartley) or repealed. Here is an example of a New Deal federal legislation that significantly affected the fire service: The Fair Labor Standards Act was passed in 1938. It can be found in sections 201-219 of title 29 in the United States Code. FLSA provides the minimum standards for both wages and overtime entitlement, and spells out administrative procedures by which covered work time must be compensated. FLSA established that overtime means time-and-a-half pay, 150% of an employee’s regular hourly wages. Remember, this was the time of profound underemployment. The act was designed to encourage employers to hire more people instead of paying current employees overtime.

    The Act has continued to evolve. In 1974, section 3(e)(2) of the act authorizes the act to apply to federal employees. In 1985, the Supreme Court ruled in Garcia v. San Antonio MTA, 469 US 528 (1985) that local public employees must abide by federal regulations on personnel management unless Congress legislates otherwise. The FLSA Act was amended in 1986 to include local government employees.

    The 1986 amended legislation included a special overtime entitlement rule for police officers and firefighters. Normally, employees are to be paid overtime starting at the 41st hour in a seven-day workweek. Public safety agencies do not have to pay firefighters or police officers overtime until after they have worked 212 hours in a maximum 28-day cycle – which averages out to a 53-hour workweek. This was the 207(k) exemption.

    The legislators described the 207(k) exemption in detail. It covered those whose work involves “the prevention, control or extinguishment of fires” for 80% of their work time. It included “housekeeping, equipment maintenance, lecturing, attending community fire drills, and inspecting homes and schools for fire hazards” as incidental non-firefighting functions.

    Like other changes in federal regulations, the inclusion of local public safety employees within the FLSA regulations required the rewriting of local personnel regulations and lawsuits to both change local law and obtain back pay. One lawsuit in 1990 revealed a significant oversight in the existing FLSA language.

    John West, Marianne Anderson and 126 other career Anne Arundel County, Maryland, firefighter/paramedics filed suit in 1990 for improperly calculated overtime payments. Some of the employees were assigned to paramedic ambulances. Other employees were working on fire suppression companies that were spending more time handling ems first responder calls than fire suppression activities. That was the key – ems activity was not described in the FLSA description of firefighter activities.

    Their primary argument was that, since more than 20% of their time was spent on non firefighting activity, the 207(k) exemption did not apply to them. Their overtime pay should start at the 41st hour and not the 54th hour of work in an average workweek. U. S. District Court Judge Walter Black ruled in favor of the employees, creating a $4 million back payment obligation for the county.

    Anne Arundel County appealed the decision to the fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Anne Arundel case was a high-profile example of many lawsuits and union grievances that were going on throughout the nation. For example, Houston Fire Chief Tyra responded to the issue by removing the SCBAs from the ambulances and ambulance supervisor cars. He also prohibited firefighters assigned to ambulances and ambulance supervisor cars to carry their personal protective clothing on the units. (The tactic did not work; the fifth U. S. Court of Appeals ruled on January 18, 2002, that Houston owes overtime pay to paramedics and emts that worked more than 40 hours in a seven-day week.) Seven years after the West filed the lawsuit in Maryland, the appeals court upheld the majority of Black’s decision. Anne Arundel appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.

    During this time, dozens of cities were losing other FLSA lawsuits and becoming obligated for huge amounts of retroactive back pay. Payments were based on the overtime money owed when the employee worked more than 40 hours in a seven-day week. Some settlements went back eleven years, to when the FLSA Act was amended in 1986.

    While the fourth U. S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Anne Arundel employees, the eighth U. S. Court of Appeals made a different and conflicting ruling. The Supreme Court declined to hear the Anne Arundel case in December 1998. The conflicting legal opinions would stand.

    In response to this turmoil, U. S. Representative Robert Ehlrich, a Maryland Republican, introduced House Resolution 1693, the “Fire and Emergency Services Definition Act.” This act expanded the FLSA definition of “fire protection activities” to include paramedic, emergency medical technician, rescue worker, ambulance personnel or hazardous materials worker.

    This act had the support of both the International Association of Fire Fighters and the International Association of Fire Chiefs. Congress passed H. R. 1693 on November 4, 1999. The Senate passed the same resolution a week later. President Clinton signed the “Fire and Emergency Services Definition Act” into law on December 9, 1999.

    This 1999 law amended a portion of a 1938 Act that was expanded by the Supreme Court in 1985 to cover local government employees. Much of the heavy lifting on these changes came through the decade-long efforts of Anne Arundel County Professional Firefighters, IAFF Local 1563, and the headquarters staff of the International Association of Fire Fighters.
    ________________________________

    I paid cash for a new car when the Fairfax County "Lieutenant's lawsuit" was finally settled.

    Mike
    Last edited by MikeWard; 09-30-2006 at 05:41 PM.

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    Wink Wow!

    I didn't expect such great responses!
    GREAT information. For the record I am NOT planning on suing my department, I just wanted some clarification on this issue. I guess I have it now.
    I work in Grapevine, TX and have been here for the last 4 years. Prior to that I worked for Corpus Christi FD for 9 years, much of that on some of the busiest medic units in the country (7 ambulances for nearly 300,000 people). I would just like to spend a little more time on an engine for a change.
    ITSABURNER@aol.com

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    Default counterproductivity

    It seems, if I read the above correctly that HR 1693 pretty much put the screws to those of us who spend most of our time responding to EMS calls. Of course, as we all know MOST of our calls now are EMS. It was bound to happen eventually I guess. What confuses me is that HR 1693 was endorsed by both the IAFF and the IAFC! It seems that they chose to placate some politicians rather than fight for some well deserved OT for firefighter-medics. Nice.

    So, there is no 50-50 rule (and probably never was). And fire departments who run their own EMS have no restrictions on how they assign their personnel, since EMS is now just another job function, officially.

    Well, it was worth a shot. If anyone has ever convinced their department to create a fair schedule I would love to hear about how you did it.

    Thanks again.

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    Burner,

    Its all based on perspective. When you are stuck riding the box, it sucks and you love to bitch about it. When you are off of the the box, you get tired of hearing the people riding it bitch.

    It does sound like maybe you have an issue with your department not rotating details. A good fix may be sitting down with your Captain, BC, or whatever you call your shift commander.

    I would need to know alot more about your department and how they operate before I had a better idea.
    RK
    cell #901-494-9437

    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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    A good fix may be sitting down with your Captain, BC, or whatever you call your shift commander.


    Not to be a jerk but that caused me to laugh. I work about 30 mins from Grapevine and I know the feeling but no sympathy. I know guys in Dallas who spent 24 out of 27 years on a medic, even though they had promoted. I know the pain you feel. But, you also got to remember than your 9 years at Corpus does not mean anything to Grapevine. Sure, your experienced but you gotta start all over again. Sitting down with the BC or captain or whatever may help some but if you got guys with more years on there riding it, bite the bullet and keep your mouth shut. The best thing to do is either ride it out till you get seniority or promote

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    Quote Originally Posted by JHR1985
    Not to be a jerk but that caused me to laugh. I work about 30 mins from Grapevine and I know the feeling but no sympathy. I know guys in Dallas who spent 24 out of 27 years on a medic, even though they had promoted. I know the pain you feel. But, you also got to remember than your 9 years at Corpus does not mean anything to Grapevine. Sure, your experienced but you gotta start all over again. Sitting down with the BC or captain or whatever may help some but if you got guys with more years on there riding it, bite the bullet and keep your mouth shut. The best thing to do is either ride it out till you get seniority or promote
    Thats why I had the additional statement that you did not include in my quote Beavis.

    My point was that if other people in his same situation were being rotated on and off the ambulance he may have an issue. If its senority based, promotion based or somethign like that, he may not.

    I say again, I would have to know alot more about his department before I could really say one way or the other.

    I still say if he wants to know an answer about his own department, his best bet is going to be one of his supervisors. They might know even more about their own department than a guy that lives just 30 minutes away.
    RK
    cell #901-494-9437

    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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    Sitting down with whomever is in charge could also make it worse. You get a crusty who you complain too about "never getting an engine day" who rode the ambo just like you did and never complained, you can be stuck riding it for a lot longer just cuz.

    Before approaching the macho man, talk to the other firefighters you work with and figure out what is going on. You have several years in so they "should" respect your opinon. Although, if your whining to them already about not riding the box, you may have already blown your chances with them

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    I guess since I work for Grapevine as well I can chime in on this topic. The nice thing about where we work is the station captains run their shift the way the best see fit to run it. Most if not all station captains have schedule that they use in order to maintain at least one paramedic on our engines and one paramedic and an EMT on our MICU’s. There is times even in our department when a promoted officer has to ride an MICU in order to keep things staffed. There is no SOP, or administration policy that dictates who has to ride what or a time frame that they have to ride it, nor should there be. I think it would cause to much problems when you have to juggle emt’s drivers and paramedics, just to make sure that you have enough paramedics to staff all ALS units, and then throw in some policy that puts limits on a time frame?? NO way it would work.

    Like it was posted earlier, sit down with your station officer and talk with them if you have a problem riding the ambulance so much. Perhaps put in a request to transfer to a house that has only an engine, or transfer to a shift where you think you might get a FAIR amount of time on an engine. I am sure that some of us “weak” medics will have a FUN time with you when you finally get to ride the ENGINE with us. Yes your time at other departments is great for you in giving you some experience, but it didn’t apparently give you that much common since. Your time at corpus means nothing as far as the amount of time you have to spend on the ambulance now.

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    Default FLSA Rule

    There is an FLSA rule about working 50% of the time ont he ambulance. LA City Firefighter Paramedics and San Francisco Firefighter Paramedics have both recently won law suits based on FLSA rules.
    I believe the way the rule is writen is that if you work more than 80% suppression, then no FLSA. If you work 80% EMS time, then FLSA applies, and you get OT for any work over 40 hrs a week.
    So, if you spend 1 day on the box and 1 day on the engine, you still get FLSA, unless you are fighting a lot of fires on both apparatus.
    Contact the US Dept. of Labor...
    Jason S. - SFFD
    Local 798

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    Plug:

    This June 2006 FLSA compliance opinion letter states the opposite, and refers to Cleveland vs. City of Los Angeles as well as mentioning the changing of the firefighter job description on December 9, 1999:

    http://dol.gov/esa/whd/opinion/FLSA/...01_20_FLSA.pdf

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    Default I was wrong

    This month's issue of Governing Magazine discusses the different court decisions affecting paramedic overtime pay in Philadelphia and Los Angeles


    http://www.governing.com/articles/12pay.htm
    Last edited by MikeWard; 12-13-2006 at 09:29 PM.

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    why don't you guys just realize that you're a medic first and a firefighter second. It's not going to change unless they take EMS away from you guys and give it to people who actually want to do it instead of "waiting to get promoted to the Engine."
    New York State EMT-B

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    Default Ff/pm Flsa

    Thanks for the links MikeWard. I was going on the brief info I have gotten from our attorney. As a dual function Firefighter Paramedic we are "trained in fire suppression, have the authority and responsibility to engage in fire suppression, and are engaged in fire suppression or response to emergencies. Therefore, the dual-function firefighter/paramedics described above qualify for the partial overtime exemption under section 7(k) of the FLSA because they are employed by a public agency in fire protection activities."
    So, the issue in San Francisco and Los Angeles was we were dispatched to fire incidents as Firefighter Paramedics and not fully utilized for suppression activities. Regardless, we qualify for FLSA compensation, and from the link you posted I still read it that way.
    When I worked at a previous public agency as a single function medic, they were required under FLSA to pay overtime for anything over 40 hours a week on the box. My understanding of the law says it applies to a dual function Firefighter Paramedic if a certain percentage of the time is not spent on suppression apparatus.
    Hope I cleared that some, sorry if I made it confusing.
    Hey BruenRescue2003, just to let you know... I was a Firefighter for 6 years before becoming a paramedic. My badge and job title say Firefighter Paramedic, not Paramedic Firefighter. So, unless I have an injured person laying on the sidewalk IFO the burning building, I want to go to work as a Firefighter. I became a paramedic to expand the level of care I could provide as a Firefighter, not to promote or get a job. Plenty of people want to be dual function and can provide just as good of care as a single function medic or EMT.
    Jason S. - SFFD
    Local 798

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    Quote Originally Posted by BruenRescue2003
    why don't you guys just realize that you're a medic first and a firefighter second. It's not going to change unless they take EMS away from you guys and give it to people who actually want to do it instead of "waiting to get promoted to the Engine."
    While I appreciate your observation of a valid cultural issue that affects fire-based ems, this thread is covering the problem with the Department of Labor overtime regulations.

    Plug - spending the next couple of days with Sebastian Wong at NFA.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JHR1985 View Post
    I know guys in Dallas who spent 24 out of 27 years on a medic, even though they had promoted.
    Once again... inaccurate Dallas information. If a firefighter or driver chooses NOT to promote, he will likely spend the majority of his career cross-trained as a paramedic. Once a driver promotes to Lieutenant, he automatically is removed from EMS unless he is placed in an EMS assignment (i.e. supervisor) or specifically requests to remain certified allowing him to work EMS overtime.
    rjtoc2

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    ***The above post (s) is/are MY opinion and do/does not necessarily reflect the views, positions, or opinions of neither my employer nor my IAFF Local.***

    Admit nothing, deny everything, demand proof, and make counter accusations.

    A lack of planning on your behalf does NOT create an emergency on my behalf.

    When all is said and done, alot more is said than done

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    See above post... I said the same thing twice. I am not too smart but I try real hard.
    Last edited by rjtoc2; 02-09-2008 at 12:58 PM.
    rjtoc2

    career Fire Captain
    IAFF member
    Native Texan (by way of New Orleans)


    ***The above post (s) is/are MY opinion and do/does not necessarily reflect the views, positions, or opinions of neither my employer nor my IAFF Local.***

    Admit nothing, deny everything, demand proof, and make counter accusations.

    A lack of planning on your behalf does NOT create an emergency on my behalf.

    When all is said and done, alot more is said than done

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    Why don't these departments just hire people for EMS only and for fire only?

    Cross train everyone but your duty for your whole career will be one or the other.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ha11igan View Post
    Why don't these departments just hire people for EMS only and for fire only?

    Cross train everyone but your duty for your whole career will be one or the other.

    Because in my opinion, you would have a lot of FFs and not alot of Medics.

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