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    Default Combination ????

    Can anyone tell me if you are on a Combination Dept, can you still volunteer for that same Dept.? I know many career firefighters volunteer but that it might be for a differant dept. What does Fair LAbor Standards have to say about this? Thanks for any and all input!!

    Stay Safe!!!

    Nelly

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    Quote Originally Posted by SSCNelly View Post
    Can anyone tell me if you are on a Combination Dept, can you still volunteer for that same Dept.? I know many career firefighters volunteer but that it might be for a differant dept. What does Fair LAbor Standards have to say about this? Thanks for any and all input!!

    Stay Safe!!!

    Nelly
    Nelly, I work in a combo department and FLSA does not allow you to volunteer with the same department. I do, however volunteer with a department in the neighboring county in which i live.

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    I volunteer at a combo department (majority paid) and our paid guys are not allowed to volunteer at this department either. Several volunteer elsewhere, however. It really is for their own good--it protects the paid personnel from having to "volunteer" when they should in fact be paid overtime, etc.

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    From the same (volunteer in a combo systems) perspective as paulmarsh, and I echo his comments. A number of our career guys live out of county and volunteer at home, and quite a few were volunteers here before getting hired by the county. But even if you can volunteer in your own jurisdiction where you are paid: don't. When it was allowed here, very few did it. There are lots of other places to volunteer that won't cause problems.

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    A number of our employees live within the response area of the dept that we work for. As everyone has said you are not allowed to vol at that dept as well. Being that we are short staffed, if you live within the area you can respond back to the station for a call if you want to and in return you will get paid overtime. This is nice for guys that live in our response area, but sucks for guys like myself who live close to an hour away.

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    Our 4 fulltime personnel are required to volunteer. This is not just the policy for our department, but this is the case at EVERY combo department in the two parishes in my area.

    We have a paid Asst. Chief and 3 paid firefighters. The Asst. Chief is the only paid officers position. One of the paid firefighters is a Captain, and the other two are senior firefighters, which are comprable to a Lt on most other departments. The rank of those 3, who are classified as "firefighters", on the payroll, was actually attained on the volunteer side as we have no Captain or Senior Firefighter positions on the paid side. They do recieve a small extra rank bonus on thier paychecks though, just as a volunteer captain or senior firefighter recieves the same rank bonus in addition to the part-time pay when they work a part-time or relief shift. The fulltime personnel cannot work an overtime relief or part-time shift unless a qualified volunteer member cannot be found to work it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    Our 4 fulltime personnel are required to volunteer. This is not just the policy for our department, but this is the case at EVERY combo department in the two parishes in my area.

    We have a paid Asst. Chief and 3 paid firefighters. The Asst. Chief is the only paid officers position. One of the paid firefighters is a Captain, and the other two are senior firefighters, which are comprable to a Lt on most other departments. The rank of those 3, who are classified as "firefighters", on the payroll, was actually attained on the volunteer side as we have no Captain or Senior Firefighter positions on the paid side. They do recieve a small extra rank bonus on thier paychecks though, just as a volunteer captain or senior firefighter recieves the same rank bonus in addition to the part-time pay when they work a part-time or relief shift. The fulltime personnel cannot work an overtime relief or part-time shift unless a qualified volunteer member cannot be found to work it.

    Forcing a career firefighter to volunteer for the same FD is indentured servitude. It's like the manager at the local choke and puke telling his cook that after he works his 40 hours, he has to put in 10 hours for free to "help out".
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    We only hire new personnel from within our organization. There is no outside posting of the position and the qualifications list 2 years as a member of the department, so non-members would not qualify. Volunteers submit thier applications, the top 4 or 5 choices of the Chief goes through a physical test, and he makes his choice. There is no written test and the physical test of an informal, non-binding event.

    Everyone who applies fully understands that he/she must continue to volunteer. This is just the way "our culture" works. They understand the officers, with the exception of the Asst. Chief are chosen on the volunteer side. If they don't like it, they can choose not to apply, but honestly, to the best of my knowledge, the requirement has never been a problem. Maybe it's because it's the way it's always been and the people that apply have grown up in our culture.

    Maybe it's also because they are from the district and required to live in the district, and they feel an obligation to the community.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    Maybe it's also because they are from the district and required to live in the district, and they feel an obligation to the community.

    Maybe they should do the whole thing for free then, after all, it's for the 'community'.

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    My point with the last line was simply that more often than not, the folks(current and past) we end up hiring from the volunteer ranks grew up in the community, often started with the department as juniors and have long standing roots in the community.

    They feel a deeper attachment to the community than someone, who say, grew up in another fire district or in the city, and have moved here as an adult. Because they have been volunteering here so long with people they know well and grew up with, continueing to volunteer here with the people they know is simply second nature. They understand the limits of the community, and understand that we will always be able to afford a VERY limited number of career members, and understand that for us to be effective we need a strong volunteer response, which includes them. They understand that because they have grown up in the department. In many cases, thier famalies still live in the community as do many (in some cases, most) of thier friends, who they grew up with.

    I honestly do believe that all 4 of our paid folks would continue to volunteer here if tommarrow we said we were eliminating the paid positions and going back to all-volunteer.

    It was meant to say that most career folks feel an attachment to thier communties, though I have seen some things posted by a few folks here that lead me to beleive they honestly don't give a damn for the folks they work for. It is common sense though, that in most cases someone who grew up and lived in a community would feel more ownership for that community than a transplant, or someone who simply works there and lives elsewhere.

    I beleive that is part of the reason why the Chief has maintained the current hiring system and has not gone the civil service route.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 07-26-2007 at 12:16 AM.

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    I work at a combo department. It is left up to the paid staff who live inside the district if they will recieve pay or not for any calls ran off duty. Considering only three of us live inside the district, it isn't a really big deal.
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    It is my understanding where I live that it is illegal to require a paid city employee to work for free, they must be paid for their time. Even if they want to volunteer they can't.

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    I'm full time with a combination department. We don't receive overtime pay for extra duty. We receive comp time at time and a half (unless we take a shift off in the 28 day cycle and then it gets cut to comp time at straight time) for all extra duty (calls, training, meetings, etc.). Extra duty is encouraged. I would rather have time off versus overtime pay. Time off rules are very relaxed. Even then, it's up to me what I put on my time sheet.

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    It is against federal law to volunteer for your employer - even in the fire service! DON'T BE A SCAB!!! No other field of work would this even be considered! Why does it seem OK for us? It's not!!! Protect your job, and your benefits - oh yeh and your rights too!!! The fact that some of you are required to volunteer is the craziest thing I've ever heard of! Why not the other town employees? If it isn't bad enough that you southern brothers are being paid at poverty levels you have to volunteer your time too? STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!!!!!!! My heart goes out to you right to work states.
    IAFF member, Love this job! Remember the oath!

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    They feel a deeper attachment to the community than someone, who say, grew up in another fire district or in the city, and have moved here as an adult. Because they have been volunteering here so long with people they know well and grew up with, continueing to volunteer here with the people they know is simply second nature. They understand the limits of the community, and understand that we will always be able to afford a VERY limited number of career members, and understand that for us to be effective we need a strong volunteer response, which includes them. They understand that because they have grown up in the department. In many cases, thier famalies still live in the community as do many (in some cases, most) of thier friends, who they grew up with.
    it has nothing to do with growing up in the community, or enjoying volunteering. when you volunteer for the same department you are paid on, it significantly weakens your bargaining position when you want raises, better benefits, or better working conditions. and just because they don't know any better doesn't make it right.

    FWIW, I work for a combination EMS department. We have several volunteers who have since come over to the career side. the had to wait until a spot opened up, applied for it, and got accepted. once they were accepted, they stopped being volunteers, and became per diem employees. If they weren't accepted they stayed volunteers. but once you are paid, you are not still expected to do volunteer shifts.
    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    I honestly do believe that all 4 of our paid folks would continue to volunteer here if tommarrow we said we were eliminating the paid positions and going back to all-volunteer.
    and i don't doubt it for an an instant. however, volunteering for the department u work at weakens your bargaining positions. why should your job (what pays your bills and puts food on the table) pay you OT for your 60 hr weeks, give you raises, or not make your work 7 days a week (but only get paid for 40 hours of work), if you are still going to come in on your day off and do the same job you get paid for for free?

    I told Cellblock the same thing when he told me his situation. what happens in LA violates the Fair Labor and Standards Act, as well as goes against the Garcia Decision, which was handed down by the US Supreme Ct. It's Illegal, and if one of your Full Timers takes teh department to court for this practice, he will win, and he will win big.
    Last edited by DrParasite; 07-26-2007 at 03:54 PM.
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    FLSA/Garcia etc only applies to departments with 5 or more employees, I went through this in NJ were multiple townships hired volunteer firefighters as "paid drivers" but as long as they stayed under 5 employees there wasnt an issue with voluntering, in fact I know quite a few volunteer chief officers who are the paid firefighters at their own stations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by malana1 View Post
    It is my understanding where I live that it is illegal to require a paid city employee to work for free, they must be paid for their time. Even if they want to volunteer they can't.
    That's correct. Under the FLSA, employees cannot volunteer time doing the same job for their employer: they must be paid at their standard rate or overtime if they exceed their full-time hours.

    IOW, it is illegal to volunteer or work for reduced pay as a firefighter for the same department that you work for as a regular firefighter employee.

    (BTW, anyone who has been doing this is enitled to back pay including overtime as appropriate.)
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    I was involved with 2 different EMS services that did this many years ago, although they did not require their employees to volunteer but they did allow it. I know of several others that have done it in the past. All stopped the practice at least 10 years ago. I have heard of EMS agencies getting fined by the feds for doing this.

    LAFIRE - I strongly suggest discussing this practice with a labor attorney, you are asking for big trouble doing this. There is nothing to stop those guys from coming back against your department for back wages.
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    I think, if you are forced/required to volunteer, it's illegal. If you choose to volunteer, your just silly.
    "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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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    I think, if you are forced/required to volunteer, it's illegal. If you choose to volunteer, your just silly.
    ...and also illegal -- forced or otherwise.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    So if I choose to come to work on Saturday, my normal day off, and finish up some loose ends, I can sue my company for illegal practices?
    "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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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    So if I choose to come to work on Saturday, my normal day off, and finish up some loose ends, I can sue my company for illegal practices?
    well, are you salaried or hourly?

    if you are hourly, then you should be paid OT for the time you spent at work on saturday, if it exceeds 40 hrs.

    if you are salary, you get screwed and if you work 40 hrs or 80 hrs, you get paid the same.
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    I just find it odd that I CHOOSE to go to work on my own, by my own decision, and that means my company is doing something illegal.

    I simply don't understand the logic of that.
    "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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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    I just find it odd that I CHOOSE to go to work on my own, by my own decision, and that means my company is doing something illegal.

    I simply don't understand the logic of that.
    Keep in mind this is the government making these rules. Therefore, logic doesn't apply.
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    Default Well...

    As far as FSLA is concerned, the way I understand it is you cannot perform the same job as a volunteer in the same department you are paid.

    One of our paid fire inspectors is also the VP of the volunteer association. Because firefighting is not in his paid job duties, he can involve himself in it as a volunteer.

    Im the opposite. As a member of the paid staff, my job duties include the possibility of fighting fire. So, therefore, I cannot be what we call a "combat" volunteer. I cant fight fire or attend drills as a volunteer. Whether Im on a fire scene or the drill gound Im considered paid.

    But, as a past association president, I am still part of the volunteers. I can attend meetings, vote in elections and participate in events. I just cant do anything that involves the same duties as my paid position.
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