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  1. #1
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    Thumbs down PA volunteer laws

    Hi everyone i was recently involved in a rescue / recovery operation. It started on Friday 3-2-08, and when darkness came PSP terminated the recovery untill the next morning at 8 am 3-3-08. We did locate, and recover the body around 2 pm. Here is my question i called off where i work on 3-3-08 now they want to write me up for missing this day? Where can i find any laws regarding this? Also i do have casual days left to use, this is also a union shop? Thank you.


  2. #2
    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    I am not an attorney, however being a responder in Pennsylvania, I am somewhat familiar with the laws. The only thing your employer may *NOT* do, is discipline you for being late to work because you were involved in an emergency. However, as this was a 2-day event, I dont know how or if that law would come into consideration.

    Now for my opinion:It was a 2-day incident, delayed by night time. PSP designated the event a "recovery". Therefore, it was not a true emergency.

    If you were late to work on 3-2 (lets say your shift started at 8am and you showed up to work at 12pm) your employer, by law, may not discipline you.

    PSP has your agency involved on 3-2, terminating due to nightfall, starting again the next day. Again, it appears to me that this was not a true emergency. Again I am not a lawyer but I believe it is probably within your employer's rights to discipline you.

    It is a cold, hard, fact of life.....One that many volunteers do not want to admit, and many fight me on whenever I say it.....But you have to ask yourself 2 questions whenever your pager goes off, and you are due in to work:
    1. Is my presence absolutely, positively necessary?
    2. Who pays my mortgage? The VFD or my employer?

    If you had to be at work at 8am, and at 0615 you were paged out to a confirmed dwelling fire, and you are a qualified driver or interior firefighter, by all means, take in the run, as long as you make a good faith effort to get to work ASAP (if your employer is hostile.....If they are cool, by all means, stay as long as you are helpful.)

    If you had to be at work at 8am, and you call out to participate in a body recovery that was postponed from the night before, the answer to question 1 is probably "No!"

    Good Luck. My suggestion would be to apologize to your employer and see if you can use one of your personal days. But that could be a moot point now- did your employer have scramble to replace you, and/or pay someone overtime?
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

  3. #3
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    Cool

    To answer some of your questions no my employer did not have to scramble to replace me. I work in a large UAW plant which currently is working under a contract extension! The company has been playing hardball for the past few months. This just blows my mind that they would discipline someone for taking time off of work to volunteer? And the fact that i have casual days to use. Oh well this is the American dream!

  4. #4
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    Default PA (Labor) Title 43

    Here is the PA law, it is (Labor) Title 43:

    VOLUNTEER FIREMEN--JOB PROTECTION
    § 1201. Termination of employment; when prohibited.
    § 1201.1. Discrimination against injured employees prohibited.
    § 1202. Lost time; compensation.
    § 1203. Statement to employer, fire chief.
    § 1204. Definitions.
    § 1205. Revocation of disciplinary action or reinstatement of employee; payments; attorney fees; actions; limitations; jurisdiction and venue.

    § 1201. Termination of employment; when prohibited.
    No employer shall terminate or discipline an employee who is a volunteer fireman, fire police or volunteer member of an ambulance service or rescue squad and in the line of duty has responded to a call prior to the time he was due to report for work resulting in a loss of time from his employment.

    § 1201.1. Discrimination against injured employees prohibited.
    No employer shall discriminate against any employee because such employee has been injured in the line of duty as a volunteer fireman, fire police or volunteer member of an ambulance service or rescue squad, nor shall any employer discriminate against any employee injured in the line of duty as a volunteer fireman, fire police or volunteer member of an ambulance service or rescue squad who subsequently returns to work after receiving worker's compensation benefits pursuant to the act of June 2, 1915 (P.L. 736, No. 338), known as "The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act." The term "discriminate" shall mean to discharge or to discipline in a manner inconsistent with the employer's treatment of other similarly situated employees who are injured in the course of their employment or related activities.

    § 1202. Lost time; compensation.
    Any time lost from employment as provided in section 1 [§ 1201] may be charged to the employee's regular pay.

    § 1203. Statement to employer, fire chief.
    Any employee losing time as provided in section 1 [§ 1201] shall supply his employer with a statement from the chief executive officer of his volunteer fire company, ambulance service or rescue squad or its affiliated organization stating that he responded to a call and the time thereof.

    § 1204. Definitions.
    As used in this act, "line of duty" shall mean going to, coming from or during fire prevention and safety activities which includes fire prevention, first aid, rescue and salvage, ambulance service, fire police work, assistance at accidents, control of crowds both on the fire grounds and at occasions of public or general assembly, animal rescue, abatement of conditions due to storm, flood or general peril, abatement or removal of hazards to safety and such other activities as are commonly undertaken by fire companies, ambulance services or rescue squads or their affiliated organizations. The term "employer" includes any individual, partnership, association, corporation, business trust, or any person or group of persons acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to any employee. The term "discipline" shall mean the taking of any action against an employee which adversely affects his regular pay to an extent greater than permitted by section 2 [§ 1202], his job status or opportunity for promotion, or his right to any benefit granted by the employer to other similarly situated employees.

    § 1205. Revocation of disciplinary action or reinstatement of employee; payments; attorney fees; actions; limitations; jurisdiction and venue.
    Any employer who willfully and knowingly violates the provisions of this act shall be required to revoke any disciplinary action and any penalty attached thereto, or to reinstate such employee to his former position and shall be required to pay such employee all lost wages and benefits for the period between termination and reinstatement and any reasonable attorney fees which are incurred in an action to recover lost wages and benefits. Any action to enforce the provisions of this act shall be commenced within the period of two years within the date of violation and such action shall be commenced in the court of common pleas of the county in which the employer is located.

  5. #5
    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    Thats the difference between working for a large corporate empire in an assembly plant, versus working as an auto mechanic down at the local corner gas station, which is next to the firehouse! (as an example.....)

    Local corner gas station is more neighborly friendly. More tolerant of you being late (or even allowing you to leave for runs) because of their closeness to the community, which just happens to be their customers!

    Mega Auto Manufacturing, Inc. doesnt care. They have a bottom line, and that is "X" number of units to produce that specific shift. Perhaps you are specially trained on a particular machine or process, one that not many employees are trained to use or do. Mega Auto Manufacturing is tolerant of your being late because they HAVE to (to a certain extent.) They do NOT, however, HAVE to let you leave for a run, nor do they HAVE to excuse you for a shift for a non-emergent situation. I am not siding with them, nor yourself. Just presenting things from a third party viewpoint. Oh, and how does the Union view your volunteering? Will they support you if you seek their assistance?

    Back in the day, when I resided within response distance of my Department, and the pager went off close to work time, I did a real quick cost-benefit analysis, as presented in my first post to you. What is the run? Is it an alarm system 10 minutes before I have to get in the shower to get to work? Or is it a reported MVA with multiple entrapment and fire?

    Your first duty is to your family. They require a roof, clothing and food. The VFD provides none of these. Everything else is secondary.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Thanks for that post, I made some copies for future reference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Probie1Kenobi View Post
    Thanks for that post, I made some copies for future reference.
    LOL topics aside, I think you take the cake for best screen name on here.
    My opinions might coincide with someone of importance's POV... I wouldn't know, since I never bothered to ask. My policy is: "Don't ask, don't care."

    IACOJ--West Coast PITA

  8. #8
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    In all fairness to your employer, I believe that once the operation changed from rescue to recovery you should have gone to work... Or was there even an identifiable line of demarcation between the two? I have never seen a 'rescue' halted due to nighttime so it must have already been declared a recovery by then...

  9. #9
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    Your local state represenative should have a book which is made of on behalf of the state with all the laws in regarding volunteer fire departments in the state of PA. It covers everything from this issue to child labor laws with the department to workmans comp. The book covers any issue you might come up with, pretty much as long as you were at the incident the day you called off for BEFORE your were scheduled to start you would be covered. Or you could always do what I do and use the, "How would you feel if this were your family member!" If you are unable to get the book from your state rep send me a PM and I will help you out more.

  10. #10
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    Default Well at the moment this is a non issue

    I'm lucky since my supervisor is a volunteer in VA and he understands that sometimes a call may take longer than planned. But I don't abuse the understanding between us.

  11. #11
    MembersZone Subscriber dmleblanc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by asst2303 View Post
    This just blows my mind that they would discipline someone for taking time off of work to volunteer?
    This just blows my mind that you think it's your employer's responsibility to subsidize your volunteer activities.....
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    Wink update!!!!

    Here is an update to my situation. At this point i have not gotten anything from my employer. Last time i talked to my stupidvisor he said it was pending, and it is going through HR. I talked to my committee person and he more or less said do not worry about it, unless i get written up. He also told me expect to get written up! The union will act upon this if the company takes it further, and the union understands the laws. So much for companies promoting volunteer ism!

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    Quote Originally Posted by asst2303 View Post
    So much for companies promoting volunteer ism!
    Why would they care about "volunteerism"? Not bashing, but their job is to produce profit, not fire protection, right?
    I am a complacent liability to the fire service

  14. #14
    MembersZone Subscriber JohnVBFD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by asst2303 View Post
    Here is an update to my situation. At this point i have not gotten anything from my employer. Last time i talked to my stupidvisor he said it was pending, and it is going through HR. I talked to my committee person and he more or less said do not worry about it, unless i get written up. He also told me expect to get written up! The union will act upon this if the company takes it further, and the union understands the laws. So much for companies promoting volunteer ism!
    Well, you could try being humble and apologize but I doubt that will happen.

    If this incident was suspended, was it truely an emergency? Having read that tidbit of Pa law, if I were on a jury, I would say no. The initial emergency was "suspended" because of darkness? First I've ever heard of that, but ok. Heck I just recently read where Chief Rubin was at a scene in the 70's where they only stopped to allow lights to be brought into the scene so that they could continue in the dark.

    But as others have pointed out. "Volunteerism" is not going to pay your bills. Nor is your lost production going to pay your companies bills or earn them a profit to pay your salary.
    Co 11
    Virginia Beach FD

    Amateurs practice until they get it right; professionals practice until they cannot get it wrong. Which one are you?

    'The fire went out and nobody got hurt' is a poor excuse for a fireground critique.

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    Forum Member volfirie's Avatar
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    The organisation I'm with as a firefighter has a fairly simple philosophy for it's volunteers, and it's stated loudly and often.

    Family first. Job second. Then firefighting.

    I used to work for our State Government - if you needed time for a call, fine, take it. Want five days for a strike team? That's fine. Then I worked for our largest telco - they operated the same as the Government job. But not many businesses can do that. Now I'm my own boss (early retirement) and have no family living with me so can please myself how much time I put in, aren't I lucky?
    "Professional" means your attitude to the job...

    Nullus Anxietas ..... (T Pratchett)

  16. #16
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    Default The Golden Goose

    A company who supports its Emergency Services work, is a smart company that looks beyond the green and red lines.
    That same company may be saved thousands of dollars and maybe even benifit from some human toll. If somthing goes wrong in that plant and you have some trained responders that just happen to be employed around it might actually pay for it self several times over.

    The company I work for told me I could not leave work to respond on calls no matter what the situation. I told them to put that in writing and that I would put that on the Day desk at the Fire Department. I told them that if they expect me to not leave work to help out int he time of need how can they expect others to. Where I work we average 10-15 responces a year at my facility for Emergency Services.

    I don't leave work for fuel spills, cats in trees, or even a car fire. I will leave work if its a confirmed structure fire or there is a possible life risk.

    Its not always about the bottom line i feel strong enough to be aprt of my community that I would leavfe a job and take up another job if it came to that. I stopped doing this for the rush and the lights and sirens along time ago, its about the people we serve.

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    Something you may want to have your organization do is have a standard form for all volunteers if they are late or miss work. We have had one for many years now, and it's basically a "Thank you" to the employer for allowing us (the FD) to borrow your employee during his/her work hours. While most of our daytimer's don't need one, there are a few that do. Believe it or not, a little thanks and praise to the Employer will go a long way.

    Check out the link... it's short, simple and to the point!

    http://www.ugfd.org/2006FORM5.pdf
    A Fire Chief has ONLY 1 JOB and that's to take care of his fireman. EVERYTHING else falls under this.

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    Red face

    Hi everyone wow some interesting views here about this topic. Like i posted before it appears that this issue with the company is dead. Oh and by the way i recently joined the companies "MERT" team, i beleive it stands for medical emergency response team. My company has two nurses in house everyday at the companies dispensary, and on some days a doctor. Again i volunteered to be on this team, the only pay i get for this is 2 hours a month at time and a half for a meeting. Part of the companies push for a write up is because the company that owns us has a bigger plant than we do in another state. There absentee rate is like 20%, so now we have to show how much better we are!

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    This wouldnt happen to be the rescue/recovery on the blue mtn would it? That sucks you got in trouble for that... we were pretty strapped from manpower. Oh well seems like its in the past now. Good Luck!

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