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  • Residency Requirements

    Looking for thoughts or rules on residency requirements for appointment to firefighter. Is there any SAFE way to establish an adress without actually living in a jurisdiction? Are residency requirements really needed? What do you think?

  • #2
    I know from my own expierience that the City of Philadelphia requires residency one year prior to AND for the duration of your employment. PO Boxes are NO GOOD, UNLESS you can show PROOF of residency- major utility bills, leases, mortgages & deeds, gas, water & sewer, electric bills, cable tv, telephone, tax records.....will all be scrutinized and reviewed. Neighbors will be contacted to see if you have truly been a resident.....Civil Service personnel will also visit you at your "residence" to see the place. They want to "see pictures hanging on the walls...."

    There really is no way around it....Especially in Philly, where you have to maintain residency for the duration of your employment!!!!

    Are residency requirements really needed? Thats a debate I dont want to get into right now.....Yes and no....Goes to the "quality of lifestyle" of the community you are protecting and living in. Other considerations are there, also.

    "Loyalty above all else, except honor."


    • #3
      In most of the departments I know of residency is not a must. Proximity is. They want to know that you are either within a certain number of miles from the fire house or district, or that you can respond within a certain period of time (to calls or for callbacks).

      The main goal is to be able to get help when you need it.

      I don't see why you should have to live within a specific town. In some cases, having an address outside that town or city actually puts you CLOSER to the fire station. After all, not all fire houses or districts are centrally located. I think common sense should be the rule when dictating where volunteers or employees should reside.

      Just my 2 cents.


      • #4
        Residency requirements are outmoded and frankly wrong-headed in this day and age. The old "quality of life in the area you serve" argument is a red herring. How many Philly firefighters who work in, say, the badlands of North Philadelphia actually live there? Think they're concerned with the "quality of life" in those areas beyond protecting the people and what little salvagable property there is from fire? I don't think so. It's stupid. If you want to be able to attract the best mix of candidates, you have to expand, at least out one county or so, like NYC has done.

        Anyway, like ArmyTruckCompany says, there's not much chance of getting around the civil service people in Philly - my dad was a Philly firefighter for 30 years, and he has some great stories about the lengths those yahoos will go to, to make sure you actually live within the city limits.

        J. Black

        The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated.


        • #5
          I feel that residency laws are an impediment to any public safety organization in recruiting and maintaining qualified personnel.

          When a firefighter, police officer, EMT or paramedic dies in the line of duty, do you think the first question on the politician's minds are "did he/she live in town?"

          Emergency service personnel give their best efforts to protect the citizens they serve...if a person's house is on fire, I don't think anybody would give at rat's rump where the responders lived!

          Just my .03 worth...Captains have to pay a little more!

          Firefighters: rising under adverse conditions to accept the challenge!
          Captain Gonzo


          • #6
            In Connecticut I think it's against equal opportunity employment rules to require residency. In my city they had to change it when it was challenged. The city's are just hurting themselves by this 'cause they are not getting all the available candidates. I personally don't live in the city I work in and it's better to leave town after work and get away from the job. I know some city's like Hartford still require residency to apply but once you have the job you can move out (Who would want to live in Hartford anyway?). This is currently being challenged in Hartford. It discriminates against nonresidence.

            IAFF Local 2033, Love this job! Hate SCABS!


            • #7
              Gotta give my 0.02 on this one. Having the best in your department is the goal, right? I feel that having the broadest possible cross-section of the eligible candidates test for the positions available would yield the best possible appointments. I feel that these residency rules harken back to in-town politics of small town home rule b.s. You have a hook and you get in. That's great if you're good for the job, but if you're not then who pays for the scam? The public. Some say that this rule is so that you know the town. uh-huh. I have to know the job. Figuring out the street layout isn't going to kill me or others. I tested on what I knew, how well I knew it and how fast I could use it....not who I knew. My opinion.


              • #8
                I think that the residency requirement for FDNY is more fair as far as you are allowed to live (going north) as far as orange county. That is nice for those people living upstate. However, If you live there, you are over 120 miles away from NYC, but someone who lives in Ft. Lee (just across the GWB)in NJ cannot work for FDNY. I can understand why, but now you will take a guy from the farm land far away, and not a guy who lives close... Oh well it could be worse.

                What I think is BS is that if you are a city resident, you get 5 points (for a possible 105/100). That rule is just effect to attract the inner city people who the city needs to justify its hiring quotas. the more qualified guys have to wait longer (if they even get on) because they live outside the city.. I would much rather work with a guy who got a legitimate 100 than a guy who got a 95 + 5. Those tests are so easy that only a complete moron couldnt get a 95.

                I think affirmitive action and hiring quotas are reverse discrimination.. I dont see too many asians and indians lining up to get on the job... Black, white blue pink.. who gives a crap as long as they are good firemen.

                That is what residency requirement is about.


                • #9
                  Our local has had trouble with our residency requirements. As a small dept. we count on off duty personnel to come in for working fires. So having the FTers live close is a benefit. But on the other hand as a FTer I am only required to show up to work on my scheduled days and mandatory drills. How can they tell me where I can live if I show up ontime every time? They can't tell me not to drink on my days off, but I can't respond back no matter where I am. They don't bar me from leaving the area every day or for vaction, so what is my obligation to respond. If I want I could not come in even if the city burned flat on my off days. I would but thats my choice, not theirs. Its a hard line to fight as residents want to see their dollars stay in the community, but the job market is such that restricting applicants further is counter-productive.

                  This is the only opinion to have, if you're me! If not, get your own, this ones mine!


                  • #10
                    KeitAB - Check again, it's going on not far away from you. My brother just tried to get an app for the Hartford fire dept a week or two ago and they wouldn't even give him an app because his address was out of town. Ther e is no way he's going to move to a city just to try and get an application with no real guarantee of getting a job. Just look at the state of the HFD, I know a few guys there and they say the dept has gone down hill since they put in the residence only requirement.... But that is another story


                    • #11
                      Well,good question.It all depends on the city itself and how they ivestigate.We've had at least 30 people fired for residency before the law was changed state wide.Only one was fired,the rest won their case.Residency is now abolished in the state of Michigan as of March 1,2001,the law was signed by the Gov.in December,all contracts that include residency will stay in effect until the next contract is signed,then it is against the law to require it after that.As far as getting hired,the Supreme Court has stated that a city cannot require residency to be hired but they can require you to be a resident on the date of your hire.Detroit is now facing a class action federal lawsuit because they hired only residents for the last class,even though some non-residents were higher on the list.I hope they win and I feel that they will prevail.All the police and fire in the state pushed hard for the residency bill and prevailed.I hope that other states will follow if the unions get together and try to get a law passed that abolishes the residency requirement.It took us 3 years,but it was worth it.


                      • #12
                        We had a residency requirement in DC for about 10 years. We lost a lot of good men who were unwilling to 'live a lie' for the course of their employment. Since DC has very little middle class housing, the city finally realized the folly of the requirement (with a lot of help from L-36, IAFF) and replaced it with a preference.

                        If a residency preference is fairly applied, I think it is valid. If all other factors are equal, the city does benefit from the taxes that a resident pays. But it should only be used as a tiebreaker.

                        [This message has been edited by oldE6man (edited 02-28-2001).]


                        • #13
                          KCMO had (might still, I don't live there anymore) for ALL city employees. Their reasoning? Income tax.

                          That's right, Kansas City, MO has a 1% income tax. If you live outside the city, but work in the city, you get it refunded (100% giveback). If you live in the city, but work outside it, you owe the tax, but it's not collected (withheld) for you, so you pony up at the end of the year.

                          But if you're a city employee, you don't have the choice of living outside the city limits for the lower tax rates, or better schools, or whatever, because they won't give up their money!


                          • #14
                            Residency requirements keep good departments from getting the best qualified firefighters that are avalible, period-end-of-story!!

                            Departments should not count off duty personel as avalible for the "big one".

                            Cities have res. req. in the charter as part of the affirmative action "deal" to "level" the playing field and have a department that is as ethniclly diverse as the community it serves. BULL*HIT!!-ATTENTION ALL FD's, HIRE THE BEST PERSON FOR THE JOB-REGARDLESS OF COLOR,RACE OR WHERE THEY LIVE!-YOUR CITIZENS WANT,DEMAND & DESERVE IT!!!!


                            • #15
                              i dont agree with residency requirements either i think they cut down the amount of qualified applicants also. in new jersey all towns/cities to my knowledge require you to live in that town. when jersey gave the test the city of elizabeth had to regive the test because not enough took or did well enough to be considered
                              Is there a way to get rid of them


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