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Hartford Contract

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  • Hartford Contract

    HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A new contract for Hartford firefighters
    could be costly to other fire departments in the region.
    The contract would prohibit city firefighters from responding to
    calls as members of other paid or volunteer departments. The
    provision would take effect on June 30, 2008.
    Paul Fetherston, town manager of Newington, told The Herald of
    New Britain that the change would have a "devastating impact" on
    his town and volunteer departments in greater Hartford.
    "Every community has the right to govern and manage their town
    as is appropriate but not to the detriment of their neighbors,"
    Fetherston said. "To have people prohibited from volunteering who
    want to volunteer concerns and confuses me," he said.
    Fetherston said he believes the contract would remove 85
    volunteer firefighters from departments in the greater Hartford
    Hartford Fire Chief Charles A. Teale said the purpose of the
    clause is to decrease injuries suffered by Hartford firefighters
    while volunteering in other towns. He also said the provision would
    save taxpayers money because the city would not have to pay
    overtime to firefighters who cover shifts of employees injured in
    other towns.
    "I tried to look at it from everybody's perspective - the
    firefighters, cities and towns and the taxpayers," Teale said.
    "It was a very difficult decision to arrive at, but it's the only
    one that benefits the firefighters and taxpayers."
    Teale did not know how many of the city's firefighters would be
    barred from volunteer service under the new contract because
    department employees never needed his, or the city's, permission.
    Newington, which may lose two or three of the 125 members of its
    volunteer rolls because of Hartford's contract, has already seen
    similar regulations in East Hartford, West Hartford and New Britain
    affect its volunteer services.

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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  • #2
    We're losing 2 Lieutenants.

    Simsbury is losing their Chief (unless he retires from Hartford before then) and others.

    Kaman Aerospace is losing some of its industrial firefighters.

    It is going to have a big impact on this area. Not only are many of those guys volunteers, many of them are officers in volunteer departments.

    The new contract goes into effect July 1st, and they are switching from 3-on/3-off to 24hrs-on/72hrs-off.
    IACOJ Agitator
    Fightin' Da Man Since '78!


    • #3
      Interesting way of accomplishing the same goals that the PGFD situation was started over.


      • #4
        While I can understand that this may impact some volunteer depts to a degree, the media has failed to detail why this an important topic.

        In the past, heart and hypertension was easily given if you were a FF. That is no longer the case. There now must be solid proof that the job has actually been the cause of the injury/illness. If a paid FF is also a volunteer on his days off, the claim will certainly be denied. The City of Hartford does not want to pay a claim for an incident that it has no part of. By being a volunteer on the site, the burden of proof has been removed.

        The same goes for workers compensation. Whether we are paid or volunteer firefighters, fire burns the same way. With that comes the possibility for injury. If a paid firefighter gets hurt in a volunteer capacity, he is now out of work. In one of the articles I read, a town manager stated that if a FF got hurt while being a volunteer, the town's workers compensation would cover him. The paper left it at that. But...will they pay his full FF salary that he makes in his paid job? Also, exactly how does he take the time off from his paid job? He would have to use either vacation time or sick time. Either one creates the need for overtime, and cities are out to cut that in massive ways since every city is belly up with budget woes.

        The biggest thing that comes to mind here is that the paid job is how we feed our families and keep a roof over their head. That's pretty much priority one in my life.

        It's also odd that the media is making such a big deal of this. Waterbury, West Hartford, East Hartford, and many other depts. in the area have all had the same stipulation for years. When these depts. hire volunteers, those members stop volunteering. No dept has gone under as a result.

        I'm not sure what Hartford's contract entails, but I would think that these depts. do not need to lose their knowledge in these Harford FF's. Although unable to respond to emergency calls, some depts. do let guys volunteer as training officers. The key is to not let them go to calls where an injury or stress could occur.

        I applaud Hartford for setting the date that this becomes mandatory forward a few years. This gives all depts. plenty of time to recruit and train new members.

        In a time where towns and cities are feeling a huge budget cruch, they're looking at every penny to see if it is being spent wisely. Sick and comp times are HUGE payouts in paid depts. Although there will be an uncomfortable transition for some depts., I know that every volunteer dept will surive and the fires will still go out safely.


        • #5
          If the union is so concerned thay need to expand to all jobs that career firefighters have as other employment like roofers, landscapers, carpenters, ect.


          • #6
            You missed a huge point. Some of the biggest payouts in history came from Heart and Hypertension claims.

            If you consider banging nails and mowing lawns to be as stressful, or physically demanding as firefighting, you need to find a busier department!

            The last thing I want this to becaome is a paid vs. volunteer debate.


            • #7
              All Im saying is that if the unions are worried about injuries outside there dept. then they sould be as concerned for members with all other physical jobs too. Injuries can happen with any 2nd job and time off or whatever would be the same as an injury as a volunteer fire fighter.

              And this is a paid/volunteer issue because they are both involved.


              • #8
                I'm not sure if you read any other articles other the one above, but it was the CITY that proposed the change, not the Union.

                Another note...the IAFF bylaws clearly state that its members are not to volunteer. Some agree with that, some don't...but it's in black and white. Some volunteers trying to get paid jobs don't like that. If that's the case, they may want to find a dept. that is not affilliated with the IAFF.

                We do the same job, except I do it to feed my family. Because of that, I (as well as any other paid FF) need to be sure that we're covered.


                • #9
                  I have read the above article and others that seem the same. To me its sounds like the city, union and fd leadership are all behind this and infavor.

                  We will never agree on this issue because we sit on the 2 sides of the fence. I come from a combo dept and have been called everthing from a scab, job stealer to others I cant print here. I understand you do this for a living and I respect that and have always supported our career guys in time of need.

                  I guess Im just used to being on the defencive when it coms the unions and the IAFF.

                  stay safe.....


                  • #10
                    Another Opinion

                    Although I can see the significant impact that cities/towns are going to face as this date draws near, there is one thing I haven't seen anybody make mention of yet. How about further elaborating the comments made by someone concerning the IAFF prohibiting volunteering by union members. I strongly agree that union firefighters should not be volunteering fire supression duties in a town/city where a paid dept currently exsists, no matter what its size. In towns/cities where a paid dept doesn't exsist and one isn't practical (such as for low population communities)I don't see a problem from a union standpoint with union members volunteering fire suppression duties. From a financial stand point, I can understand a town or cities concern for injury causing overtime. From a health stand point that's something that each firefighter is jepordizing if he/she chooses to volunteer. Hey it's your family that's going to suffer when your hypertension claim gets denied.

                    However in a town/city where a paid dept exsists with volunteers, a union brother volunteering is just smacking every paid firefighter in that town right across the face. In most depts, as is the case with mine and most others these days, we argue every year for additional paid staff. However, because of volunteers we're told that our staffing is sufficient because "the volunteers will come". Now without turning this into a paid vs. volunteer arguement, one can easily understand how frustrating this is to someone like myself who is paid and argues all the time more paid staff is needed. Not to mention in my dept there's an SOP prohibiting any affiliation with any other fire dept paid or volunteer, commission membership or fire supression.

                    Maybe it's time for towns/cities that rely so heavily on volunteers (especially those that rely on career firefighters to volunteer) belly up and realize that the time has come to form a paid dept and stop relying on the professionalism of other cities/towns firefighter.
                    And with that hopefully any union member that's currently volunteering in a combo-dept realize that he/she is not only violating an IAFF rule but hurting each and every union brother.


                    • #11
                      The towns around Hartford that are crying about the contract are certainly capable of supporting a full-time fire department. If a town or city can afford to provide a full-time police force they can afford to provide a full-time fire service. These towns owe it to their citizens.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CrossBro1
                        The towns around Hartford that are crying about the contract are certainly capable of supporting a full-time fire department. If a town or city can afford to provide a full-time police force they can afford to provide a full-time fire service. These towns owe it to their citizens.
                        Whatever...I hate getting into these arguments but that is just nonsense. Saying if they can pay police they can pay fire. I do agree, there are some towns around Hartford that can support full time FDs. However there are others that cannot. But what you are saying is that a town like East Windsor, who has 2 or 3 cops on duty per shift, can support to have a full time FD. They don't even have enough cops per shift to fill an engine if they were FFs.
                        IACOJ Agitator
                        Fightin' Da Man Since '78!


                        • #13
                          Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe career ff's should stay out of volunteer fire service all together. I have found that it takes certain kind of person to wear a pager. We have had several to-be career as well as career guys and they just did not make the grain. This goes the same for career firefighters. I know I could not take the EMS part my dept's daily runs, which is done by the career members. This is causing tention between vol and career and career and career and so on.

                          But in the long run it will hurt any relationship between these groups.


                          • #14
                            We are loosing 2 members of Vernon's fire department.

                            Our Asst Chief and a Captain.

                            Its prolly only a matter of time before other departments follow suit.


                            • #15
                              I have found it extremely funny to see the politicians of the affected towns pleading their case in the papers. Do they not realize what they would do if the shoe was on the respective other foot. They would do the same thing Hartford did. When a firefighter gets hurt at a fire, and I can tell you this from 12 years of experience, 4 of which are with the busiest fire department in the US, they are in most cases injuries that keep a person out of work for a significant amount of time. The city of Hartford incurrs a overtime cost, as well as an insurance costs (they volunteer member is going to use his/her health insurance to pay bills) to fill the spot for the injured member. If these towns want to keep this luxury which they have, maybe they should be billed by the City of Hartford each and everytime this happens. I'm sure that then they would be more than willing to give up this luxury. And let us not forget, that the contract was voted on by the membership, who's makeup is the very people we are discussinng right now!


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