Pennsylvania Town Switches To Volunteers; Chief, Career Staff To Be Laid Off

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Tribune-Review

Uniontown has notified its entire paid fire department that all six members and the chief will be out of jobs by the end of the year, with volunteers to take their place.

In a letter sent Wednesday to the International Association of Firefighters Local 955, Councilman Gary Gearing notified firefighters the layoffs will be complete by Dec. 31, when the next contract expires.

City council voted Tuesday to notify the fire department of the intended layoffs. Mayor Ed Fike said the move is intended to save money.

Fike said although the fire department recently landed a $632,835 federal grant to bring the force back to its full complement of 11, council is uncertain it can legally accept the funds.

Fike said city officials have questions about how to replace those funds when the grant runs out.

Joshua Bloom, a Pittsburgh attorney who represents the firefighters, said today the union plans to fight the layoffs.

Copyright 2010 Tribune Review Publishing Company
All Rights Reserved
August 26, 2010

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Ok let me reword if the community decides to go to an all volunteer dept. and layoffs happen does the union have a valid claim if all other requirements are met such as 30 day notice.
MJ 6821, I work for a department that has been fully paid since 1889. Our budget is 86% wages and the rest for equipment supplies and what ever. What John is trying to tell you is that is normal. Almost all paid departments are in that rage. It is nothing unusual or worth discussing, it is just the way it is.
You get what you pay for. If you don't pay for career firefighters, you can't reasonably expect career firefighter levels of service.

If the career firefighters are laid off, there's no reasonable expectation that they'll continue to respond as volunteers. They may not live in that town, they may move elsewhere for jobs, or they may just choose to work elsewhere, which will keep them out of town a lot.
MJ, Lets see, paid guys are in the station, the alarm comes in, within one minute they leave. Ok, now the volunteers are out there, at home, work, kids football, whatever, the alarm comes in, they drop what they are doing, rrive to the station, form a crew and respond. How long did that take, 3 minutes, 5, 15? I know it takes that long sometimes because our fire department dispatches for the whole county and all the times are posted. I have seen it take 20 minutes to get out the door. Paid guys 1 to 2 minutes. I think I see a difference.
Yes there is a time difference out the door but realistically can you do safe operations of any typre with just two guys?
Paul, Please, by the balls, that would hurt. Now lets see, Chicago fire department went on strike, so did Normal Illinois. London firefighters have struck as well as all of England's paid guys. That is a lot of rope and twice as many balls. But it worked out. It is the inherent right of any working man to withhold his labor for what ever reason he sees fit, it is not only ethical it is the working mans tool to deal with oppressive employers. If you don't like the situation you fight, you do not quit. It is the American way, as American as apple pie. Fight to change it, use political action, negotiate, call in favors or if need be strike.
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MJ, they are doing it now. Not the best but that is what they have.
Sorry I just noticed my typo on the last reply, it should be type not typre.

Ok if they are doing that now they have to be pretty limited on what they can do until they get vollies there.

All I'm trying to say is yeah their response time is excellent no question about that, but is their response effective with just two guys.

If you look at a normal house fire with a hydrant with a short lay is 2 ff's really going to be all that effective right away?
Ok let me reword if the community decides to go to an all volunteer dept. and layoffs happen does the union have a valid claim if all other requirements are met such as 30 day notice

The union's claim is with the workers, not about the setup of the dept. If all requirements are met and layoffs still take place, the fight is still with the workers, the union can't take any action to prevent the change. The legal battles themselves may not be over with a change in the dept and it could be possible the city goes all volunteer only to lose in the courts and it could be possible jobs may be restored. It all depends upon the fight.
Ok if they are doing that now they have to be pretty limited on what they can do until they get vollies there.
All I'm trying to say is yeah their response time is excellent no question about that, but is their response effective with just two guys.
If you look at a normal house fire with a hydrant with a short lay is 2 ff's really going to be all that effective right away?


There is no argument that running even with 2 guys is no where near safe, satisfactory, and far from ideal. There are most definately limitations on what can be done and isn't how any dept should fight fire, yet there are times the few extra minutes arriving can mean a huge difference.

As mentioned, it isn't the best way, but it is what they have. Time factors not only in fire, but in medical. While the dept may not do EMS, it sounds like they still respond and that can also mean a difference in life and death.
Like I have said before there is so much info that is missing.
With that said no one can really make an informed comment on this. Some have called this a knee-jerk response and they might be right but we don't know that for sure. I will admit looking back that some of the things that I said were either ill-informed or just plain assumptions.
Maybe after more info gets brought to light this can be brought up again.
John....Here in NY we are considered employees of the municipality that we operate in...their insurance covers us under workman's comp in case of injury....we are considered unpaid employees...and I meant that both the Vollies and the paid staff negotiate with the municipality reference to the Department make-up....Firefighters wouldn't be worth a damn if they have it in them to refuse to answer a call.......I would never work with them again....trust would be lost....

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