Fire Group Pushes Costly Minimum Staffing

By Peterson, Doug | Nation's Cities Weekly, January 13, 1992 | Go to article overview

Fire Group Pushes Costly Minimum Staffing


Peterson, Doug, Nation's Cities Weekly


Cities could be required to have a minimum of three or four personnel assigned to each piece of fire apparatus operated by their city under standards now being considered by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Organized labor in the fire service is strongly advocating adoption of such standards.

NLC policy opposes adoption of or giving status to fire standards of bodies not having adequate representation of local elected officials. This NFPA committee has no elected local officials among its 30 members, being composed fire management, organized labor, manufacturers and suppliers of fire equipment, the federal government, insurance industry and various research bodies.

This issue of local control in staffing is frequently the most contentious issue in many fire service bargaining sessions. Mandatory standards could place cities in a fiscal straight-jacket with the annual cost of a firefighter approaching $50,000 (including fringe benefits). Conservatively estimating two personnel to provide round the clock full-time coverage could make the incremental cost of such standards $100,0000 per year per piece of fire apparatus.

The issue of staffing levels has generally been left to be determined by city management or through local bargaining agreements. While a NFPA standard by itself is not automatically binding on a city, cities can expect to confront such a "nationally adopted standard" in litigation, bargaining and workers compensation hearings. Some states and cities may also adopt NFPA standards automatically by reference into their statutes and codes.

Establishment of such national minimum staffing requirements for fire apparatus will be considered this Thursday, January 16th in Nashville, Tennessee by the Technical Committee on Fire Service Occupational Safety and Health of the National Fire Protection Association. …

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