The collective bargaining agreement between the Beaumont Professional Firefighters, Local 399 and the City of Beaumont, Texas contains a generalized safety clause requiring the employer to maintain a safe working environment. When the City implemented a new standard allowing fire engines to remain in service with two-person crews while a third person manned an ambulance, Local 399 challenged the City’s decision through the arbitration process. An arbitrator upheld the grievance. The Arbitrator relied on a 1992 arbitration decision between the parties, reciting that both the City and Local 399 agreed that a two-person engine company constituted a threat to the safety and health of both firefighters and citizens. Since the 1992 decision, the City had unwaveringly used three-person engines.
In the Arbitrator’s judgment, “to permit the City to deviate from the longstanding practice of keeping three-person staffing on a fire engine at all times would be contrary to the safety and health of the members of the bargaining unit.” The Arbitrator ordered the City to maintain three-person staffing as a minimum on all engines.
City of Beaumont, Texas, LAIG 6231 (Britton, 2005).
This article appears in the June 2005 issue