Fire Marshals Do Not Count Towards Minimum Staffing

The staffing article in the collective bargaining agreement between Local 302 of the International Association of Fire Fighters and the City of Allentown, Pennsylvania requires the City to establish and publish staffing standards within the Fire Department. The parties’ 2005 contract specified a minimum staffing of 28 firefighters on duty at any one time.

In 2007, the City changed its practice to count fire marshals towards the minimum staffing requirements. Local 302 challenged the City’s decision in arbitration.

An arbitrator upheld the grievance. The Arbitrator found that the parties used the specific word “firefighters” to include only firefighters and fire officers in minimum staffing requirements. The Arbitrator cited a longstanding past practice prior to 2007 that fire marshals were never included as part of the minimum staffing calculation. In the eyes of the Arbitrator, if the City wanted to include fire marshals as part of the minimum staffing component, it was obligated to raise the issue in negotiations.

City of Allentown, Pennsylvania and IAFF, Local 302, LAIG 6628 (O’Connell, 2008).

This article appears in the October 2008 issue