Remotely-Assigned Firefighter Does Not Count Towards Staffing Minimums

The collective bargaining agreement between the North Andover Firefighters Union and the Town of North Andover, Massachusetts requires that the Town have a minimum of eight firefighters assigned to fire suppression on duty at all times. On June 3, 2008, the Town assigned one of its firefighters to travel to a nearby town to assist in the repair of a ladder truck. The Union filed a grievance, contending that the Town wrongly counted the remotely-assigned firefighter as part of it staffing minimums.

An arbitrator upheld the grievance. The Arbitrator ruled: “In my judgment ‘on duty’ is interpreted to mean readily or immediately available. While the absent firefighter might have been on the clock in the sense of his assignment while driving to Wakefield, he was not immediately available should a fire or emergency have arisen.”

By way of remedy, the Arbitrator ordered the Town to reimburse the Union at the overtime rate for the four hours spent by the firefighter on the remote assignment.

Town of North Andover, LAIG 6820 (Marrow 2009).

This article appears in the November 2010 issue