INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, FL — Future pregnant firefighters no longer have to worry about losing pay if the doctor advises against them going out on rescue calls.
County commissioners Tuesday unanimously approved a light-duty option for pregnant firefighters.
“It’s long overdue,” Commissioner Joe Flescher said.
The policy, which has been ratified by the International Association of Firefighters Local 2201, removes pregnancy as a condition ineligible for light or restricted duty. Firefighters must request light duty and have a doctor’s note explaining all restrictions.
The county’s previous policy allowed restricted duty only for firefighters injured on the job.
Indian River was one of a handful of Florida counties without a light-duty option. The absence of a policy came to light this spring, when firefighter-paramedic Nicole Morris continued to work regular shifts while eight months pregnant.
The union asked the county for a policy that would allow Morris to continue her pregnancy with a light-duty assignment. The request was initially denied by commissioners, who said they were unable to change the contract outside of negotiations.
In April, when the county and union met to discuss cost-of-living wages and changes involving a new fire station, county officials proposed the light-duty option for all firefighters.
Morris eventually was given a light-duty assignment and finished out her pregnancy while assigned at the county Emergency Operations Center. She gave birth to a baby girl in April.
Commission Chairman Peter O’Bryan said on Tuesday he supported the change, though it might end up costing the county more money in the future.
“I still think it’s the right thing to do,” he said.