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Firefighter canned from day job over Sandy response calls

The volunteer firefighter alleges that he was fired for going on rescue calls and not calling his other employer to notify him

By FireRescue1 Staff

RIVERSIDE, N.J. — A N.J. volunteer firefighter says he was fired for responding to a rescue call during Sandy without calling his boss at his primary job.

Firefighter Robert Campolongo went to help rescue families trapped in their flooded homes during Superstorm Sandy in late October, according to the Burlington County Times.

Firefighter Campolongo worked as a driver for N.J.-based carrier company; he had been with the company only about four weeks. L&C was hired to bring emergency generators and other equipment to NYC during the storm.

While responding to the rescue call, he did not call his boss at L&C and the next day, he found out he had been terminated for not showing up to work.

Cliff Cini, co-owner of L&C told the Times that every driver was needed for the transport and that Firefighter Campolongo left the company "high and dry."

While Firefighter Campolongo does not deny the fact that he did not appear for work, he said that anticipating Sandy's destruction, he went to the firehouse instead where he responded to numerous blazes and downed trees.

He also told the Burlington County Times that he was one of the only people who could drive a specialized boat and since he hadn't received any calls from L&C, he said he would be available at the firehouse.

Cini says that he sent numerous text messages and calls and never heard back, while Firefighter Campolongo said he didn't have service during the storm and that he expected to hear about having to work over the weekend.

A 2010 law known as the Emergency Responders Employment Act makes it illegal for employers to fire a volunteer first responder if he or she is serving during a state of emergency or is actively engaged in responding to an emergency alarm, but it requires the responder to provide his employer with notice “at least one hour before he is scheduled to report to his place of employment.”

The law also requires the employee to provide a copy of an incident report or certification by an incident commander or “other official or officer in charge” that affirms that the volunteer was “actively engaged.”

L&C acknowledges that they received a letter detailing Firefighter Campolongo's actions during the storm, but Cini does not have plans to rehire him.

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Nathan Smithgoodwin Clark Nathan Smithgoodwin Clark Monday, November 26, 2012 2:14:27 PM he can sue for this by law he cant be fired.
Joshua Foust Joshua Foust Monday, November 26, 2012 2:22:04 PM That firefighter is a hero to others for coming to their aid. Sounds like Cini is run by cowards, where money is more important than their own community.
Seth Allison Seth Allison Monday, November 26, 2012 3:27:54 PM Thank You my brother..
Angela Cobb Angela Cobb Monday, November 26, 2012 3:30:29 PM Jerks! He didn't need that crappy job anyway! Thanks for being a hero!
Kevin Teel Kevin Teel Monday, November 26, 2012 3:38:59 PM Take them to court, you'll win!
Jesse Vanderhuff Jesse Vanderhuff Monday, November 26, 2012 3:41:14 PM Way too go Brotherr thumbs up to you
Chris Larson Chris Larson Monday, November 26, 2012 3:41:50 PM these are the last kinds of people that volenteer protected communities need, hopefully the community as well as us fellow firefighters stand behind him in hopes of him being able to secure a means of oncome for his family, I can say I would make the same decision as this fire fighter, I would not be able to deal with myself if I just left my community after a disaster like that.
Travis Carey Travis Carey Monday, November 26, 2012 3:54:21 PM If everyone reads the law, it also says that " but it requires the responder to provide his employer with notice “at least one hour before he is scheduled to report to his place of employment.”, in which it sounds like he did not do. If not then he may not be able to sue. Yes I am a volunteer firefighter, if he was scheduled he should of at least given notice to his job.
Lance Denotter Lance Denotter Monday, November 26, 2012 3:58:02 PM Just show employers don't give a shit about anything other then money period
Bobby Dean Cranford Bobby Dean Cranford Monday, November 26, 2012 4:01:37 PM Before everyone jumps on the company keep in mind that they were delivering emergency generators etc and were an important part of the help as well. As a business owner I can see both side of this-he SHOULD have called in so they would know he wasn't coming to work-as a volunteer I would have done the same but I would have let my boss know.
Ryan Papp Ryan Papp Monday, November 26, 2012 4:04:50 PM The problem with that is if he's actively responding he has other things on his mind. I personally don't bring my phone on a call for two reasons. First is I have more important things to do then update my Facebook status and second I'm not taking the chance of loosing/damaging my phone. So it stays at the station
Rikki Irwin Rikki Irwin Monday, November 26, 2012 4:18:55 PM How does the company know he didn't try calling no one had signal cause of the storm. Pretty dumb to ask someone to call when you aren't able to. The worse lawyer in the worldcan win this one
Joshua Foust Joshua Foust Monday, November 26, 2012 4:26:23 PM How do you contact when phone service is down?
Chris Irwin Chris Irwin Monday, November 26, 2012 4:39:46 PM I think he needs to find a better employer!
Fred Crockett Fred Crockett Monday, November 26, 2012 4:49:03 PM Man, This Is A hard one.. Ive been A volunteer firefighter since I was 14 got hired on with A paid department at 21. As A volunteer I missed work A few times but allways called. I know were the employer stands as well. You have to look at A few things in my oppinion, #1 Did he try to call Honestly. #2 His time of employment Most companies state any missed time or no shows with in the first 90 days you will get fired.#3 the companie was hired to transport EMERGENCY equipment so the items were needed ASAP.. And last the way times are know I hate to say it but there are 50 people fighting for 1 job so if he goes there is 49 other applacnts willing to work.. Would I have done the same thing? Yes we all would have, But I would have called and made sure I talked to someone.... Good luck brother..
Travis Carey Travis Carey Monday, November 26, 2012 4:54:58 PM That is my point. Will he win in court?I dont think so, he openly said he did not call in, as the law states, you are to call an hour before your shift atleast. I dont agree with him being fired, but you are also correct about the 90 days. My job I just got is that way, but they will allow an excused from community service per contract. There are many factors in which im sure wasnt reported here. People jumping the gun blaming the company need to keep one thing in mind. There are 2 sides to every story, somewhere in the middle is the truth. The matter is, finding that truth.
Michael John Allen Michael John Allen Monday, November 26, 2012 5:43:19 PM Maybe there should be a petition and we send it to his employer.
George Raab George Raab Monday, November 26, 2012 6:12:27 PM This firefighter did his job. He was out in a hurricane doing what he took an oath to do, save and protect ppls lives. Its a state of emergency and if there was no cellphone service there wud b no way for him to call work. Besides L&C sound like a bunch of jerks! Maybe they should walk a few inches in firefighter campolongos shoes and do what he and so many other first responders did that day. SAVED LIVES!!!!!
Fred Crockett Fred Crockett Monday, November 26, 2012 8:19:04 PM Travis Carey, Your words are corect, If I was his employer NO I would not have fired him. I know I was out from Sunday till Thursday here in Maryland when sandy hit. The storry does not say if he missed 1 day or more than one day. I know with my employer that we can miss 1 shift (24) hours if it has to do with emergency related runs but that is with A 1 hour notice and if it is more than A shift it is up to us to find coverage. And when it comes to the whole court thing I honestly dont he has A leg to stand on.. But again that is just my oppinion the courts are weird. In FL they let A lady go for killing her kid and A lasy gets $10 million from McDonalds for spilling Hot coffee in her probly worn out crotch..
Russ Gregston Russ Gregston Tuesday, November 27, 2012 5:22:07 AM I can see both sides of the argument here on one hand the generators are needed after the fact and in these kind of emergencies yes cell phone comms are not reliable and the employer should have taken that into consideration. On the other hand the law as interpreted clearly requires the employee to let his employer know. Lack of communication and grey areas in the law seem to have played a role in this. The best thing to take from this is a learning experience and to take measures to close the gaps to be better prepared for the next big emergency. This is one of the reasons we have after action reviews in the fire service to identify and overcome these problems so it doesn't happen again.
Jennifer Fligier-Cini Jennifer Fligier-Cini Tuesday, November 27, 2012 5:38:18 AM Read the philly burbs newspaper article. The truth is the truth. This site and story is one sided. Campolongo is dilusional and desperate. News article shows employers phone records/texts sent by Campolongo.
Michael Rugh Michael Rugh Tuesday, November 27, 2012 6:00:52 AM Good jobs are hard to come by, so are good Volunteers. Family comes first, should have tried harder to notify his boss if he wants to feed his family.
Brandon Israel Brandon Israel Tuesday, November 27, 2012 8:02:30 AM damn right, I'd sue the shit out of walmart if they did this shit too me.
Rory Zach Rory Zach Tuesday, November 27, 2012 12:52:15 PM Everyone needs to read the local newspaper article. It gives more detail on the expectations and conversations that occured. Also, this was Riverside, NJ. Not Pennsylvania. Mr. Cini from L&C asked Mr. Campolongo to call him if he wanted to continue working there. Campolongo chose not to. I've been a volunteer Firefighter for 37 years and in my opinion, Mr. Campolongo took advantage of his employer in this case. Sounds to me like he wants to be a "full time volunteer".
Michael John Allen Michael John Allen Tuesday, November 27, 2012 7:46:41 PM This story should be edited to include the additional information.
Gregory F. Leonard Gregory F. Leonard Thursday, November 29, 2012 4:31:29 AM In my opinion rules are rules and the law is the law. There also is two sides of the coin and both sides need to be aired. The law covers volunteers from such an occurance when done by proper procedure. Everyones employer has certain rules and guidelines to follow and some have very specific guidlines for this type of occurance that again must be followed. I have called into work during emergencies or I had someone else call in for me, sometimes even the comm center will do it if your hands are full. I would suggest both sides to sit down together and try to iron this out but so far everything is in the companies corner.

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