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.