Fired Ga. firefighters prompt light-duty policy shift

Officials said the firefighters injured in a ladder truck training exercise were likely never going to return to active duty

HALL COUNTY, Ga. — Excessive use of light-duty work prompted officials to review and clarify a standing policy following the firing of three injured firefighters.

Gainesville Times reported that Hall County Fire Services’ current policy restricts the availability of light-duty work for full-time personnel. Earlier this month, three firefighters injured in a July 2014 training incident were said to no longer be working at the Hall County Fire Department.

Commissioner Jeff Stowe said the firefighters were let go because they were never likely to return to active duty, according to the report. The firefighters had been on clerical and cleaning work since the incident.

"The department took advantage of that," Stowe said.

Two of the three injured firefighters called their separation from the county disappointing, according to the report. T.J. Elliott, Will Griffin and Stephen Jackson suffered severe injuries after falling 45 feet during a training exercise with a ladder truck.

They had not been medically cleared to return to active duty when their jobs were terminated. County officials encouraged the firefighters to apply for other jobs, but they said some physical limitations would keep them from performing other jobs.

"It's not the county’s place or position to provide them with a job on top of workers' compensation," Commissioner Scott Gibbs said. "We just don't create those positions."

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