Ohio fire chief orders personnel to limit side jobs to reduce COVID-19 exposure
The order raised concerns that personnel who work part time at other public safety agencies would no longer be available to assist those communities
The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for fire and EMS agencies, from PPE shortages to questions of firefighter quarantine. In the webinar recording “Coronavirus & the Fire Service: 7 Key Legal Considerations,” fire service legal expert and Deputy Chief Curt Varone talks with Deputy Chief Billy Goldfeder about some of the most common legal issues arising out of the COVID-19 crisis. Listen here.
By Laura French
MANSFIELD, Ohio — An Ohio fire chief has ordered fire and EMS personnel to limit their work outside of the department to reduce their exposure to COVID-19.
Mansfield Fire Chief Steve Strickling said the order includes work at hospitals and other fire departments but does not put limits on volunteer firefighting, according to the Mansfield News Journal.
Both union officials and personnel who work part-time at other public safety agencies raised concerns about the fire chief’s directive.
IAFF Local 266 President Scott Miller said the order affects collectively bargained contracts, which should be abided by during the crisis.
Firefighters and EMS providers at the department also said the decision may negatively impact communities that rely on part-time work from Mansfield department members to stay staffed during the pandemic.
Washington Township Trustee Bob Entenmann said six Mansfield Fire Department members work as part-time paramedics in the township and that a Mansfield firefighter is also the fire chief at the Washington Township Fire Department. Without those personnel available, the township would only be left with two paramedics, Entenmann said.
Strickling acknowledged that his decision will affect other departments and communities, but that his objective is to eliminate any exposure from personnel working outside their primary job.
“We don’t limit volunteer employment so if a person is a volunteer firefighter where it is strictly volunteer and they are not accepting pay, we don’t limit that,” Strickling told the News Journal. “The federal government says we can't limit that and nor do we want to.”