Poll call: How prevalent are residency requirements?

In a near equal split, 52% of respondents say their department does not have residency restrictions, while 48% say their department does


News about consideration of a residency requirement for LAFD firefighters sparked hundreds of comments on Facebook. What do you think about the report? Join the conversation. 

By Rachel Engel

In November, FireRescue1 reported that the Los Angeles Fire Department is considering adding a residency requirement for firefighters, after a report created for the Board of Fire Commissioners revealed that 115 firefighters with the department live out of state.

“My number one concern is that unexpected, catastrophic event that we have to recall people,” LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said in a discussion with fire commissioners.

In a recent FireRescue1 poll, we asked readers, “Does your department have residency restrictions that require members to live within a certain distance of the fire department/assigned station?”

In a near-even split, 52% answered no, their department does not have or enforce residency requirements, while 48% said their department does.

Chief Marc Bashoor, executive editor for FireRescue1, weighed in on the topic with a nuanced take: “As a chief, we have responsibilities to our organizational health, which includes the potential for call-back during disaster or crisis scenarios. When firefighters are living three or four states away, the health of the organization suffers, especially during those crisis call-back moments, but also during ‘routine-mandatory’ overtime situations."

However, he does not see the situation as one-size-fits-all.

“As a ‘firefighter,’ I am somewhat conflicted on residency requirements; that said, I am not in favor of strict jurisdictional requirements – those that require the individual to live within the municipal/city/county boundaries,” he said.

Instead, Bashoor believes a middle-ground approach is the best way to serve the needs community members, individual firefighters and the department: “I am in favor of a residency ‘clause,’ if you will, that provides incentives for response to call-back within, say, one hour, graduated down to four hours. Beyond that, some clause that requires firefighters to live within so many miles or drive-time of the employees’ jurisdiction is generally in the best interest of the jurisdiction AND the employee, in my humble opinion.”

What's your opinion on residency requirements? Weigh in on the discussion with a comment below. 

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