Firefighters, EMS and Rescue Personnel
- Fire protection personnel are employees working
for an organized fire department or fire district who have been trained for and
have the legal authority and responsibility to engage in the prevention and
control of fires.
- Law enforcement personnel are employees who are
empowered by State or local ordinance to enforce laws designed to maintain
peace and order, protect life and property, and to prevent and detect crimes;
who have the power to arrest; and who have undergone training in law
- EMS and rescue personnel are employees trained
to “rescue” the victims of fires, crimes and accidents. While generally speaking EMS and rescue
personnel must be treated, for overtime purposes, the same as any other
government employee, some public employers attempt to fit them into the
exemptions allowed for firefighters.
Firefighters and police officers
must be paid minimum wage and overtime for any hours worked over 53 per
week. Time sleeping and eating may be
excluded under certain conditions. Hours
may be figured on the basis of a “work period” instead of the traditional
weekly calculation. Under certain
conditions rescue and law enforcement personnel may receive “comp” time rather
than overtime pay.
Officers may be exempted from
overtime pay if they perform primarily supervisory duties and are paid a salary
instead of hourly wage. There are specific legal standards that apply to the
determination of exempt officer status.
Public safety employees often spend
many hours on-call when they are not on duty.
Under some circumstances this time must be included in hours worked for
overtime purposes. One of the conditions
to counting this time is that that the on-call time must have been used mainly
for your employers benefits. Generally
speaking that means that your employer must have placed some limits on how you
may use your time when you are on-call.
- the average number of calls you must respond to
during that time
- time spent on the call after being called in
- whether or not you may be punished for lateness or
not making it to a call at all
Often firefighters and rescue
personnel work 24 hour shifts, during these shifts they are required to sleep
on-site. If your employer meets the two
requirements below up to 8 hours of sleep time per shift can be subtracted from
- The shift must last more than 24 hours, AND
- You must have agreed with your employer that the
sleep time may be subtracted.
The agreement does not have to be
“express,” meaning that you and your employer discussed the situation and
decided to subtract the time; it may be “implied,” meaning, for example, that
your employer has been subtracting the 8 hours and you have never complained
about it. Implied agreements are not
limited to the previous example.
Similar to sleep time, public
safety employees often take meals on-site due to long shifts. Again employers may only subtract this time
for paid hours if all the following conditions are met:
- The shift must last more than
- The employee must be completely
relieved of work duties during the meal time, AND
- There must be an agreement,
express or implied, between you and your employer.
Investigators. Fire investigators
are not treated to same way as firefighters for overtime purposes. If you are a fire investigator you are
entitled to overtime pay after 40 or 43 hours of work instead of after 53.
While the work of dispatchers is a key part of the work of firefighters,
police officers and rescue personnel, they are not treated the same way under
the law. Dispatchers must be paid
overtime when work time exceeds 40 hours a week.
Usually EMS personnel are treated the same as any other public sector employee,
meaning they are due overtime pay after 40 hours of work. However, many employers try to fit them into
the firefighter 53 hour scheme in order to avoid paying overtime. Employers may use the 53 hour structure if
four criteria are met.
must be an “integral part” of fire protection activities
must be trained to “rescue” victims of fires, crimes and accidents
must be sent to fires, crime scenes and vehicle accidents on a regular basis
- You must spend at least 80% of your work time on
fire protection/rescue duties
that cross-training in fire and rescue is a essential part of these