One of the most challenging issues I faced as a fire chief was a firefighter who was injured on the job. Having a firefighter injured is never a great thing to deal with, but we know that the job has some inherent risks and with these risks come injuries and in some cases even death. Some injuries are permenant and others take years to overcome.
That being said when should firefighters be terminated off the payroll? Before you react emotionally, which is very easy to do on this subject, here are a few things you must considered before you respond.
The firefighter is governed by a bargaining unit contract that offers pay and benefits for six months and nothing beyond that time period. There is no known time period that the firefighter will be able to return to duty. There is one side telling you that you need to release the firefighter because you are filling the position with overtime pay, there is the other side telling you to be compassionate and let the firefighter on the books for an indefinite period.
There are pro and cons to both. You are preparing to set a precedent. Where do you go from here? When do you release a firefighter from the organization? You are not able to make a position for a firefighter every time they sustain an injury. Some organizations say it is one year then you release the firefighter. What is the magic number? How do you determine what the right time is to release a firefighter? You have to use compassion and yet make sure it is a good business decision also.
Let's hear from you.