Ive been following this thread for awhile now, not responding because for one I don’t have any answers and any response I would have on the subject of the CFAA would be purely speculative and non-productive. What I find interesting though is the absence of any mention of one of the largest influences in the state of CA, that would be the CPF. You can bet that CPF is in the ear of OES/CALFIRE and this is evident with the news that State Assembly bill AB-1299 just passed the house floor and is now awaiting State Senate approval. This bill specifically states that paid firefighters receive the priority for mutual aid requests and volunteers second. Furthermore should volunteers receive any compensation, it will be capped at a max of 20% of a paid FF’s salary for the year. This includes mutual aid deployments, So if the department is a combo once those vollies have made 20% they can no longer be paid or utilized and If they are all volly then a committe will determine what a paid FF would be paid in their area and they will receive up to 20% of that. Not sure how this will play out but thought it was relevant to this discussion.
That is a very interesting arm of this discussion. I think this bill is deserved of talk but I think it may be better served as a separate topic just to keep things clean.
For inquiring minds…the Leg Counsels summary of the bill ( I removed the red lined items):
AB 1299, as amended, Flora. Mutual aid: reimbursements: volunteer firefighters.
(1) Existing law, the California Emergency Services Act, requires the Governor to coordinate the State Emergency Plan and any programs necessary for the mitigation of the effects of an emergency in this state, as specified. The act authorizes the Governor, with advice of the Office of Emergency Services, to divide the state into mutual aid regions for the more effective application, administration, and coordination of mutual aid and other emergency-related activities. The act requires the Office of Emergency Services, in consultation with relevant local and state agencies, to develop and adopt a state fire service and rescue emergency mutual aid plan as an annex to the State Emergency Plan.
This bill would require a nonprofit or public fire department that has volunteer firefighters and receives reimbursement from the federal, state, or local government through a mutual aid request, if the applicable fire agreement is intended to reimburse for personnel costs for work performed associated with firefighting in which the volunteer firefighters of the fire department have participated, to pass through to those volunteers specific reimbursement. The bill would require a fire department that utilizes the services of volunteer firefighters to maintain documentation of reimbursements and allow access to those records as prescribed. The bill would require fire departments, based on specified criteria, to cease using the services of any volunteer firefighter to provide mutual aid response pursuant to the fire agreement who has received pass-through reimbursements that exceed during the fiscal year 20% of either the salary of a full-time firefighter employed by that department, or in the case of an all-volunteer department, the cost of a full-time firefighter’s salary as determined by the Employment Development Department, and would prohibit such a volunteer from engaging in mutual aid response for the fire department until the following fiscal year. The bill would waive the 20% reimbursement threshold in the case of a proclamation of an emergency by the Governor. The bill would require fire departments that employ full-time firefighters to give priority to paid firefighters over volunteer firefighters in mutual aid assignments. The bill would authorize a volunteer to pursue reimbursement in a civil action if the fire department fails to reimburse the volunteer firefighter in accordance with the bill. By increasing the duties of local officials, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.
Why would Heath Flora a Republican from Ripon and volunteer firefighter sponsor this bill? CPF has nothing to do with this one…
SUPPORT: (Verified 7/8/19)
California State Firefighters’ Association (source) California Fire Chiefs Association
OPPOSITION: (Verified 7/8/19) None received
ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT: The California State Firefighters’ Association, the sponsors of the measure, argue the following:
“Volunteer firefighters serve as the backbone of the California Mutual Aid System, a system that is largely agreed to be the best in the world. They are involved in their local communities but are also the crucial resources needed in responding to incidents through mutual aid agreements in areas that are not their own. In recent large scale incidents, the federal and state governments provide a reimbursement to those fire departments who participate. These reimbursement monies are meant to be passed through to the volunteers through previously agreed upon contracts. Unfortunately, too many fire departments do not pass through the reimbursements to the volunteer firefighters.
The California Labor Commissioner regulates the terms and conditions of employment, including wages. Existing law prohibits an employer from discharging, or in any manner discriminating against, an employee for taking time off to perform emergency duty as a volunteer firefighter. It is also a misdemeanor to willfully refuse to pay wages due or to falsely deny an amount or validity of an amount owed.
This bill would require a fire department with volunteer firefighters that receives reimbursement for personnel costs associated with firefighting in which its volunteer firefighters have participated to pass through to those volunteers the money they are due.”
Here’s a link to four different analysis of AB1299… good stuff here explains the rational…
Yes. As mentioned earlier. Don’t blame the Forest Service Firefighters about all this. When LGs are out on the ground, we need support our FS Firefighter counterparts. This is not on them. This is all Vallejo’s responsibility.
The Forest service Vallejo types have thrown in the towel. OES stood firm. Forest service had the option to leave 2019 alone and focus on the 2020 rewrite as was suggested months ago and Forest service didn’t listen.
What is unclear in AB-1299 is whether the limitations placed on volunteers applies in a CalFire Assistance by Hire situation. If a volunteer staffed engine is covering a CalFire station under the ABH arrangement and then gets sent out, either in on an IA or Planned Need resource, does the limitation of once per Fiscal year apply or is that going to be considered a paid employee circumstance.
The reason, these two things are very much linked together in this whole muddy mess is that resource planning and availability crosses both these two situations. AB-1299 could have some interesting implications in how it is applied, particularly in ABH conditions when CF resources are drawn way down. Especially keeping in mind that the Federal fires are typically ordering Type 3 or less engines. Most municipalities with paid personnel have limited Type 3 equipment with some notable exceptions such as Kern County.
I fail to see the issue with allowing career firefighters have priority. I have worked for combo and currently an all paid Dept. My current dept will not allow vollie or pcfs to respond to any incident in the jurisdiction. Volunteers are just that volunteers. And in CA where we pay a boat load of taxes. The residents pay for and deserve professional firefighters.
So, the issue becomes, the volunteer agencies, and there are many throughout the more rural areas of the State, that have put the time, money and effort into the exact training and equipment standards as CalFire, then those people should be able to participate just as they have previously. Personally, I have worked alongside some very well trained and highly experienced volunteers on the line. I would also say that those individuals would be a whole better and safer to work alongside than the paid personnel on the Ranch Fire burnover event last year. The point being that just because personnel are paid or career does not automatically mean that they are more qualified or experienced than a volunteer engine or ST
I cannot speak to your specific agency or the training standards but usually agencies who do not allow PCF or volunteers to respond to fire incidents also do not train those personnel to the same proficiency levels necessary for wildland fires, including being Red Carded and pack testing.
Look at how many of the OES engines and water tenders are staffed by combination or all volunteer departments. This could have some impact on the OES system.
Here we go again. Paid vs Vollie. FFCSM, You get what you paid for. And I don’t mean in wages… In Dept’s where Vollies are well trained and used on a daily basis you end up with Professional Volunteers. In Dept’s where they are NOT used on a regular basis you end up with a bunch of hose rollers. Your Dept. and your staff has the choice of what they get. If what you say is true, then YOUR Taxpayers are NOT getting the level of service THEY are paying for. In my area when a house catches on fire, a car crash happens, someone stops breathing, NO ONE cares who arrives in the fire engine. NO ONE cares what color it is or what color uniform they wear. NO ONE cares if they are paid for what they do OR if they are Volunteers. Out on the fire lines of the recent Carr Fire, County Fire, Delta Fire, Camp Fire, Klamathon Fire, etc. NO ONE cares if the staff is paid or Volunteer. They all watched each others back and took care of each other because they were ALL acting Professional. Over my many years in the Fire Service I have met many folks that had you opinion. After working with these folks on many assignments, many of them had a refreshing change of attitude towards Volunteer Firefighters. Someday I hope you get to experience a true Professional Volunteer Firefighter. I’m sure you have experienced some paid ones that are not professional at all. So. I will climb off my soapbox until another inexperienced paid FF (you noticed I didn’t say Professional) bashes Volunteer FF’s again.
You realize that volunteers still make up 70+% of the nation’s firefighters and in northern California most counties are mainly volunteers. The only difference from a volunteer and paid is just that the pay. As far as not allowing volunteers in your jurisdiction, who do you work for?
Hey FFCSM, save your hostility and name calling for Facebook. This forum is meant for useful information to be shared and discussed related to wildland firefighting. No one here wants this platform to devolve into a trash talking troll pit.
I have so much to say about this because I know myself, my department, my communities, and fellow volunteer firefighters and their respective departments will greatly suffer if this passes. They just don’t know it yet.
What is unclear in AB-1299 is whether the limitations placed on volunteers applies in a CalFire Assistance by Hire situation."
The language is very clear from the bill. It states;
" *The bill would require fire departments, based on specified criteria,to cease using the services of any volunteer firefighter to provide mutual aid response pursuant to the fire agreement who has received pass-through reimbursements that exceed during the fiscal year 20%…
“Look at how many of the OES engines and water tenders are staffed by combination or all volunteer departments. This could have some impact on the OES system.”
My entire county is volunteer staffed including our OES engines. This would be detrimental to every resource for our communities especially since the language clearly states
"Departments that utilize full-time firefighters shall give priority preference to full-time or paid firefighters over volunteer firefighters for mutual aid assignments.*
“Out on the fire lines of the recent Carr Fire, County Fire, Delta Fire, Camp Fire, Klamathon Fire, etc. NO ONE cares if the staff is paid or Volunteer.”
As a volunteer for a department and as a seasonal for another fire department that was first to respond to most of those fires, this means a lot to me because all agencies in our county don’t care about uniform either and we all have an amazing relationship but additionally down the line this means that we could not even respond to fires that effect us and our immediate neighbors!
AB 1299 is not good for the protection of the state and I would greatly urge you to contact your state senators and urge them to vote against the bill. If you don’t know how to contract them you can use this website which shows you everything you need to know.
That’s all I have on my soapbox.
There is a provision in the bill which allows the Governor to make an emergency declaration and override the restrictions. It’s merely a matter of OES or CalFire getting the Governor to declare an emergency and it will be game on. There is usually a declaration on most of the large fires anyway so this is not a significant threat to the safety of the state.
My understanding of the bill is that volunteer departments would still not be able to work if a declaration was issued and they had already collected their 20% for the year.
Ok last years was a big draw and for a few years several fire have had UTF’s on strike teams do to shortage of personnel, this is just going to increase that, could you imagine what it would it would have been like if none of the volunteer agencies were able to send engines to the Camp Fire do to their firefighters having already hit that 20% max. This is going to increase the time that Calfire units will be out of their units, as well as increase the cost of fire suppression because an engine of combination/volunteers usual cost less per day then the full time departments that can send an engine out with all paid personnel. I can’t see how this bill is in any way good for the fire service or the public
“Could you imagine what it would it would have been like if none of the volunteer agencies were able to send engines to the Camp Fire do to their firefighters having already hit that 20% max?”
Our entire county would not have been able to send any resources. We would have been tapped out from the Lane Fire which happened before the Klamathon, Carr, Hirz, Delta and Camp.
Which is funny because we were mutual aid to Klamathon, Carr, Hirz and the Camp Fire with the Delta Fire burning in my personal response area which resulted with a strike team assignment too.
Side Note: I am told that the agency that wrote this measure is going to attempt to put it on hold to refine it. I don’t know the validity of that especially since CSFA has hired a consulting group to help it through the legislative process.
This text was taken directly from the bill:
“The bill would waive the 20% reimbursement threshold in the case of a proclamation of an emergency by the Governor. The bill would require fire departments that employ full-time firefighters to give priority to paid firefighters over volunteer firefighters in mutual aid assignments.”