Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

International Association of v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board

January 18, 2012

INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF
FIRE FIGHTERS, LOCAL 22, AFL-CIO, PETITIONER
v.
PENNSYLVANIA LABOR RELATIONS BOARD,
RESPONDENT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge McCULLOUGH

Argued: October 18, 2011

BEFORE: HONORABLE DAN PELLEGRINI, Judge*fn1 HONORABLE PATRICIA A. McCULLOUGH, Judge HONORABLE ROCHELLE S. FRIEDMAN, Senior Judge

OPINION BY JUDGE McCULLOUGH

The International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 22, AFL-CIO (Local 22) petitions for review of the September 21, 2010, order of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (Board) determining that Fire Service Paramedics (FSPs) are not firefighters under the statute commonly known as Act 111.*fn2 We reverse.

Local 22 is the exclusive bargaining representative of all uniformed fire personnel employed by the Philadelphia Fire Department (Fire Department), including firefighters and about two hundred FSPs. (Hearing examiner‟s Findings of Fact, No. 1.) The Fire Department responds to all life-safety emergencies citizens may encounter, including structural collapses, car accidents, industrial accidents, hazardous materials spills, and fires. (Hearing examiner‟s Findings of Fact, No. 3.) Fire emergencies make up only a minute portion of the call volume for the Fire Department. Id. Although their training is different, both FSPs and firefighters must attend a fire academy operated by the Fire Department. (Hearing examiner‟s Findings of Fact, No. 4.) An FSP‟s primary duty is to provide emergency medical services to members of the public. (Hearing examiner‟s Findings of Fact, No. 5.) At a fire scene, FSPs establish a first aid station in close proximity to the fire in order to render medical care to firefighters and civilians who are injured. (Hearing examiner‟s Findings of Fact, No. 6.) FSPs also establish a rest and rehabilitation station where they can monitor the condition of the firefighters. Id. In addition, FSPs occasionally perform firefighting tasks such as "move and hold ladders, establish water connections, move hoses, and direct water on burning material at fire scenes.‟" (Hearing Examiner‟s op. at 4.)

Both firefighters and FSPs have been included in the Local 22 bargaining unit for over twenty years. However, on March 12, 2009, the City of Philadelphia (City) filed a unit clarification petition with the Board, seeking to have all FSPs removed from the Local 22 bargaining unit on the basis that they are not firefighters within the meaning of Act 111. After hearings on the matter, the Board‟s hearing examiner agreed with the City and determined that FSPs are not firefighters under Act 111 and the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act (PLRA).*fn3

After the hearing examiner‟s February 22, 2010 decision but before the Board‟s decision on September 21, 2010, the Philadelphia City Council amended §F104.2 of the Philadelphia Fire Code (Fire Code) to provide that:

The fire department official in charge at the scene of a fire or other emergency involving the protection of life or property or any part thereof, shall have the authority to direct uniformed Fire Department personnel, including but not limited to Firefighters and Fire Service Paramedics, to engage in such actions that are necessary in order to complete the assignment, including but not limited to fire rescue, fire abatement, and emergency medical services. Because of their Legislative authority to act and actual participation in such operations, Fire Service Paramedics shall continue to be considered firemen for the purposes of [Act 111].

Philadelphia, PA, 2010 Philadelphia Fire Code §F-104.2 (2010) (available at www.phila.gov).

Act 111 gives "policemen" and "firemen" employed by the Commonwealth or a political subdivision thereof the right to bargain collectively with their public employers. Because Act 111 does not define "policemen" or "firemen," our courts have adopted the following two-part test: to be a firefighter or police officer within the meaning of Act 111, one must be both (1) legislatively authorized to act as such; and (2) actually engaging in firefighting or police activities. Allegheny County Deputy Sheriffs' Association v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, 990 A.2d 86 (Pa. Cmwlth.) appeal granted, 606 Pa. 506, 1 A.3d 867 (2010); County of Lebanon v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, 873 A.2d 859 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2005).

The Board declined to address the question of whether FSPs have legislative authorization to fight fires because, in its view, even if the FSPs satisfied the first part of the test for Act 111 firefighters, they are not actively engaged in firefighting and thus do not meet the second part of the test.

On appeal to this court,*fn4 Local 22 argues that the amendments to the Fire Code, read together with the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter (Charter), 351 Pa.Code §§ 1.1-100 to 12.1-503, clearly give FSPs authority to perform firefighting tasks. We agree.*fn5

The Charter specifically requires the City to create a Fire Department charged with extinguishing fires, administering and enforcing statutes and regulations regarding fires and explosion hazards, instituting and conducting fire prevention programs, training and supervising fire personnel, and operating a fire alarm system. 351 Pa. Code §5.5-400.*fn6 The Fire Department employs both firefighters and FSPs to work at emergency scenes with the shared goal of saving lives. In order to settle any doubt as to whether FSPs have the authority to fight fires, City Council recognized such by amending the Fire Code to explicitly authorize the Fire Department to direct Fire Department personnel, including but not limited to firefighters and FSPs, to "engage in such actions that are necessary in order to complete the assignment, including but not limited to fire rescue, fire abatement, and emergency medical services." Fire Code §F-104.2. Moreover, Section F-104.2 of the Fire Code explicitly states that FSPs have legislative authority to act and actually participate in firefighting operations. Id. We therefore conclude that the first part of the two-part test has been satisfied.

Having determined that FSPs are legislatively authorized to fight fires, we turn now to the question of whether FSPs actually engage in firefighting. The Board concluded that FSPs did not actually engage in firefighting because any firefighting they do is "merely incidental to their primary duty of responding to medical emergencies." (Board‟s opinion at 3-4.) We disagree. The medical services now provided primarily by FSPs have historically been an integrated service of any fire department. The interrelated duties performed by firefighters and FSPs are equally necessary and appropriate in the firefighting effort; they work together to accomplish the same overall goal of saving lives and property. Surely, the person who monitors the health of the other responders at the scene is just as important to the firefighting effort as the person who runs into a burning building with a hose. It would be patently unfair to say that FSPs do not "fight fires" when, in fact, they are present at fire scenes; they monitor the health of those persons who are doing ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.