The Herald Bulletin

February 22, 2014

Firefighters file job description grievance

State certification requirement at issue

By Ken de la Bastide The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — The union representing Anderson firefighters have filed a grievance with the Anderson Board of Public Safety over a change in job descriptions.

Anderson Fire Fighters Association Local 1262 filed the grievance on behalf of Sgt. Dave Halsell, a 25-year veteran of the department. On Jan. 2 Halsell was demoted from his job as driver operator of a ladder company truck and placed on the back of the truck.

Cody Leever, president of Local 1262, asked the Safety Board for more time for Halsell and three other sergeants to get the certification. He said the union would pay for and offer the necessary classes.

Steve Dunham, president of the Safety Board, asked Leever if the union was agreeing to pay for the training every time firefighters don’t comply with new job descriptions.

The board took the grievance under advisement and indicated it will issue a written response.

The change in the job description required driver-operators to have a certification issued by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security that requires a written examination and a skills test.

In the new job description approved by the Board of Public Safety in January, it states that a firefighter seeking promotion to sergeant or captain is required to have the state certificate.

The union maintained that since Halsell, who is planning to retire in 2015, was not seeking advancement to the rank of captain and didn’t need the certificate. They said a grandfather clause assured Halsell his current rank.

Assistant Fire Chief Todd Jordan said AFD offered the classes and examination during employees’ work shifts.

Jordan said four firefighters didn’t receive the certificate and were demoted; 60 received the certification.

Bruce Dunham, chairman of the Safety Board, said the chief can set higher standards and change job descriptions.

Halsell said he didn’t need to receive the certificate to maintain his current position and was not interested in being promoted to captain.

He said when he returned from sick leave he offered to take the training and was told he couldn’t.

Jordan said the department set the goal for the sergeants to get the certification last year.

“You have to draw the line in the sand somewhere,” he said.

In other business: The Safety Board rejected the bids for towing services for the city of Anderson.

Anderson Wrecker Service has been working on a day-to-day extension of the current contract, which expired on Jan. 1.

The board hopes to advertise for bids at the March 4 meeting and open the bids on March 18.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.