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Development of the Littleton Fire Department Layoff Contingency Plan

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DEVELOPMENT OF LITTLETON FIRE CONTINGENY PLAN




      Development of the Littleton Fire Department Layoff Contingency Plan

                                Joseph Mercieri

                 Littleton Fire Rescue, Littleton New Hampshire
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                           CERTIFICATION STATEMENT



       I hereby certify that this paper constitutes my own product, that where the

language of others is set forth, quotation marks so indicate, and that appropriate credit is

given where I have used the language, ideas, expressions, or writings of another.



__________________________________

                               Joseph Mercieri, EFO student
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                                          Abstract

The problem is with anticipated firefighter layoffs; the Littleton Fire Department does not

have a layoff contingency plan. The purpose of this applied research project is to develop

a layoff contingency plan in preparation for an anticipated reduction in the workforce.

Using the action research method, the following research questions were asked:

   1. How would the layoff impact fire department staffing?

   2. How would the layoff affect daily department and emergency scene duties?

   3. Could the layoff cause a conflict with the current firefighter collective bargaining

       agreement?

   4. What strategies have other organizations implemented to manage a reduction in

       the workforce?

Literature review in combination with a survey instrument and survey analysis revealed

that due to the national economic downturn, many fire departments throughout the nation

are being affected by layoffs. Lower staffing, brownouts and fire station closures present

grave safety and service concerns for fire chiefs and municipal managers. Fifty percent of

survey respondents indicated that their municipality has not established a minimum

service level. Of 350 fire departments, 177 have implemented layoffs while another 105

have closed fire stations. Firefighter unions have sought relief from the legal system

through the filing of prohibitive labor complaints and law suits. Littleton Fire Rescue is

facing a 50% reduction in fulltime staffing reducing the on-duty shift strength to one

firefighter. This applied research project will enable the Littleton Fire Chief and

municipal management to develop a layoff contingency plan that will enable the fire

department to continue to provide fire suppression while maintaining firefighter safety

and welfare.
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                               Table of Contents

Certification Statement…………………………………………………….2

Abstract………………………………………………………….….….…..3

Table of Contents…………………………………………….………..…...4

Introduction…………………………………………….……….….………5

Background & Significance……………………………….………..……...6

Literature Review………………………………………………….………7

Procedures………………………………………………………………...19

Limitations………………………………………………………………..22


Definition of Terms……………………………………………………….23


Results……………………………………………………….……………25


Chart 1 Results of Layoff Contingency Plan Item Ranking………….…..26


Chart 2 Results of Survey Question Number 20…………….……..……..27


Chart 3 Spreadsheet Analysis of 350 Fire Departments………….………28


Table 1 Results of Spreadsheet Analysis……………………….….……..29


Discussion………………………………………………………….….….36


Recommendations………………………………………………………..43


Appendix 1 Littleton Fire Rescue Layoff contingency Plan……….…….45


Appendix 2 Survey Instrument…………………………………………..50


Bibliography………………………………………………………….…..55
                                                                   Development of        5


                                        Introduction


The problem is with anticipated firefighter layoffs; the Littleton Fire Department does not

have a layoff contingency plan. The purpose of this applied research project is to develop

a layoff contingency plan in preparation for an anticipated reduction in the workforce.

Using the action research method, the following research questions were asked:

   1. How would the layoff impact fire department staffing?

   2. How would the layoff affect daily department and emergency scene duties?

   3. Could the layoff cause a conflict with the current firefighter collective bargaining

       agreement?

   4. What strategies have other organizations implemented to manage a reduction in

       the workforce?

                                Background & Significance

Littleton Fire Rescue is classified as a combination fire department employing both full

time and on call firefighters. The department provides fire response, limited emergency

medical services, tactical rescue, and fire code enforcement and prevention services. The

Town of Littleton’s Insurance Service Organization (ISO) property protection class rating

is 5 in the Village District or Downtown areas and 9 in the rural districts (Insurance

Services Office, Inc., 1996). Littleton Fire Rescue’s primary response area is composed

of 56 square miles and contains a residential population of 6,182 people with a

population density of 126.3 people per square mile (New Hampshire Employment

Security, 2009). The Department’s secondary response area encompasses both Grafton

and Coos counties totaling 191 square miles with a population of over 81,743 residents.

The fire department currently staffs 8 full time fire fighters, who are represented by

American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and 18 Call

Company firefighters. The department relies on its full time staff to fill the staff functions
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associated with the incident command system. Full time personnel fulfill the functions of

incident commander, operations chief, interior operations chief and sector officers when

needed. Currently the department operates out of one firehouse housing two- Class-A

engines; one aerial truck; one tanker truck and one support service vehicle. Apparatus

staffing consists of four platoons each with two full-time firefighters operating 24-hours

per day, seven days per week using a rotating 24-hours on-duty / 72-hours off duty

schedule. This schedule allows for one engine to be staffed round the clock by two full

time personnel. Call Company personnel are dispatched to calls that may require

additional personnel such motor vehicle fires, structure fires and to provide fire station

coverage when the primary apparatus is tied up at an emergency call. Littleton Fire

Rescue is also a member of the Twin State Fire Mutual Aid Association and the North

Pac Mutual Aid Associations. The Twin State Fire Mutual Aid Association is composed

of twenty-four towns located in Connecticut River Valley located in both New

Hampshire and Vermont. The North Pac Mutual Aid Association is composed of fourteen

towns located in the northern regions of Grafton and Coos County in New Hampshire.

Both on-call and automatic agreements have been established with the mutual aid

members and fire departments. The Town of Littleton is a growing community and is

experiencing a large influx of both commercial and light industrial development. Several

large box stores have established their business in the community. In addition to the box

stores, the town is home to many light industry occupancies as well as several hotels and

a healthy mercantile and business community. There has also been an influx of

permanent and seasonal residential development throughout the rural areas of the

community. Calls for emergency service have increased from 370 in 1996 to 867 in year

2008. In 2009 the Littleton Board of Selectmen voted 3-0 to limit fire department

emergency medical response. This policy allows fire department response to medical
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calls coded only as “Delta” or “Echo” medical calls. Delta and Echo medical calls are

when the patient is suffering from symptoms related to a heart attack to a non-breathing

unresponsive patient. As a result of this policy, fire department emergency call volume

dropped to 603 emergency calls. This call reduction reflects a thirty percent decrease in

emergency call volume as compared to the 2008 emergency call total. Due to a reduction

in State appropriated funds, combined with the National economic downturn and in an

effort to realize a zero-tax increase, Littleton’s Budget Committee has recommended a

$400,000 reduction in the 2010 municipal budget. To meet this goal, the budget

committee has also recommended that all municipal departments be staffed at the year

2000 staffing levels. The year 2000 staffing level for Littleton Fire Rescue was five full-

time firefighters (one firefighter per shift) and a full-time fire chief. The budget

committee recommendation promotes a 50% reduction in current fire department

staffing. The fire service prides itself with doing more with less. It wasn’t too long ago

where Littleton Fire Rescue operated with one full-time firefighter per shift who

responded alone to emergency calls. This was an accepted practice by previous fire

department fire chiefs, municipal administrators and by the firefighters themselves.

Unfortunately, this practice served the department for many years and became the

“Littleton” standard. It wasn’t until 2005, when the current fire chief started to take the

initiative to add personnel and increase staffing. Over two year period and by public

majority vote, the chief was successful in doubling the fulltime staffing to two firefighters

per shift for a total of eight fulltime firefighters. This research project establishes a link

between the research problem and the specific area of the fourth year Executive Fire

Officer Program titled “Executive Leadership” by enabling the fire department to engage

in contingency planning to aid fire department managers in maintaining their personal

and professional effectiveness as fire department and community leaders. The applied
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research project also established a link between the problem of Littleton Fire Department

not having a layoff contingency plan and the United States Fire Administration

operational objective, “To appropriately respond in a timely manner to emergent issues”

(US Fire Administration, 2002)

                                      Literature Review

In recent years communities and their citizens have grown accustomed to relying on fire

departments to respond to a wide range of emergency situations, including medical

emergencies, hazardous materials, natural disasters, bomb threats, and acts of terrorism.

In addition to the increased training and equipment needs, this expanded role also

requires an increase in fire department staffing. The September 11, 2001 attacks on the

New York City World Trade Center, the Washington D.C Pentagon combined with the

subsequent Anthrax attacks against Members of Congress and the news media prove that

our nation and citizens are vulnerable to international and domestic terrorist attacks on

American soil. Improving the ability of America's first responders to mitigate the

consequences of a WMD terrorist attack is vital to increasing the nation's overall level of

domestic preparedness. Fire, Emergency Medical Service (EMS), and police departments

will nearly always arrive at the scene of a terrorist attack before federal or state agents.

They also will play a dominant role in managing the crisis and its consequences (The

Heritage Foundation, 2002). It is estimated that there are 30,170 fire departments in the

Nation (United States Fire Administration, 2008). Yet, according to the International

Association of Fire Chiefs, approximately two-thirds of the Nation's 26,000 fire

departments do not currently have adequate staffing, and that 75,000 new firefighters

would need to be hired to bring all departments into compliance (SAFER, 2003).

Basically, the nation’s fire services are understaffed. As a result of the budgetary crisis

that is following the financial Crash of 2008, municipalities are reducing expenditures.
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The fact is that cities are in the business of providing services and must raise revenue to

pay for them. With the recent economic downturn, cities are struggling to maintain

current service levels, much less augment existing services, or add new ones (New Cities

Foundation, 2010). Budget administrators are deciding how much and what kind of fire

protection their municipality can financially afford (Firefighter Close Calls - Home of the

Secret List, 2010). Since the economic downturn, current statistics report that three

hundred and fifty fire departments throughout the Nation have implemented station

closures, brownouts and / or employee layoffs as cost savings measures (Firefighter

Close Calls - Home of the Secret List, 2010). This number represents approximately

1.2% of the Nation’s fire departments whom are experiencing layoff staffing reductions.

Because of layoffs and furloughs, each of the three hundred and fifty-one fire

departments have experienced a reduction in labor and management staffing (Firefighter

Close Calls - Home of the Secret List, 2010). The New York City police and fire

department are facing considerable cuts in both staffing and fire station closures. New

York City police and fire union leaders reacted with dismay after Mayor Bloomberg

outlined a doomsday plan of budget cuts that would shrink the Police Department to 1991

levels and threaten the closing of 40 firehouses (New York City Police Benevolent

Association, 2003). Because of fiscal shortfalls, both departments and the public will

lose resources. Traditionally fire departments were managed using a paramilitary form of

management. Throughout the years, business management models have been integrated

into fire service management. However, unlike businesses, fire department layoffs are not

a regular event. Since the 1980’s, “business” leaders have implemented layoffs since the

as investors have come to expect and accept these actions. Many see it as the necessary

action of tough managers making sure their costs don’t unnecessarily balloon while

maintaining an adequate profit margin (The Phoenix Principal, 2008). And because of
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the normalcy of business layoffs, political officials as well as investors and employees,

have started thinking that layoffs don’t necessarily have a negative long term meaning.

People assume that the jobs will eventually come back. (The Phoenix Principal, 2008).

Given today’s economic status combined with the reduction in Federal, State and

municipal revenues, the jobs lost to layoffs may not return. Long gone are the days when

layoffs meant people went home for a major plant retooling. Now, layoffs are a

permanent end of the job, for both the employer and the employee (The Phoenix

Principal, 2008). Due to the economic downturn, the Tulsa Oklahoma fire department has

restructured upper management staffing to eliminate two district chiefs and three

captains. Additional concessions include the department not filling an existing nineteen

firefighter vacancies, cancellation of the 2010 academy class and the layoff of 49 to 120

of 674 firefighters (Firefighter Close Calls - Home of the Secret List, 2010). The Brea

California fire department has reduced staffing on their paramedic engines from four to

three firefighters (Firefighter Close Calls - Home of the Secret List, 2010). Staffing

reductions due to layoffs for the Los Angeles fire department shall reduce firefighter

staffing and in turn, affect department operations by decreasing pre-deployment

capabilities and move-up coverage for other fire districts (Firefighter Close Calls - Home

of the Secret List, 2010). Because of financial shortfalls, the town of Lehigh Acres

Florida has voted to reduce fire department staffing and as a result has closed one of five

fire stations and has reduced the minimum suppression unit staff from three to two

firefighters (Firefighter Close Calls - Home of the Secret List, 2010). Littleton Fire

Rescue is one of the Nation's 26,000 fire departments that do not have adequate staffing.

Starting in May of 2010 the fire department will experience a fifty percent reduction in

the full-time firefighter workforce. In order for the Town of Littleton to absorb a

$400,000+ budget reduction, it has been determined that ten full-time town employees
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would be eliminated through layoffs. The proposed layoff scheme is to eliminate three

police officers, two public works employees, one town recycling employee and four

firefighters. We also must be cognizant that effective apparatus staffing is only one

component of the overall of the total community fire protection program. Personnel

layoffs could affect daily department duties such as fire safety inspections, enforcement

actions, public fire education activities and emergency response. Layoffs may result in a

department not having the staff to perform these duties. In Perth Amboy New Jersey,

twenty firefighters / emergency medical technicians were eliminated causing the city to

shift its emergency medical service response to the Raritan Bay Medical Center, a private

healthcare organization (Firefighter Close Calls - Home of the Secret List, 2010). Pine

Bluff Arkansas fire department implemented layoffs and as a result, reduced Ladder

Company staffing to one firefighter. In order to keep engine companies in service, the

department places ladder companies out of service to maintain Engine Company staffing

(Firefighter Close Calls - Home of the Secret List, 2010). The Los Angeles California fire

department (LAFD) has determined that firefighter layoffs and lack of staffing has

resulted in longer response times, higher “collision” rates (an LAFD term for resources

responding to another district to cover unavailable first-due resources), and decreased

pre-deployment capabilities of resources that would provide “move-up” coverage during

an incident. The layoffs have also caused a reduction in strike team deployment during

urban-wild land interface fire (Firefighter Close Calls - Home of the Secret List, 2010). In

the private sector, a business can elect to practice exposure avoidance, in that the business

chooses not to expose itself to losses. If an organization does not desire to expose itself to

losses from a service it performs, then the organization can either abandon that service or

choose not to undertake the service initially. For example, if an Emergency Service

Organization (ESO) did not have the resources available to provide code inspection
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services for the municipality, then it would not agree to provide that service to the

municipality. This arrangement would protect the ESO from professional liability claims

in providing fire code inspections (National Fire Protection Association, 2004). Fire

Departments cannot practice exposure avoidance, but are being challenged to maintain

status quo services with less resources, particularly, staffing. Many businesses are facing

a "workload dilemma." Their employee surveys show that workload is reaching epic

levels, significantly increasing employee stress and burnout and diminishing

commitment. At the same time, senior managers are reluctant to add headcount and

provide other resources that would reduce workload (WFD Consulting, 2010). However,

a fire department cannot avoid performing daily equipment and apparatus checks, station

cleaning, emergency report record management, code enforcement, inspections and

responding to emergency calls. These tasks are vital to the safety and welfare of the

public and the firefighters. Reduction of the fire department workforce can result in many

of these tasks not being performed. Workforce reductions could increase workloads

placed on employees while attempting to maintain the “current” level of job performance.

The increase in workload may cause employee burnout and frustration. The burnout

construct, consisting of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal

accomplishment can be viewed as a vicious circle. When workload is high, burnout

symptoms increase, especially the emotional exhaustion component. Emotional

exhaustion is the experience of feeling drained of all energy. When experiencing this

emotional exhaustion, people tend to minimize distress by detaching from others. They

maintain an emotional distance from others. This detachment can manifest itself by an

indifferent attitude toward others. Also, people experiencing burnout often develop

hostile interactions with others. Another common response to emotional exhaustion is to

reduce workload (BrainClinics, 2010). Burnout patients are known to avoid work, display
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a large amount of absenteeism, doing the bare minimum at work and not doing certain

tasks that are experienced as more stressful, while doing more tasks that are considered

less stressful. These reactions result in a decline of job performance, both qualitative and

quantitative (BrainClinics, 2010). The person then feels guilty about his poor

performance and a self-critical attitude develops. Deteriorated relationships with others

and the acquired self-criticism then further contributes to emotional exhaustion, which in

turn will worsen these maladaptive responses (BrainClinics, 2010). These constructs

could certainly manifest in fire department employees who, due to layoffs, may suffer

burnout and undue stress caused by increased workloads. These manifestations would

certainly affect any departments’ daily operations as well as emergency response and

effectiveness. Many fire chiefs and municipal administrators are cutting emergency

response services as a way to reduce costs and save money. As budget administrators

focus on the bottom line, fire departments are scrambling to provide adequate emergency

response coverage using fewer resources, apparatus and staffing. In 2003 the Staffing for

Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Act was introduced to Congress. Congressional

testimony provided at the hearing reported that the most dangerous fires are those in

residential homes, accounting for seventy percent of all fire deaths each year. In fact,

firefighters are nearly ten times more likely to be injured in a structure fire than all other

fires combined, and the evidence suggests that inadequate staffing is one of the primary

causes for the higher injury rate. According to the data, sixty-nine percent of jurisdictions

with crew sizes of four or fewer firefighters had injury rates of ten or more per 100

firemen, but only 38 percent of those with crew sizes of four or more firefighters had

comparable injury rates (SAFER, 2003). Harrisburg Pennsylvania is facing a 1.2 million

dollar shortfall and as a result is eliminating firefighter positions and possibly closing a

firehouse. City spokesperson Matthew Coulter stated that "Eliminating those funds could
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make layoffs imminent and possibly result in the closing of at least one of the city's fire

stations," Coulter said. "It also creates the potential for slower response times to fires

elsewhere in the city, putting others at increased risk. Any further cuts in manpower

could result in a very serious situation (The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center,

2009). Facing a two-million dollar revenue shortfall, the city of North Olmsted, Ohio has

laid off five firefighters and one assistant fire chief. Captain Mike Ciarrone of the North

Olmstead, Ohio fire department noted that the department has one of the fastest response

times in all of Cuyahoga County. He said lower staffing levels jeopardize that standing

and overall safety. In addition, Firefighter Union President Dave Boatman stated that the

reduction in staffing will affect the safety of people in the community and of the

firefighters. It’s not good having those lower levels because there will be time when there

are multiple runs (WestLife News, 2009). Saratoga Springs, which has a professional,

career fire department, is currently rated as Class 4 by the Insurance Service Office, an

organization that assesses various insurance risk information for insurers in this country.

Assistant Chief John Betor said he felt that once seven firefighters are eliminated by the

2010 city budget, the city’s ISO rating could be degraded to a class 5 or 6 — a rating that

could affect insurance premiums in the city (The Saratogian, 2009).

In an attempt to maintain adequate staffing, some firefighter contractual agreements

contain language or clauses which place minimum staffing limits for platoon size or

apparatus manning. The Bristol Connecticut Fire Department Local 773 contractual

bargaining agreement contains such a clause. The contractual language not only limits the

minimum number of firefighters per apparatus but also places limits on the minimum

number and types of apparatus that must remain in-service. The contract language is in

place to prevent the municipality from reducing firefighter staffing below the agreed
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minimum as well as preventing the closure of a fire house. Article VIII, entitled

STAFFING

        8:1     In order to protect the health and safety of the employees in the bargaining

unit, the following shall be the minimum number of fire fighting units and the minimum

staffing allowed on each of these fire fighting units (:

        Engine 1               Two Firefighters and one Officer
        Engine 2               Two Firefighters and one Officer
        Engine 3               Two Firefighters and one Officer
        Engine 4               Two Firefighters and one Officer
        Engine 5               Two Firefighters and one Officer
        Tower 1                Three Firefighters and one Officer
        Support Services       One Firefighter
        Incident Command One Deputy Chief
8:2     The City reserves the right, acting through its Board of Fire Commissioners, to

establish higher or lower company manpower requirements as changing conditions may

require, provided the minimum limits established in the preceding Section are not

violated(City of Bristol CT Firefighters, Local 773, 2004) . The Omaha Nebraska and the

Camden New Jersey fire department contractual bargaining agreements also contain a

similar minimum manning clause. The clause sets the minimum staffing levels to four

firefighters per apparatus (Firefighter Close Calls - Home of the Secret List, 2010). In

order for the municipalities of Bristol, Omaha or Camden to lower apparatus staffing

below the minimum, the municipalities shall be required to open negotiations with the

Unions. The Littleton Fire Rescue employee collective bargaining agreement contains

similar minimum manning language. Article Sixteen, Section B, page twenty-four of the

collective bargaining agreement contract states, “Weekday coverage in the Fire

Department will be two-person coverage excluding the Fire Chief. All other shifts will

remain at current staffing levels unless management deems high coverage levels are

necessary (Agreement between the Town of, 2010) In addition to contractual language to

limit staffing levels, fire unions are also using the courts in an effort to prevent layoffs.
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The union that represents firefighters in the cash-strapped Fayette County city of

Uniontown is seeking a court order to prevent layoffs it says violates terms of its labor

contract and create s a potentially deadly situation. In a lawsuit filed, the International

Association of Firefighters Local 955 is seeking an emergency court order that would

prohibit the layoffs. In addition, the union wants a judge to order the city to reinstate all

seven laid-off firefighters until the two sides resolve an earlier grievance the union filed

over the layoffs. Through its attorney, Joshua M. Bloom of Pittsburgh, the union

contends the layoffs have created an unsafe situation for residents and firefighters. Only

six full-time firefighters remain, forcing the department to close one of its two stations

and reducing staffing at the other station to just two firefighters per shift (Firefighting

News, 2009). Several unions filed suit against the county last year, alleging that officials

violated collective bargaining agreements by imposing the furloughs. In his opinion,

Williams sided with the unions on one of three counts, finding that the county violated

the contract clause of the U.S. Constitution, which bars States from passing laws

"impairing the obligation of contracts." In Prince Georges Maryland, a federal judge has

ruled that furloughs are unconstitutional. Several unions filed suit against the county last

year, alleging that officials violated collective bargaining agreements by imposing the

furloughs. In his opinion, Williams sided with the unions on one of three counts, finding

that the county violated the contract clause of the U.S. Constitution, which bars states

from passing laws "impairing the obligation of contracts" (The Washington Post, 2010).

Labor union contracts combined with recent court rulings shall play a significant role

when proposing firefighter layoffs and fire station closings.

Municipalities are hard pressed to save money and keep tax rates down. Strategies such

as a reduction in fire department staffing thought attrition, not filling current vacancies,

scheduling station brownouts, where a station may be open during the day but closed at
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night and closing of fire stations have been implemented (Firefighter Close Calls - Home

of the Secret List, 2010). Mergers with other fire departments have been proposed and are

pending in some communities. Lawrence Township Indiana, San Jose California, Bellair

bluffs, Florida, and Miami Florida have all proposed merging with neighboring towns.

The Miami Florida fire department is proposing consolidation with the County fire

department (Firefighter Close Calls - Home of the Secret List, 2010). To save funding the

city of Palm Beach Florida is seeking to privatize fire protection for the Palm Beach

International Airport (Firefighter Close Calls - Home of the Secret List, 2010). Some

municipalities have negotiated contract concessions with firefighters to reduce hourly pay

rates, increase the employees share for benefit costs, reduce hours worked and eliminate

overtime with the hope that these concessions will prevent layoffs. Many fire

departments are in the process of restructuring and reorganization. Tulsa Oklahoma has

restructured its fire department to eliminate two district chiefs, two sworn staff

employees and three captains (Firefighter Close Calls - Home of the Secret List, 2010).

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) conducted a staffing survey report

of all its locals throughout the country. The IAFF estimates that at least 542 locals are

dealing with real or proposed layoffs and more than 5,400 positions will be lost.

Moreover, it is estimated that more than 900 locals will lose a total of nearly 6,200

positions to attrition that are not expected to be filled anytime soon. With layoffs and lost

positions through attrition, 540 locals are facing company closures and 337 locals are

looking at station closures. Additionally, some 230 locals are, or will be dealing with

brownouts during this economic crisis and 212 are looking at employee furloughs

(Ballam, 2010). One interesting twist is the method that the State of Wisconsin has used

to provide special protection to emergency services. Under the new law dubbed,

“maintenance of effort for emergency services”, municipalities and counties risk
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reduction in shared revenue from the State if they cut spending for emergency services

below 2009 levels (Firefighter Close Calls - Home of the Secret List, 2010). The 2009

Wisconsin Act 28 requires counties and municipalities, beginning in 2010, to maintain

their 2009 level of spending on emergency services. If a county or municipality fails to

comply, the Department of Revenue (DOR) may reduce that county’s or municipality’s

payment of shared revenues by an amount determined by DOR. The goal of the

legislation is to maintain emergency response service levels (Wisconsin Department of

Revenue, 2009). The law has been categorized as “crimping the autonomy of

municipalities and counties”. Some towns such as White Mountain Lake, Arizona have

taken drastic steps to reduce costs by eliminating their fire department. On January 18,

2009, the fire department was disbanded due to lack of funding (Firefighter Close Calls -

Home of the Secret List, 2010). Government Technology writer David Raths reports on

five ways to innovate during budget cuts. The first is to increase efficiency through

consolidation. Using economies of scale municipal departments may consolidate services

such as computer services that otherwise would be handled or funded through separate

budgets. The next innovative step is to make a budget case. With recent revenue

shortfalls, organizations have become smarter about how they spend their budgets. The

third item is to look more proactively at outsourcing. The fourth item was to create a

standards team to determine the level of service needed and the fifth innovation is to

improve service offerings (Government Technology, 2008). In an article complied by

Janet Wilmoth; Dr. Denis Onieal wrote that the governments and organizations within

government never have enough money or people to do what they are supposed to do.

People don’t remember that in the 1970s and 1980s, cities laid off teachers, police

officers and firefighters; that cities went bankrupt; and that fire departments went on

strike. Financial crises are not new; the people in leadership positions who have to deal
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with them are (new). If you think that because you are selected chief the clouds will part

and the sun will shine, you need to be in another line of work. We need to do more with

less. There are no silver-bullet answers, nor Twitter-like solutions. The future will hold

some tough, tough issues and we’re going to need even tougher, smarter people

(Wilmoth, 2010).

                                        Procedures

There are three research methods used in the development of this applied research

project. The methods are; literature review, survey and a spreadsheet data analysis. The

applied research project is using the “action” research method in order to help the author

create a layoff contingency plan. The information and research obtain by conducting a

literature review combined with a spreadsheet analysis using 350 fire departments and the

author’s survey was used to develop a layoff contingency plan. The layoff contingency

plan can be found in the appendices of this applied research project. A comprehensive

literature review was conducted using internet search engines to obtain relevant subject

material. The internet search enabled the author to obtain materials from business

organizations, governmental entities, collegiate resources, and fire service organizations.

The bibliography contain within this applied research project reflects the components and

references obtain through the internet search. Literature was also obtained through the

reading and review of magazine and periodical articles. The magazines and periodicals

are also referenced in the bibliography. A survey instrument was prepared by the author

for the purpose of obtaining additional data to aid in the development of a layoff

contingency policy. The populations chosen for survey response are fire service and

municipal employees as well as current and graduate Executive Fire officer students.

Given the scope of the action research project, the author chose a population that has the

following similarities:
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   •   The respondents are either fire service or municipal employees

   •   It is likely that the respondents are experiencing similar economic downturns.

   •   It is likely that the fire service organization and / or municipality is experiencing

       or considering emergency service employee layoffs.

   •   It is likely that these organizations have or will implement policies and procedures

       provide emergency services to their communities while experiencing changes in

       staffing, hours of operation or station closures.

The survey format and questions were developed by the author. The survey contains ten

multiple choice questions as well as comment areas so the survey applicant may provide

additional information and responses in a narrative form. The survey can be found in the

Appendix section of this applied research project. The survey questions are designed and

formatted to obtain statistical and narrative information from a population of fire

department employees in the following areas:

   •   If the department has or shall experience layoffs

   •   What percentage of manning affected by layoffs

   •   If the polled department had a layoff contingency plan in-place

   •   Who developed the contingency plan

   •   The ranking of importance of items that should be incorporated into a contingency

       plan

   •   What types of policies and procedures should be contained in the contingency

       plan

   •   Firefighter safety

   •   Contingency plan monitoring of vital statistics

   •   If the department and community has established an acceptable level of

       community emergency services
                                                                 Development of        21


In order to disseminate the survey, the author chose to use the free, online survey service

provided by Survey Monkey® found at www.surveymonkey.com. In January, 2010, the

author subscribed to the free service and uploaded the survey instrument to the web

address www.surveymonkey.com/s/XXNLVDX. The survey was permitted to remain

available for responses until March 12, 2010. To obtain responses, the author used his

personnel email address book to forward the survey link to fire service and municipal

colleagues requesting that they participate in the survey. Approximately seventy-five

combined fire service and municipal employees were contacted using the author’s email.

The author also contacted Angel Krantz, EFOP Coordinator at National Fire Academy.

Her email is Krantz, Angela (CTR) [angela.krantz@associates.dhs.gov]. The email

request was to ask if Ms. Krantz could use her email data bank to forward the Survey

Monkey link to EFO students. In response to the email, the author was notified that Ms.

Krantz was unable to honor the request, but did provide a suggestion to forward the

request to the National Society of Executive Fire Officers (NSEFO) web page

http://www.nsefo.org. The author visited the NSEFO web site and found that the NSEFO

allows an applied research project survey to be posted to its website. Following the

instructions provided, the request was sent by email to tcurtis@nsefo.org requesting that

the survey be posted on the website. On March 15, 2010 survey information was

downloaded from the Survey Monkey web site. At that time a total of forty-seven

responses had been acquired. The author reviewed each survey response and compared

the survey response with materials obtained in the literature review in an effort to identify

conflicts and similarities in the research information. This comparison would aid in

identifying “best” or accepted practices that may be incorporated into the development of

a layoff contingency plan as well as provide suggestions to help guide the author in

preparation the plan. In addition to the survey instrument to gather fire department data,
                                                                 Development of        22


the web site Fire Fighter Close Calls – Home of the Secret List (Firefighter Close Calls -

Home of the Secret List, 2010) contained a list of fire departments who have been

affected by the economic downturn. The list was created by Fire Fighter Close Call to

track the number of fire departments affected and what methods were used by the

department or administrators to lower costs. Using this information, the author

transferred the data from the list into a Microsoft Excel worksheet. Using the Excel

program, a spreadsheet and graph analysis were created to track the types of polices

implemented by municipalities. The compilation of data in spreadsheet and graph format

would aid in performing statistical research and, thru the use of a graph and data table,

visualize trends, similarities and comparisons. Upon completion of the literature review,

survey results and spreadsheet comparison, the author proceeded to formulate answers to

each of the four research questions. The layoff contingency plan was developed using

information and research acquired through applied research. The layoff contingency is

written specifically for the Littleton Fire Rescue Department and reflects staffing and

apparatus considerations as well as takes into account community population,

demographics, building construction types and emergency call volume. The layoff

contingency plan can be found in the appendix section of this applied research project.

                                        Limitations

Emergency service layoffs and the economic downturn of this magnitude has not taken

place since the late 1970s and early 1980s, making much of the reference materials

twenty to thirty years old. The literature review was challenging to obtain current sources

and references. The author made every attempt to include in the literature review other

disciplines than those from fire service organizations. In conducting the literature review,

it because obvious that business organizations utilize employee layoffs to control profit

and loss margins. Although there are some similarities between business and emergency
                                                                     Development of        23


service organizations, the business model does not have the human safety or property

conservation element to consider. The survey instrument was sent to a select population,

those being fire service and municipal employees. The number of emails sent to

prospective survey respondents, the author does not know the size of the population or

membership of the National Society of Executive Fire Officers. Therefore the percentage

of respondents, who answered the survey as compared to the number of survey requests

sent, cannot be calculated. Also, the possibility that each survey respondent may choose

to skip or not answer certain survey questions could affect the data result. The procedures

used to answer the research questions were limited to information compiled by literature

review and the information gathered using a survey instrument. The survey instrument

and questions contained in the survey were developed and prepared by the author, who

has limited experience and expertise in survey development. The review and analysis of

the survey results was conducted solely by the author. Statistical survey results were

limited to the tools provided by the Survey Monkey service. The 2007 version of the

software program Microsoft Excel was also used by the author to calculate statistical

results.

                                      Definition of Terms

BROWN OUT: A fire station is temporarily closed because of a daily staffing shortage as

firefighters are off for illness, vacation or injuries. It can be closed all day or for part of a

day.

BURN-OUT: Feeling of physical and emotional exhaustion, due to stress from working

           with people under difficult or demanding conditions. Burn out is followed by

           signs such as chronic fatigue, quickness to anger and suspicion, and susceptibility

           to colds, headaches, and fevers.

CALL COMPANY MEMBER: Paid-On-Call Firefighter as they are commonly called,
                                                             Development of          24


function in much the same capacity as fulltime career firefighters by responding to

emergency calls related to fire, medical, and other emergencies. As the name

implies, being a Paid-On-Call Firefighter affords members the opportunity to be

compensated for time spent on calls. Paid-On-Call members are paid for training.

COMBINATION FIRE DEPARTMENT: A Combination Fire Department is a

department where one or more of the active firefighters are volunteers, but not all

active firefighters are volunteers. This organization usually has a limited number of

personnel who are paid on a full or part-time basis. This may only be the Chief of the

Department, and/or paid drivers for the apparatus. The majority of the personnel or

firefighters are members who normally donate their time to the organization with no

expectation of compensation.

CONTINGENCY PLAN: A plan to deal with possible problem: a plan designed to

deal with a particular problem, emergency, or state of affairs if it should occur.

EFO: Executive Fire Officer

FURLOUGH: work layoff: a layoff of workers, especially one that is temporary.

ISO: Insurance Services Office, an organization that calculates fire department ratings

using variables such as water supply, staffing, apparatus, communications, training.

The rating is used by fire insurance professionals to calculate fire insurance

premiums.

LAYOFF: dismissal of employees: a dismissal of employees because of lack of work

to be done; period of unemployment: the time during which employees are out of

work.

MANPOWER: power in terms of the number of people available or needed to

perform work or a task.
                                                                Development of         25


   NFPA: National Fire Protection Association

   VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT: A volunteer fire department (VFD) is a fire

   department composed of volunteers who perform fire suppression and other related

   emergency services for a local jurisdiction.

                                         Results

Survey result:

The survey posted on the website Surveymonkey.com resulted in forty-seven responses.

The survey results are as follows:

Of the forty-seven respondents only two respondents or 2.1% of the survey population

are experiencing layoffs. Six respondents or 12.8% of the survey population indicated

that layoffs are still being considered. Of the two respondents who are experiencing

layoffs, one respondent indicated that layoffs will affect 5%-10% of department staffing

while the second respondent indicated that 21%-25% of department staffing will be

affected. When asked if their department has a formal layoff contingency plan in place,

thirty-four respondent or 75.6% of the survey population answered in the negative, while

nine or 20% of the population answered in the affirmative. Two respondents indicated

that a layoff contingency plan in currently being established. When asked the survey

question, “who developed the layoff contingency plan”, five or 62.5% of the survey

population answered that municipal management developed the plan. Two or 4.25% of

the respondents answering stated that the plan was developed between municipal

management and the labor union, while one respondent indicated that the layoff

contingency plan was developed solely by legal services. Using the data compiled from

the author’s survey it was found that firefighter ranked highest when developing the

layoff contingency plan. Chart 1 below indicates the respondents’ answers to question

number eight, to rate by importance, the items that should be addresses in a layoff
                                                                Development of       26


contingency plan. The survey indicated that of the forty-seven respondents, forty

indicated that fire fighter safety was of paramount importance when creating a layoff

contingency plan. The second most important item was to adjust apparatus staffing.

Closely rated third and fourth were the adjustment of response districts and the

implementation of automatic mutual aid agreements. The implementation of automatic

mutual aid agreements were rated of greater importance than the implementation of

normal on-call only, mutual aid agreements. Chart 1 measured the responses to the

survey question “Please rate by importance if the following items that should be

addressed in a layoff contingency plan:

Chart 1 Results of Layoff Contingency Plan Item Ranking




When asked if their communities have established an acceptable level of service

standard, if was found that twenty-three or 51.1% of the survey population stated that

their communities have established acceptable service levels while the remaining twenty-

two or 48.9% of the population answered in the negative with two respondents not

answering. Question 10 of the survey asked “What strategies would you implement in
                                                               Development of        27


order to prevent or reduce the number of layoffs in the fire department? Out of 47

respondents, thirty-nine or 83% of the survey respondents answered question number 10.

Chart 2 below indicates the survey respondent’s answers to survey question numbers 10.

The chart was developed by combining similar answers into a table then graphing the

table results to develop a bar chart diagram.

Chart 2 Survey Respondents Answers to Survey Question Number 10.




Chart 2 shows that of the 39 respondents, seven chose to use department statistics to

defend against layoffs. Fifteen respondents were divided equally with educate the public,

seek revenue sources and seek labor concessions each receiving five responses. Four

respondents suggested that the department seek value added services. Implement

rotational brownouts was suggested by two respondents while reduce staff thru attrition

was suggested by three of the thirty-nine survey respondents. Cutting nonessential costs,

increasing mutual aid assistance, holding vacancies open and using political influence

was suggested by four respondents. One survey respondent wished me luck.

Spreadsheet data analysis results:

The web page FirefighterCloseCalls.com has been tracking fire department reductions.

The web page has received information from 350 fire departments nationwide. The data
                                                                                                            Development of         28


on the web page is presented in list form only. The author took the list data and using

Microsoft Excel®, converted the data into a spreadsheet format. Using the spreadsheet

format the author was able to create a graph and arrange the data in table. This helped the

author visualize the data to find trends, comparisons and similarities in the methods used

by municipalities, town management and fire service administrators to reduce department

costs. Once the data was tabulated, a mathematical formula was used to establish

percentages for each workforce reduction and cost savings method. The spreadsheet

analysis using the data compiled from the internet site

http://www.firefighterclosecalls.com/ resulted in flowing:

Chart 3: Spreadsheet Analysis Results of 350 Fire Departments

                                                                                                                             Layoff
                                                           Spreadsheet Analysis of 350 Fire Departments                      No fill empty spots
                          200                                                                                                Furlough Days
                                                                                                                             No raises
                                                                                                                             Pay reduction
                          180                                                                                                Brownout
                                 Layoff                                                                                      Contract Suspension
                          160                                                                                                Change of retirement language
                                                                                                                             Reduce min shift staffing
                                                                                                                             Eliminate O.T. to min. staffing
                          140                                                                                                Hiring Freeze
                                                                                                                             Rehires
  Number of Departments




                                                                                                                             Reopen House
                          120
                                                      Reduce min shift staffing                                              Merger with other Dept/town
                                                                                                                             Closing of house/unit
                          100                                                                                                Inc Educ & Code Insp
                                No fill empty spots                                                                          Response ReEvaluation
                                                                                                                             Use Volunteers
                          80
                                                                                                                             Priv. or Eliminate EMS
                                                                           Closing of house/unit
                                                                                                                             Inc Health Co-Pay or Retir
                                      Brownout
                          60                                                                                                 Demote Officers
                                                                                                                             Eliminate Holiday Pay
                                                                                                                             Eliminate Overtime
                          40
                                                                                                                             Reduce Training
                                                                                          Demote Officers
                                                                                                                             Fee / Tax
                          20                                                                                                 No Capital Purchases
                                                                                                                             Reduce Apparatus Maint
                                                                                                                             Eliminate Call Force
                           0
                                                                                                                             Cross Train Others in FF
                                                      Method Used to Reduce Fire Department Costs
                                                                                                                             Cancel vacation leaves
                                                                                                                             Replace O.T. with Comp. Time



Table 1, below depicts the results of the spreadsheet analysis in tabular form.

Percentages were calculated to determine what cost reduction methods are predominate
                                                              Development of       29


among the 350 fire departments listed. The analysis also indicated what cost reduction

methods are the least used by fire departments.

Table 1: Results of Spreadsheet Analysis (350 Fire Departments)


                                                        Percentage
Method Used to Reduce               Number of           of
Costs                               Departments         Departments

Layoff                                            177        50.57%
Not fill vacancies                                 87        24.86%
Furlough Days                                      35        19.77%
No raises                                          26        29.89%
Pay reduction                                      20         5.71%
Brownout                                           59        16.86%
Contract Suspension                                22         6.29%
Change of retirement language                      16         4.57%
Reduce minimum shift staffing                     109        31.14%
Eliminate overtime by
implementing minimum staffing                      32         9.14%
Hiring Freeze                                      18         5.14%
Rehire laid off firefighters to
increase staffing to avoid
overtime                                            4         1.14%
Reopen a closed House                               1         0.29%
Merger with other Dept/town                        18         5.14%
Closing of Fire house/
elimination of apparatus                          105        30.00%
Increase Fire Education & Code
Inspections                                        2          0.57%
Reduce Call- back Response                        21          6.00%
Use Volunteers                                     9          2.57%
Privatize or Eliminate EMS                         8          2.29%
Increase Health Co-Pay                            19          5.43%
Demote Officers                                   15          4.29%
Eliminate Holiday Pay                             10          2.86%
Eliminate Overtime                                10          2.86%
Reduce Training                                   11          3.14%
Implement User Fee / Tax                          11          3.14%
No Capital Purchases                               7          2.00%
Reduce Apparatus Maintenance                       4          1.14%
Eliminate Call Force                               3          0.86%
Cross Train Others in
Firefighting                                        3         0.86%
Cancel vacation leaves                              1         0.29%
Replace Overtime with
Compensable Time                                    1         0.29%
Hire Private Investigator for
Injury & Sick Leave abuse                           1         0.29%
Restrict Outside Employment                         1         0.29%
Take over EMS                                       1         0.29%
                                                                Development of       30


1. How would the layoff impact fire department staffing?

       The research question asks to determine how a layoff would impact fire

       department staffing. In conducting the literature review, it was determined that

       due to the economic downturn and layoffs, three hundred and fifty fire

       departments have experienced a reduction of staffing. This number represents

       approximately 1.2% of the Nation’s fire departments, whom are experiencing

       layoff staffing reductions. The results of the survey instrument found that of the

       forty-seven survey respondents, forty respondents reported that their fire

       department staffing has not been reduced by layoffs. One respondent affirmed that

       layoffs have been implemented and have reduced department staffing. Six

       respondents indicated that layoffs are still being considered. Of the data

       formulated using the information compiled by the Firefighter Close Calls – Home

       of the Secret List web page, of the 350 fire departments listed who are

       experiencing the affects of economic downturn, 177 or 50.57% of the fire

       departments have experienced layoffs. One hundred and four departments

       indicated that lower staffing will result in combination of fire house closures

       creating larger response areas for the remaining stations and the elimination of

       fire apparatus which would increase response times for both primary and second

       due companies. The literature review also indicated that an increase in workloads

       combined with the desire to maintain the current standard of performance may

       result in employee frustration and burnout construct. Frustration and burnout

       would be another impact which could affect department staffing. According to

       information found during the literature review, employees suffering from burnout

       are known to avoid work, display a large amount of absenteeism. Frustration

       causes the employee to perform at bare minimum levels and lean towards
                                                                 Development of          31


       performing tasks that are least than more stressful. These reactions result in a

       decline of job performance. The person then feels guilty about his poor

       performance and a self-critical attitude develops. Deteriorated relationships with

       others and the acquired self-criticism then further contributes to emotional

       exhaustion, which in turn will worsen these maladaptive responses (BrainClinics,

       2010). Layoffs can also cause an increase in firefighter injury rates. In fact,

       firefighters are nearly ten times more likely to be injured in a structure fire than

       all other fires combined, and the evidence suggests that inadequate staffing is one

       of the primary causes for the higher injury rate. Therefore the results of layoffs on

       staffing are:

           •   Increased workloads placed upon employees.

           •   Increase in employee burnout and frustration

           •   Deterioration of employee relationships and job performance.

           •   Increase in emotional exhaustion

           •   Increasing trouble to adapt to changing work environment and conditions.

           •   Increase in firefighter injury rates.

2.     How would the layoff affect daily department and emergency scene duties?

Personnel layoffs could affect daily department duties such as fire safety inspections,

enforcement actions, public fire education activities and emergency response. Layoffs

may result in a department not having the staff to perform these duties. Layoffs may also

cause a reduction in apparatus staffing. Layoffs have also caused fire station closures and

brownouts. Station closures and brownouts increase the size of response areas for those

stations that have remained in operation. An increasing response area corresponds with

an increase in emergency response times as well as an increased time for the second

arriving engine or Ladder Company to arrive on-scene. Layoffs have also caused a
                                                                 Development of       32


reduction in strike team deployment during urban-wild land interface fire (Firefighter

Close Calls - Home of the Secret List, 2010). However, a fire department cannot avoid

performing daily equipment and apparatus checks, station cleaning, emergency report

record management, code enforcement, inspections and responding to emergency calls.

These tasks are vital to the safety and welfare of the public and the firefighters. Reduction

of the workforce can result in many of these tasks not being performed and increased

workloads placed on employees in an attempt to maintain the “current” standard of

performance. Daily department and emergency duties can also be affected by employee

burnout and frustration. These manifestations would certainly affect ant departments’

daily department operations as well as emergency response and effectiveness. Layoffs

will also affect department programs and procedures. Staffing for fire education and fire

enforcement activities may be cut as these programs shall suffer the consequences of the

cuts. Department emergency operating procedures shall need to be adjusted to reflect the

staffing shortages caused by layoffs. Reduction in apparatus staffing may not allow an

engine company to work as efficiently as they wait for additional manning in order to

proceed with an interior structural fire attack. Therefore the results of how would the

layoff affect daily department and emergency scene duties are:

   •   Reduction in apparatus staffing

   •   Fire station closures or brownouts resulting in longer response times

   •   Increased employee frustration to maintain current “response standards”.

   •   Reduction or elimination of fire education and fire code inspection programs.

   •   Overall reduction in emergency service resources, task forces, fire apparatus

       response that would affect emergency scene deployment and firefighter safety.

   •   Loss of staff to fill vital incident management functions.

   •   Increase in employee injury rates.
                                                             Development of        33


3. Could the layoff cause a conflict with the current firefighter collective bargaining

   agreement?

In conducting the literature review, it was found that in an attempt to maintain

adequate staffing, some firefighter contractual agreements contain language or

clauses which place minimum staffing limits for platoon size or apparatus manning.

The minimum manning clause sets the minimum staffing levels for fire apparatus and

station staffing. The Littleton Fire Rescue collective bargaining agreement contains a

similar clause in which the agreement requires that “current” staffing levels be

maintained. Reducing staffing through layoffs or furloughs would most likely result

in a labor grievance or a prohibitive labor practice complaint being filed by the fire

fighter union for violation of the manning clause. The union may also file an

additional grievance or prohibitive practice complaint stating that by imposing layoffs

or furloughs, creates a potentially deadly situation and unsafe working conditions.

Therefore results of the question, Could the layoff cause a conflict with the current

firefighter collective bargaining agreement are:

   •   Layoffs and furloughs to reduce firefighter staffing may violate the minimum

       manning language in the current contract.

   •   Labor grievances and / or prohibitive labor practice complaints may be filed

       by union officials claiming that the layoffs violate the contract.

   •   Further grievances or prohibitive labor practice complaints may filed claiming

       that by imposing layoffs or furloughs, creates a potentially deadly situation

       and unsafe working conditions.

4. What strategies have other organizations implemented to manage a reduction in

   the workforce?
                                                                  Development of           34


The literature review found that the State of Wisconsin adopted special legislation to

provide special protection to emergency services. This was the only example of State

legislation that protects emergency responder staffing levels. The spreadsheet analysis of

350 fire departments found that there were many strategies implemented to manage a

reduction in the workforce. One strategy was to eliminate overtime by implementing

minimum staffing. Eliminating overtime would save costs while adhering to a minimum

staffing level. Rehiring already laid-off firefighters to increase apparatus staffing to

prevent overtime expenditures would allow the apparatus to be staffed above the

minimum staffing level. This would also eliminate the necessity to pay overtime because

the likelihood that the apparatus staffing falls below minimum which triggers the need for

overtime is unlikely. Using economies of scale municipal departments may consolidate

services such as computer services that otherwise would be handled or funded through

separate budgets. Eighteen or 5.14 % of the 350 fire departments have consolidated with

other town departments or other fire departments. Nine or 2.57% of the towns used

volunteers to manage a reduction in the workforce. Fifteen or 4.29% demoted fire

officers to save wage costs. Three departments have implemented cross training of other

town employees.

The results of the survey found that six of the respondents felt that consolidation with

other municipal departments as well as the cross-training of employees would provide

additional staffing resources. One respondent stated that increasing volunteers as a

supplement would increase the number of firefighters but would also increase the

department’s recruitment and retention efforts. One respondent stated that it is necessary

to fortify mutual aid agreements as well as develop and implement automatic aid and

response agreements with areas communities. Survey question number ten of asked

“What strategies would you implement in order to prevent or reduce the number of
                                                                Development of       35


layoffs in the fire department? Out of 47 respondents, thirty-nine or 83% of the survey

respondents answered question number 10. Chart 2 found on page 28 shows that of the 39

respondents, seven chose to use department statistics to defend against layoffs. Fifteen

respondents were divided equally with educate the public, seek revenue sources and seek

labor concessions each receiving five responses. Four respondents suggested that the

department seek value added services. Implement rotational brownouts was suggested by

two respondents while reduce staff thru attrition was suggested by three of the thirty-nine

survey respondents. Cutting nonessential costs, increasing mutual aid assistance, holding

vacancies open and using political influence was suggested by four respondents.

Therefore the results of the question, what strategies have other organizations

implemented to manage a reduction in the workforce are:

       •   Educate the public to how layoffs affect department services

       •   Incorporate department statistics to define risk versus benefit

       •   Eliminate nonessential costs / programs

       •   Prevent a reduction of workforce thru the enactment of legislation.

       •   Consolidation of departments

       •   Demotion of officers to save costs and increase staffing

       •   Use of volunteers

       •   Increasing volunteer staff

       •   Fortify mutual aid agreements

       •   Implement automatic response agreements with area communities

                                        Discussion

This applied research project is uses the action method to create a layoff contingency plan

for the Littleton Fire Department. The literature review combined with the data obtained

thru survey and survey analysis has determined that layoffs of firefighters would certainly
                                                                   Development of           36


affect Littleton Fire Rescue staffing. The effect of layoffs would be similar to other fire

departments that have experienced layoffs, that being a reduction in firefighter staffing.

Tulsa Oklahoma fire department has restructured upper management staffing to eliminate

two district chiefs and three captains. Additional concessions include the department not

filling an existing nineteen firefighter vacancies, cancellation of the 2010 academy class

and the layoff of 49 to 120 of 674 firefighters (Firefighter Close Calls - Home of the

Secret List, 2010). Because of layoffs, the Tulsa Oklahoma fire department stands to lose

144 personnel. Another example is the town of Lehigh Acres Florida hat has voted to

reduce fire department staffing and as a result has closed one of five fire stations

(Firefighter Close Calls - Home of the Secret List, 2010). Because of layoffs, Littleton

Fire Rescue Fire will experience a similar effect as Tulsa Oklahoma and Lehigh Acres

Florida have experienced a reduction in staffing.

Fire departments around the country also suffer from being understaffed. According to

the International Association of Fire Chiefs, approximately two-thirds of the Nation's

26,000 fire departments do not currently have adequate staffing, and that 75,000 new

firefighters would need to be hired to bring all departments into compliance (SAFER,

2003). This is also true for the Littleton Fire Rescue. Littleton Fire Rescue operates with

four platoons; each platoon staffed by two fulltime firefighters who, using an engine,

respond to emergency calls. For many years the standard platoon strength accepted by

past fire chiefs, past and current fire officers and firefighters was one firefighter per

platoon. This was the “Littleton” standard that up until 2004 had been the accepted

normal staffing level. Layoffs don’t affect daily workloads they affect the number of

people who will manage the daily workload. Going from two to one firefighter per

platoon will increase the workload for the lone employee. The study found that many

businesses are facing a "workload dilemma." Employee surveys show that employee
                                                                 Development of         37


workload is reaching epic levels, significantly increasing employee stress, burn-out and

diminishing commitment (WFD Consulting, 2010). However, a fire department cannot

avoid performing daily tasks. Equipment and apparatus checks, station cleaning,

emergency report record management, code enforcement, inspections and responding to

emergency calls are all part of the daily work schedule. These tasks are vital to the safety

and welfare of the public and the firefighters. Reduction of the fire department workforce

can result in many of these tasks not being performed. Increased workloads can result in

an increase of employee burnout and frustration. When workload is high, burnout

symptoms increase, especially the emotional exhaustion component. Emotional

exhaustion is the experience of feeling drained of all energy. When experiencing this

emotional exhaustion, people tend to minimize distress by detaching from others. They

maintain an emotional distance from others. This detachment can manifest itself by an

indifferent attitude toward others. Also, people experiencing burnout often develop

hostile interactions with others. Another common response to emotional exhaustion is to

reduce workload (BrainClinics, 2010). I am in agreement that one firefighter cannot

manage the daily department workload. The stress created by being overwhelmed will

result in the firefighter experiencing burnout and job frustration. The end result could be

a firefighter who, because of burnout, frustration and emotional exhaustion, is more apt to

suffer from job related injuries. According to the data, sixty-nine percent of jurisdictions

with crew sizes of four or fewer firefighters had injury rates of ten or more per 100

firemen, but only 38 percent of those with crew sizes of four or more firefighters had

comparable injury rates (SAFER, 2003). Having a staffing level of one firefighter

certainly raises concerns for increased injury rates, employee welfare and safety. The

literature review also found that layoffs would affect daily emergency scene duties by not

having adequate staff to perform fire department assignments. The survey reported that of
                                                                  Development of        38


the two survey respondents who are experiencing layoffs, one respondent indicated that

layoffs will affect 5%-10% of department staffing while the second respondent indicated

that 21%-25% of department staffing will be affected. Littleton would experience a 50%

reduction in full-time staffing. Again similarities in how layoffs would affect emergency

operations exist between large metro departments and smaller rural departments like

Littleton Fire Rescue. Staffing reductions due to layoffs for the Los Angeles fire

department shall reduce firefighter staffing and in turn, affect department operations by

decreasing pre-deployment capabilities and move-up coverage for other fire districts

(Firefighter Close Calls - Home of the Secret List, 2010). Harrisburg Pennsylvania

spokesperson Matthew Coulter stated that eliminating firefighters "also creates the

potential for slower response times to fires elsewhere in the city, putting others at

increased risk. Any further cuts in manpower could result in a very serious situation (The

Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, 2009). I agree that a similar situation would be

created in Littleton. Faced with an already below standard staffing, reducing staffing to

one firefighter would create longer response times. It isn’t the travel time to the

emergency call that would be reduced, but the response time to implement fire ground

operations. Essentially, without adequate manning, the apparatus basically becomes a

taxi, delivering one firefighter to the scene to report his or her findings while awaiting

additional firefighters to arrive. Lower staffing also affects firefighter safety. Captain

Mike Ciarrone of the North Olmstead, Ohio fire department said lower staffing levels

jeopardize that standing and overall safety. In addition, Firefighter Union President Dave

Boatman stated that the reduction in staffing will affect the safety of people in the

community and of the firefighters. It’s not good having those lower levels because there

will be time when there are multiple runs (WestLife News, 2009). Layoffs in Littleton

layoff would also affect the number certified interior firefighters that would arrive to the
                                                                   Development of        39


scene of a structure fire. Essentially, the layoff is targeted at four full-time staff personnel

who are fully certified, highly trained officers and firefighters. The layoff would cause a

forty percent reduction in the department’s certified interior force bringing the number of

interior firefighters from fourteen to ten. Ten representing the remaining four full-time

staff added to six Call Company firefighters. Fulltime personnel are also placed in

command positions as they direct crews and /or incident sectors. The loss of command

staff creates a shortage of qualified and experienced command personnel.

Reduction in staffing increased workloads and safety concerns are platforms for

unionized firefighters to argue against the layoffs. Littleton firefighters’ current labor

 agreement contains a minimum staffing clause. This clause sets the minimum manning

 levels to remain at current shift levels, that being two fulltime firefighters per shift.

 Article Sixteen, Section B, page twenty-four of the collective bargaining agreement

 contract states, “Weekday coverage in the Fire Department will be two-person coverage

 excluding the Fire Chief. All other shifts will remain at current staffing levels unless

 management deems high coverage levels are necessary (Agreement between the Town

 of, 2010). Similar language exists in other fire department employee collective

 bargaining agreements. The Bristol Connecticut Fire Department Local 773 contractual

 bargaining agreement contains such a clause. The Bristol contractual language not only

 limits the minimum number of firefighters per apparatus but also places limits on the

 minimum number and types of apparatus that must remain in-service. The contract

 language is in place to prevent the municipality from reducing firefighter staffing below

 the agreed minimum as well as preventing the closure of a fire house (City of Bristol CT

 Firefighters, Local 773, 2004). The Omaha Nebraska and the Camden New Jersey fire

 department contractual bargaining agreements also contain a similar minimum manning

 clause. The clause sets the minimum staffing levels to four firefighters per apparatus
                                                                  Development of        40


(Firefighter Close Calls - Home of the Secret List, 2010). In order for the municipalities

of Bristol, Omaha or Camden to lower apparatus staffing below the minimum, the

municipalities shall be required to open negotiations with the Unions. This may also be

the case in Littleton. In order to impose firefighter layoffs, town management may have

to open negotiations with the union in an attempt to reduce fulltime fire department

staffing levels. Often, contractual language is open for interpretation. Conflicts in

interpretation usually results in the courts making a decision on the limits, scope and

interpretation of contractual language. In 2009, several fire unions filed suit against

alleging that officials violated collective bargaining agreements by imposing furloughs.

In Prince Georges Maryland, a federal judge has ruled that furloughs are

unconstitutional. .In his opinion, Federal Judge Williams sided with the unions on one of

three counts, finding that the county violated the contract clause of the U.S.

Constitution, which bars States from passing laws "impairing the obligation of contracts

(The Washington Post, 2010). The minimum manning language in Littleton’s contract

has been in existence and agreed to for many years. In fact, the labor contract is required

to be ratified by Town residents by holding a town vote. Past and the current labor

contract contained the minimum staffing clause and were successfully ratified by Town

voters. Contractual language combined with past-practice and testimony as to the basis

of the contractual language would certainly be questioned. The firefighter union may

seek a court order to prevent layoffs, but again, a basis for the order must be established.

The union that represents firefighters in the cash-strapped Fayette County city of

Uniontown is seeking a court order to prevent layoffs it says violates terms of its labor

contract and creates a potentially deadly situation. In a lawsuit filed, the International

Association of Firefighters Local 955 is seeking an emergency court order that would

prohibit the layoffs. In addition, the union wants a judge to order the city to reinstate all
                                                                  Development of       41


seven laid-off firefighters until the two sides resolve an earlier grievance the union filed

over the layoffs. Through its attorney, Joshua M. Bloom of Pittsburgh, the union

contends the layoffs have created an unsafe situation for residents and firefighters. Only

six full-time firefighters remain, forcing the department to close one of its two stations

and reducing staffing at the other station to just two firefighters per shift (Firefighting

News, 2009). I would expect a similar action taken by the Littleton firefighters union.

Many municipalities have developed strategies to manage a reduction in the firefighter

workforce. The spreadsheet analysis found in Table 1 of this applied research project

shows that of the 350 departments reporting, thirty-five have elected to implement

furlough days. This would enable an employee to take a day off without pay, thus

resulting in a cost savings to the municipality. Many municipalities elected to cut costs by

not filling job vacancies, implement a pay reduction, eliminate or postpone wage

increases, eliminate holiday pay and also increase employee benefits cost sharing. These

strategies were designed to save money so that layoffs could be minimized or

unnecessary. Similar strategies have been implemented by both the Town of Littleton and

the firefighter union. Wage increase deferrals combined with a reduction of holiday pay

and an increase in employee benefit sharing has saved some money, but unfortunately, it

isn’t enough. Other strategies implemented were brownouts and station closures,

increasing the use of volunteers, cross training other employees in firefighting and

merging fire departments with other towns. Littleton has only one fire station and closing

the station is not practical. However, the station can possibly support a brownout

schedule. Schedule changes could be made to maintain two firefighter shift coverage for

sixteen hours of the day. The remaining hours, midnight to seven would be the brownout

period where the Call Company would be toned to respond to emergency incidents.

Using the responses obtained by the survey instrument. Survey question number ten of
                                                                    Development of           42


asked “What strategies would you implement in order to prevent or reduce the number of

layoffs in the fire department? Out of 47 respondents, thirty-nine or 83% of the survey

respondents answered question number 10. Chart 2 found on page 28 shows that of the 39

respondents, seven chose to use department statistics to defend against layoffs. Littleton

Fire Rescue does maintain a comprehensive data base of incident response, staffing

response and fire loss data. This data may be used to formulate a comparison between a

firefighter shifts staffing of two versus a firefighter shift staffing of one firefighter.

Fifteen respondents were divided equally with educate the public, seek revenue sources

and seek labor concessions each receiving five responses. Four respondents suggested

that the department seek value added services. Implement rotational brownouts was

suggested by two respondents while reduce staff thru attrition was suggested by three of

the thirty-nine survey respondents. Cutting nonessential costs, increasing mutual aid

assistance, holding vacancies open and using political influence was suggested by four

respondents. Because of the timing of the labor contract expirations, one of the strategies

has been implemented, that being labor concessions thru negotiations and contract

renewal. Others such as increasing mutual aid assistance, cutting nonessential costs and

implementing rotational brownouts need to be further explored and if considered, require

both political and public approval. Use of political influence is a tricky matter. Caution

must be used in your approach. Data must be relevant, concise and accurate.

In my opinion, public education combined with relevant and concise data presented in a

format that is easy to understand would achieve great results. Caution must be maintained

not to create a “doom and gloom, babies will die” message. People need to know that

even though layoffs may save on tax dollars, the layoffs also affect service and safety

levels.
                                                                Development of        43


                                    Recommendations

The recommendations to develop a layoff contingency plan for Littleton Fire Rescue are

as follows:

That the layoff contingency plan focuses in providing fire response services while

maintaining firefighter safety and welfare. The policy would encompass staffing

requirements and scheduling to maintain firefighting apparatus and equipment while

maintaining a manageable workload on employees.

Shift scheduling and station brownouts would be implemented provided they are

approved by the governing body. Mutual aid agreements and compacts would be

revisited and recommended to be changed to automatic response. This would help in

reducing the response time to acquire apparatus, equipment and personnel on the scene of

an emergency. Department statistics will be examined to detect changes in emergency

response, increases in property damage due to extended response time and / or waiting

for adequate personnel to arrive on the scene of an incident.

Recommendations for municipal managers and governing body are as follows:

To seek the advice of legal counsel, specifically a labor attorney, to evaluate the

minimum manning clause contained within the current firefighter collective bargaining

agreement. The legal opinion should be obtained prior to the implementation of layoffs.

Further recommendations:

A continuing public education component must be established in order to provide the

public with accurate and usable information. Public informational meetings as well as

presenting quarterly response reports may aid in the reestablishment of firefighter

staffing.

Seek and adopt new revenue sources that would help offset cost to the taxpayers of

Littleton.
                                                             Development of      44


Seek and explore new service areas that would add value to both the department and the

community served.
                                   Development of   45




                Appendix 1



Littleton Fire Rescue Layoff Contingency Plan
                                                             Development of    46


                 LITTLETON FIRE RESCUE
             STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE

   Effective Date:                      Number:                            Revision:
   5/01/2010                            LCP-1

   Title:
   Layoff Contingency Plan

   Approved By:                         Reevaluation Date:                 # of Pages
                                        11/01/2010                         4


1. Statement of Policy

   1.1. The Littleton Fire Rescue Layoff Contingency Plan was developed to

       enable the fire department to maintain its core mission, “to provide fire

       suppression services to the residents of Littleton” while maintaining

       firefighter welfare and safety. The policy further clarifies the actions and

       procedures that will take place sue to fulltime staff reductions.

2. Objectives

   2.1. To maintain fire department core values and mission statement by

       providing fire suppression services to the resident of Littleton.

   2.2. To ensure firefighter welfare and safety.

   2.3. To react, in a professional and positive manner to a reduction of four

       fulltime staff due to layoffs.

   2.4. To evaluate thru statistics, public comment and firefighter feedback the

       effectiveness of this policy and to make adjustments and changes where

       necessary.

3. Procedures

   3.1. Fire Department shift coverage shall be reassigned to the following:
                                                          Development of    47


  3.1.1. The fulltime firefighter work schedule shall be changed from

       Monday thru Friday with Call Company personnel providing night and

       weekend emergency coverage.

  3.1.2. Two full time firefighters on shift from the hours of 0700 – 1600

       hours.

  3.1.3. Two full time firefighters on shift from the hours of 1600 – 2400

       hours.

  3.1.4. Call Company personnel shall be responsible for coverage from

       2400 – 0700 hours.

     3.1.4.1.   Call Company personnel may elect to staff the fire station or

            may respond to the station from their residents and places of

            employment.

  3.1.5. In the event that a fulltime firefighter vacancy is created by illness,

       vacation time or injury leave, a Call Company firefighter shall be

       requested to fill the vacancy. The hourly pay rate to fill a vacancy

       shall be established at the firefighter grade 1 level which is currently

       $16.87 per hour.

3.2. Emergency Response

  3.2.1. Mutual Aid response for structure fires, motor vehicle extrications,

       brush and forest fires and hazardous material spills shall be

       automatic for the following mutual aid towns:

     3.2.1.1.   Bethlehem New Hampshire – Engine, Rescue, Tanker

     3.2.1.2.   Lisbon New Hampshire - Engine , Aerial, Tanker

     3.2.1.3.   St. Johnsbury Vermont – Aerial for incidents in the Village

            district; Engine for incidents in all other districts.
                                                         Development of    48


       3.2.1.4.     Monroe New Hampshire – Engine, Tanker.

   3.2.2. The incident scene commander, upon performing a scene size-up,

        shall determine the number and types of resources required to safely

        manage the incident.

   3.2.3. The incident commander may, if not required at the scene, cancel

        mutual aid resources.

   3.2.4. Mutual aid responders may be reassigned to station coverage as

        required.

3.3. Work Details

       3.3.1.1.     Work details and daily apparatus and equipment checks

             shall be completed by the fulltime staff.

       3.3.1.2.     Call Company personnel may be activated to assist with

             general fire house duties as well as apparatus and equipment

             checks.

       3.3.1.3.     Work details such as fire hose testing, yard maintenance etc.

             shall be schedule on the monthly department calendar.

3.4. Incident reporting

   3.4.1. All personnel shall be responsible for incident reporting. There have

        been several new fields added to the incident reporting data base.

        The new fields shall enable the department to track response times,

        time it took to acquire adequate personnel on-scene to commence

        operations, work detail hours, fire loss data, mutual aid response.

   3.4.2. The data fields shall be added to the computer data base and will

        be found in the incident reporting section of the system.
                                                             Development of      49


      3.4.3. A quarterly report shall be created to track changes in service and

           response levels.

   3.5. Evaluation

      3.5.1. This contingency plan shall be evaluated every six months.

           Changes in staffing, Call Company membership, demographics,

           incident and service levels shall be reviewed and evaluated in order

           to make the necessary adjustment to maintain fire suppression

           activities as well as firefighter safety and welfare.

      3.5.2. Workloads shall be evaluated every month to prevent employee

           burnout and injuries.

   3.6. Employee Assistance Program

      3.6.1. The Town of Littleton maintains an affiliation with the North Country

           Mental Health Association.

      3.6.2. The health, safety and welfare of our firefighters are of utmost

           importance.

          3.6.2.1.   Consultation and evaluation services are offered privately

                and are free of charge.

          3.6.2.2.   Please contact Human Resources for more information.

4. Responsibility

   4.1. It shall be the responsibility of the Fire Officer-in-Charge or Acting Fire

       Officer-in-Charge and all department personnel to adhere to the Layoff

       Contingency policy.

5. Appendix

   5.1. None
                    Development of   50




   Appendix 2




Survey Instrument
Development of   51
Development of   52
Development of   53
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                                                                Development of        55



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