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Friday, May 7th, 2021

Bipartisan, bicameral legislation seeks to support federal firefighters

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Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jon Tester (D-MT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) reintroduced legislation last week designed to support federal firefighters by correcting disparity between federal firefighters and state, local and municipal firefighters.

The Federal Firefighter Flexibility and Fairness Act would allow federal firefighters to engage in trade time, enabling two firefighters to trade shifts without affecting pay or using annual leave.

“In times of disaster or emergency, federal firefighters are always prepared to put themselves in harm’s way to protect both their neighbors and, at times, fellow Americans living far away, often providing help when local resources are stretched thin,” Carper, co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, said. “This critical bipartisan bill will make sure that our federal firefighters are able to utilize the same shift flexibility that their state, local and municipal counterparts enjoy – flexibility that would allow them to fulfill their obligations at home – without risking compensation.”

Trade time allows two firefighters to trade shifts without affecting the pay of either firefighter at their option and with supervisor approval. The change was made because firefighters work uncommon schedules involving 24-hour shifts and 72-hour workweeks, followed by a period of time away from the firehouse.

“Our federal firefighters work tirelessly to help keep our communities safe – often working long and non-traditional hours. When something comes up, they deserve the ability to trade shifts without losing out on pay or annual leave,” Van Hollen, a member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, said. “This bill will provide federal firefighters with the flexibility they need to continue serving our communities while balancing their home and work lives.”