Paid Firefighters

AuthorRaymond S. DiRaddo
Chapter 22
Paid Firefighters
New York Fire District Officers’ Guide
§22:10 22-2
NOTE: At any time when paid firefighters are contemplated, it is advisable to consult with the fire district
attorney, labor counsel, the fire district insurance advisor, the fire district treasurer and other state and municipal
agencies as noted in this chapter.
As the number of volunteer firefighters decreases, fire districts, especially those in suburban areas, are
finding it necessary to employ firefighters. In order to employ paid firefighters and fire officers, boards of fire
commissioners must comply with the requirements of the law. Prior to any public hearing on the establishment
of paid firefighters, consultation with the local Civil Service Office is crucial.
Prior to the hiring of a paid firefighter, the Board should confer and consult with the local County Civil
Service Office. The County Civil Service Office will assist the board of fire commissioners with interpretation of
the Civil Service Laws. The local office will prepare and administer all examinations, and prepare and establish
the list of qualified candidates for the firefighter position. Finally, the local Civil Service Office will develop job
titles, job descriptions and duties for the board of fire commissioners.
In government, there are two major categories: the unclassified service and the classified service.
The board of fire commissioners members are included in the unclassified service. Civil Service Law §35(a).
The reason the position is unclassified is because they are elected officials.
The classified service is defined as all offices and positions not included in the unclassified service. Within
the classified service, there are four categories of employees. They are designed as the exempt class, the non-
competitive class, the labor class and the competitive class. Civil Service Law §40.
§22:20.1.1 EXEMPT CLASS
The exempt class, aside from those positions explicitly listed, is reserved for those classifications where
examination for the position is not practicable. Civil Service Law §41(e). No office or position shall be deemed
to be in the exempt class unless it is specifically set forth in the rules of civil service. Civil Service Law §41(2).
The District Treasurer and District Secretary are members of the classified service; however, their positions are
exempt from the examination process. Moreover, there is a confidential relationship between the Board of Fire
Commissioner members and the district treasurer and secretary.
Any position not in the labor or exempt class and for which competitive examination to ascertain the merit
and fitness of the applicant is impractical is considered in the non-competitive class. Civil Service Law §42(1).
Generally, the local civil service commission designates which positions are deemed non-competitive. Civil
Service Law §42(1).
Paid Firefighters
22-3 §22:30.1.2
§22:20.1.3 THE LABOR CLASS
The labor class is a position in which there is no minimum qualification. To qualify for the labor class, the
fire district may set minimum qualifications for fitness as the board of fire commissioners deems practicable. The
laborers classification is generally reserved for entry-level employees. Civil Service Law §43.
The competitive class includes those positions where an examination is practicable in order to determine the
fitness and merit of the applicant. Civil Service Law §44.
Examinations are used to determine the fitness and merit of any applicant for a position in the competitive
class. Civil Service Law §50(1). The local civil service department issues the announcement of the examination.
The announcement sets forth the minimum qualifications required for the position, the subjects of the
examination, and other such information as the civil service department requires.
The civil service department requires all applicants to file, during a prescribed time, a formal application. In
the application, the applicant must disclose information regarding his background, experience and qualifications
for the position he seeks, and his merit and fitness for the public service.
The application must be signed by the applicant and shall contain an affirmation by him that the statements
therein are true under the penalties of perjury. Civil service may require certificates of citizenship or physicians’
certificates to accompany an application. Statements of public officers or others having knowledge of the
applicant may also be required. Civil Service Law §50(3).
The civil service department may refuse to examine an applicant, or after examination to certify as eligible,
if any applicant is found to:
(a) Lack the prerequisites to sit for the examination or for appointment to the position; or
(b) Have a disability which renders him or her unfit to perform the duties of the position, or render him or
her unfit to continue to perform in a reasonable manner the duties of such position; or
(c) Have been found guilty of a crime; or
(d) Have been dismissed from public service upon charges of incompetency or misconduct, or have
resigned from a permanent or temporary position in the public service; or
(e) Have intentionally made a false statement in the application; or
(f) Have practiced, or attempted to practice, any deception or fraud in the application, in his examination,
or in securing his eligibility or appointment; or
(g) Have been dismissed from private employments because of habitually poor performance. Civil Service
Law §50(4).
Any disqualified applicant must be given a written statement of the reasons for the disqualification and be
given an opportunity to make an explanation and to submit facts in opposition to such disqualification.

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