Monday, August 14, 2017

Eclipse 2017, On Call or Standby

In less than a week, the path of Eclipse totality will pass across Oregon from the Coast to Idaho border, and many Department employees will have schedules and work duties changed to respond to possible emergencies.  As part of these changes “spiking out” staff with engines will be in the mix to put wildland firefighter resources close to where they are needed and not be hampered by possible traffic jams.

Standby or On Call duty pay may apply, know what your expectations are before you go.  As I am writing this Management is also looking at the same subject and will be offering guidance to local Supervisors.

From our Contract, Article 34 - Standby Duty/ On Call Duty

Section 1. Standby Duty.
  1. An employee shall be on standby duty when required to be available for work outside his/her normal working hours, and subject to restrictions consistent with the FLSA which would prevent the employee from using the time while on standby duty effectively for the employee’s own purposes

Pay for FLSA-eligible employee’s straight time rate of pay, or for FLSA-exempt hour for hour compensatory time off.

Section 2. On-Call Duty.
(b) An employee shall be assigned on-call duty when specifically required to be available     for work outside his/her working hours and not subject to restrictions which would prevent the employee from using the time while on-call effectively for the employee’s own purposes.

Employees shall be paid one hour of pay at the regular straight time rate for each six hours of assigned on-call duty.

From “Your Rights in the Workplace” 9th edition:
  • On call time that you are allowed to control and use for your own enjoyment or benefit is not counted as payable time.
  • On call time over which you have little or no control and which you cannot use for your own enjoyment or benefit is payable time.

Another way of looking at Standby/ On-Call is, are you waiting to be engaged which you do not get paid for, or engaged to wait which you do get paid for.

In advance of the Eclipse it will be important to know what the Department’s expectations are while you are spiked out, can you go swimming and carry your radio or do you need to wait in the engine’s cab.  Asking ahead will be better for everyone.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Eclipse, Plan Ahead and Prepare

In less than three weeks, on August 21st, Oregon will be in the path of totality of a solar eclipse that sweeps from the Coast to Idaho border.  That is the known known.

The unknown known is how will the eclipse effect the Oregon Department of Forestry’s mission to prevent and suppress wildfires.  There is a lot of work being done to have an idea of what this unknown will be and how to mitigate it if it does jeopardize the Department’s fire fighting mission. This is well and good and thankfully there are a lot of really bright people working on the project and come eclipse time good plans will be in place if bad things happen.

Another known known are the expected employee contributions to minimize the effect on Oregon’s forests from wildfire.  Unlike a fire emergency that starts from a spark and can grow rapidly enough to threaten a city and involve a Incident Management Team within a few hours there is time to plan for this event and that planning should include the care and feeding of involved staff.  I just heard a story of past dated Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) being provided to some of our firefighters. If an MRE is going to substitute for a meal it needs to be served before it’s past pull date.  If this happens to you will you please let your Steward or someone from your Local’s leadership team know.  Our Local is also reaching out to those Districts and Units within the Path of Totality to provide “snacks” to go along with the provided meal, again, please contact your Steward or elected Local leadership to make these arrangements.

Plan ahead and prepare, be safe.