The Borough of Chambersburg is situated in Franklin County in Central Pennsylvania. Chambersburg is approximately 16 miles from the Maryland border, 180 miles from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, 50 miles from Harrisburg, and 90 miles from Washington, DC. So it’s kind of in the middle of nowhere seated in the middle of everything.
Chambersburg Borough is 6.58 square miles and the population as of the 2000 Census was 17,862. For more information on the demographics of the Borough, click on www.borough.chambersburg.pa.us.
The IAFF Local 1813 is a local affiliate of the International Association of Firefighters. The IAFF is the 16th largest labor union in the United States representing over 298,000 firefighting and EMS professionals in two countries. The professionals represented by the IAFF protect over 85% of the US Population.
One of the frequent questions we get is, “What is the union and what do they do for you?” To answer that, “they” don’t do. WE do for us. A union is a group of workers who form an organization to gain respect on the job, better wages and benefits, more flexibility for work and family needs, a counterbalance to the unchecked power of employers, and a voice in improving the quality of their services. Simply put, a union is only as strong as its membership.
Local 1813 members work under a contract, which was achieved through collective bargaining. In that process, members of the union and members of management meet to discuss where each party stands on the issues at hand. Normally those issues cover a broad range. In the event an agreement cannot be reached using negotiations, the parties will then proceed to arbitration. In some cases, the next step would be a strike by the work force. Firefighters are prohibited from striking in the interest of public safety.
Arbitration is binding and the decision of the neutral arbitrator is final. The majority of our last contract was decided by a panel of arbitrators. In Act 111 Arbitration, the union has an arbitrator, the management has an arbitrator, and a neutral arbitrator is appointed. Very much like you see on "Law & Order", testimony is presented regarding each issue and the panel of arbitrators then meet to decide the status of the issue. Once all of the issues have been hashed out, an award, or final decision is handed down. That decision becomes part of the contract.
Arbitration is not only used for contract negotiations but for other issues that may arise during the course of the day. Union members are afforded a grievance procedure when issues are addressed that may be in a gray area or outright wrong. The grievance may be handled internally or may have to proceed to arbitration depending on where the parties can meet on the issue.
The IAFF is a strong labor union that is always attempting to protect the safety and health of its members and in the words of General President Schaitberger, “want more,” for its members.
Local 1813 represents the 21 career firefighters that put their lives on the line every day protecting the Borough of Chambersburg. The average age of our members is 38 and the average number of years on the job is 13. We have members ranging in age from 63 to 24.
Local 1813 members are hired following a process that involves written civil service testing, physical agility testing, and an oral interview process. Candidates offered a position must undergo physical, psychological, and medical testing before they are appointed. In order to sit for testing, applicants must have completed the Essentials of Firefighting course and an EMT course.
Once appointed, a member must successfully complete the Harrisburg Area Community College's fire academy and is also placed on one year's probation and assigned to either the A, B, or C shift on the ambulance. There are seven members assigned to a shift. The two lowest members in seniority are assigned to the ambulance. The next highest member in seniority is assigned to relief covering whatever piece of apparatus has a vacancy that day. If no one is off, the relief man is extra. That would be the closest we come to staffing that is remotely near the standards. The next highest members are assigned to permanent positions either driving one of two engines or the ladder truck. In addition, each shift is supervised by a Captain.
Once assigned to a shift and piece of apparatus, the work schedule is 24 hours on followed by 48 hours off. After one year of employment, members are eligible to use earned vacation and personal leave. For more information on that, check out the contract link to your left.
The Chambersburg Fire Department operates out of two fire stations in the Borough. The HQ fire station is where one engine, one ladder, and the ambulance are staffed. The second station in the Borough is known as the McKinley Street Fire Station. This station is situated in the south end of the Borough. This station operates an engine and occasionally an ambulance when staffing allows.
Our ambulance duty is rigorous and quite busy. One ambulance handles the 3,500 calls per year that we respond to. Our ambulance covers not only the 6.58 square miles of Chambersburg but significant parts of our surrounding townships. On top of that, our ambulance crews are expected to perform double duty on fires in the Borough. As you may have noticed, we have no personnel assigned to RIDE the fire apparatus on a permanent basis. Ambulance personnel “pack up” and fight fire when in the Borough. It is not known exactly how many calls are missed because the ambulance is so busy, but estimates are over 1000 per year.
The Borough of Chambersburg currently contracts its Advanced Life Support. While tiered EMS is not seen much in the city environment, it is still very much alive in Chambersburg. The Chambersburg ambulance is equipped and licensed only for BLS (Basic Life Support). West Shore EMS, an affiliate of Holy Spirit Health System, is the contracted provider of Advanced Life Support (ALS) in the Chambersburg EMS first due area. So that’s why when you call for an ambulance in Chambersburg, two units with as many as six people may show up.
Our fire apparatus chauffeurs respond to a variety of emergencies including several hundred medical assist calls per year. Anytime the ambulance is committed and mutual aid is called, a piece of fire apparatus is dispatched. On top of that, all career firefighters are required to complete commercial occupancy inspections on a regular basis. We also participate actively in fire prevention and public education conducting fire drills and public speaking engagements on a frequent basis.
As previously stated, the CFD has 21 career firefighters. In addition to the firefighters, there is one Fire Chief and one Assistant Chief. There are also three Shift Captains and a volunteer Deputy Chief. The department also employs two secretaries.
While considered a combination department, we have experienced the same unfortunate trend that has been experienced nationwide. Our number of volunteers that actually respond on calls and operate at a fire scene is dangerously low.
We average five career firefighters on duty at any time. Our career officers work regular business hours. Our average number of personnel per fire call in 2004 was 4.
We have no type of recall policy for our membership. For years we were under the policy of the Borough to live within the Borough limits but were not ever subject to being called into work in the event of a major incident. Following our last arbitration, we were awarded a 15 air mile radius in which to live. This was considered a large victory for our members. In the interest of firefighter safety, it would be another victory to institute a recall policy.
This local is also a proud member of the Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Association and the Central Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Association. We also enjoy a wonderful partnership with the local Muscular Dystrophy Association and are proud of our fund raising efforts for that great cause. Currently, the local is looking at other avenues to better our community.
The members of The Greater Chambersburg Area Paid Fire Fighters Association, IAFF Local 1813 are hard-working, dedicated, well-trained men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect you. We are working hard every day to protect our rights and our voice, and most importantly, stay safe so that we can effectively and efficiently protect our community.
Page Last Updated: Feb 21, 2017 (13:16:54)