New Haven fire chief launches investigation into time off procedures

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)–The New Haven fire chief just launched an internal investigation into whether some of his firefighters are abusing leave time. It has to do with firefighters who have exhausted all other leave time and still get paid to stay home. The time off is known as special leave, and it can be used for a myriad of reasons, including sickness and schooling.

It’s valid so long as the firefighter who needs off finds a colleague willing to cover the shift. The person filling in doesn’t get over time.

Here’s how it works: Firefighter “A” wants to be off for Christmas, so they ask Firefighter “B” to work their shift. It’s perfectly legal under fire department Rules. But what is not legal is Firefighter “A” offering a cash payment to Firefighter “B” to work their shift.

The alleged cash payments are off the books and tax free, and that is part of what the fire chief is now investigating. There are also concerns about how special leave abuse might impact staffing and response times to fires. So far, there is no evidence that any New Haven firefighter swapped cash for time off.

Chief John Alston told only News 8 of the investigation after we got tipped off to allegations and took the concerns to fire headquarters.

Alston couldn’t appear on camera, so he issued this statement saying in part, “the matter you spoke of today gave me great concern and I have launched an internal investigation to determine if and who may have abused or misused this practice. We are in the process of reviewing records of all personnel for the last 12 months to determine if there are any irregularities or anomalies.”

The firefighters’ union pushed back saying in part, “special leave has no impact on the budget, fire protection or emergency medical response and is governed by the contract,” said Frank Ricci, president of IAFF Local 825.

WTNH NEWS8 provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Also, you can now block any inappropriate user by simple selecting the drop down menu on the right of any comment and selection "Block User" from there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s