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Volunteer firefighters can’t pick up paid shifts

New London

WATERFORD, Conn. (WTNH)–Up until now, volunteer firefighters in Waterford could also pick up some part-time paid shifts but the town has put a stop to that.

First selectman, Dan Steward, tells News 8 it violates a federal labor law.
You can’t volunteer and work in the same department.

So starting July 1, volunteers now have to choose whether to stay a volunteer only or become a part-time firefighter only.

One member of the Cohanzie fire department in Waterford says this has left a lot of unfilled part-time shifts and that causes concern.

Steven Frischling also says there is a way around this law because the five fire companies in town are independently run.

He says volunteers technically work for the individual fire department not the town.

“If you’re a volunteer in Cohanzie you could do your part time shift at Oswegatchie or at Quaker Hill or at Goshen or vice versa so that way you’re not in violation even with you want to interpret it that way,” said Frischling. “Looking at July we have roughly 190 part time shifts to fill and 121 are unable to be filled.”

The first selectman says there is no risk to public safety but if there was the town would address that.

He says because there are five fire departments in Waterford if one does not have enough people the others can also respond.

Steward says this all came about after a long time firefighter tried to get payment for all the hours he volunteered over the past 30 years.

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