Promotions and Acting or Interim Positions

Today’s burning question: Is there a maximum duration for which a fire department can keep an individual in an “acting” or “interim” capacity before the position must be awarded to the individual or awarded to another candidate?

Answer: There is no universal answer to your question. There are fire departments where permanent promotions have been held up for as long as nine (9) years while lawsuits played themselves out. Akron, Ohio is one case that comes to mind.

The answer in any given case will turn on state and local law. In some jurisdictions, the duration that acting or interim positions can be used is governed by state statutes, civil service regulations, local charters, personnel ordinances and perhaps even collective bargaining agreements. However, when a court enjoins a fire department from making promotions until a case is resolved, even statutory limits may have to yield.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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