Automatic Aid Agreements Challenged as Contracting Out – Texas

The Austin Fire Department is being sued by the Austin Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 975, over automatic (mutual) aid agreements that the city recently entered into that call for the closest units to an incident to respond.

IAFF Local 975 claims that the agreements essentially “contract-out” work in violation of state civil service laws. The complaint states: “the city’s agreements with the ESDs and municipalities contract out normal fire protection service within Austin city limits, providing for ESD personnel to be dispatched as part of the city’s initial or primary response, and sometimes the only response.”

The suit filed in Travis County District Court claims that by entering into the agreements the city is violating the Civil Service Act by using non-civil service firefighters for its primary (as opposed to emergency/mutual aid) response. IAFF Local 975 is seeking a permanent injunction to block the use of non-Austin firefighters for primary response except in major emergencies where mutual aid is needed.

Here is a copy of the complaint: Austin FFs petition

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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