Columbus (OH) mayor Michael B. Coleman has ordered the city’s Department of Public Safety to fix a policy that allows firefighters to work a desk job while recovering from an injury and still earn full pay, reports The Columbus Dispatch.
Coleman said he met with Safety Director Mitchell J. Brown this week and asked Brown to make it a priority to amend the Fire Division’s light-duty policy in response to a Dispatch investigation that revealed that more than a dozen firefighters had been on light duty for more than a year.
Light duty allows injured firefighters to work at a desk in a temporary position while they recover. Other firefighters are then paid additional money to work at a higher rank or on overtime to cover the regular shifts of those on light duty.
The policy is supposed to limit light duty to 90 days, except in rare cases. In one case, a battalion chief has been on light duty for six years, costing the city more than $1 million.
Fire Chief Gregory A. Paxton and union President Jack Reall have both asked for a policy amendment for years, according to emails obtained through public-records requests. They both want an end date that weans firefighters off light duty and back into their normal positions or possibly into disability retirement.
Reall said the union is agreeable to such a policy as long as the union is involved in the process and can work with the firefighters to try to return them to regular duty.
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