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City nixes firefighter policy

The Hartselle City Council appears like it will not support an updated policy that will require future paid firefighters to live within 10 miles of the city limits.

Council President Kenny Thompson said he felt like the city didn’t need the policy unless it was going to apply to all departments.

“If we’re not going to do it for everybody, then I don’t think we need it just for the fire department,” Thompson said.

Mayor Dwight Tankersley brought the issue to the council after the city’s human resources director asked if a policy needed to be in place in the event of an “all-call,” in which all paid and volunteer firefighters were called to the scene. According to fire chief Steve Shelton, they’ve only had two all-calls during his tenure.

“Usually, we call the last shift in first,” Shelton said. “We’ve rarely ever had to call everyone.”

Shelton said five firefighters are on duty at all times. He can call in as many 10 additional paid firefighters in the event of an emergency.

After doing additional research, Tankersley found that various cities around the state had differing opinions on residency requirements. Some required paid firefighters to live as close as 10 miles from the city limits to as far away as 30 miles. Some cities didn’t have a requirement at all.

Tankersley said he still recommended the change to the firefighter policy.

Councilman Bill Smelser asked Shelton if off-duty firefighters are required to come in on an all-call. Shelton responded that you would have to give stand-by pay to those firefighters. The city currently doesn’t do that.