It was just the first day of a new firefighting job.
We’d been told we’d be getting our first paycheck, and we were excited to finally start the job that we’d been working toward for the past eight years.
We had been in the fire department for nearly four years, and our first day was the most stressful of my life.
I had never been a firefighter, and I was in the midst of my first day as a full-time firefighting employee when I received my paycheck.
It was the second-biggest paycheck I’d ever received, and it was for a job I’d worked in for nearly two decades.
I felt so relieved and excited.
But there was something wrong.
We were in the office, working at the same time, for hours and hours, when suddenly I noticed something odd.
The fire department’s firefighting equipment was the exact same one that I’d been using for eight years: the fire truck.
When I was working as a fire fighter, I was trained to use fire trucks to extinguish fires.
But when I was a firefighter for the first time, I’d never seen anything like this.
I’d seen a fire truck, I had seen a gas tanker, I could see a fire station and I’d see firefighting gear.
I never thought I’d find myself working in a firefighting department in the same building as a tank truck.
And then I started to realize that, just like my tank truck, this was also the exact type of equipment that we used in fire fighting.
What the hell was going on?
I was at a loss for words.
What was going to happen to me if I left the firefighting company?
I’m not going to be a firefighter anymore.
My boss said, We’ll just let you go, and he gave me a choice.
If I said no, I wouldn’t get paid.
But if I said yes, I would be getting paid.
I could leave.
And my boss didn’t even ask if I wanted to be fired.
If he said no to me, he would tell me, Just tell the department, I’ll just pay you.
But he wouldn’t do that.
The Firefighter’s Law, or Firefighter Retirement, Act of 2019 I was told to sign an agreement to remain on the job for at least a year.
I asked my supervisor for my name, and the response was that I was an emergency medical technician, or EMET, and that was how I’d be fired if I didn’t sign.
I was never fired, but the next day I was informed that I wasn’t allowed to leave the firehouse.
The reason I couldn’t leave was because of my age.
The department had an age limit of 65 years, so I was going into my early 60s.
My supervisor had told me that I couldn, in fact, quit the fire service.
He told me I’d have to stay on for another year, which was my second year on the fire engine.
It took me a while to understand that the reason he had me stay was because I had an EMET certification, a firefighter qualification.
I told him that I didn.
I said, It’s not like you’ve been working here for 12 years, you’ve only been here for six months.
The supervisor said, Oh, that’s right.
Well, that doesn’t really count.
You’ve been here three years, since you retired.
You could’ve easily quit a few months ago.
What if I say no?
I thought, If I do say no, what would happen?
If I say yes, they can’t fire me.
And they can fire me for the rest of my career.
But the supervisor told me not to worry.
He said, You can come back anytime.
You’ll be paid again.
I signed the agreement.
I went back to work.
And it wasn’t until a couple of weeks later that I realized what I had signed.
I got fired.
I filed a claim with the state, and two years later, the Firefighters Retirement System received a letter saying that my EMET status was revoked.
The Firefighters retirement system was created by the Fire Protection Act of 1970.
The first retirement law that I remember is the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
I think I signed my name on that one in the 1940s, and my name still sticks in my mind.
But this one wasn’t the Fair Labor Standards Act, it was the Fire Fighters Retirement Act of 2020.
That’s why my name is still there in my name.
I don’t know what the law says about me, but I do know that this is what they’re trying to tell me.
They’re telling me that because I’ve been fired, I’m no longer qualified to work for the Fire Department.
And I’m very upset.
I’ve worked as a firefighter my entire life,