“Read the material on the problem for this assignment below and write a 5 page paper on how you would handle this problem and what groups you would enlist to assist you. (This problem is adapted from an actual situation that occurred in Boston, Massachusetts a few years back, and there is a great more to this than meets the eye. Again, I recommend that you do some research before answering the question.) Post this to Assignment Six.
You are the chief officer of a combination (career and volunteer personnel) suburban fire department on the outskirts of a major metro department’s response area. The relationship of the Metro fire department and the city it serves has been one of a love/hate nature especially the last few years. The papers have been filled with chapter and verse about the tense relationship between a very structured old-line fire department and pressure from both the community and the city government to change. Over the years, each side has had right on their side and just as often been wrong.
Your town manager has been reading about the difficulties that the mayor in the city next door has been having with its fire department and the city’s efforts to push for a new state law that would require all public safety employees to submit to a random drug and alcohol tests that would impact your department also. In the city, both the firefighters individually and the unions have been fighting the city tooth and nail over the issue of drug and alcohol testing and the position of the city has been that random drug and alcohol testing should be mandatory for public safety personnel to ensure public trust. The problem is that you and the town manager both know the mayor has had a years – long battle with firefighters on various issues from minorities and women in the department to just getting the department to submit to annual physicals. You know the mayor in the metro city has ulterior motives for all that he is doing and this has clouded what otherwise would be a proposal that would be viewed as a good one for both the city and the department.
One of the issues that has brought this to a head was the fact that a firefighter from that city had to resign in the last few days due to a federal drug raid on his vacation home where agents seized 131 marijuana plants!
This bill had been filed last year and the year before that and it is gone nowhere at the state level because the state legislature is reticent to take on the public employee unions. This time the mayor is counting on a public outcry to get the legislators to reconsider and even pass the bill. You know that both the mayor and the unions have refused to yield an inch on anything and every contract and every dispute has come down to a series of arbitration hearings and in fact the firefighters in the city are working without a contract at all. The mayor is also running for a fifth term, never before done in that particular city, and sees that the random drug testing will show that he is doing something positive to bring about change in the fire department which so far he has been relatively unsuccessful. The firefighters on their part have become very political and are endorsing one of the city’s councilmen for mayor and that particular candidate wants drug testing, and agrees that firefighters should be drug tested but also wants the requirement to apply to all city workers and officials, something the other city unions and many of the city officials do not want. Drug and alcohol use has been suspected in contributing to the deaths of two firefighters in the region who died in a recent restaurant fire and that also has been brought out in the discussions.
The town manager has called you in not only for your opinion on the circus next door, but for your guidance as the town is to meet with their state legislator and state senator to discuss the proposed bill and give the town’s stand, and of greater importance your position on the matter as it appears that the resistance to the law is coming mostly from the fire service and not from the police. What are you going to do?