Q: How do most firefighters get injured?
LMC: It is not surprising that most of our firefighters are injured at the scenes of fires. What is surprising is that most of the injuries are not from the fire itself, but rather from slipping and falling. LMC Insurance Trust (LMCIT) statistics reveal that 37 percent of firefighter injuries occur at fire calls, and 21 percent of the injuries happen while they are at medical calls. The protective turnout gear and self-contained breathing apparatus, or air packs, serve them well in the deadly atmosphere of a working structure fire. However, working under stress at a scene that is often dark, in an environment of water, ice, and hoses lying on the ground is challenging. Falls make up 47 percent of the injuries occurring at fire scenes. Add in that the firefighters are climbing ladders and wearing air packs, and it makes sense that they are at high risk for falling. Medical calls are the second-most frequent area for firefighter injuries. The most common injuries on these calls, 67 percent, are the lifting, pushing, and pulling injuries related to patient handling. To learn about steps your city can take to prevent these types of injuries, see the LMC information memo at www.lmc.org/firefighterinjuries.
Q: Can the city terminate an employee who is out on workers’ compensation?
LMC: The city cannot terminate an employee simply because he or she filed a workers’ compensation claim, but the city can terminate an employee because he or she is no longer able to physically perform the duties of the job. The termination action is subject to the same steps and procedures as any other termination (e.g., Family and Medical Leave Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, personnel policies, union contract provisions, Minnesota Human Rights Act, Veterans Preference Act, etc.). A city can also terminate an employee for other legitimate reasons, such as misconduct or performance problems, as long as its decision is unrelated to the employee’s medical or workers’ compensation status. For more about discipline or termination of a person with a disability, see Chapter 3 of the League’s HR Reference Manual at www.lmc.org/HRRM.
Council Meeting Agendas
Q: Can we change the order of agenda items or discuss an item not on the agenda during a city council meeting?
LMC: City councils have wide discretion with respect to meeting procedures. State law is silent on council agendas at regularly scheduled meetings. City councils are not required to have agendas for regularly scheduled meetings, but commonly have them to facilitate orderly meetings. The city charter or the city council’s bylaws or rules of procedure may govern the order of items on the agenda. The city council should review its charter, bylaws, and rules of procedure for guidance regarding whether it may change the order of the agenda. If no local regulation prevents it, the city council is free to change the order of an agenda by motion. Regarding discussing items that aren’t on the agenda, the answer depends on the type of meeting and the meeting rules the council has adopted. At regularly scheduled meetings, items that are not on the agenda may be discussed provided there are no city charter provisions, bylaws, or rules of procedure in place that bar that discussion. At special meetings, where notice of the date, time, place, and purpose of the meeting is required, the council should only discuss matters related to the purpose noticed for the special meeting. For more details, see the LMC information memo at www.lmc.org/meetings. (Photo by Michael Brunk)
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