Fire recruits waiting for jobs...get burned
by Nick Delgado
Guam - Last September, 30 people received notices that they were the top selections to be hired at the Guam Fire Department. Some of them even quit their job thinking they were going to be brought on board - eight months later they got another notice, and this time it's fired up quite a bit of controversy.
Fire Department Spokesperson Lieutenant Ed Artero said, "We had to send a cancellation letter informing the fire recruits that we can no longer hold the position." The letter from Acting Fire Chief John Wusstig states GFD has been aggressively pursuing all avenues to secure funding. It costs nearly $600,000 to bring on the 30 new hires, but Chief Wusstig states it is just not fiscally possible at this time.
This means the firefighter recruit position is now invalid and must be canceled. "They have to compete all over again," Artero stated.
DOA Personnel Services Administrator Shane Nauta says the letters sent was a final decision made by GFD . "The fire department asked for guidance on how to proceed with these selections they made last cycle; we just gave them general guidance on how the rules apply on the selections they made and certain implications for funding as they go through their budget," he said.
The day after the notices were sent out DOA met with Senator Dennis Rodriguez, Jr., who introduced Bill 421. "[It] uses the funds that expired funds of the e911 to be able to be used for the fire recruits," the senator stated. "So yeah, you're right about the existing law that those can only be used but these are the funds that were encumbered but not used. So that's what we're being able to use to get the cycle started."
He hopes the measure will be passed during next week's session.
In the meantime, Public Safety Oversight Chair Senator Adolpho Palacios says he will now hold a status hearing with GFD sometime next week to have GFD answer to the issue. He's also informing the recruits "be patient and perhaps they can use the fact that they have already been accepted as some kind of endorsement for temporary employment."
"I don't know whether there is cause for suit here but there might be, some attorney should look into this and put together a class action to involve others so that of course can be shared," said Palacios.
the fire recruits spent over $100 for the court and police clearances, and a physical, some even taking time away from their jobs to participate in interviews and training. The fire department is asking the 30 selectees to just hang tight, and are optimistic that Senator Rodriguez's bill will pass. But again, the cancellation means if money is appropriated for the positions before December, then those same recruits will have to once again spend out of pocket to fulfill the job requirements.