The deputy fire marshal job description has been revised in New Milford to meet union collective bargaining unit guidelines. The change was approved in April by Mayor Pat Murphy and June 25 by Town Council.
The process started in December 2011 to incorporate the position into the collective bargaining unit for AFSCME Local 1303-183 , said Alan Chapin, the town's personnel director. The job description change was approved June 7 by the union but it remained tentative until Town Council approval had been received.
"This description more accurately describes what the position holder does," Mr. Chapin said. "The biggest change is in the education requirement. A bachelor's degree in fire science (fire safety or related field) will be required going forward."
The present deputy fire marshal, Brian Ohmen, was grandfathered in under the new job description, Mr. Chapin said.
While Mr. Ohmen does not hold a bachelor's degree in fire science, his work and job qualifications are "outstanding," Mr. Chapin added. Hired in 2009 as a part-time deputy fire marshal position, Mr. Ohmen's status became full time as a non-union employee in 2010.
"You have to keep in mind that, to be certified by the state for this position, Mr. Ohmen had to pass the appropriate classes," Mr. Chapin said. "Science training in universities is so good now, we're taking advantage of that going forward in our hiring."
"The biggest thing for me was that this had been a non-union position," Mr. Failla said. "I would have preferred not to add another union position in the town. Personally, I come from a non-union background."
Mr. Failla stressed he "know(s) the Town Council and the mayor have a good relationship with all the unions in the town."
"I know the unions serve a good purpose but I've worked in the private sector all my life," he said. "I think improving the requirements for this or any position draws in quality people, so it's not the position description change I objected to."