Published 2:37 pm Friday, March 28, 2008

By Staff
After making an intelligent decision in January, Washington’s City Council followed that decision with another smart move earlier this month.
The council approved an agreement of reimbursement of training and equipment expenses for the position of firefighter/EMT with the city. The agreement requires firefighters/EMTs that the city hires and trains to reimburse the city for training and equipment expenses if they leave the Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS-Inspections Department before completing a two-year tour of duty.
In January, the council approved a similar agreement for police officers hired by the Washington Police Department.
Washington’s investment in training firefighters/EMTs pays off, often for other fire departments. Equipping and training firefighters/EMTs carries a price tag, one that’s not cheap. To protect its investment in these firefighters/EMTs, the city should have such agreements in place.
As with the agreement concerning police officers, people seeking to work for the Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS-Inspections Department and be trained to perform their duties will be required to sign an agreement that spells out what the city’s responsibilities are when it comes to training and equipping those applicants. The agreement also spells out what applicants are required to do if they leave the city’s police force before serving two years.
If Washington — in essence the city’s taxpayers — is willing to hire a person and train and equip that person to serve as a firefighter/EMT, that person should be willing to make a commitment to serve that city and its taxpayers long enough so the city and taxpayers recoup their investment in that person. It’s not equitable or fair for the city to spend the money needed to train and equip a firefighter/EMT, only to see that employee go to work for another fire department that benefits from getting a trained officer without having to bear the burden of paying for that training.
Unless it is able to recover some of the money it spent to train and equip a firefighter/EMT, why should the city spend lots of money to train that person only to see him or her use that city-provided training as a springboard to a better-paying job with a fire department somewhere else?
Without such agreements in place, Washington and taxpayers would continue to be taken advantage of by some people who view working for the city as a firefighter/EMT as means to getting a better-paying job with another police agency. These people get hired, get trained and get gone. There’s nothing wrong with improving one’s lot in life, but it shouldn’t be done at taxpayers’ expense.
The Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS-Inspections Department is in the business of providing protection. That’s what this agreement provides — protection to the city and its taxpayers.