Sunday, August 12, 2012

Amesbury Fire violated civil service law in appointments

The Amesbury Fire Department violated the state's Civil Service Statute by making its deputy and assistant fire chief positions non-civil service appointments, the Civil Service Commission recently ruled in an appeal by 24 members of the Department.  The City, which adopted the civil service law in 1975, had not included the positions of deputy and assistant fire chief when it originally submitted its classification plan with the state's Human Resources Division. Those positions were added later to the Department but the classification plan was never updated with HRD, and thus those positions never officially became subject to the civil service law.

In defending its practice, the City argued that since the assistant and deputy fire chiefs performed duties similar to the chief - which is not a civil service position - then those position s were exempt from the civil service law. The Commission disagreed, however, ruling that the plain terms of M.G.L. c. 31, sec. 51 required that all positions in a civil service community other than the fire chief must be appointed according to the civil service law. The Commission ordered that the Amesbury officers holding the title of deputy and assistant fire chief have their positions changed to provisional and the City schedule a civil service examination for those positions.

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