Location:
FIRE DEPARTMENTS AND FIREMEN; GOVERNMENT, STATE - REORGANIZATION; OCCUPATIONAL TRAINING; POLICE;
Scope:
Connecticut laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report


February 28, 2011

 

2011-R-0126

SB 1016 — AN ACT ESTABLISHING A DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY RESPONDER TRAINING

By: Veronica Rose, Chief Analyst
Duke Chen, Legislative Analyst II
Evelyn Arnold, Budget Analyst I

You asked for a summary of SB 1016, background information on the agencies affected by the bill, and questions on the proposals in the bill.

SB 1016 — AN ACT ESTABLISHING A DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY RESPONDER TRAINING

This bill establishes a Department of Emergency Responder Training (DERT), headed by an executive director appointed by the governor, to train both police and firefighters ( 1 et seq.). Under current law, the Police Officer Standards and Training Council (POST), which is administratively located in the State Police, is responsible for municipal police training, and the Commission on Fire Prevention and Control, through the Office of State Fire Administration, is responsible for training firefighters and other fire service personnel.

The bill puts POST in DERT for administrative purposes only and makes it responsible for advising the agency on municipal police training and related issues. It puts the commission, which is currently in the Department of Public Safety (DPS) for administrative purposes only, in DERT for administrative purposes only, and makes it responsible for advising DERT on fire training and related issues ( 23 to 26, and 30).

The bill eliminates (1) the Office of State Fire Administration, which is responsible for maintaining and operating a state fire school to serve as the training and education arm of the commission, and (2) the state fire administrator's position ( 30). The state fire administrator carries out the commission's day-to-day responsibilities.

The bill eliminates the supplemental grant award remittance program, which provides grants to volunteer fire companies providing services on limited access highways, the Berlin Turnpike, and a section of Route 8 ( 30).

The bill takes effect July 1, 2011.

POST

POST (formerly the Municipal Police Training Council) is responsible for (1) establishing a comprehensive municipal police training plan; (2) training, certifying, and establishing minimum qualifications for municipal police officers; (3) enforcing professional standards for certification and decertification of police officers; and (4) developing standards for, and granting accreditation to, law enforcement units that meet the standards. While the agency's responsibilities are mainly described in terms of “police officers,” its authority extends to other persons who perform police functions, according to a 1993 attorney general' opinion. (The agency's authority does not extend to state police officers and other specified law enforcement officers, not pertinent here.)

The council is within the State Police for administrative purposes only. It consists of (1) 18 members appointed by the governor and (2) the DPS commissioner and Federal Bureau of Investigation's special agent in charge in Connecticut or their designees, who are ex-officio voting members. Members serve without compensation but are reimbursed actual expenses incurred in performing their duties. An executive director, appointed by the council, and a 24-person staff carry out the day-to-day responsibilities of the council (CGS 7-294b et seq.).

COMMISSION ON FIRE PREVENTION AND CONTROL

The Commission on Fire Prevention and Control has primary responsibility for providing training, life safety education, and professional competency certification to Connecticut fire service personnel. It must, among other things, (1) recommend minimum standards for firefighter applicants, (2) set education and training standards and develop and conduct certification examinations for fire service personnel, and (3) conduct firefighter training and education programs (CGS 7-323l). The Office of State Fire Administration, headed by a state fire administrator appointed by the commission, is responsible for carrying out fire service functions the commission devises and others specified in law. The state fire administrator is responsible for carrying out the day-to-day responsibilities of the commission and office (CGS 7-323n).

The commission is within DPS for administrative purposes only (CGS 7-323k). It consists of (1) 12 members appointed by the governor and (2) the state fire marshal and the community-technical colleges' chancellor or their designees, who are ex-officio, voting members (CGS 7-323k). The commission currently has an 18-member staff (15 General Fund positions and three privately funded positions) and approximately 200 per-diem fire instructors. Commission members serve without compensation.

QUESTIONS ON THE BILL

Rationale for Changes

1. If the rationale for establishing DERT is to have a single agency responsible for training all fire and police personnel, why are state police officers not included in the bill?

2. Is the creation of DERT in the best interest of the state and fire and police personnel? Will it improve the quality of training and maximize the use of resources?

3. Why establish an agency to deal with police and firefighter training at a time when the state is merging several other agencies?

Administrative and Personnel Issues

1. What is the expected deadline for completing the consolidation? How will it work? What administrative and personnel issues need to be resolved and how long will it take to resolve them?

2. What impact will the establishment of DERT have on personnel employed by POST and the Commission on Fire Prevention and Control? Is there any personnel reduction anticipated? If yes, (1) in what areas, (2) are the positions slated for elimination union, non-union, or management?

3. How will information on the establishment of the agency be communicated to employees? How will employee issues be addressed?

4. Police and firefighters have distinct priorities, agendas, and cultures that sometimes inhibit their working relationship. Do you see this as a problem for DERT?

5. Are the employees affected by consolidation in the same bargaining unit?

Budgetary and Funding Issues

1. What are some of the costs involved in establishing DERT?

2. What are the expected savings and in what areas? Do the savings estimates include costs associated with accrual payouts and employment benefits? If the intent is to relocate some or part of any of the agencies, are moving, rent, and office costs factored in?

Organizational and Operational issues

1. What will DERT look like? Will there be a merger of the administrative offices of POST and the Commission on Fire Prevention and Control?

2. Where will DERT be located? Will it maintain the Connecticut Fire Academy in Windsor Locks and the Connecticut Police Academy in Meriden, or will it consolidate its operations in a single location?

3. Will the DERT executive director be a representative of POST or the commission, or will he or she be selected from outside the agency?

4. Will fire service personnel and police officers have joint and equal representation in the agency?

5. Are there any other commissions or offices that you believe could be added to the new agency?

Performance Issues

1. What do you believe will be DERT's biggest challenges in providing police and fire service training?

Miscellaneous

1. Has the establishment of DERT been discussed with stakeholders (e.g., towns, fire service personnel, police officers) to determine if there is an alternative approach that could produce better results?

2. What measures should we use to evaluate the success of the reorganization?

3. Who should fire and police personnel and members of the public contact if they have questions or comments on the reorganization?

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