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No significant fiscal implication anticipated.
The bill would have a cost to some local governments to hire permanent, full-time fire department civil service employees for duties that could previously be performed by other staff; however, cost could not be determined at this time.
HB 2870 would amend code to prohibit a municipal employee from performing a duty classified as a wildland firefighting duty, including conducting a prescribed burn, unless that person is a permanent, full-time fire department civil service employee. This is regardless of whether the person holds a certificate from the Texas Commission on Fire Protection.
The bill provides an exception if the municipal employee is also a volunteer firefighter and is not acting in his official capacity as a municipal employee at the time he participates in the controlled burn.
This bill abridges the principle of limited government. If an individual holds a certificate from the Texas Commission on Fire Protection, that person is qualified to conduct a wild land firefighting duty or a prescribed burn regardless of whether they are serving as a full time or volunteer fire fighter. The certificate alone demonstrates that qualification.
If a municipality has someone on staff who holds a certificate from the Texas Commission on Fire Protection, the municipality should not be prohibited by state regulation from employing that individual to perform a duty they are clearly qualified for. For this reason, we oppose HB 2870.