Still a great question Rachamner. I recall asking my Dad the same thing when I was a young’un, like maybe in grade school.
I will let those who have knowledge of today’s union/labor laws address this current situation, but perhaps I can give a historical perspective, the times before there was any overtime pay for the rank and file of who were then called, simply, “firemen”.
Since the 1920s when the continuous duty system was abolished it has always been customary for the incoming tour to arrive 30 minutes early to take any job that came in just before the roll call.
But what, I asked my father, of a working fire that the company engaged an hour or so prior to the change of tour? In the 1950s and 60s, the men of the incoming shift would load their turnout gear into one of the members’ private car and off they went to relieve those at the scene. The car went back to quarters with the those relieved from duty. Doubtful if anyone was reimbursed for the mileage and gas.
But my Dad went on further to his earlier days on the job in H&L14 in Harlem, then one of the busiest companies in the FDNY. In that time before radio communications, they might arrive at an empty fire-house on 125th St., their only clue as to the whereabouts of the company being the box # on the chalkboard at the watch desk. A telephone call to the dispatcher‘s office would apprise them of the situation at the incident. This, now, was the 1930s and during WWII, when hardly a member had an automobile. So what to do? The crew would gather their gear and, flashing their “tins”, jump on the IRT Lexington Ave Subway, or a crosstown trolley, or even a Yellow Cab, to go and relieve their brothers. No reimbursement necessary, and no overtime for anyone. The company was on duty till the fire was extinguished. (Can you imagine a bunch of firefighters today storming the subway carrying their bunker gear?)
Thanks, Dad. You are gone these 45 years but your stories, knowledge, and wisdom still linger.
Happy Father’s Day.