Progressive Disciplinary Process

The Burbank Fire Corps Program (BFCP) has adopted rules and standards to ensure productive, harmonious operations. The best interest of the BFCP lies in ensuring fair treatment of all volunteers and in making certain that discipline is prompt, fair and uniform.

The BFCP endorses a philosophy of progressive discipline in which it attempts to provide volunteers with notice of deficiencies and an opportunity to improve whenever practical or reasonable.  Volunteers’ performance and conduct is evaluated on an ongoing basis, with feedback provided when necessary.  Informal discussions may be used to ensure that volunteers know and follow rules and standards.  These discussions should focus on clarifying expectations, providing appropriate training and development, and coaching volunteers.

In some cases, formal disciplinary action may be deemed appropriate.  Progressive discipline steps may include, but are not limited to, verbal warnings, written warnings, suspension and separation from service. The BFCP retains the right to administer discipline in any manner it deems suitable and any of the steps listed above may be modified at the discretion of the EMC depending upon the severity of the infraction.  For serious offenses, separation from service may occur at any time without any progressive discipline steps having been taken.

Verbal Counseling 

The first level of progressive discipline is Verbal Counseling.  Verbal Counseling is an informal disciplinary action and may take place for minor or moderate violations of conduct, policy or procedures.  Verbal Counseling may be initiated and conducted by the Chief of Staff, Deputy Coordinator of Volunteer Operations and the Coordinator of Volunteer Operations for any member. 

The purpose of a Verbal Counseling is to bring to the attention of the BFCP member being counseled; any deficiencies in their performance or non-adherence to program standards in an attempt to correct these actions before they deteriorate further or warrant more severe disciplinary action.

When Verbal Counseling is administered, the reason, topic and/or situation for which the counseling is being administered shall be specific.  The counseling shall include the reason, topic and/or situation as well as actions or behaviors the BFCP member can take to correct the situation and prevent future disciplinary action for the specified reason, topic and/or situation.

Verbal Counseling shall be in effect for 1 year from the time it is administered (date signed by the BFCP member being counseled).  If a violation for the same specified reason, topic and/or situation occurs while the Verbal Counseling is in effect, the discipline shall progress to Written Counseling.  If a violation for a different reason, topic and/or situation were to occur while the Verbal Counseling is in effect, new disciplinary action shall take place at the appropriate level for the violation.

A record of the Verbal Counseling shall be documented utilizing BFCP-Form-999 (Counseling Corrective Action Form).  A copy shall be provided to the BFCP member being counseled.

Written Counseling

The second level of progressive discipline is Written Counseling (also known as Written Warning or Written Notification).  Written Counseling is a minor form of formal disciplinary action that may take place for repetitive minor violations of conduct, policy or procedures; or may take place for moderate and more severe violations of conduct, policy or procedures.  Written Counseling may be initiated and conducted by the Chief of Staff, Deputy Coordinator of Volunteer Operations and the Coordinator of Volunteer Operations for any member.

The purpose of a Written Counseling is to bring to the attention of the BFCP member being counseled; any deficiencies in their performance or non-adherence to program standards in an attempt to correct these actions before they deteriorate further or warrant more severe disciplinary action.

When Written Counseling is administered, the reason, topic and/or situation for which the counseling is being administered shall be specific.  The counseling shall include the reason, topic and/or situation as well as actions or behaviors the BFCP member can take to correct the situation and prevent future disciplinary action for the specified reason, topic and/or situation.

Written Counseling shall be in effect for 1 year from the time it is administered (date signed by the BFCP member being counseled).  If a violation for the same specified reason, topic and/or situation occurs while the Written Counseling is in effect, the discipline shall progress to Formal Disciplinary Action.  If a violation for a different reason, topic and/or situation were to occur while the Written Counseling is in effect, new disciplinary action shall take place at the appropriate level for the violation.

A record of the Written Counseling shall be documented utilizing BFCP-Form-999 (Counseling Corrective Action Form).  A copy shall be provided to the BFCP member being counseled.

Formal Disciplinary Action

The third level of progressive discipline is Formal Disciplinary Action.  Formal Disciplinary Action is reserved for repetitive minor violations of conduct, policy or procedures, when Written Counseling has failed to correct a situation or for severe violations of conduct, policy or procedures that occur for the first time.  Formal Disciplinary Action can be administered as: Probation, Suspension and Separation of Service from the program.  Formal Disciplinary Action may be initiated by the Chief of Staff, Deputy Coordinator of Volunteer Operations and the Coordinator of Volunteer Operations for any member.

Once initiated, a peer review board shall be convened to review the alleged reason, topic and/or situation warranting a Formal Disciplinary Action.  The peer review board shall consist of two members of the Steering Committee (one of which must be either the Chief of Staff or Deputy Coordinator of Volunteer Operations, which will serve as the board chair person) and one member of the general rank and file of the program for a total of three members.  The Coordinator of Volunteer Operations and the person initiating the action may not be part of the board.  The person initiating the action will present the grounds of the violation to the board.  The board will review the allegations and deliberate (without the person initiating action present) to determine which level of Formal Disciplinary Action is most appropriate.  Once a decision has been made by the board, the board chair shall present the findings to the Coordinator of Volunteer Operations.  If the Coordinator of Volunteer Operations is in agreement, the recommended level of Formal Disciplinary Action shall be carried out by the Coordinator of Volunteer Operations (with the exception of Separation of Service).  In the instances where the recommendation is Separation of Service, the Coordinator of Volunteer Operations will present the findings to the Emergency Management Coordinator (EMC); if there is concurrence, the EMC will begin the process for Separation of Service.  If the person initiating the action is the Coordinator of Volunteer Operations, the Deputy Coordinator shall assume and perform the roles of Coordinator pertaining to the process and the Chief of Staff must serve on the board as the chair.

A)    Probation:  Probation shall consist of the BFCP member being placed on a probationary status for period of time no less than 6 months and not to exceed 1 year.  The duration shall be determined by the review board.  While a member is on probation, any violation of conduct, policy or procedures, for any reason, topic and/or situation, related or unrelated, during the first 3 months of the probationary period shall be grounds for Separation of Service or an extension of the probationary period by an additional 3 months.  Any violation of conduct, policy or procedures, for the same reason, topic and/or situation related to the reason the member is on probation will result in Separation of Service.

B)    Suspension:  Suspension shall consist of the BFCP member being suspended from all activities and meetings for a period of time no less than 1 month and not to exceed 6 months.  The member must surrender their BFCP identification card at the time of suspension.  Upon completion of the suspension, the member shall be on probation for 3 months.  Any violation of conduct, policy or procedures, for the same reason, topic and/or situation related to the reason the member was suspended and subsequently on probation will result in Separation of Service.

C)    Separation of Service:  Separation of Service shall consist of the BFCP member’s status as a volunteer with the program being terminated.

Dispute Resolution and Appeal of Disciplinary Action

In the event a member feels they are the recipient of a disciplinary action that he/she feels is too severe or not warranted, the member may submit a formal written protest of the disciplinary action.  The written protest must state:

  • A description of the nature of the offense that caused disciplinary action.
  • A description of the disciplinary action administered.
  • The member’s justification for the protest.

The written protest must be submitted to the Emergency Management Coordinator within thirty (30) days of the disciplinary action being administered.  Written protests are to be placed in a sealed envelope addressed to the Emergency Management Coordinator, Burbank Fire Department and delivered to the business counter of the Burbank Fire Department during normal business hours.

The Emergency Management Coordinator will review the circumstances behind the disciplinary action taking into consideration the member’s time in service with the program, previous history, and any other mitigating circumstances and deliver a final decision within thirty (30) days.  Any disciplinary action administered will be suspended pending the decision of the Emergency Management Coordinator.