CEO 85-25 -- April 4, 1985
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY FIREFIGHTER EMPLOYED BY FIRE EQUIPMENT COMPANY
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a municipal firefighter who does not perform fire inspections to be employed by a fire equipment company to service fire extinguishers, where the company does business with the fire department in an amount not exceeding $500 per year through a sealed, competitive bidding system. The business transacted would fall within the exemptions of Section 112.313(12)(b) and (12)(f), Florida Statutes, for sealed, competitive bidding and for transactions not exceeding $500 per year. CEO's 77-75 and 83-52 are referenced.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were a municipal firefighter to be employed by a fire equipment company to service fire extinguishers, where the company is doing business with the City?
Your question is answered in the negative, under the circumstances presented.
In your letter of inquiry and in a telephone conversation with our staff, you have advised that .... is employed as a driver engineer with the Naples Fire Department. You question whether he may be employed by a fire equipment company to service fire extinguishers. He would not be involved in soliciting the sale or service of fire extinguishers or other fire equipment products. Finally, you advise that the company does make sales to the Fire Department.
In a previous opinion to you, CEO 77-75, we advised that Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, would prohibit a municipal firefighter from being employed by a fire equipment company which was doing business with his city. However, since the issuance of that opinion, the Code of Ethics has been amended to provide an exemption to Section 112.313(7)(a) where the amount of business transacted does not exceed $500 per year. See CEO 77-182. You have advised that sales from the company which would employ the subject firefighter to the City Fire Department do not exceed $500 per year, so it appears that this exemption would apply. In addition, you have advised that purchases are made through a sealed, competitive system. Therefore, if sales were to exceed $500 per year, it appears that another exemption for purchases made under a system of sealed, competitive bidding would be applicable. See CEO 80-31.
In CEO 77-75, we also found that a frequently recurring conflict of interest would be created in violation of Section 112.313(7)(a), where the firefighter was in a position to make fire inspections of private property and to turn around and sell equipment to the same persons whose property he had inspected. However, in CEO 83-52 we advised that a city firefighter could be employed by a fire equipment company where the firefighter was not involved in selling fire extinguishers or service contracts, but rather would be employed to service fire extinguishers. Similarly, we are of the opinion that no frequently recurring conflict of interest would be created were the subject firefighter to be employed with the fire equipment company. Here, the firefighter would be repairing and maintaining fire extinguishers rather than selling them. In addition, you have advised that the subject firefighter is not responsible for fire prevention inspections. He does carry out familiarization inspections of commercial property in order to learn the arrangements of buildings and the location of exits, but this does not entail fire prevention inspections.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were the subject firefighter to be employed to service fire extinguishers by a fire equipment company which is doing business with the City.