CEO 83-52 -- July 28, 1983
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY FIREFIGHTER EMPLOYED BY FIRE EQUIPMENT COMPANY
To: Mr. Paul R. Steckle, Fire Chief, City of Brooksville
No prohibited conflict of interest would 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. CEO 77-75 is distinguished, since here the company is the sole source of supply within the county and the exemption of Section 112.313(12)(e), Florida Statutes, would apply; also, the firefighter would be involved only in servicing fire extinguishers and not in sales.
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.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that Mr. James D. Daugherty is a Captain with the Brooksville Fire Department. You also advise that he would like to be employed by the only fire and safety equipment company located in the County to service portable fire extinguishers. Sales of fire extinguishers and sales of service contracts would be handled by other employees of the company, you advise. Finally, you advise that this company does do business with the City.
In a previous opinion, 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 business entity involved is the only source of supply within the political subdivision of the officer or employee and there is full disclosure by the officer or employee of the officer's or employee's interest in the business entity to the governing body of the political subdivision prior to the purchase, rental, sale, leasing, or other business being transacted. [Section 112.313(12)(e), Florida Statutes (Supp. 1982).]
As you have advised that the fire and safety equipment company is the sole source of supply within the County, this exemption would apply. The disclosure requirement of the exemption may be met by the subject firefighter's completing Part B of Commission on Ethics Form 4A, Disclosure of Business Transaction, Relationship, or Interest, and filing that form with the governing body of the City.
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), Florida Statutes, 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. We find that the situation you have referenced differs significantly from that in CEO 77-75, however, for two reasons. First, the subject firefighter is not involved in sales of fire extinguishers or service contracts, but rather would be employed to service fire extinguishers. Secondly, as you have advised, the fire and safety equipment company is the only one located in the County at the present time; under these circumstances, the possibility that the subject firefighter might misuse his official position to benefit his employer to the detriment of competing companies would be diminished.
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 safety equipment company which is doing business with the City.