B-117885, DECEMBER 22, 1953, 33 COMP. GEN. 274

B-117885: Dec 22, 1953

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COMPENSATION - OVERTIME - TRAVEL TIME - NON-WORKDAYS - FOREST SERVICE FIREFIGHTERS PER ANNUM FOREST SERVICE EMPLOYEES ASSIGNED TO A SMOKEJUMPER FOREST FIREFIGHTER UNIT WHO WERE DISPATCHED BY AIRPLANE TO SITE OF A FIRE AND WHO. WERE RETURNED TO HEADQUARTERS WITHOUT STOPOVER BY A SCHOOL BUS WHICH WAS THE ONLY AVAILABLE TRANSPORTATION. 1953: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 17. IT IS STATED IN YOUR LETTER THAT THE EMPLOYEES. WAS DISPATCHED BY AIRPLANE ON JULY 2. A SCHOOL BUS WHICH WAS THE ONLY MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION AVAILABLE WAS USED TO TRANSPORT THE WORKERS A DISTANCE OF 667 MILES. THAT THE SMOKEJUMPERS ARE PER ANNUM EMPLOYEES OPERATING UNDER AN ESTABLISHED WORKWEEK OF FIVE 8-HOUR DAYS.

B-117885, DECEMBER 22, 1953, 33 COMP. GEN. 274

COMPENSATION - OVERTIME - TRAVEL TIME - NON-WORKDAYS - FOREST SERVICE FIREFIGHTERS PER ANNUM FOREST SERVICE EMPLOYEES ASSIGNED TO A SMOKEJUMPER FOREST FIREFIGHTER UNIT WHO WERE DISPATCHED BY AIRPLANE TO SITE OF A FIRE AND WHO, OUTSIDE REGULARLY ASSIGNED TOUR OF DUTY, WERE RETURNED TO HEADQUARTERS WITHOUT STOPOVER BY A SCHOOL BUS WHICH WAS THE ONLY AVAILABLE TRANSPORTATION, MAY BE PAID OVERTIME COMPENSATION FOR RETURN TRAVEL TIME EVEN THOUGH PART OF SUCH TRAVEL TIME DID NOT FALL WITHIN NORMAL SLEEPING HOURS.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO E. C. CRARY, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, DECEMBER 22, 1953:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 17, 1953, WITH ENCLOSURES, REFERENCE A DISBURSEMENT G.A.O. ( ADVANCE DECISION), WHEREIN YOU REQUEST AN ADVANCE DECISION AS TO THE LEGALITY OF PROPOSED PAYMENT OF OVERTIME TO 18 EMPLOYEES OF THE FOREST SERVICE FOR TRAVEL TIME OUTSIDE THE EMPLOYEES' REGULARLY ASSIGNED TOUR OF DUTY IN CONNECTION WITH FIRE SUPPRESSION ACTIVITIES.

IT IS STATED IN YOUR LETTER THAT THE EMPLOYEES, GRADES GS-5 AND GS 6, ASSIGNED TO THE SMOKE JUMPER FOREST FIREFIGHTER UNIT WITH HEADQUARTERS AT MCCALL, IDAHO, WAS DISPATCHED BY AIRPLANE ON JULY 2, 1953, TO A FIRE NEAR CODY, WYOMING; THAT UPON RELEASE FROM THE FIRE ON JULY 11, 1953, A SCHOOL BUS WHICH WAS THE ONLY MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION AVAILABLE WAS USED TO TRANSPORT THE WORKERS A DISTANCE OF 667 MILES, WITHOUT A STOPOVER; THAT THE EMPLOYEES LEFT CODY, WYOMING, AT 9:30 A.M. ON SATURDAY, JULY 11 AND ARRIVED AT MCCALL, IDAHO, AT 4:00 A.M. SUNDAY, JULY 12, 1953; THAT THE SMOKEJUMPERS ARE PER ANNUM EMPLOYEES OPERATING UNDER AN ESTABLISHED WORKWEEK OF FIVE 8-HOUR DAYS, MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY; THAT THE TRAVEL WAS ORDERED TO BE PERFORMED ON SATURDAY AND SUNDAY, OUTSIDE THEIR REGULARLY ASSIGNED TOUR OF DUTY; AND THAT THE EMPLOYEES ARE HIGHLY TRAINED SPECIALISTS IN FIREFIGHTING, AND THEIR SERVICES ARE SO VALUABLE THAT IT IS URGENT THAT THEY BE RETURNED TO THEIR HEADQUARTERS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AFTER EACH FIRE TO BE AVAILABLE FOR THE NEXT EMERGENCY. IN THAT CONNECTION, YOU POINT OUT THAT TRANSPORTATION BY THE SCHOOL BUS--- WHICH CONTAINS NO INDIVIDUAL SEATS BUT ONLY UPRIGHT AND RIGID SEATS BUILT CLOSE TO THE FLOOR AND CLOSE TOGETHER TO ACCOMMODATE SCHOOL CHILDREN--- IS NOT CONSIDERED AS THE MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION ORDINARILY FOR USE IN TRANSPORTING MEN OVER LONG DISTANCES, AND THAT THE FORCED TRAVEL OVER A DISTANCE OF 667 MILES WITHOUT STOPOVER OR OPPORTUNITY TO REST UNDER SUCH UNCOMFORTABLE CONDITIONS IS AS STRENUOUS AND FATIGUING AS WORKING WOULD BE. IT IS STATED FURTHER THAT THE EMPLOYEES WERE PAID OVERTIME FOR THE HOURS BETWEEN 10:00 P.M. ON JULY 11 AND 4:00 A.M. ON JULY 12, WHILE TRAVELING, IN ACCORDANCE WITH DECISION IN 26 COMP. GEN. 433. THE CLAIM SUBMITTED COVERS THE PERIOD 9:30 A.M. TO 10:00 P.M. ON SATURDAY, JULY 11, A PERIOD OF 12 1/2 HOURS, NOT FALLING WITHIN THE NORMAL SLEEPING HOURS.

IN DECISION OF DECEMBER 23, 1946, 26 COMP. GEN. 433, REFERRED TO IN YOUR LETTER, IT WAS HELD (QUOTING THE SYLLABUS) AS FOLLOWS:

TIME CONSUMED BY FIELD EMPLOYEES OF THE FOREST SERVICE, AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT, OUTSIDE OF THEIR REGULAR DAILY OR WEEKLY TOURS OF DUTY IN TRAVELING TO AND FROM THE SITE OF A FIRE BY HORSEBACK, TRUCK (EITHER AS DRIVER OR PASSENGER), OR IN AN AIRPLANE AS A PARACHUTE JUMPER, AND DURING HOURS NORMALLY ALLOTTED FOR SLEEP, MAY BE REGARDED AS WORK AND ALL SUCH TIME IN EXCESS OF 40 HOURS IN ANY ONE WORKWEEK MAY BE COMPENSATED FOR AS OVERTIME PURSUANT TO SECTION 201 OF THE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES PAY ACT OF 1945. 25 COMP. GEN. 317, MODIFIED.

THE TRAVEL OR TRANSPORTATION CONDITIONS SET FORTH IN YOUR LETTER, WHEN CONSIDERED IN THE LIGHT OF THE PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH SUCH TRAVEL WAS REQUIRED, REASONABLY APPEAR TO BE ANALOGOUS TO THE SITUATIONS CONSIDERED IN THE SAID DECISION OF DECEMBER 23, 1946. HENCE, THE CONCLUSION REACHED IN THAT DECISION EQUALLY IS FOR APPLICATION TO TIME CONSUMED IN TRAVEL PERFORMED UNDER THE CONDITIONS REFERRED TO IN YOUR SUBMISSION. ACCORDINGLY, THE VOUCHER, RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT, IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.