Pregnant firefighter seeks change in policy for mothers-to-be
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. (WPEC) - Indian River County firefighter Nicole Morris puts her life on the line to save others every time she puts on her uniform.
“I just love to help people, I absolutely love helping people,” said Morris.
All this while she carries a child - Morris is eight months pregnant.
“You really do struggle - once you get to the point I am at today you really start to struggle,” said Morris.
Right now, she can’t fully button or tuck in her work shirt due to her large belly, but she still responds to smoke-filled houses and other hazardous situations.
“Full gear - helmet, gloves, air-pack - they say is close to 70 pounds,” said Morris.
She says it’s a worrisome situation with a little girl growing inside her belly.
“It could potentially kill her, it could potentially kill her depending on what I am exposed to,” said Morris.
Morris is now seeking a change. She wants maternity coverage for pregnant firefighters in Indian River County. Tuesday, she spoke before county commissioners.
“There is nothing, there is nothing, we are not covered at all,” said Morris. She says the contract her union and the county agreed upon isn’t fair for women.
“It mentions in our contract that pregnancy will not fall under a light duty policy, period the end,” said Morris.
Morris says surrounding fire departments offer pregnant firefighters the option to take light duty, adding she made a formal request for that status. Then the county asked her for a doctor’s note. Morris says she hasn’t supplied one because she thinks the county will force her to go on unpaid FMLA leave.
Morris doesn’t expect the contractual policy to change before she gives birth, but she wants to help future female firefighters in Indian River County.
WPEC reached out to the county, and we were essentially told this contract isn’t new, so it shouldn’t be a shock for female firefighters.