PITTSBURGH — The City of Pittsburgh cannot force security officers and building service employees to complete emergency preparedness training as part of its Safe and Secure Building Act, according to a May 17 opinion entered by the Commonwealth Court.

Under the ordinance, it is required that “'security officers' and 'building service employees' who work in commercial office buildings, retail buildings of at least 100,000 square feet, museums and cultural institutions of at least 100,000 square feet ... receive training by a school certified by the City’s Fire Bureau to identify, prevent, and respond to emergency situations.”

In addition, the ordinance requires employers to provide proof that the employees completed the training.

Citing two previous opinions it made related to the scope of the city’s authority under the Home Rule Charter and Optional Plans Law, the Commonwealth Court upheld an Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas ruling that Pittsburgh “was without authority to enact the ordinance.”

The Building Owners and Managers Association of Pittsburgh challenged the ordinance in the Allegheny County court. The city was joined in its appeal by the Service Employees: International Union Local 32 BJ (SEIU).

Pittsburgh and the SEIU said the Second Class City Code and/or the Emergency Management Services Code allow the city to require the emergency preparedness training.

Specifically, they argued that the “Second Class City Code specifically authorizes the city to ‘make regulations to secure the general health of the inhabitants, and to remove and prevent nuisances; decrease and prevent fire, the spread of fire, and fire waste, loss of life from fire and loss of life or damage to property from unsafe or improper construction or design of buildings;’ and ‘provide for the preparation and distribution by the Department of Public Safety of rules and regulations to minimize the danger of fire and lessen fire waste.’”

However, the Commonwealth Court said the Second Class City Code does not permit Pittsburgh to issue mandates about fire safety training to private employers.

Likewise, the court said the Emergency Management Services Code does not set rules for the training of security officers or building service employees who work for private employers.

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