1/27/12 – On January 25, the Supreme Court in Mexico (Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación, SCJN) established that firemen were not considered public security officers under Mexican law. Determining that firefighters’ principal functions include fire prevention, emergency response and mitigation, risk and disaster relief, and assistance and protection of the population, the Supreme Court decided that their functions were not those of police and therefore should not be considered as security officers.
This decision is significant given a Constitutional reform in 2008 of paragraph B of article 123 that eliminated the principle that law enforcement agents have job security. The 2008 decision ultimately meant that any person considered to be public security could be removed from their position if they were not fulfilling their legal duties and requirements. As such, the January 25 case ruling has direct implications for firefighters’ job stability as the past three years they have been subject to the 2008 Constitutional reforms.
In the recent case, however, which was brought by a fireman from the State of Mexico (Edomex), it was argued that firefighters were only involved in law enforcement and crime prevention in supportive roles rather than primary roles and, furthermore, assisted only when their presence was requested. As such, firefighters should not be considered as law enforcement agents. In its decision, the Court stated that the relationship between the fire department and the state is substantially different than that of law enforcement. The former does not have an administrative relationship with the state where as law enforcement does, but rather a regular work relationship, and thus, the limitations contemplated in the Constitution do not apply to them.