Proposed firefighter contract boosts compensation $17M over five years | August 15, 2018 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - August 15, 2018

Proposed firefighter contract boosts compensation $17M over five years

by Barbara Wood

A proposed five-year contract with the Menlo Park Fire Protection District's firefighters' union representing 102 employees includes a wage and benefits package whose cost would increase by $17 million in cumulative additional spending over the five years.

Under the proposed contract compensation costs would rise from the current annual $20.17 million to $26.16 million by June 2023.

That averages out to $58,726 in increased annual spending for each of the union employees — from the current spending of $197,745 per person to $256,471 per person.

The contract would be retroactive to June 24, 2018, and go through June 23, 2023. The union's last contract ran from July 9, 2014, to June 23 of this year.

The firefighters' union does not include the district's non-firefighting employees or those above the level of captain, but does include fire inspectors and a deputy fire marshal. A staff report from Chief Harold Schapelhouman on the proposed agreement says that 67 percent of the district's revenues this fiscal year will be used to cover personnel costs for all its employees.

An independent analysis of the proposed contract — done for the district by Municipal Resource Group, LLC — determines that the contract would increase the district's spending on compensation for those in the firefighters' union by $17.04 million by the end of the contract, but that a little over $7 million of that increase would have occurred if the recently expired contract had been extended.

The compensation amounts in the analysis do not include overtime, but do include benefits.

The district's costs under the proposed contract would go up an average of 5.35 percent a year, a report on the proposed contract says, noting that the current Bay Area consumer price index in June was up by 3.9 percent over the previous year.

Highest average wages in state

While the state of California has not yet posted the fire district's pay data for 2017, in 2016 the Menlo Park Fire Protection District had the highest average wages of any state or local agency in California, according to the state controller's website. The fire district's average wages, which in the state report includes overtime and other cash payouts but not benefits, were $169,752 in 2016, more than $20,000 over the average wages of the second-highest agency, the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District.

The contract shows base pay for firefighters would increase by 3 percent in 2018-19 (retroactive to June 24), 2019-20 and 2020-21, then by 1.5 percent in July 2021 and January 2022, and by another 2 percent in July 2022.

More pay for medical credentials

In addition to the increases in base pay, firefighters would also get increases in their pay for being an emergency medical technician or paramedic in July 2020 and July 2021. All of the district's current firefighters are EMTs or paramedics. The extra pay is based on the maximum possible salary for an engineer (the highest-paid firefighter below captain level), and is currently 3 percent of that salary for EMTs and 11 percent for paramedics. That extra pay would go up to 5 percent for EMTs and 13 percent for paramedics by July 2021.

Currently, EMTs are paid an additional $320.40 a month and paramedics are paid an additional $1,174.79 a month. By July 2022, under the proposed contract, that would go up to an additional $613.17 per month for EMTs and an additional $1,594.25 per month for paramedics.

In 2022, the proposed contract also adds a higher step category for firefighter engineers and the fire marshal, giving any employees already at the top of those categories an additional 5 percent raise.

As long as they receive an annual evaluation of "satisfactory," the district's firefighters get an additional 5 percent "step increase" each year until they have topped out in the pay scale, and would continue to do so under the proposed contract. District officials say that about 50 percent of the firefighters are at the top of the pay scale.

Benefit increases

The proposed contract also includes increases in benefits for the firefighters:


There are no comments yet for this post

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields