Firefighters get raises
BARSTOW • Barstow firefighters will soon be seeing pay increases long overdue after a study of staff compensation found fire personnel are paid significantly less than other employees, even clerical and maintenance staff.
According to the Classification and Compensation Study approved by the City Council earlier this month, entry level Barstow Police Department officers made 42 percent more than entry level firefighter/paramedics.
“In fact, this anomaly occurs through the rank of fire captain, with the majority of Barstow’s employees being compensated at a higher rate than fire captain,” the summary report stated.
The incongruity resulted from the transition of the Barstow Fire Protection District into the city in 2011, the report said.
The city and the fire board voted to merge at a joint meeting in March 2010. It was approved by the council in a split vote. The hotly debated move was an effort to rescue the fire district from a strained financial state, according to previous reports. Those who voted against the takeover were not convinced the city had a plan in place for providing the BFPD with additional funds.
City officials say they are working to make the compensation more fair without exceeding the fire district’s budget, which is separate from the city’s.
“The intent has always been for the fire district to be self-sustaining,” said Assistant City Manager Oliver Chi.
The Barstow Professional Firefighters Association came to an agreement with the city this week on contracts that call for significant pay increases across the board, but with some concessions, Chi said.
Effective January 2013, an entry level firefighter will receive more than $4,500 monthly, a generous increase from the current pay of about $4,000. Still, the pay pales in comparison to an entry-level police officer who brings home more than $5,000 each month.
In exchange for the pay increases, fire personnel had to agree to pay 9 percent of their salary to their pensions — the only bargaining unit in the city to agree to that level of contribution.
“Right now, we’re going to look at this from a financially responsible stance,” Chi said. “If there’s a way we can reach parity and still reach balance on the budget while funding all the needs of the district ... that’s something we’d continue to look into.”
Attempts to reach the firefighter’s association president were unsuccessful Thursday.
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