City Council considers compensation increases for fire battalion - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

City Council considers compensation increases for fire battalion chiefs

SPOKANE, Wash.- Monday night the Spokane City Council will consider a proposed increase in the total compensation of union members in the Spokane Association of Fire Officers.

The proposed increases amount to about 5 percent annually over the next four years and come on the heels of an announcement last week that the fire department may have to lay off some firefighters.

The unit is made up mostly of battalion chiefs, the on-scene commanders at fires and other emergencies. According to the Spokesman Review, in 2008, battalion chiefs who had served in their positions for four years or more earned between $108,000 and $123,000, depending on their experience level.

Officials say they realize the proposed increases come at a time when many workers, especially in the private sector, are either losing jobs or seeing their pay slashed. But they say the agreement could actually be good for taxpayers.

The Spokesman Review reports that Spokane City Administrator Ted Danek says that even with a recession, the contract is consistent with what the fire officials make in departments of similar size. An attempt to pay less would likely end up with an arbitrator who would set pay based on what other cities pay, and that could end up being even more.

As part of the newly proposed contract, the union also agreed to give up two of its 12 positions - one overseeing emergency medical services and another overseeing training. Under the proposed reorganization, the department would have a chief, an assistant chief and three deputy chiefs. Assistant Chief Brian Schaeffer said the proposed flow chart is based on the management design of the Spokane Police Department.

City officials have said they hope to gain concessions from city unions in the coming months to prevent the kind of massive layoffs and service reductions that the city experienced at the end of 2004.
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