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Brief: City Council Approves Pay Raises for Stillwater Firefighters

The wage increases are in line with comparable agencies, and can be implemented within the fire department’s current budget, Fire Chief Stu Glaser told the Council. The paid on-call firefighters have not had a pay increase in more than seven years.

The City Council last week approved a resolution giving pay raises to Stillwater’s paid on-call firefighters.

The wage increases are in line with comparable agencies, and can be implemented within the fire department’s current budget, Fire Chief Stu Glaser told the Council. The paid on-call firefighters have not had a pay increase in more than seven years.

City Administrator Larry Hansen recommended the council approve the resolution for pay increases.

Here's how the resolution breaks down:

Position Wage per 2005 resolution Wage Effective Feb. 1 Probationary Firefighter $9.75 per hour $12.25 per hour Firefighter $10.25 per hour $13.25 per hour Firefighter/Engineer $11.25 per hour $14.50 per hour Lieutenant  $11.75 per hour $15.75 per hour Captain $12.25 per hour  $16.75 per hour Assistant Chief $13.25 per hour $17.75 per hour
eyemhear February 11, 2013 at 10:54 PM
Wow, is that all they get paid! For a fire fighter, that is about (new wage) $24,000 a year. I suppose they get some free food and lodging, but that still seems way too low.
Susan February 11, 2013 at 11:19 PM
I must agree with the previous comment! I would think they would have some down time, but still, this can be a very dangerous job. I guess paying over $30,000 to lobbyists and funneling at least another $10,000 into an organization that the mayor co-chairs was more important than properly paying those who put their lives on the line for our community. Shameful this took so long! Shawn, was this vote 5-0?
yomammy February 11, 2013 at 11:48 PM
maybe ya missed the on-call part...
Susan February 11, 2013 at 11:51 PM
Nope, I got it, but the fact that they seem to have been paid so much less (about 30%) than "comparable agencies", says something in itself.
Randy Marsh February 12, 2013 at 12:25 AM
As usual there is plenty of information not included in this story and it does not paint an accurate picture of just how these folks are overpaid. It has been proven time and again that you cannot take Glaser, Haryski or Hansen at their word. I'd better see some additional evidence to show they are not just blowing smoke. These on call folks are basically paid to sit on their collective asses 98 percent of the time and I don't care if it has been a few years, those percentage increases are out of line and if they can be accounted for in the current fire department budget then the city needs to scale back on what it allocates for the fire department each year. Has our LGA or taxes gone up at a similar rate as these salaries over the past seven years to justify increases this large. I would guess not. Also, is JIm Roush one of these people getting the fat raises? I believe we are already spending far more for our fire department than many similar sized communities, at least from what I recall of Harycki's own budget committee findings.
Susan February 12, 2013 at 12:30 AM
Do you know what info is not included or is this a guess based on their past deletions of information to justify their actions? I'm not arguing that fact, I'm just wondering what we may be missing.
Randy Marsh February 12, 2013 at 12:39 AM
I'm not a mathematician, Susan, but I think those are about 30 percent increases over 7 years. Has our LGA or city's budget grown by 30 percent in that time? If not, then why are we singling out these folks for such fat increases. I would like to see which communities were consulted and whether they were hand picked to justify these increases, especially if one of the beneficiaries is Jim Roush. Our fire department budget is already larger than most and that doesn't even include a new taj mahal facility that we don't need.
yomammy February 12, 2013 at 12:42 AM
ok- i need more info. Are the "on-call" like most other FD's areound here (zoom to fire station when there is a call)? Or are they at the station for a extended shift (with overnight)?
Susan February 12, 2013 at 12:48 AM
Ok, on this we can agree. I guess you are correct in that I took what the article said at face value without considering the source. If the amounts are a true indication of what "comparable agencies" pay then I think they should be given the 30% bump to bring them up to par. I've been told recently that it has been difficult to fill these positions...lower than average pay could have something to do with that.
Randy Marsh February 12, 2013 at 12:53 AM
Are there full time people who are also double dipping and being paid for being on call when not on a regular shift?
Shawn Hogendorf February 12, 2013 at 12:54 AM
Yes yomammy, the on-call firefighters respond to the station when called. They're not paid to sit at the station. Unlike other agencies, the Stillwater Fire Department's model combines eight full-time staff members with the part-time paid-on-call staff.
Susan February 12, 2013 at 12:59 AM
Thanks, Shawn. Did you see my question above? Just to be clear...are they paid to be on call? Or are they paid only when they respond?
Randy Marsh February 12, 2013 at 01:01 AM
Even better than doing nothing at the fire station is doing nothing from your own couch. Shawn, do you know if any of the full time people can also fill on call shifts. If I'm not mistaken the full timers work relatively long shifts for a few days in a row and then have a ton of free time.
Shawn Hogendorf February 12, 2013 at 01:35 AM
My understanding is that they are paid when they are on call, Susan. @Randy, I don't know the answer to your question, but I'll ask about it... I do know there has been talk of cross-training police officers to the department.
Randy Marsh February 12, 2013 at 01:49 AM
I have to believe if they are looking at cross training police officers that would mean there are also firefighters who are also filling on call shifts.
Susan February 12, 2013 at 02:44 AM
Thank you for the additional info, Shawn. I'm sure I may be in the minority of those posting here but I think that IF we were paying less than is standard, and if we are having a hard time filling these positions, the only common sense thing to do is bring the wage up to what is comparable in like situations in hopes of getting the people we need, and keeping them. I don't like paying people to sit at home and wait, but this is the nature of the business. I would rather pay them to be ready than not have enough people to put out a fire at my house or to answer an emergency call in my neighborhood.
Mike Galowitz February 12, 2013 at 12:59 PM
Shawn, I'd ask that you please get some clarification to put Randy and Susan at ease. No one is getting paid to sit at home and wait for a call. They are only paid when they are on a call. I'm sure if Susan and Randy feel that this is too much money to pay these people for their service....the Stillwater FD would be glad to take them off their response list. That way, when Randy is having a heart attack and Lakeview requests more people to help with CPR or when Susan's kitchen is on fire....they won't have to also worry about the additional costs they will be incurring for the city!
Stephanie Johnson February 12, 2013 at 01:06 PM
Paid on-call firefighters do not get paid to sit on their asses while at home. They only get paid when a call is made and when they show up to the firehouse and make the truck or standby at the hall. My boyfriend is a Captain on a different fire department, so I know this for a fact. Please stop with the false information.
Stephanie Johnson February 12, 2013 at 01:08 PM
Thank you Mike! Someone else who understands!
Susan February 12, 2013 at 01:29 PM
Mike, how about if you actually read my comments before misconstruing what I have said... I NEVER said they get paid too much and I am for the raise EVEN IF it did mean that they were waiting at home. How about if you get some clarification before ranting... And please tell me what is wrong with having a conversation and debate about the details and asking for clarification?
Susan February 12, 2013 at 02:15 PM
Shawn, I've read quite a few articles/applications for paid-on-call firefighters in Minnesota. The starting wage was $9-$12 and it does seem that they are paid only when they respond, but I can't find anything specific for Stillwater. I took your last comment above to mean that they are paid when they are on-call (meaning when they answer calls or not), but the comments above and the information I have found seems to contradict that...do you know if Stillwater is different than the information I have found, or did I misunderstand your comment? Thanks.
Shawn Hogendorf February 12, 2013 at 03:45 PM
Mike is correct, Susan. Paid on-call firefighters are paid when they respond to a call. You misunderstood my comment above, but I also left out an "a" making that possible. Sorry if I confused you.
Susan February 12, 2013 at 03:56 PM
No worries, Shawn, it seems that I was also misunderstood. Apparently we ALL need to slow down a bit before judging other's words, Mike as I still don't understand how one could have come to the complete opposite conclusion when reading all that I wrote.
Shawn Hogendorf February 12, 2013 at 04:01 PM
Here's what Chief Glaser told me about paid on-call: Shawn, You are correct, the paid-on-call personnel receive hourly pay when they respond to a call, conduct training or department meetings. Paid-on-call personnel receive one hour minimum for a call. Stillwater is a combination fire department consisting of minimal full-time staff and a majority of paid-on-call personnel. The Department operates in a tiered response system. The full-time on duty crews respond immediately to the incident and if the situation requires it the paid-on-call staff are paged to respond. In 2012 the SFD responded to 1,733 calls. 240 of these calls required paid-on-call response.
Laurie Helgason February 12, 2013 at 04:23 PM
The pay raise has my complete support and believe their salaries are low considering the risks. I enjoyed reading the interesting comments, omitting Mikes sarcasm, to clarify some facts.
Randy Marsh February 12, 2013 at 04:25 PM
Thanks Shawn. It sounds like the on call staffing accounts for a rather small portion of the department's budget if that's the case. I am not surprised they have such a tough time finding people and it seems odd that they are paid so little while actually on duty considering they are working alongside the full timers making more than twice as much while presumably doing the same work.

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