Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Samuel Alioto
Observer Staff Writer 

CAL FIRE Firefighters Union Threatens to Strike Over Pay and Benefits

Firemen make more when they put out for municipal fire departments, like Santa Monica's. Much more!!!!!

 

August 24, 2016

David Ganezer

Envy: Santa Monica Firefighters earn on average $90K a year, and retire at 55 years of age with a a full pension. CAL FIRE pays firefighters almost 90% less.

In the midst of the greatest outbreak of fires in California history, at least one firefighters union is threatening to strike for more pay and benefits. The reason is jealousy. Firemen make more when they put out for municipal fire departments, like Santa Monica's.

CAL FIRE Local 2881 represents the 6,500 firefighters of CAL FIRE. They don't feel that their $40,000 a year average annual salary, is enough. The state of California does appear to pay firefighters appreciably less than some cities in the state of California.

The City of Santa Monica of course pays firefighters more than anyone else in the State, about $7000 a month on average. The conclusion of this 2014 survey is that, adjusting for CalFire's better benefits, municipal firemen still earn 33% more than CalFire on average:

https://www.calhr.ca.gov/Documents/2014-California-Firefighter-Total-Compensation-Survey.pdf

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF, or CAL FIRE) is the State of California's agency responsible for fire protection in State Responsibility Areas of California totaling 31 million acres, as well as the administration of the state's private and public forests. In addition, the Department provides varied emergency services in 36 of the State's 58 counties via contracts with local governments. It is often called the California Department of Forestry, which was the name of the department before the 1990s.

"Today I did the most difficult thing I've ever had to do as a firefighter," said CAL FIRE firefighter Steve Mueller. "While I look forward to protecting my neighbors and working hard with my colleagues, I didn't enjoy talking publicly about how our pay lags drastically behind other departments."

California's independent Human Resources Salary Report reveals that CAL FIRE firefighters make 30-90% less than firefighters from California's top twenty-five municipal fire departments. A firefighter in Santa Monica earns, on average, $90,000 a year, and can retire with a full pension at 55 years of age. "A fifteen-year veteran of CAL FIRE can make more money, and with less responsibilities, as an entry-level firefighter at a local department," says a union press release. "Three months ago, CAL FIRE had a 50% no-show for the promotional Fire Captain test." I'm not actually sure what that means.

"Entry-level firefighters make only minimum wage. In five years, due to compaction within the Department, they will make as much as mid-level firefighters. The compaction and overlapping of pay negatively impacts morale among firefighters and robs our men and women the incentive to promote."

"I love fighting fires and the camaraderie on the job but, it is important that our pay at least be competitive with other fire departments," said Mueller.

Mueller mentioned that firefighters will be at the State Capitol at 11AM on Monday, August 22nd to protest the pay disparities.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is also the largest full service all risk fire department in the Western United States and operates more fire stations year round than the New York (FDNY), Los Angeles (LAFD), and Chicago (CFD) fire departments combined.

Change.org has an online petition which says: Firefighters of Cal Fire are in a state of Crisis due to: Salaries approximately 83% below industry standards, 30% longer work hours, and insufficient (66%) disability benefits. This egregious treatment of Cal Fire Firefighters must cease. http://www.calh

CalFire Firefighters outside Calabasas. These guys want to earn as much as their overpaid colleagues in Santa Monica

The above article received a large number of comments, among them: Where in that "statement" does it list jealousy as the reason or state that they will go on strike. Where does it state anywhere that they make $90,000 a year on an average salary. It is a sad day when this is what a writer thinks is acceptable especially about the men and woman that risk their lives everyday. Cal Fire is working the same fires and on the same jobs as most municiple agencies.

My husband just got home after being gone for 28 days on multiple fires working side by all these agencies. We've been to more funerals in our young life than you'd ever want to see.

So before you rush to put a story up think about the integrity of the people you are writing about. If you have any questions there's plenty of people that would be willing to help you out. The meeting at the Capitol starts at 10:00 AM FYI

 
 

Reader Comments
(5)

Stew47 writes:

This author sounds like a hack. Jealous? I think there is an agenda at work by the Santa Monica observer. What is it? To not be on the side of cal fire is ridiculous. Those folks deserve more.

spanner1 writes:

Terribly written article. This is what the author does for a living?! OMG... Lots of incorrect assumptions, politically incorrect terminology and made up statements. Firefighter's are not allowed, per state law, to strike. The term, for the past 25 years to describe firemen is firefighter's! ...kinda like mailmen vs. letter carriers. Duh! Maybe check W2's... For actual earnings. Many Calfire contract cities all across the state are already upset of escalating Calfire costs; any pay increases will automatically be pushed of yo contracted cities, making the problem worse!! This will get interesting.

Firecat22 writes:

Cal Fire employees are not jealous of any other fire department, including Santa Monica's. To say so, is the height of absurdity. Cal Fire employees consider other fire departments their brothers and sisters. Other departments pay and work weeks are merely compared to Cal Fire as per a study done by Calif Dept. of Human Resources. This isn't about jealousy. It's about unequal pay, unequal work weeks and insufficient injury/illness benefits. Think of it as if other fire departments were males and Cal Fire were females. There would be a gender inequality, if the pay was unequal, right? So what's difference between fire departments? As it stands, there's a pay gap between what Cal Fire makes and what municipal fire departments make, even though, these departments, like males and females, are considered of EQUAL WORTH thus should get equal pay. In fact, Cal Fire is more highly trained than other departments. Just a fact. Not jealousy. Peace. Firecat 22

Battalion14 writes:

FACTS: CAL FIRE employees can NOT strike! Jealousy?!? is this your opinion? or is it factual. If so, PROOF IT! Sensationalism Journalism is not no better than TMZ. Good luck with your career in Los Angeles, they are waiting for you Mr. Alito

Matthayes writes:

At no point did the firefighter Union say they will strike? In fact, it is against the law for firefighters to strike. Your article is just ripe with other inaccuracies. I'm not sure how your math comes up that state firefighters make 100k when they get raises due to minimum wage hikes. Entry level firefighter paramedic saleries start at $3120 a month reaching $3942 (straight from the California website posting the job). So please tell me how that adds up to $100k a year. Your article is a blatant sensational piece to try and bring viewers to your site. Please retract this article title, it is a flat out lie

 
 
 

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