RE: editorial, "City Union Workers Watch Out" Around Town, posted by anon, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2008 at 10:40 am
It is regretable that Pleasaton needs to reign in over-spending by creating a two tiered pay and benefit system -- however, consider why that has become necessary.
Firefighters work 10 regular days per month and most have the option to sign up for virtually unlimited overtime at time and one half pay. The employer (Pleasanton taxpayers here) supplies not only the "room and board" but generally pays for premium cable fees and internet access (to alleviate boredom), workout equipment (to keep them in shape) and a better living facility than many residents in this town could afford. There are few, if any, limits to what firefighters can do while on duty as long as they remain available for response. Many have second jobs that they successfully run while being paid by taxpayers as firefighters. They have very generous pay and pensions.
Yes, firefighters CAN have a dangerous job. Fire prevention in the last few years has become so good that the majority of assistance calls are medical in nature. This is a good thing but please get off the soapbox that firemen "constantly run into burning buildings." The Pleasanton FD were not first responders to the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Speaking of pensions -- did you know that ANY firefighter in California who retires on a disability will collect their entire pension tax free for life? Their current pension structure will pay them 80% of their final earnings (with raises every time a new contract is negotiated) for life -- TAX FREE. Now you see why every firefighter starts the evidence trail from day one about every "injury" adding toward their eventual "disability" retirement.
Speaking as one who values hard work, I have never had a problem with paying public safety officers a more than average salary. I object to the excessive benefits package, particularly the tax free pensions and medical coverage, that has contributed to a hard line on the part of city managers throughout California. This is not unique to Pleasanton and it needs to stop. A two tiered system is a start since no current employees are willing to get off the gravy train.
Posted by retired union worker, a resident of the Foothill Farms neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2008 at 6:13 pm
Another fact about the new contract is that the reason the new employees will come on at lower pay and benefits is that the current employees refused to give up anything to prevent that. Many years ago my union members voted, nearly unanimously, to take substantial pay and benefit cuts so that the newly hired employees would not be second class citizens. Where is it written that if you become a public safety officer you are guaranteed never to suffer the consequences of an economic recession? When has any police or fire department EVER not gotten raises, let alone taken cuts? With the one and only exception being Vallejo, it has never happened.
Firefighters used to be required to perform building safety inspections during their down time. Have you ever seen a Pleasanton FD employee doing that? Maybe they are inspecting Safeway, two or three times a day. They have so much free time at the station and on their 21 days a month off that there is one bay area city that employs a firefighter who is also a full time airline pilot! (I didn't believe it either, I called the department and it was confirmed). Now there is a good deal. Two full paychecks, two pensions, twice the medical coverage and still more time off than most of us who worked one full time job.
My former neighbor, firefighter for a major city, could not remember more than 2 full blown fires in his entire career. He surely earned his pay on those days but how about all of the others? But, of course, he retired on a disability retirement to get it all tax free as told by the first poster above.
The one thing noticed in Pleasanton is that the department apparently has a policy against on duty firefighters sitting around at Starbucks. In San Jose it was not possible to even get a seat at a Starbucks for a couple of years after 9/11 due to all of the egos, I mean firefighters, sitting there. Quit rubbing it in or faces guys, those who pay your salaries have about had enough.
Posted by Nancy, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Sep 20, 2008 at 12:40 am
Wow, who knew folks had so much pent up frustration to our loyal public safety members? Hope they never have to respond to a fire at your house, seeing as how they really don't do anything or have any real training. Pul-lease!
Thank you Livermore-Pleasanton Fire for your service.
Posted by An AT&T Employee, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 20, 2008 at 7:59 am
Get real. This type of tiered benefit plan is becoming the norm. AT&T has several plans depending on when you were hired, which "merged" company you spawned from, and trust me -- the benefits are not moving in a positive direction for the employee body.
What's at the root of all of this? Upper Management Greed. In the Corporate world, CEOs get huge compensation packages regardless of how well the company and its stock performs. I find it hard to believe that same way of thinking does not apply here, as well.
I'd also venture to guess greed is responsible for the current financial institution mess we, as the middle class, are all paying the price for.
Posted by wish i had those benefits, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 20, 2008 at 10:16 am
Nancy--no one here has said a thing about the firemen not being qualified or not doing anything. We know they are good at what they do, they just get paid too much for all of the sitting around time. And those tax free pensions are a complete crock. I know a fireman who crashed on his mountain bike, tore up his knee, then managed to get to work and "fall off of the fire truck" while cleaning it. Yup, retired on a tax free disability. Corporate greed is certainly the cause of problems in the free market but it does not really apply here. Last I heard, the police chief and fire chief were not ratcheting up their salaries or claiming huge bonuses while cutting pay for the rank and file. Unlike what happens in the rest of the world.
Posted by Request for PW, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 21, 2008 at 8:34 am
I have always felt we pay too much for programs offered through the City. Most city's offer programs at low cost through their parks and rec programs. Art, sports or even first aid programs in Pleasanton are expensive, if you have more than one child the cost can be prohibitive. I can take a yoga class at the community college for less than with the city. Pleasanton will not build a youth center or a bigger library (we talk about building them). Why is this when we are the "richest city for its size?" I keep hearing the retirement benefits are the reason.
I would like the PW to do a real balanced article on salaries and retirement for City staff compared to other cities and compared to the private sector. What age are our people retiring at and what do they receive? What is the retirement of the upper management that recently retired, City Manager, Police Chief, Fire Chief, Planner, parks and rec managers and director.
Is Pleasanton's salary and retirement out of scale or not?
Posted by Jerry, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Sep 22, 2008 at 12:29 am
Reguardless of the salaries or retirement benefits, I'm glad the Firemen have time to sit around the Firehouse polishing their truck, shopping for groceries at Safeway or whatever they do on their down time. That means someone's house isn't burning or someone doesn't need medical attention.
If anyone feels these people are "over paid", complain to your elected City Official's. They approve all financial matters involving city employees.
Posted by Taxpayer, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 22, 2008 at 7:44 am
I want a job as a meteor responder with the City. I will sit around and play Galactica, getting paid a lot of money until I am needed. Jerry will feel safer because I do not need to rescue him from any meteors.
Firefighters should be given other responsibilities so they are productive everyday! The unions have become greedy pigs.
I heard it stated that 65% of the City budget is salary and benefits. Could that be why we can't afford a bigger library or community center?
Posted by Jerry, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Sep 23, 2008 at 1:45 am
The "Spelling Police" are on duty after all!!!
Now, Madam Officer. You're certainly correct about the "oop's" but since you discovered my mistake after it was made, which is quite apparent, am I "catch" or "caught"???
Keep up the good work... I need all the help I can get.:)
Let me know if the city gives you the job. Not long ago I was watching a Nature Channel program about a meteor heading our way. Since then I've worried about what I would do if it hit me. If the city gives you the job, I'll feel a lot better knowing you're there if I need you.
By the way, if your house was on fire would you be glad to see those "over paid" firemen arrive or would you send them away and wait for firemen with a lower pay scale.
What if those "over paid" firemen were on the other side of town performing "other responsibilities" and couldn't get to your house in time to rescue you, or members of your family, from the burning structure. Just wondering...
Posted by Susan, a resident of the Val Vista neighborhood, on Sep 23, 2008 at 8:29 am
After 9/!! it was like the Emperors New Clothes, we were all expected to buy into the hero thing. I respect firefighters, police, teachers, doctors but nurses are true heros.
It would not take away from their priority responsibility to have other real responsibilities.
Four years ago my son did a career report on firefighters. When we arrived at the they were all playing video games or watching TV. The young man that talked with my son was pleasant as he showed my son around and gave him a chronicle of his typical day, the highlight was taking a picture waring the jacket and helmet in front of the truck. When we left even my son was amazed at the lack of work that they did. He no longer wanted to be a firefighter.
Posted by Another AT&T Employee, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 23, 2008 at 6:52 pm
How many of you have sat in the hospital with your child’s head split open while your spouse was at work and couldn’t leave because there was no one to backfill their position and their contract requires a minimum staffing level? How many of you were back at the hospital with child number two with a broken arm and this time you are alone too because your spouse is again on duty? How many of you were on vacation during the Loma Prieta earthquake and had to return home because your spouse had been paged to work? Never mind the fact your children hadn’t been picked up yet from the sitter nor had you checked out the damage in your own home before he/she had to leave. How many of you have spent multiple Christmas’, Birthday’s, Kid’s Birthdays, etc. alone? How many of you have had to try and fill both parent’s role (when you were married, not divorced) by going to multiple school events at the same time, multiple sporting events, etc. and trying to explain to your young child that mommy/daddy really does care about them but they have to work. How many of you have had to lay awake at night because your spouse was shipped off to the fires in San Diego, Paradise, Tahoe, etc…
Quit Whining – we all have choices in life and you chose the wrong profession! Get over it.
Posted by Teresa, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Sep 23, 2008 at 10:03 pm
What is your point? Many of us cover the roll of both parents because our spouse has a demanding job. My husband would like to be around for our kids events but his job requires him to work very long hours and travel.
Fire fighters on the other hand are fortunate to work only a few days a month and have a lot more time available for their families.
Posted by frank, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2008 at 12:04 am
After reading Jerry's post I conclude he votes that we all take our bank accounts and dedicate them completely to providing lucrative benefits for life to our safety forces, because they might let our house might burn down if we don't overpay them (as fair paid firemen they might, implied by Jerry). Sort of like Black Hand, but in reverse. Just wondering....
Posted by retired union worker, a resident of the Foothill Farms neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2008 at 9:51 am
for Another AT&T employee:
Firefighting is not the only 24/7/365 job. Where were you on 9/11? I was sitting by the phone, which never rang, waiting to hear whether my spouse was alive or would be the next to have their throat slit and their plane used as a weapon. My spouse was gone for days at a time, not hours, when I needed support with family issues. My spouse never had any holidays off for many years, it is based on seniority, not a rotating fire department schedule that guarantees everyone at least some holidays off every year.
Laying awake worried about him fighting out of area fires? Count your money while you think. Firefighters are not ordered to go, they volunteer -- because they get paid at least time and a half for every single hour that they are away. Travel time, sleeping time, time and a half minimum. And many times they do not actually work the fire lines since they may not have wildland fire training. They stand reserve in the local fire houses since the locals are out in the forest. Not that it isn't important, just don't make it sound like they have no control over going.
And for Jerry: have a reality check. The days when you placed a monument outside your house - to signify that you had paid to have fire protection - were over hundreds of years ago.
Think I'll get a job with the city as a tsunami warner. Just sit around, get paid, earn a pension, and be ready to immediately race down Main Street warning everyone at the first sign of a tsunami. But curse the poor taxpayers who think that I should actually have a real job.
Posted by Denise Allison, a resident of another community, on Sep 24, 2008 at 10:52 am
I hesitated at responding to this ignorant article as the phrase,'never argue with fools as people may not know the difference' comes to mind. It's comical/amazing to me when people 'spout off their mouths/minds' when they are uninformed. More research and study by this author needed to be done and obviously by some of those who added their 'sniping' comments, (i.e., on firefighters' monthly salaries/medical/retirement/injury/statistics, etc). My husband is a 'fireperson' in Pleasanton, holds a degree and numerous certifications, (many of which were obtained on his own time/money), and he has worked on some of the 'biggies'....Oakland Hills fire, Katrina, S.F. earthquake, large fires in and out of the state, etc.. Yes, they do have to eat on occasion and there are some 'down times'....but, they are the ones who respond to your food poisonings on Christmas or Thanksgiving.....to those who called 9-1-1 for menstrual cramps, the spoiled teen who tried to commit suicide because mommy and daddy had other priorities other than them, the 'umpteenth' senior citizen who feel out of bed at 2 a.m. and couldn't get up, the commuters who continually drive too fast/talking on their phone and end up injuring/killing themselves and/or others....all of this repetitiveness, and not to mention your fires, flooding, water rescues, etc. This article is downright laughable and I'll probably be sorry that I responded for whatever repercussions may occur.....I'm glad your local firefighters will keep responding because they really do care, (it ain't about the money for most of them....honestly, for what they do, the salary is a joke)....I'm personally very thankful that I don't live in your seemingly 'shallow' community and that you have given me reaffirmation of that fact. Yep, if it weren't for ignorant people and Mother Nature, my husband would be out of a job!
Posted by Becky Dennis, a resident of the Foxborough Estates neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2008 at 12:05 pm
Well said, Denise. Although I feel sure that the naysayers are not a representative sample of Pleasanton residents. I personally know many more people who are extremely grateful recipients of emergency services than the number of negative comments posted here. Perhaps people don't realize how much work goes into making Pleasanton seem like a peaceful place where nothing ever happens. Both police and fire services deserve major kudos for this. And by the way, for those who are interested in Pleasanton's public safety pay, many other communities pay more than Pleasanton.
Posted by T, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2008 at 12:59 pm
"for what they do, the salary is a joke". Yeah, it is. Just not the way you meant it. Over a hundred grand for 10 days a month. 80% pay at retirement, which can be as early as age 50. The joke is on the taxpayers.
Posted by Not Really Important, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2008 at 6:25 pm
To Posted by T – I don’t know where you got your information from but a top step Firefighter does not make a $100k a year for 10 days a month. Take a look at the salaries listed on the City of Pleasanton website. Top step is $6,400 a month which last time I took math $6,400 x 12 = $76,000. Not even enough of a salary to live in the “Most Affluent” city they protect. And for their retirement pay, the 80% is only calculated against their base pay, not their overtime pay.
And to Becky Dennis – kudos’ to you --- it’s a fact – the “Most Affluent” city has just about the lowest paid Firefighters in the Bay Area.
Posted by Jerry, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Sep 25, 2008 at 12:33 am
Now Frank, there you go off the deep end.
How did you come to your nonsensical conclusion concerning my post.
Can you point to where I implied someone would allow your house to burn if you didn't "overpay them", or, you should dedicate your funds to someone.
I have no way of determining if Pleasanton Firefighters are "overpaid" and I seriously doubt you do, either. If you're seriously concerned about their compensation have you voiced your concern to the elected city officials that approve their contract, again, I doubt it. Better yet, why not visit your local firehouse and voice your concern directly to the "overpaid" firefighters on duty. While you're there, they just might let you help polish the fire truck. It'll give you an opportunity to get the fresh air you seem to need.
By the way, another "benefit" that wasn't mentioned by anyone - the big "parade" their comrade's give them when they fall in the line of duty. Do you object to that "benefit".
I'll ask you the same question I asked Taxpayer.
Just wondering and waiting to see how you spin this one...
retired union worker,
Your "reality check" directed to me is as nonsensical as Frank's conclusion.
Please convey to your "overpaid" husband some in Pleasanton thank him for providing a much needed service and remind him to "be safe".
Posted by Informed, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Sep 25, 2008 at 12:34 pm
When you criticize don't let the facts get in the way, here are a few to consider.
Pleasanton particpates in Calif's employees retirement system, this means when an emploee retires the liability is with the state and not the city. The only pay raises after retirement may be up 2% if costs are rising. Retirees don not get the same raises as working city employees. The city does not have to pay Social Security Taxes and city employees will not get Social Security when they retire. For 15 years Pleasanton did not have to pay any money to the state retirement fund because they had done so well with thier investments.
A public safety officer (Police-Fire) can get up to a 50% tax free retirement for a complete and total disabilty, that is they are so injured they could not do any other job.
Yeterdays Times stated Pleasanton has the highest per capita income of any city in the USA between 60,000 and 260,000 people.Our city employees are not by any means the highest paid in that group, maybe they should be! All of this is public information for anyone who chooses to ask or look. But better yet why not take advantage of the citizens ride-along program with the Police or Fire and see what they really do.
The bottom line is I don't care what they do on their down time as long as the show up if I have to call 911.
Posted by Tommy Gavin, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 25, 2008 at 2:17 pm
While I am not an employee of the Livermore Pleasanton FD, I am a resident/taxpayer of Pleasanton and work for a neighboring bay area Fire Department. With that, respectfully I would like to clarify some inaccuracies included in the posts by anon and others..
anon wrote: "Firefighters work 10 regular days per month and most have the option to sign up for virtually unlimited overtime at time and one half pay"…
While on average it amounts to "10 days per month" I would hardly label them "regular" as anon has. The "10 regular days" are not 8, 10 or even 12 hr days. These are 24 hr days. 24 x 10 = 240 hrs per month at a minimum. I will concede that some of these hours in the evening, 3-6 per shift, are spent sleeping. The rest however are spent responding to and acting upon emergency calls for service, public education, building inspections, fire prevention, equipment and facility maintenance and training.
Training is a whole animal in itself, we're talking about fire ground operations, Fire Officer training, Engineer training, medical training, rescue ops, area familiarization, building familiarization, pre-plans, state and federally mandated daily, monthly and yearly training are a "few" that come to mind.
In regards to the "unlimited overtime" in my agency 8 out of 10 times this is more of a burden then a benefit. We're already working "240 hrs" per month compared to "160 hrs" per month of the 8am-5pm employee. Like the rest of you we would like to spend some time with our families, tuck the kids in at night, do yard work, work on the house, pay bills, wash the car or the dog, go to little league or soccer games, go out to dinner or do nothing. When there are no volunteers to work an extra 24 hrs what do you think happens? Someone’s father, mother, husband, wife, son, daughter, brother or sister is told they're not going home today, they're working another 24 hrs! Very few of you have been approached at the end of a long hard 8, 10 or even 12 hr day of work and were told by your supervisor "thanks for the day of hard work but you need to stay another 12 hrs, Oh you need to pick your kids up from school, sorry you'll have to make other arrangements. No..you can't leave for twenty minutes to pick them up we need you here, there is no one else to do your job! But it's ok we're paying you time and one half!" Often times this is after we have just completed 48 or even 72 consecutive hrs on duty!...Please....keep the money! Time and one half pay it is, but what’s the price of missing your children grow up? I'll pass on the money, but thanks anyhow.
anon wrote: "The employer (Pleasanton taxpayers here) supplies not only the "room and board" but generally pays for premium cable fees and internet access (to alleviate boredom), workout equipment (to keep them in shape) and a better living facility than many residents in this town could afford”….
The employer does in fact supply "room and board". The employer (city/taxpayers) does not provide food or incidentals (shampoo, toothpaste etc) for the employee. The uniqueness of this situation is the "room and board" is our office, the fire station. Don't most employers, either public or private, provide an office or work space for their employees? Is the employee required to bring their own toilet paper or hand soap to work? Do they require the employee to pay part of the electric, phone or water bill? Why should it be different for public employees?
As far as premium cable or any cable for that matter, none of this is paid for by the citizens. In my agency, as well as the LPFD, ( I’ve been told) all cable is paid for by the employees in the form of either direct payment from the employee or through union due which each employee had deducted from their wages monthly.
In regards to internet access, the employer (city, tax payers etc) does provide internet. Is the internet not a vital communication tool in all arenas of business in our world today? Email, faxes, documents, bulletins, daily correspondence, all of this is done electronically. Again should the employee be responsible for providing email in their place of employment to complete their required duties at work? Should we remove internet from all public buildings? Should we remove all phones as well?
In my agency and the LPFD (I’ve seen) some workout equipment is provided. Is it not clear why physical fitness is a priority in our line of work? 100 lbs of gear in 700 degree temperatures, crawling in zero visibility, second floor bedroom of a 3000 sqft residence and you come across a victim 100, 200 or 300 lbs. You find out real quick if all the blood and sweat you’ve put into your physical fitness program has prepared you for this. Rest assured when I’m on duty away from home I’m confident the members of the LPFD are physically ready to rescue members of all of our families. This is in no small part that, as tax payers, we have provided them a means by which to physically prepare for that challenge. We should be concerned if this WASN'T provided!
Not sure of the LPFD or City of Pleasanton policy but in my agency by no means are public employees to “run” a second business while on duty, anon you may want to do your homework on that one before making such a blanket statement.
anon wrote: “Yes, firefighters CAN have a dangerous job. Fire prevention in the last few years has become so good that the majority of assistance calls are medical in nature. This is a good thing but please get off the soapbox that firemen "constantly run into burning buildings." The Pleasanton FD were not first responders to the World Trade Center on 9/11”….
I guess because your fire department was not first responders to the World Trade Center they may or may not have a dangerous job? Pay them a visit I’m sure they would be more then happy to educate you.
anon wrote: “Speaking of pensions -- did you know that ANY firefighter in California who retires on a disability will collect their entire pension tax free for life. Their current pension structure will pay them 80% of their final earnings (with raises every time a new contract is negotiated) for life -- TAX FREE.
Flat out incorrect! If a firefighter has the unfortunate occurrence of having to retire due to a disability, their pension is based on what they have earned up to the time of the disability with 50% of THAT earning tax-free. Once you retire, disability or otherwise, future contract raises no longer apply to the retiree.
I believe LPFD (as is my agency) retirement is a 3% @ 50 factor. What that means is the retirement/pension is based on 3% of your highest earning base salary year for every year of service. So if an employee puts in 25 years with the FD he would get 75% of his highest year base salary. How does any of this equate to 80 % as anon has suggested?
I’d also like to address “a union worker” post, this individual wrote: “Laying awake worried about him fighting out of area fires? Count your money while you think. Firefighters are not ordered to go, they volunteer -- because they get paid at least time and a half for every single hour that they are away. Travel time, sleeping time, time and a half minimum. And many times they do not actually work the fire lines since they may not have wildland fire training. They stand reserve in the local fire houses since the locals are out in the forest. Not that it isn't important, just don't make it sound like they have no control over going.”
We (all firefighters) are in fact “ordered to go”. If you are on duty and the call comes in guess what, you’re it. Saying we volunteer to go is like saying “hey we’ve got a structure fire burning in Pleasanton, would anyone like to VOLUNTEER to go!” Sorry it doesn’t happen that way.
We (all firefighters) do not get paid time and one half for every single hour we are away. If it’s our “regular” duty day we get “regular pay”.
We (all firefighters) will either be on the fire line or covering the fire station of the impacted agency as “union worker” has correctly stated; however what is incorrect is the following statement “ And many times they do not actually work the fire lines since they may not have wildland fire training.”
Every firefighter in the state of California is required to have minimum wildland training. You will not find one firefighter in the State of California that does not have this training. That would be the equivalent of a Life Guard not knowing how to swim, it just wouldn’t happen!
And lastly we essentially do have “no control over going”, regardless this would equate to firefighters refusing to do their job, and that would NEVER happen!
Posted by just reading the blogs, a resident of another community, on Sep 25, 2008 at 4:21 pm
Interesting thread. I don't even care to comment on most of it as everyone already has their minds made up on their own point of view. However, two previous postings comment about running second jobs while on duty. This is absolutely the norm, off duty firemen are painters, contractors, property managers and in at least one case, airline pilots. Yeah, I heard the rumor too. SJFD and United. Check it out, it's true.
Posted by humored by ignorance, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Sep 25, 2008 at 8:27 pm
No, it is not 'the norm' that off-duty firefighters are painters, contractors, property managers, etc...Yes, some do have other jobs....did it occur to any of you that they 'have to work more than one job' because of the pay they are not given? Hmmm, guess that was too difficult of an equation for you to figure.....same as the comment as 'volunteering' for certain calls/fires.....yeh, I don't feel like going on that fatality or that potential catastrophe....call me when you have something I'd 'like' to go on.....nope, some of you just 'don't get it' and never will....wasted time....
Posted by Teaxpayer, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 30, 2008 at 7:58 am
The number of residential and commercial fires has steadily decreased over the years due to a variety of factors including improvements in construction, a greater public awareness of the risk factors leading to fires and a significant reduction in smoking nationwide.
Other parts of the country have volunteer firefighters that get hourly pay only. They do not get paid for sleeping or shopping at Safeway.
Volunteers have a long and honored tradition serving communities throughout our country. Eastside Fire & Rescue has utilized Volunteers ever since its inception in 1939. The Volunteer Program is just one of the many valuable components utilized by Eastside Fire & Rescue in providing emergency services and public education.
Eastside Fire & Rescue has over 110 Volunteers, 28 Support Staff, and 111 Professional firefighters working from 15 stations. Nine of these stations are staffed 24-hours a day. The other six stations are staffed using Volunteers.
Becoming a Volunteer firefighter or EMS responder requires commitment and dedication. The Volunteer firefighter must be willing to commit to an initial 170-hour Training Academy spaced over approximately 15 weeks. Subsequently, a weekly commitment of 3 to 6 hours is expected once you become a Volunteer firefighter. The initial training for an EMS responder is approximately 80 hours with a monthly ongoing training commitment of 6 to 9 hours.
Anyone who meets the following qualifications is encouraged to apply.
AGE: You must be 18 years old at the time you test to become a Volunteer.
AVAILABILITY: You are expected to be available to respond from your place of residence to your assigned station within a reasonable time. Preference is given to persons residing in the service area and those available during weekday hours. Exceptions are granted, on occasion, to those who live outside the boundaries of Eastside Fire & Rescue.
EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE: Prior medical or fire fighting experience is not necessary. You must be able to read and write the English language fluently enough to perform the duties of a firefighter and Washington State First Responder.
DRIVING RECORD: Applicants must have a valid Washington State driver's license.
Posted by David, a resident of the Bordeaux Estates neighborhood, on Sep 30, 2008 at 9:37 am
EMS/Firefighters are valued but some changes are needed.
Like so many public service jobs the pensions and benefits are out of scale. There is no justification for pension plans that cost taxpayers 30%-40% of payroll. Getting paid for shopping and sleeping should change (who believe they only sleep 3-6 of the 24hr shift?), 8 hour shifts are better for the employee and better for the public. Do you want an emergency responder waking up in the middle of the night and giving medical care?
The job descriptions need to expand to give other responsibilities during down time. Other public safety, or community service responsibilities could include regular health and welfare visits to our frail populations( I think they do some). Give support at the local med clinics (Axis). Share some of the PD’s responsibility for community patrolling, parks, schools, be a supportive presence where our kids are (day and nights). I would rather see them at the park on Vineyard or bike and skate parks than Hanging out at Safeway and Starbucks.
Posted by T, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Sep 30, 2008 at 4:57 pm
Well said David. Since they "only sleep 3-6 hours" we absolutely MUST stop allowing them to work 24 hour shifts. And no more shift trading where they can work 72 hours in a row(or even more in some departments). Put them on 8 hour days like real people, pay them only for the 8 hour that they "work" and make reasonable adjustments to their pensions. The competition for jobs is fierce, wouldn't we all like to be paid to cook, watch movies, surf the net and sleep? If it was an 8 hour day with reasonable compensation and benefits we could be confident that the responders would be awake and alert. They work 240 hours a month and get paid for 240 hours a month. Airline crews are away from home 250-350 hours per month and for that time away from home they get paid 75-85 hours.
Posted by reality check, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2008 at 8:39 am
The northern California city of Vallejo is facing bankruptcy given a massive budget shortfall. “Police and firefighters account for 80% of Vallejo’s budget, city officials say, due to ballooning overtime bills and lucrative union contracts that have boosted base salaries, benefits and retirement plans.”
More than 10 fire employees earn more than $200,000, and they receive exceptional pensions. In Orange County, the average pay and benefit package for all categories of firefighter is $175K.
The unions have ratcheted up the pay to unconscionable levels, and the bill for massive pension benefits will be paid by our grandchildren. This is the result of unionization, shameless politicians who curry favor with unions at the expense of taxpayers and a public that is easily bullied by union activists who always play the hero card.
Posted by Check what reality that might be, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2008 at 10:08 pm
If you look into what happened in Vallejo its appauling. The City councel was approached by a group of lawyers in the business of swearing to elected officals that they can remove city debt from their books if they are hired for a fee. They move the bulk of the city funds out of the " Genral fund " and into " project funds ". Legally there can only be one "Genral fund " but the city can create MULTIPLE " special funds ".
While they are " funding these special projects " the city councel freezes the hireing of police and firefighters. ALL CITIES have police and firfighters required minimum staffing levels. These staffing levels ensure that enough people are delivered anytime an emergency occurs.
(Could you imagine the public outcry if someone died in a car wreck, heart attack or house fire because one person showed up!!!)
So the stars are in allignment... requred minimum staffing and an inablity to hire new people. The police and fire fighters OT soars.
The press has access to the names, pay and benefits of all city employees.In dificult times it always is an easy story to sell that city employees are breaking the city's finacial back. There is a public "witch hunt" over who is to blame. While the police and firefighters continue to quietly stand post. Its PRIDE not fear that keeps these guys from addressing your ignorance.
It sounds like you did not know the Vallejo city councel rejected multiple year contracts of 0% raises knowing that if they refuse to hire more people they save 60% per person per shift by using an employee on OT. The whole time allowing the blame to be placed on the firefighters and police. I would be willing to bet the critics of this post did not know that our governor Arnie offered to sent the state auditor to assit the city of Vallejo ( no small deal ) in ballancing thier books and THEY REFUSED. It is also known that the entire Vallejo City Councel is being criminally investigated by the State Attorney General for a multitued of charges relating to this and each are personally looking at jail time. Vallejo police and firefighters are fiercly proud of the city they work for and are demoralized that their city has turned on them.
Everytime the economy tanks we revisit the same story, EVERYTIME. Blaming firefighters and cops for the way things are is like blaming pilots for the cost of an airline ticket. The reason these stories arn't run in flush economic times is because the raises given to these people hardly keep up with inflation.
If I understand you correctly, the critics...
Really believe that police and firefighters are the bads guys and the city politicians are going to save us all?
That city employees are " hanging out " at a gorcery store ?
That having a cup of coffee is keeping them from being productive ?
That the unions are responsable for the ruination of city governance and finance? ( Could you even tell me ( honestly )what a union is, why they are even used or where they came from? )
They need MORE things to do? ( Do you know that police and fire have responce time minimums, city and state MANDATED? Thats why they travel in packs and shop togeather. Do you know how many certtificates are REQUIRED to be a officer or firefighter and the training REQUIRED to keep those certs? )
AND THE KICKER...
That Volunteer firefighters would provide the same level of customer service and professionalism as a full time paid firefighters?
From the comments made here I refuse to believe that any of you critics have even spoken to a police officer or firefighter.
I understand that it is hard to objective in tough financial times but it is not ok to spew ignorance and frustration just because it makes you feel better. Some people might actually believe you.
Posted by David, a resident of the Bordeaux Estates neighborhood, on Oct 4, 2008 at 11:34 am
EMS/Firefighters are valued but some changes are needed.
Getting paid for shopping and sleeping should change, 8 hour shifts are better for the employee and better for the public. Do you want an emergency responder waking up in the middle of the night and giving medical care?
Posted by Proud, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Oct 4, 2008 at 8:33 pm
What is with the focus on eating and sleeping?
I don't give a crap if they cook or get their food to go. As long as they show up and perform.
The way I see it, 8 hr shifts may be easier for YOU to understand but what does that solve. They still gotta eat. It would probably cost more money, A LOT more money. Hireing employees in any business is usually the most costly part of operation.
What you imply by the comment of " waking up " is that the " night shift " stay awake all night. There is plenty of data to support that a person is capable of better critical thought and decision makeing if they have some sleep than if they are forced to remain awake all night. IF they slept through a 911 call they should be fired but the way I see it they are doing you a favor.
Where is the data or study to support your idea that firemen would work harder if ther was a night shift?
Your argument crumbles in the face of simple common sense.
Posted by Heather, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Oct 5, 2008 at 9:15 pm
Response to "anon". As you stated firefighters respond to more than just fires, medical aids, hazardous materials, wild land fires, structure fires, auto accidents and more. When firefighters are injured they receive half there pay and minimal if any health care when they are forced to retire injured. When retired the average time a firefighter lives after retirement is 6 years. That is due to all of the hazardous material inhaled and exposed to. 6 years, so much for the golden years.
My understanding of firefighter overtime is that they sign up to work if it is available. The overtime actually saves the city money, because if they did not work the overtime the city of Pleasanton would have to hire additional people and pay benefits which would cost the city more.
To attack the pay and benefits of people who are here to help us at the cost of there own lives is wrong. I value the job that the Pleasanton firefighters do and would never endorse the attack of there jobs, pay or benefits.
I also heard our Pleasanton firefighters did respond to the world trade center, Hurricane Katrina and most recently Hurricane Ike in Texas.
Please take care of our firefighters so they can do the job most of us do not want to do.
Posted by Someone who knows, a resident of Livermore, on Oct 6, 2008 at 2:44 pm
You people who think that firefighters don't deserve EVERYTHING they get in terms of payment or benefits are complete idiots. "Tommy Gavin" hit the nail on the head. If you worked as much as most of the firefighters work in a given month, you would expect decent compensation. 240+ hours per month is quite a lot of time to be away from your family and loved ones. Then you add on mandatory overtime and miss even more of your kids lives.
I'm guessing "anon" and others tried to become firefighters and were unable to do so because of their supidity or their obesity. Now they are just jealous and ignorant.