County Executive Agrees To Fund Step Pay Raises For Career Fire Fighters

It was in a contract  which was rejected by the fire fighters union.


Frederick, (Md) Frederick County’s career fire fighters will be getting step pay  increase early next year. That announcement was made by County Executive Jan Gardner during her public information briefing on Thursday. “I’m announcing today that I will provide a step increase for all fire fighters who qualify, effective January 1st,” she said. “So it will be mid-year increase, so effectively it will be a delayed step.”

That’s one provision in a contract negotiated between the county and the fire fighters union. The rank and file turned it down last month. “Despite the offer of transition to a new service-based pay scale, and a two-step increase, the Career Fire Fighters Association voted last month to decline or rejected the new pay scale. I surmise that the holiday pay was not well received the membership. And I believe there were other issues as well. But the full reason are not particularly clear to me.”

Other provisions in the rejected contract that the County Executive will be implementing include an independent wage, benefit and workload study,  and an increase in the number of students who will be attending the fall recruit class. “DFRS {Division of Fire and Rescue Services}  will offer an expanded recruit class this fall that would not only fill the existing 13 vacant positions, but will add 12 new recruit positions. That means we’ll a recruit class of 25 which is targeted to begin or about October first of 2018,” Gardner said.

She points out that when these recruits are ready to begin service as fire fighters and medics, it will give some current fire fighters the opportunity to use some of their earned leave time That wasn’t always possible due to staffing shortages, says Gardner.

During her public information briefing, Gardner took issue with the way the contract has been portrayed on social media. She said she values the work of   fire and rescue personnel, and their dedication to their jobs, especially during the recent floods. “Now while I share these positive comments, I do also want to state my profound disappointment with unprofessional behavior I have witnessed on social media, and the intentional spreading of misinformation,” she said.

She said there is a better way to talk about the contract, and debate the issues. “Now I personally value fairness. I value my integrity. We all do. And I really want to make sure that we move forward in a positive and constructive way,” says Gardner. “I cannot certainly look at the 405 people in the Division of Fire and Rescue Services, and not say I’m going to reward good work because some people behaved  badly.”

Gardner said the funding for the pay raise and the other provisions in the contract are contained in the county’s fiscal year 2019 budget.


By Kevin McManus