Warwick Beacon Looks At Firefighter Pay/Contracts
The Warwick Beacon’s Russel Moore has a piece on the 32 Warwick Firefighters who make more than $100,000/year (salary and O.T.–benefits NOT included) .
The Beacon recently requested a list from the City Treasurer of the number of firefighters in Warwick earning $100,000 or more, and a brief description of how those firefighters are paid.
There are 217 firefighter positions in the city, with 200 of those positions filled. That means 32 members of the 200-member fire department make a total of $3.5 million before factoring in benefits like pension or health care insurance.
The list is comprised exclusively of the Fire Department’s ranking officers, including the Chief, Assistant Chief, Fire Marshal, Superintendent of Fire Alarms, Rescue Captain, EMS Coordinator, Battalion Chiefs, Captains, and Lieutenants. There were no privates on the list.
Meanwhile, John Howell has another piece on how the the firefighter’s contract is too complicated to make cutting easy.
With the exception of schools, Fire is the costliest of city departments. The department’s operating budget is almost $20 million this year, seemingly making it the best place to start to look for savings.
But cutting costs isn’t simple.
Remarkably, even though closing a station would free up a minimum of 12 firefighters, it wouldn’t save on overtime payments. The most the city would pocket are utility costs, perhaps $20,000 to $30,000, if that much.
In addition, points out Warwick Fire Chief Kevin Sullivan, minimum response times would be increased heightening the risk to the residents and property owners of Warwick. Sullivan also raises the question of what station to close. His point is twofold. First, what neighborhood is going to accept a reduction in fire and rescue service – a choice that would certainly meet strong opposition from that ward’s council member and elected representatives? Second, Sullivan points out that Green Airport makes Warwick unique. Its placement in the geographic middle of the city makes it difficult to supplant or augment service from one area by another. It is like a chain where each link is connected to two others rather than a weave were links are interconnected on multiple sides.
Interesting point about the bi-furcated city that is Warwick. Basically, economies of scale may not translate as well due to the geography of the city. As for Chief Sullivan’s warning about response times, well, you can spin it any way you want, but that (self-fulfilling) legitimization is why Warwick is exemplary of the rest of the state.
On average, [a RIPEC] report showed that Rhode Islanders spend about $6.24 on fire services for every $1,000 of personal income, or just under double the national average of $3.21 per $1,000 of income.
Look, where there’s a will, there’s a way. There just has to be a real will. Other states seem to do just fine at half the cost.