Fire contract heads to council

Fire contract heads to council

PAWTUCKET – The City Council is set to conduct deliberations tonight, Wednesday, Feb. 19, on a new contract between the city and its fire union.

The new deal with the Pawtucket Local 1261 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, approved in a 120-19 vote Jan. 24, covers the past three years and the next three years. The deal brings back an engine while maintaining four rescues and not increasing overall staffing.

Within the next month, say city officials, the city should be back to a six-engine model from five engines, with two-person ladders.

The new contract, to be reviewed by the council’s finance subcommittee and likely sent to the full council, includes 2 percent annual pay bumps and increasing co-shares for health insurance over the next three and a half years.

New hires will have to pay co-shares at retirement, something that was never done by local firefighters.

Officials created a probationary pay and fourth-class firefighter, so it takes three years for new hires to phase up to full firefighter first class pay.

A plan agreed to by union leadership last fall but turned down by the union would have included four rescues and a six-engine model. After the vote, the city closed a sixth engine and two firefighters went on the rescue.

In announcing the contract last month, union members highlighted that it will bring Engine 3 back to service, restoring needed services in the area around McCoy Stadium.

“This has always been our main goal and was never about salaries,” stated the union.

Unfortunately, said firefighters, they had to make some concessions and move around some staffing to achieve the deal. The city will continue to use two ladders but now they will operate with two firefighters, three firefighters when operating at a fire scene.