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Debate Flares Over Firefighter Pay

— When you call 911 in San Diego, a city fire truck is likely to arrive. It will come with several EMT’s and at least one paramedic. About 80 percent of calls the fire department responds to are medical. Councilman Carl DeMaio said that makes the work of the firefighters comparable to EMT’s and paramedics with private ambulance companies.

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Memo on Firefighter Compensation

Memo on Firefighter Compensation

A memo from the offices of Councilmembers Carl ...

“When you look at it from that lens, we are seeing very clearly that there is a significantly higher salary and benefit package in the city of San Diego for the same work that’s done in the private sector,” he said.

An analysis requested by DeMaio and Councilwoman Lorie Zapf from the Independent Budget Analyst shows in some cases city firefighters are paid 325 percent more than private employees when you consider their benefits package. But Fire Chief Javier Mainar said the comparison has an obvious flaw -- ambulance drivers can't fight fires.

“Suggesting it is fair and appropriate to compare the compensation received by firefighters… to their private sector counterparts who only function as EMT’s and paramedics, but have none of the training, skills or duties of firefighters, is blatantly misleading,” he said.

Mainar said the pay discrepancy is closer to 20 percent and accounts for the extra training firefighters receive, which includes HAZMAT, rescue and fire response. He said it’s ironic that DeMaio, who represents communities that were devastated in the 2003 and 2007 wildfires, seems to be saying he doesn’t value firefighters.

“That seems to be the message he’s intent on bringing to our firefighters. I couldn’t disagree more with that,” Mainar said.

But DeMaio insisted it’s not a question of valuing firefighters.

“We value the work of our firefighters,” he said. “But it does no good to our neighborhood public safety if we are in any way wasting any taxpayer dollars in a budget when we have such a significant shortfall.”

San Diego is facing a $57-million deficit. DeMaio and Zapf are asking for additional compensation analysis from the IBA's office. Mainar said he looks forward to the report.

Comments

Avatar for user 'ElHefedeBomberos'

ElHefedeBomberos | April 24, 2011 at 8:11 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

DeMaio is an ass.

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | April 26, 2011 at 12:33 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Firefighters and police have put too high a price tag for their service to the community. Their pension benefits are outrageous and unaffordable. They should be making a flat salary with no overtime, too.

Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.

That statement means nothing when you burden taxpayers with wages and benefits we can't afford. But I suppose it'll have to get worse before it gets better.

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Avatar for user 'mav'

mav | May 4, 2011 at 10:38 a.m. ― 3 years, 3 months ago

David65 is a freakin cry baby!

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