The city’s recently renegotiated contract with the Local 1363 International Association of Fire Fighters includes several updates including the development of an officer’s training …
The city’s recently renegotiated contract with the Local 1363 International Association of Fire Fighters includes several updates including the development of an officer’s training program, reorganization of command structure and a one to two percent salary increase over the next three years. The contract will go before the Finance Committee Aug. 1.
According to the contract, an officer’s training program will be created by the fire chief starting March 31, 2023. The purpose of the program would be for “developing officers and officer candidates’ job-related knowledge, supervisory and leadership abilities appropriate to their rank and division.” The program would follow the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and National Incident Management System (NIMS) guidelines while being specifically tailored to Cranston operations.
Additionally, the Union and City agreed that in order to provide the safest possible environment for firefighters, there should be a constant review of strategy and tactics. Therefore, if the contract is approved by the City Council as it stands, the fire chief will form a committee of three members chosen by the chief and two members selected by the union president. The committee will meet on a regular basis until a modernized manual of operations is created. This manual will consist of the following updated information: accounting of departmental orders in effect, training bulletins and response plans and standard operating procedures. The manual would be completed by Sept. 1, 2024 and would be included in promotional exam testing materials.
As for the staffing structure, Fire Chief James Warren said the department’s command structure hasn’t changed in a long time and that the contract will be modernizing the fire department by adding Battalion Chiefs and phasing out the Deputy Chief positions. He said Warwick and Providence have made this switch – adding that this structural change allows for better control of a fire scene. Therefore, the Fire Department’s Assistant Chief and EMS captain, along with the four Platoon Deputy Chiefs, will be converted to eight Battalion Chief positions. Both the City and Union agreed to eliminate the four LT CATO (chief accountability tactical officers) positions which act as aides to the chiefs and will be reassigned through a bidding process.
Warren said the fire department has 196 firefighters with 43 individuals on the day shift and 41 on the night shift. The contract will not be adding additional positions. Once the contract is ratified, Warren said there will be a grace period between when the firefighters take on the Battalion Chief positions in order to provide the appropriate training.
While there have been concerns with overtime expenses, Chief of Staff Anthony Moretti said the firefighters think the reorganization of positions will produce savings by reducing that overtime expense.
While that number is not quantifiable, Moretti said the firefighters are committed to reducing overtime and understand the city’s financial considerations.
If the contract is approved, the Fire Department’s salary commitment will see an increase. Acting Director of Finance Mike Igoe said the additional salary cost for all three years will be $652,752. In the first year, salary increases 1 percent, followed by 2 percent the second and third year of the contract. The breakdown of the additional funds are $22,714 in year one, $311,449 in year two and $318,588 in year three. In the last negotiated contract, the increases were 2 percent in year one, 2 percent in year two and 3 percent in year three.
Director of Personnel Dan Parrillo said the union was willing pay for some of the reorganization in year one along with uniform allowance and maintenance allowance which allowed the salary increase to be 1 percent in year one. Igoe said this is a savings of roughly $200,000.
Parrillo added that from what he’s heard, Cranston’s firefighters contract is one of the best contracts in the state.
Copays for medical coverage will likely to go up as well. Igoe said currently, the cost of the family plan is set at $3,900. If the contract is ratified, in year one the cost would be $4,200, then $4,500 in year two and $4,800 year three. The single plan is currently set at $1,850 and will go to $2,000 in year one, $2,150 in year two and $2,300 in year three.
The renegotiated contract is looking to have severance pay for retirement and death completed in one payment instead of quarterly installments. Igoe said this will be easier to handle administratively.
According to the contract, Cranston’s Fire Department is also looking to maintain a minimum of 120 EMT-Cardiac personnel at all times. New hires are required to have their EMT-C certification by the end of their probationary year or soon after. In the event that an employee loses their certification, the employee will be given a reasonable amount of time to obtain the certification on their own time with their own funds. Department seniority will determine which of the 120 employees must maintain their EMT-C.
The Local 1363 International Association of Fire Fighters contract will be discussed at the Aug. 1 Finance Committee meeting.
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