Fire District to Consider Pay-Per-Call for Firefighters
The Clearwater Fire Protection District is a volunteer organization. The only paid employee is the fire chief. In the near future, firefighters could receive a small compensation for responding to calls.
CFPD Board Member Dave Palmer requested the issue be placed on the Monday, Dec. 5, agenda. This issue had been brought up last January. At that time, board members tabled the issue until the end of the year.
Volunteer firefighters, for the most part, do not get paid. You are volunteering your time. However, there are some fire departments that will give stipends per call or reimburse for certain expenses.
Fire Chief Earl Mumper presented the board member with three different options for a pay-per-call reimbursement. On the low end, it would cost the district a couple of thousand dollars annually. On the high end, it would cost about $15,000.
The fire district currently has 25 firefighters who are active. The firefighters would be reimbursed based on its point system. Mumper said that the majority of firefighters would not max out on the point system.
The three scales Mumper presented were for $2, $2.25, and $2.50 per point. “In 2020, we would have paid out $2856, 2021 $3752, and 2022 $3030 if we had $2 per call.”
“Don’t we need to assume that every firefighter will meet the max points?” asked Treasurer Steve Walsh. Mumper said that is not the case.
Mumper said that firefighters would only get a point if they show up on the scene and are working. If a firefighter was responding to a call but is told to stop because they are not needed, they would receive a half point.
Mumper said he feels the reimbursement is needed. He pointed out that board members are compensated to show up at monthly meetings.
“Firefighters respond at 2 a.m. in the morning and fight fires in the extreme cold or heat,” Mumper said. “They burn up their time and what do they get? It costs them $15-$20 a week to show up to fight six fires.”
“I can see where you’re coming from,” said Board Chairman Shane Babb. “But, at the same time, we have a responsibility.”
Palmer said that the fire district might get more volunteers if this plan is implemented.
“It is not about more volunteers,” Mumper explained. “It is about showing our appreciation to them.”
Babb asked what the City of Piedmont does to how appreciation. A Piedmont firefighter happened to be the meeting and said that the PCD is currently working on a plan.
Walsh said that he has heard the city is looking at reimbursing Piedmont firefighters $50 a month if they meet the requirements.
“I don’t see the city council going for that,” Babb said.
Walsh said that he feels the board need to look at the final budget numbers for 2022 and the 2023 projections before making any decisions. The other board members agreed. The topic will be discused again later this month at a budget meeting.
Fire calls for 2022 amount to more than the CFPD responded to in 2021. To date, there have been 129 calls for service. Last year, firefighters had responded to 117 calls at this time. Mumper said the current totals are three more calls than for the entire year last year.
In November, there were 19 calls for service. Of those calls, seven were for brush fires, one was for the railroad tracks being on fire, and one call was for a structure/brush fire. Firefighters responded to one call for a kitchen oven fire, one structure fire, one smoke investigation, one smoke investigation, and one call of an active residential fire alarm. Firefighters were called twice to assist EMS.
During November, each station had trainings on truck familiarization. The district also held a training on nozzle control and barrel races.
Andy Collins has rejoined the CFPD as a firefighter.
During pump testing, the truck stationed at Mill Spring failed pump testing. Sentinel was called and did a pump primer repair. After the pump was repaired, the truck was tested a second time and it passed testing.
Two other trucks had repairs during November. According to Chief Mumper, both trucks required new rear wheel cylinders.
During November, the fire district had expenses of $8,847.53. The Fire District currently has a fund balance of $315,750.80. Of that, $281,184.03 is in the checking account. The Contingency Fund has $32,217.55. The Tower Fund balance is $2,349.27.
The CFPD will hold a special meeting Wednesday, Dec. 14, to set the fire district’s 2023 operating budget. At that time, the board will also revisit the pay-per-call proposal. The meeting will begin at 5 p.m. at the fire station in Piedmont.
The next regularly scheduled board meeting will be held Monday, Jan. 2, at the Piedmont Fire Station. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m.