"Whenever there's a vacancy in the city or county Fire Department, there are literally thousands of applicants for each position. Why? Because firefighters get high pay, fantastic benefits and unbelievably generous pensions, which start as early as age 50.
But the main reason is that firefighters work only 10 days per month. They are off a full three weeks each month. Yes, they do put in 24-hour days, but with so few emergencies to respond to, firefighters have plenty of time on their hands during each shift for reading, sleeping, video games, watching TV, etc.
Because a huge part of the city and county budgets go for fire protection, this is where deep budget cuts must be made. But people get nervous at the thought of laying off firefighters.
So, what to do? Simple: Increase their work month from 10 to 13 days, which will require fewer firefighters. This still will give them 18 days off each month, which is a heck of a lot more time off than many of us get.
Local firefighters might threaten to strike, but they can easily be replaced from those thousands of applicants. After all, what other occupation would offer full pay and benefits for working only 13 days per month?
But we'll have to elect fiscally conservative majorities to the City Council and county Board of Supervisors to get such a needed reform because the current liberal majorities are the pawns of the fire (and police) unions."
Feature: Notable Firefighter's Opinions...
Update: What kind of replies did the local newspaper receive from the public?
03-30-10 Comments: Responding to a letter writer's comments about firefighters, let's do some math. He said a firefighter works 10, 24-hour shifts per month, equaling 2,880 hours yearly.
Suggesting they work 13 shifts per month, equates to 3,744 hours yearly, about 30 percent more. Not missing something in the letter, that would be with no pay hike. In comparison, typical 40-hour/week employees put in 2,080 hours yearly, meaning firefighters work more than a 9-to-5 employee. Is it fair to increase that?
Firefighters aren't out on emergency calls for their entire shift, but do have other responsibilities. They have vehicles and equipment to keep clean and maintained, and have housekeeping chores around the station.
Firefighters don't have janitorial services coming in, cleaning the station. It's their job. Remember, the station is their home. They also are required to attend ongoing training, sometimes during their shifts, but often it's on their off days. They also have community responsibilities. They perform citizen training and education, work fairs and open houses and perform inspections for residences and businesses.
Now, let's talk about major emergencies, as with the Gap or Jesusita fires, or La Conchita mudslide. Firefighters remain on duty 24/7 until released, whether it's days or weeks. Add that to their 2,880 hours yearly and it can go well beyond the 3,744.
They need our support, not making them a target for saving money. There are other places to look. Cutting firefighters would be detrimental to us all.
03-29-10 Comments: I have been watching with interest and curiosity the mess our local politicians have put us in. How many of our city politicians have rushed into a burning building to save a child or fallen through a collapsed roof while doing their duty? None.
As for our Police Department, I don't think any of our City Council members or our mayor have had a gun pointed at them or removed hazardous material from a school or any public building. I could go on and on. (Read the front page of the March 18 News-Press). Every day the police put their lives on the line for us. The mayor and City Council did not hesitate to give themselves a hefty raise plus bonuses when they should have given themselves a 25 percent cut. But they chose to possibly dump almost two dozen officers from the department.