With the talk about a proposed $98 Parcel Tax in June to help ensure East Contra Costa Fire Protection District will continue to have a 5-stations service model, the assault on firefighter salary has started back up again.
My goal here is not to change your opinion about your feelings on a tax, but to at least present you with accurate data that may not be appearing elsewhere. The truth is, East County is providing great value for what it pays its firefighters–in fact, I’d argue they are underpaid when you consider what are neighbors to the west make for nearly the same services.
Here is a look at East Contra Costa Fire Protection District base salaries which should also be noted they have not received a raise in 5-years, tweaked their retirement and benefits and still come to work each day with a smile on their faces.
- Battalion Chief: $88,000 or $33 per hour
- Fire Captain: $60,000 or $20.60 per hour
- Engineer: $57,000 or $19.57 per hour
- Firefighter: $51,000 or $17.50 per hour
Its important to note that firefighters work 56-hour weeks instead of the traditional 40-hour work weeks.
Here is a look at pay at neighboring Districts
Contra Costa Fire
- Battalion Chief: $145,000 or $49.79 per hour
- Fire Captain: $109,000 or $37.43 per hour
- Engineer: $97,000 or $33.31 per hour
- Firefighter: $96,000 or $32.96 per hour
Alameda County Fire
- Battalion Chief: $146,000 or $50.13 per hour
- Fire Captain: $116,000 or $39.83 per hour
- Engineer: $103,000 or $35.37 per hour
- Firefighter: $95,000 or $32.62 per hour
Looking at neighboring District salaries, one could argue if CONFIRE moved to equal pay of that as ECCFPD, they would never have to shut down a station again and in fact could open even more stations. On the other hand, if ECCFPD was bringing in the revenue CONFIRE was bringing in (13 cents on the dollar vs. ECCFPD 6 cents), we would have close to a 10-station model with little funding issues–but we can thank Prop 13 for that limited revenue allocation not being allowed to be tweaked when the District when rural to urban.
The point here is that ECCFPD and CONFIRE, along with a few other Districts in the Bay Area get meshed together not as an assault on a particular District, but an assault on the profession. That is not appropriate and its comparing apples to oranges because each District is different.
The next time the assault on pensions and salary comes up, please excuse ECCFPD from the discussion because that tired argument does not apply to them.
By Michael Burkholder