Written by STEVE OSTERMANN
Wednesday, 21 January 2015 21:05
Board approves plan to replace per-call stipends for department volunteers
Grafton firefighters and emergency medical staff will receive hourly wages for on-call duties, the Village Board agreed Monday night.
Concurring with recommendations from Fire Chief William Rice and the Finance Committee, the board passed a resolution establishing a pay scale ranging from $10 to $15 per hour based on department members qualifications.
Effective Feb. 1, firefighters and EMTs with basic qualifications and less than four state certifications will receive the $10 rate. Those with additional qualifications and certifications will be paid as much as $15 per hour at the top end of the scale.
The scale, which was proposed by Rice late last year, changes the pay for volunteer members from per-call stipends of $20 for basic firefighters and EMTs and $25 for advanced EMTs.
In addition, day-shift emergency medical technicians are paid hourly wages to staff the fire station from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.
The resolution also provides an end-of-the-year bonus of $800 for department offices who meet predetermined benchmarks for training and complete special projects and end-of-the-year certification bonuses of $1,000 for advanced paramedics and $750 for advanced EMTs.
In recommending the pay changes, Rice voiced concern that the department might face a legal challenge by paying day-shift employees an hourly rate and a per-call stipend.
He said his recommendations were based on input from department members, fire chiefs in neighboring communities and a review of statewide pay schedules.
The hourly and bonus pay is expected to be covered by the department’s 2015 budget, which includes $467,210 for fire prevention and rescue personnel. That total includes salaries for the fire chief, a new division chief who will be hired this year, a half-time officer and all volunteers.
The board approved the pay schedule with little discussion. However, Trustee Dean Proefrock questioned a provision that calls for department members to receive a two-hour minimum pay per call.
“I recall that a large number of calls were for one hour or less,” Proefrock said.
“It seems like setting a two-hour minimum is setting a high cost that may occur.”
Rice said the per-call wage is designed to compensate volunteers without significantly exceeding the total they received under the stipend system.
“It’s meeting the same ($20 per-call pay) for basic firefighters and EMTs but also giving more to those who exceed the minimum,” he said.
The village has been accepting applications for the newly created position of division chief, who will take over fire inspections and oversee fire education and public information programs as well as respond to day-time EMS and fire calls.
An assessment committee organized by Rice will review the applicants and create a list of finalists for the job. Rice will then recommend his choice to the Police and Fire Commission.
Village Administrator Darrell Hofland said the division chief is expected to be hired by March.