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Clark County Firefighters Union Response
Clark County Firefighters Union Response

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AIR DATE: September 22, 2010

Clark County Firefighters have come under immense public scrutiny in the past year for high pay and out of control overtime and sick pay costs.

At a time when the county, like many other municipal bodies, is dealing with huge budget shortfalls the firefighters union has been extremely reuctant to agree to wage and benefit concessions. They have also been accused of "gaming" the overtime and sick pay system in order to bolster their paychecks and essentially cheat taxpayers out of millions. Their most vocal critic, County Commissioner, Steve Sisolak says he can prove that Clark County Firefighters have duped taxpayers and the system for huge paychecks.

But, the union doubts Sisolak's arguments hold any weight. The union has pushed back against their critics, mainly the county commisssion by running full page newspaper ads denouncing the county comission and its leaders. We spoke with Steve Sisolak now we talk with Ryan Beaman, President of the Clark County Firefighter's Union. He gives his reaction to the harsh public criticism against firefighters in Clark County.

GUEST
Ryan Beaman, Pres, Clark County Firefighter's Local 1908

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COMMENTS:
Mr. Sisolak is blowing enough smoke to keep the men and women of the fire department employed and busy for a very long time.
sandySep 20, 2010 20:03:13 PM
I am curious why Firefighters work such long shifts and sleep at the station vs just working 8, 10 or even 12 hour shifts like practically every other 24x7x52 operation?
Aunty PalinSep 20, 2010 13:06:02 PM
Fire fighters across the country work 24 hour shifts. The do so because it allows the fire department to staff with less personnel. If they were to go to 12 or 8 hour shifts they would have to hire 2 to 3 times more personnel. This would end up making the fire departments budget skyrocket with the extra cost of benefits.
JasonSep 20, 2010 16:23:30 PM
Firefighters continue to deceive the public on their compensation and services provided. In addition to the excessive ccompensation at 180,000.00 per year firefighters retire early after 20 years and we are on the hook for an additional 40 + years of retirement pay so we are actually paying some firefighters the equivalent of over a half million dollars per year.

Firefighters provide a basic function that requires very brief training and education and in other communities they are the equivalent of an average blue collar worker not the inflated super hero status they flaunt here.

Joseph (via email)Sep 20, 2010 09:50:05 AM
And all of those overly educated, degree heavy, "highly trained" folks working for the county management are really working their bottoms off to earn the 6 figure salaries they are pulling in from tax payers......

Oh, maybe not.

joeSep 20, 2010 11:04:46 AM
First off, fire fighters do not all make 180,000 a year. These numbers came from averages including those who were at the end of their career that cashed out sick time that was never used. You have to work a lot of overtime to make that much money. Overtime that will be forced on you if you don't sign up to work thanks to the unwillingness of the county to hire more personnel.

Do you know why the 20 and out retirement was negotiated for police and firefighters? Because their life expectancy after retirement is measured in months not years. It is a proven medical fact that a career of doing this job ie. being startled awake consistently at night for calls and having to do the stressful work of fighting fires at the drop of a dime, kills you little by little.

You cannot do this job well into your 50's or 60's. If that were the case, we would have fire fighters dropping dead on a regular basis. Also, if you do retire at this 20 year mark and do not meet the age requirement, you do not collect your entire pension. You collect somewhere around 50% In fact, no one can collect 100% anymore. 75% is the best you can do if you work 28 years.

JasonSep 20, 2010 12:09:42 PM
As far as the education it takes to become a fire fighter, the job announcement does say that you only need a GED or high school diploma. However, with the number of people applying for the job and the things they are bringing to the table, let me tell you that with out an EMT-I (2 semesters of college), and a fire science degree (AA Degree-2 Years of college) you are probably not going to be highly considered.

The very brief training you speak of to do this job is actually another year long process including a 4 month training academy and 8 months of ongoing probationary training with benchmarks that must be met on a regular basis.

JasonSep 20, 2010 12:17:46 PM
Joseph, please fill out an application to become a firefighter for any department that you choose. You should apply for the Clark County Fire Department since the pay and benefits are so outstanding. The education and training are far from brief or basic. The job itself will challenge you daily. On any given day you may run into a building which is on fire. It might be July and it may be 110 degrees outside. You will be wearing 75 pounds of non-breathable clothing and gear. You will probably inhale a significant amount of carcinogenic smoke and toxins. Immediately after that you will probably run a life saving emergency medical call on a bloody patient who is HIV or Hep C positive. Being a brand new firefighter, you will probably end up working at Station 18. Station 18, located at Flamingo and Paradise is the busiest fire station in the United States. You more than likely will not sleep during your 24 hour shift. In the morning, God willing, you'll get to go home to your wife and children. If you had any concept of the job, the training, or the history of the profession, you would prepare your comments a little more carefully.
tonySep 25, 2010 21:31:59 PM
I wish my job has the same union protections as the firefighters.
Jim in HendersonSep 20, 2010 09:47:09 AM
You state(Mr Beamon) that staff has been promoted by the manager and the fire chief. Can that be proved and if the case. Why has this been done when the County is trying to cut cost?
richardSep 20, 2010 09:44:42 AM
Didn't the department also pull a firefighter off the floor to go "upstairs" and work on his thesis---creating more overtime in the process??
joeSep 20, 2010 11:06:31 AM
Of course this can be proven. Dates and names can be provided showing that the county violated it's own cost saving measures plan. Why has this been done you ask. Great question. We have been asking the same one with no response.
JasonSep 20, 2010 12:20:26 PM
It is my understand that the Commissioners of Clark County decided it was cheaper to pay 15 million in overtime vs 20 million by hiring new personnel, which make financial sense, why would that change now? Can Mr. Beamon shed some light on that?
Gary D ByrdSep 20, 2010 09:41:32 AM
You are 100% correct. We have not been told why, but we can only suspect it is because of all of the grandstanding that has been going on in the news about overtime pay.
jasonSep 20, 2010 12:22:17 PM
Human behavior is often directed to suit one's own best interests. What the Clark County Firefighters are doing is not illegal - they are optimizing what is available to the through the system.

Change the system and eliminate the problem.

sbSep 20, 2010 09:41:03 AM
Any other county employee has security at their workplace.

I think the issue I would take would be the same for any union anywhere in the country why don't the unions have the ability to hold members accountable? For excessive pay or lousy performance?

annette egbertSep 20, 2010 09:40:45 AM
The same people who do the hiring are those responsible for disciplining. Ryan Beaman does not run the fire department. Their is a chief, assistant chiefs, and so on. They should be answering these questions. Where have they been?
joeSep 20, 2010 11:09:03 AM
The unions job is to negotiate pay and benefits for its members. It is managements job to over see the daily operations and discipline those accordingly that fall out of line. CCFD's management has the ability to do so and has not exercised this ability once in the case of overtime gaming.
JasonSep 20, 2010 12:25:25 PM
This guy makes me sick!!! Ask how much firefighters are being paid to hang out at the gym, wash their cars, sleep, etc.
SteveSep 20, 2010 09:38:46 AM
Why don't you take Mr. Beaman up on his offer and spend a day at the fire station?
joeSep 20, 2010 11:01:22 AM
Joe,
That would require Steve to get up off his bu**.
Good suggestion, though.

sandySep 20, 2010 11:21:42 AM
Don't waste your breath on Steve. He obviously has no idea what a fire fighter does and is obviously not willing to try to find out. He just wants to get on here and start a fight. Next comment!
JasonSep 20, 2010 12:27:33 PM
I read that Metro has not received a pay raise in over two years, why should the FD have theirs?
jamesSep 20, 2010 09:37:31 AM
To my knowledge metro has not received a pay raise but has received additions to their benefits such as extra vacation days. Basically the same offer the CCFD made 2 years ago when this whole thing started. Metro's offer was accepted and CCFD was crucified by a certain county commissioner for their offer. The only difference is that metro was in negotiations when their offer was made and accepted. CCFD was not.
JasonSep 20, 2010 12:31:49 PM
Not only here in North Las Vegas do we have Fire Departments right around the corner from one another...(Near Martin Luther King) But has anyone asked who is going to handle pensions after these guys have retired?
Far Sep 20, 2010 09:34:56 AM
PERS is set up so the the employee pays into the retirement system. It is based on a revolving door of employees. As some retire and start to collect , others come on and start to contribute. Nevada PERS is one of, if not the strongest in the nation. Don't believe what the news says that it is in danger. For that to happen, everyone would have to retire at the same time and that will never happen.
JasonSep 20, 2010 12:35:47 PM
Are the concessions you offered on par with what Metro has given up??
willSep 20, 2010 09:34:35 AM
They were almost exactly the same 2 years ago when this whole thing started. As far as I know metro has not given back anything else since then, but they are not in negotiations like CCFD is. I think it would be safe to say that CCFD has offered significantly more then metro or any other department. The only problem is, the county commission, or at least a couple of the commissioners, are not recognizing CCFD's concessions as true concessions since they do not cut from their pay. They did however except these concessions from every other department.
JasonSep 20, 2010 12:43:10 PM
180K to hang out at the gym all day?

Disgusting!

steveSep 20, 2010 09:26:09 AM
I exercise 7 days each week and various levels so I know what it takes to push each day. I have seen our firefighters exercising. Try running on the stair stepper for five minutes. They do it for much, much longer. The condition these people maintain for OUR Benefit is to be admired and praised. How many of us would be willing not only to risk our lives daily for others, but to face FIRE! We are not debating whether someone who sits behind a chair all day is being overpaid. We need to be supportive of these brave individuals. Thanks to them.
CatherineSep 20, 2010 09:42:22 AM
Thanks Catherine but again Steve Is not willing to listen.
JasonSep 20, 2010 12:45:28 PM
Can you please ask how much of the 23.5 million dollars Steve Sisolak gave back to the county after he won a lawsuit against the airport (Clark County)?

If he truly cared for financial concessions then why hasnt that dollar amount ever been brought up???

EricSep 20, 2010 09:22:22 AM
I wholeheartedly agree with Commissioner Sisolek. I have had an opportunity to review proof of at least two particular firefighters who were stationed at the airport facility, never fought a fire in their entire careers, and were paid nearly $280,000 per year in their last two years.

They boasted of their sick-time scheme to their friends and family members. I am sure that Commissioner Sisolek will uncover the information to establish the proof of his claims.

StevenSep 20, 2010 09:12:37 AM
Then tell your good buddy Sisolak to pick up the phone, call the fire chief, and have him take care of the problem children you speak of instead of continually getting in front of the camera and on the radio and grandstanding to feed his own ego. He is not fully informed on any of the issues and speaks in half truths and lies. He is inconsistent as they come every time he speaks.

With every organization there is going to be people who will try to manipulate the system for personal gain. There is no getting around it. So take care of those individuals and DO NOT demonize the entire fire department!

JasonSep 20, 2010 16:51:49 PM
How many hours (contracted and overtime) would an average firefighter have to work to earn 200K?
joeSep 18, 2010 22:52:51 PM
Mr. Beaman states that a fire fighter would have to work 200 shifts to achieve these kind of salaries. This works out to approximately 4800 hours a year. A normal 40 hour a week job works approximately 1920 hours in a years time period.

A firefighters base pay is between 50k and 80k per year. I don't think the majority of the public would have a problem with that pay considering the job they do. The overtime is the reason the salaries are what they are, but those salaries come at a price as you can see by the number of hours worked above.

Hire more firefighters and lower the overtime pay, but the fire fighters more then reasonable base pay should not be in question.

JasonSep 20, 2010 16:42:59 PM
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