The Sierra Madre City Council approved a resolution adopting new Terms and Conditions of Employment (TCE) for employees at Tuesday night's meeting.
Due to the difference in working conditions and hours between Sierra Madre Fire Department employees and other City workers, including the , the City felt it was necessary for the adoption of a separate TCE.
The TCE outlines the conditions of employment for new full-time fire captains and discusses issues concerning retirement, insurance, seniority, shifts, overtime and disciplinary actions, among others.
In addition, a second resolution was adopted for an updated Classification Plan and Salary Matrix for fire captains. One change that was made reduces the captains’ work week from 56 to 53 hours with no change made to the hourly rate. The proposed schedule also calls for four hours of regularly scheduled overtime for each 28-day work period; a proposal brought into question.
“Is this necessary?” Harabedian asked Tuesday.
Sierra Madre Director of Human Resources Elisa Weaver explained that it has been the goal of the City to be part of the 12-city Unified Response automatic aid agreement. Fire departments within the 12 cities in the agreement work in platoon shifts that allow them to interact with personnel whom they would not ordinarily work with and allow them to be trained more thoroughly in all areas of the job. The added overtime would be allotted to allow for this interaction and training, according to the City.
The automatic aid agreement would allow for automatic dispatch to units in surrounding cities during a structure fire in Sierra Madre. Because Sierra Madre has had a high volunteer staff, first responders weren’t allowed to leave the station until the captain arrived. This is said to be one of the major sticking points in having the City be part of the automatic response agreement.
Back in , and are currently looking to add one more part-time captain to reduce overtime, Aguilar noted Tuesday. This is to help ensure that the station is manned with a captain on duty at all times.
questioned the guarantee of automatic aid.
“When we go on with this, do we automatically qualify automatic aid or are there more hurdles to jump through?”
Weaver noted that these changes do not automatically qualify Sierra Madre for automatic aid and that “the hurdles that we have to jump over are about as clear as mud.” Weaver also said there was “no science or checklist” that they know of to guarantee automatic aid.