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Coeur d'Alene City Council to vote on firefighters' contract during Tuesday's meeting

The current entry-level compensation package for a firefighter paramedic is $116,025. Under the lateral hiring proposal, it would go to $142,955.
Credit: Coeur d'Alene Fire Department

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — The City Council is expected to approve a two-year contract with Coeur d’Alene firefighters when it meets tonight, as reported by our news partners, the Coeur d'Alene Press.

It is also expected to approve a lateral hiring process to attract experienced paramedic level candidates within the fire department.

The negotiated agreement with Local No. 710, International Association of Firefighters, would be in effect from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, 2024.

Highlights of the contract covering compensation and benefits include:

• 6% market adjustment increase in year one, and 3% market adjustment increase in year two.

• A one-time $5,000 payment to each person represented by the union, payable in January.

• Provide for sick leave use for new employees in advance of accrual.

• Include union representation in the hiring process for the fire chief.

"The proposed contract with the Fire Union was negotiated in good faith with the City, and the compensation and benefits included will provide a competitive package for those represented by the Association as well as for the City," according to a city report.

The lateral hiring process proposal was unanimously approved by the General Services/Public Works Committee on Aug. 22. It is similar to one already employed by the police department.

"What we're trying to do is attract some experienced, already licensed and certified paramedics," Fire Chief Thomas Greif said.

Currently, to fill vacancies, the fire department uses a civil service eligibility list that is renewed every two years. When the department sends personnel through a paramedic program, the turnaround time is about two years before it can use them in that capacity.

With the addition of a third ambulance in January "there becomes an immediate need to hire licensed/certified and experienced paramedics," a city report said.

The financial impact would be starting these new personnel at a level equivalent to a four-year firefighter/paramedic.

The current entry-level compensation package for a firefighter paramedic is $116,025. Under the lateral hiring proposal, it would go to $142,955.

It would also reduce the training time for new hires to about two to four months.

Greif said that last fall the fire department had an opportunity to hire two paramedics, one from Houston, one from Colorado Springs. Both looked at the starting wages and the real estate market, and declined.

That precipitated the need for the lateral hiring process, which Greif said would only be utilized when there is an immediate need and end in October 2024.

"This would not be a hiring practice we would do for all vacancies," he said.

The City Council meets at 6 p.m. in the Library Community Room.

The Coeur d'Alene Press is a KREM 2 news partner. For more from our partners, click here.

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