Holliston Firefighters Request $214,000 Stipend Increase

Last night the Selectmen had a discussion with Fire Chief Michael Cassidy about an increase to firefighter stipends.

Fire Chief Michael Cassidy presented the case for a stipend increase to the Board of Selectmen last night. His point was that for all of the time firefighters spend on call and in training they deserve a higher stipend amount.

"In order to maintain our staffing model, we need a compensation package which reflects the sacrifices these professionals make throughout the year," Cassidy said. "Even with the proposed increase, our personnel costs would still be a fraction of the costs of other nearby departments, while providing many times more coverage and true surge capacity."

The proposed increase he spoke about worked out to roughly $1 per hour each firefighter is on call, calculated out the chief said the total increase would be $214,000 per year.

Cassidy also brought up previous increases in stipends the firefighters had received in 2007 and 2008 saying that the plan was for the increases to continue at least one more year.

Several firefighters were in attendance including Lieutenant Mark Heavner who spoke up in support of the increased stipends.

"The Fire Department is long overdue for this," Heavner said. "This is something we negotiated with a previous board and for whatever reason we did not get."

While the selectmen agreed that the firefighters perform their duty, the form of an increase was called in to question.

One option that the Selectmen presented was a lower increase to the stipends combined with an increase to the hourly rate the firefighters make while responding to calls.

In addition the board discussed putting some of the money toward post-employment benefits such as life insurance and healthcare premiums of retired firefighters.

"The issue is if and when and how we can do this so that it is fair for everyone," Selectman Jay Leary said.

Discussions are continuing between the Selectmen and the Fire Department. The Finance Committee is also involved in the discussion to figure out what they believe is the best way to compensate the firefighters for their work. There is a meeting scheduled at the fire station to discuss the issue further on Oct. 15 at 9 p.m.

What do you think? Should firefighters be given the money based on their general responsibilities such as being on call and attending training, or should the increase be focused more on time spent responding to incidents and looking toward the future. Share your opinion in the comments.

Jim Smith October 04, 2012 at 01:32 PM
I think the Holliston Fire Department needs to move forward and hire full time academy trained firefighters. The town should be staffed 24-7 with firefighters that can immediately respond to a medical or fire call. This is the only town in the area that has a call department only. To get back in topic I believe the firefighters are deserving of the raise
Scott deGanne October 04, 2012 at 07:53 PM
I appreciate the support of the fire department but would like to clarify some things . Most firefighters are academy trained. They took the classes after their regular jobs night's and weekends for most of a year without pay. Plus we maintain a three man crew on twelve hour shifts for the ambulance and may not be at the station but are committed to town during the shift. Plus if you look at the other full time departments they staff 3 or 4 people to a shift if called out they respond with one truck and rely on mutual aid. Holliston responds with four engines a ladder and rescue with a response of twenty plus.
Sean Irr October 04, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Jim, you should get your facts straight before you post. Holliston is NOT the only full call dept in the area. And as for academy trained. Most of the dept is academy trained!!


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