Firefighters are the most expensive service in the city and account for more than a quarter of the city`s tax assistance expenditures, although firefighters make up about 19% of all municipal employees. It has an annual operating budget of $US 34.2 million, most of which is devoted to firefighting. The department has 230 employees, including 183 firefighters at seven stations in the city. The agreement provides for a new recruit to work an additional year for a total of four years before reaching the rank and salary of a top-notch firefighter by creating a new classification of fifth-year firefighters for the latest recruits. The agreement also increases mental health benefits by recognizing the burdens of employment. As part of the agreement, the 224 unionized members of the firefighters will receive a 1.25 per cent increase retroactive to January; they will also receive increases of 0.9 per cent in January 2019 and one per cent in July 2019, January 2020 and July 2020. That`s an average of 1.79 percent per year, the city said. In comparison, other unionized municipal employees will receive increases of about 1.75 per cent in 2018 and 2019. KITCHENER – Kitchener has reached a new agreement with its firefighters, where most firefighters will earn more than six figures next year. The contact also establishes new training and experience requirements that new recruits must meet before they can reach the rank and salary of a first-rate firefighter. “There is a broad awareness that the psychological effects of the dangerous and stressful situations our firefighters face can be significant,” Michael May, Deputy CAO for the City of Kitchener, said in the press release. This is the second agreement in a row that the City and the firefighters have concluded without going to arbitration.
In a press release, Mayor Berry Vrbanovic called the deal fair. “I am satisfied with the agreement that has been reached. I want to commend the leadership and commitment of both the fire management team and the association for coming to the table with a commitment to reach an agreement that is fair and that benefits us all,” Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic said in a statement. The deal, which will last three years until the end of 2020, gives firefighters a cumulative increase of just over 5.25 percent over that period. The agreement provides that wages will increase by an average of 1.79% per year over the course of the agreement. There are seven fire stations in Kitchener that provide the citizens of the City of Kitchener with fire monitoring, prevention, public information, rescue, oppression, emergency medical services and community management. Before the increases, a top-notch firefighter earned 97,901 $US. The first-class salary will exceed $100,000 when the second increase begins next January and will reach $103,047 on July 1, 2020. The majority of Kitchener firefighters receive this bonus which adds to the base salary about $3,000 to $8,500.