Firefighters ratify contract with retirement benefits Day workers will get premium pay

February 04, 1997|By Jill Hudson | Jill Hudson,SUN STAFF

Howard County firefighters have ratified a three-year union contract that gives fire and rescue personnel full retirement benefits in 20 years and premium pay for paramedics, truck drivers and employees who work day schedules.

The contract's retirement provisions are similar to a contract recently approved by the police union.

The department's director, James E. Heller, said Howard County officials have agreed to pay an estimated $500,000 to $800,000 to cover the added cost of the improved retirement package and extra leave and day-work provisions. These extra costs include savings from a new training program.

The contract was ratified by the firefighters' union Friday.

Heller said there will be no change in the firefighters' work schedules, though a limited num- ber of fire and rescue employees will be allowed to work a day shift as long as there is a strong volunteer organization available to work evenings and weekends.

The day-work schedule also will reduce the need to hire full-time employees and provides more efficient use of both career and volunteer resources, he said.

A new provision for training programs requires fire and rescue employees to receive training on their own time, instead of being paid time and half -- saving about $300,000 this year, Heller said.

Union representatives did not ask for a reduction in their 52-hour work week, which Heller said is the longest in the Baltimore-Washington region; 45 hours a week is the average.

The contract is expected to go before the Howard County Council after a retirement oversight committee produces a report in 30 to 60 days.

Pub Date: 2/04/97

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