Firefighters, North Las Vegas reach agreement


North Las Vegas has come to a tentative agreement on contract concessions with the firefighters union that will save the city a projected $500,000 through the end of fiscal year 2012.

The agreement, which still must be approved by the City Council, in part gives the fire chief greater flexibility in staffing and restricts the number of battalion chiefs who can take leave at one time, which is expected to reduce overtime costs. The agreement runs through June 30.

Members of the International Association of Firefighters Local 1607 ratified the agreement Thursday. The City Council will consider it Wednesday.

The agreement gives the fire chief discretion in using "brownouts," or periodically keeping some department vehicles out of service to save money. The city's fire department began implementing brownouts about six months ago.

As part of the agreement, the union will dismiss a pending arbitration case concerning costs for firefighters' health insurance coverage.

A previous agreement between the city and the union, adopted in July, included a 5 percent base salary reduction for union members.

North Las Vegas employs about 100 firefighters and firefighter paramedics and 34 fire engineers. Firefighters in the city average about $162,000 a year in salaries and benefits.

The Fire Department has exceeded its overtime budget in recent years. In fiscal year 2011, the department spent more than double its budgeted overtime of about $1.5 million. It spent nearly 80 percent of its 2012 overtime budget of $933,360 in the first three months of this fiscal year.

A city audit completed in April found that firefighters don't abuse overtime or sick leave but that tight staffing levels led to hefty overtime costs.

The department saved the city money elsewhere by not filling positions and by implementing brownouts and is on track to stay within its overall budget for 2012.

Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at lcurtis@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0285.

 

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