Letter writer’s defense of firefighter pay, benefits was unconvincing

I fail to see the logic in the letter from Ray Fox in defense of the Clark County Fire Department (Sunday Review-Journal). He claims that fire prevention is the primary mission of the department, but fails to show any connection between fire prevention and the lavish salaries and benefits the firefighter union demands.

Mr. Fox also claims that overtime is responsible for the six-figure incomes. But that is not the entire story. Overtime usage is partly due to the 24-hour shift and partly due to the fact that the union is not in favor of additional staffing. Those firefighters love their overtime.

If the department were run like an efficient private-sector company, the work shifts would be 12 hours or less and the staff levels adjusted to meet the expected peak demand hours during a 24-hour day. The private-sector ambulance companies use this practice and operate at a fraction of the cost of the public-sector fire department paramedics.

If the fire department didn’t have the lavish salaries and benefits demanded by the union to deal with, they could hire a lot more firefighters for the same amount of money. The union members would like you to believe that it is cheaper to pay overtime rather than hire a new worker. If that is really true, then the fringe benefits must be outrageous and should be eliminated immediately.

No private company could operate like the Las Vegas and Clark County fire departments. But the local officials will not consider any money saving ideas because they are afraid of the union.

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