Deal impacts firefighter pay, residency

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — After 11 years without a contract, a tentative deal has been reached between the Buffalo Professional Firefighters Union and the city.

Over the next several days, Buffalo firefighters will hear the details and decide for themselves whether to accept a tentative agreement that comes with a 13.5 percent raise, retroactive to last summer, and then two percent raises for every year after that for a total of a 21.5 percent for the life of this 15-year contract.

The step increases have been lowered, so firefighters of the future would start at $35,000, and it would now take them longer - 11 years - to top out at $68,000 base pay.

By July, the base pay of Lieutenants would jump to almost $74,000, Division Chiefs would receive a base pay of almost $92,000.

Just over one month ago, members of the Buffalo Firefighters Local 282 picketed a cocktail party fundraiser for Mayor Byron Brown.

Division Chief Don McFeely said then, "I've been on the job for over 40 years, I've been through three mayors and 10 commissioners and, by far, this is the worst administration. The treatment they give us...it's unbelievable."

It's an election year, which may have helped both sides reach an agreement at least worthy of bringing to the membership. Sometime in the next week or so, the more than 700 Buffalo firefighters will be asked to vote this up or down.

One of the bigger components of the deal is a provision that any firefighter hired since January 2012 would have to live in the City of Buffalo throughout their entire employment.

The tentative agreement includes some give backs on sick time and healthcare. The cosmetic surgery rider would end immediately.

It also includes a provision that on any given day, a fire company can be pulled out of service if at least five firefighters call in sick from one company on the same shift.

Both the union leadership and the mayor's office have agreed to a gag order so they have no public comment on this yet.

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