MADERA COUNTY — In a vote of 5-0, the Madera County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a resolution to raise the pay of Paid Call Firefighters (PCFs) to a base of $15/hour, and Paid Call Driver Operators to $18/hour, effective Jan. 1, 2017.
PCFs, or volunteer firefighters, in Madera County are currently paid minimum wage, now set at $10.50/hour in California, and are not compensated for medical calls, which account for about two-thirds of their responses.
As part of the salary adjustment, PCFs can also earn an additional $1/hour for each of several certifications, including Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Hazardous Materials Technician (HAZMAT), and Rescue Systems.
The new resolution sets a maximum of $18/hour for PCFs, and $21/hour for Paid Call Driver Operators.
Funding for the salary restructuring will come out of the County’s Reserve Fund in the current year, as it was not budgeted for 2017. Going forward, the expense will be part of the regular budget and paid for out of the General Fund. The cost to the County for the additional compensation is estimated at $100,000/year, according to Madera County Budget Director Joel Bugay.
The move is part of a focus by the Board of Supervisors to strengthen and build out the Madera County Fire Department, and address the decline in PCF numbers over the past decades.
“Our PCFs are making less than minimum wage,” Madera County Fire Division Chief Dave Allen told the Board. “Minimum wage will continue to go up over the coming years, and we need to stay ahead of the game and get more recruitment.”
According to Chief Administrative Officer Eric Fleming, the Board will take up the issue of paying PCFs for 100 percent of the calls to which they respond — including medical aids — at a future meeting, likely in early February.