Liberty firefighters, trustees reach deal on pact

LIBERTY — Township trustees and the fire department have agreed to increase new starting wages in hopes of attracting more firefighters to the district.

The Liberty Professional Firefighters Association Local 2075 union announced via social media Tuesday that cooperation with Liberty trustees has led to the agreement on a new firefighter contract to raise manpower.

Union President Ronnie Simone said Tuesday, “I think this is a great start, and once we get the staff in there and we start getting a few more employees, that’s going to ease everything up.”

Simone continued about the workload: “Running two to three squads per day is going to make this place the perfect place to work, and you’re making a good wage. We need to look to the future and the future is that our call volume is going up every year, significantly.”

Wages have been raised by the township to better withstand other locally “competitive” wage rates, as described by both parties.

The union president added he planned to sign the related documentation Tuesday.

“It will be bringing the wages up, specifically for new hires,” Simone said. “This is so that we can begin competing more with the outside areas.”

Resident and employee complaints earlier this year led township officials to consider adjusting its fire department staffing. Individuals voiced their concerns about the state of the department at a March 15 trustees meeting after the Liberty Professional Firefighters Association Local 2075 posted to its social media page that Belmont Avenue Station 34 would be closed throughout the day March 7 because of understaffing.

Members of the Liberty community again returned to a meeting on April 8 with more comments and inquiries made about the state of the fire department’s staffing.

“We need to be thinking about staffing,” Simone said Tuesday. “Three ambulances a day, every day. We’d love to have five people come in and get hired. We run seven shifts, and two shifts run a day, so every day there would be at least four to five people a day. Right now, we’re spotty with between three to four a day.”

A document from the township that includes wage information suggests the township is seeking to hire five full-time firefighters / EMTs / paramedics. Paramedic / firefighters can expect to start at $21 per hour ($52,416 annually), while EMT / firefighters will start at $20 per hour ($49,920 annually).

Lateral transfers with experience may have a higher rate based on experience, the document states. The current contract, which would have extended through the end of this year, listed the annual salary for the firefighter / paramedic positions at $44,928, or $18 per hour.

The work hours applied to the new salaries include 24-hour shifts, with overtime after 48 hours worked per week. Fringe benefits, including health, dental, and vision insurance; sick leave, paid holiday time, and vacation, also will be available after one year of service.

All emergency protective gear will be provided, along with a uniform allowance for dress uniforms and daily uniforms. Firefighters also can receive membership in the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund.

Minimum qualifications include: paramedic or EMT certificate and firefighter II certificate, a valid driver’s license and insurability, background check and drug screening, and a passing firefighter agility test score taken within the prior 12 months.

Applications can be found on the Liberty Township website.


Simone said the fire department told trustees that Liberty is not competitive with others in pay scale.

“Through some back-and-forth, and labor management meetings, we were able to come to an agreement,” Simone said. “There’s been one full labor management meeting, and then several phone calls. We are so short staffed right now, but the union made an agreement that it would be illogical to grieve that we are short-staffed, because we’re just not getting the applications.”

The union also agreed to not lay off part-time employees, if the township happened to not meet the 60-day deadline to hire someone following an employee departure.

“It would just be downright mean to grieve those things because we don’t have the applicants,” Simone said.

Trustees met in executive session at the March 15 meeting regarding concerns about stations being closed. Simone explained that during that session, trustees decided to no longer staff a fifth firefighter on overtime.

Trustee Devon Stanley proposed that contractually, the minimum staffing is three firefighters and with only three, only one station can be open.

“We strive to have at least five firefighters on. If someone calls off and we can’t find anyone else to fill in, we are short staffed and we will rotate someone from the Belmont station to the Logan station. This has only been done a few times,” Stanley said previously.

Have an interesting story? Contact Daniel Newman by email at dnewman@tribtoday.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @TribDNewman.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today