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October 24, 2014

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NLV firefighters say no to further concessions, risking major layoffs

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Leila Navidi

Firefighters with the North Las Vegas Fire Department on the scene of a fire Friday, March 2, 2012. After refusing to accept concessions and facing layoffs, firefighters want the city to consolidate the department with another valley fire department.

Firefighters' jobs on the line

KSNV coverage of the North Las Vegas Fire Department union asking the city to consolidate the department into any of the other valley fire departments, May 7, 2012.

The North Las Vegas firefighters union refused to accept concessions sought by the city Monday and asked city leaders to consider consolidating the department into any of the valley’s other fire departments.

Because the union won't accept furloughs and a continued salary freeze, the city intends to lay off 57 firefighters — about a third of the department, said Jeff Hurley, a fire department captain and president of the local union.

“Those are astronomical cuts,” Hurley said. “You don’t have a fire department anymore.”

A morning bargaining session between the North Las Vegas Firefighters Local 1607 and Timothy Hacker, North Las Vegas city manager, ended in a stalemate.

The negotiations comes on the heels of meetings earlier this year between the city and the North Las Vegas Police Officers Association, the North Las Vegas Police Supervisors Association and the International Association of Firefighters Local 1607 to inform the groups of the $33 million budget gap the city was facing in its upcoming budget.

“There are severe budget issues in North Las Vegas,” Hurley said. “We’re at a point where we can no longer provide adequate service to our citizens.”

According to Hurley, the North Las Vegas Fire Department responded to more than 25,000 medical and fire emergencies in 2011.

The adopted total budget for the current fiscal year ending June 30 is about $504.9 million, with a general fund budget of about $125 million.

As recently as 2008 -- before the recession -- the city's annual budget stood at $747.8 million. The general-fund budget for that year was about $210 million.

Hacker has until June 1 to present a budget plan to city leaders. He said firefighters shouldn't be surprised by discussion of deep layoffs in light of their refusal to accept the city's offers.

“We’re not bullying anyone,” Hacker said. “We’ve been talking about the budget deficit since January.”

An International Association of Firefighters Local 1607 member's average salary and benefits total $139,000, according to city officials.

The city's proposal called for prolonging the concessions already in place that would keep salaries frozen for another two years and do away with a program that allows union members to sell back to the city their unused days off. The city also called for furloughs.

“We can’t pledge no layoffs,” Hacker said.

The fire department has accepted concessions over the past four years and have made more than $20 million in cuts over that period, Hurley said. Firefighters have not received cost-of-living increases, holiday pay or raises based on merit.

The cuts have driven nearly 30 firefighters to find jobs in other municipalities, Hurley said.

“Since 2008 firefighters have received pink slips every year,” Hurley said. “There was this constant pressure on the families.”

Consolidation would be a seamless move, said Hurley, adding that city leaders are already considering sharing services with the North Las Vegas Police and the Las Vegas Metro Police.

Consolidation is not off the table completely, but Hacker said North Las Vegas aims to provide a quality service to its residents.

Hacker plans to continue meeting with the unions to find a way to close the budget gap.

“The budget will be balanced,” Hacker said. “We don’t have a choice.”

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  1. A lot of talk. NLV doesn't have the guts to layoff that many firefighters, or officers; and with a friend in Buck they have nothing to worry about.

  2. Why are we not having the firefighters run short staffed? 3 people on a Engine can get the job done, it works! Trust me I use to be a firefighter back east where we did it all the time (We also went into burning buildings to save the structure. But we will handle that at another time, since the "so called" firefighters out here get all sore about that...)

  3. To: "SpicyLife":

    I do know for a fact how much these "so called" firefighters work, I use to be a medic out here as well after I got hurt on the job in NY. I have ran calls with these "so called" firefighters, these guys could not handle the huge fire loads that happen back east, they can't even save a garage fire from getting to the whole house.

    As to your points on volunteer firefighters, you sir or lady are dead wrong. I have know many many countless volunteers who not only are better trained then these clowns out in Vegas in general but have made the ultimate sacrifice. I would in a heartbeat have any volunteer fire dept from back east out here! Not only do they do a much better job fighting fires, but there execration skills by far would put any Vegas dept to shame. So go do your research before you balk out more nonsense!

    Just because the way you are defending these clowns tends to make it sound as if you are 1, if so then I feel sorry for you... but hey there is always time to stop for more doughnuts on the way to the next call!

  4. I am also a former Nevada Peace Officer and believe the firefighters are overpaid. I appreciate that they have a job to do, do it well, and are in a hazardous occupation. Where are the negative COLA's? Cost of living is down, way down. There is a new normal, a new paradigm and ALL government employees need to get it that we just cannot more of the same. Part of our economic insecurity is that the cost of our "government" is not sustainable at these levels.

  5. It's a harder case to make for the firefighters. Their workload and work pace doesn't correlate to their pay. When you look at what firefighters elsewhere in the U.S. are paid our valley firefighters are way above the average.

    You can have a better argument for NLVPD not getting cut than you could for the firefighters. NLVPD does the best job in the valley. They respond quicker, officers are more competent, and they have a tough area of town.

  6. It should be time for the state to allow the municipalities to declare Bankruptcy, dissolve the city and let other municipalities absorb NLV. Hire NEW Employees with Industry Competitive Wages. These are only a couple of buildings in NLV over eight Stories and in a Fire emergency additional Equipment can be contracted for with Las Vegas.

    By Eliminating the City we Save ALL Elected Official Salaries - ALL "Chief Salaries and then only hire additional staff as needed by the absorbing Municipality. With never ending Property Value Declines, leading to Lower Services, Leading to Lower Property Values - This City is in a Death Spiral and Dramatic action needs to be taken now. Ironically, the decision is by the same people whose very livelihood depends on NLV'S survival of the city as it is. Does Everyone See the Problem.