Contract gives firefighters raise

Tight Titusville budget affects amount

By Corey Schubert
FLORIDA TODAY

TITUSVILLE -- After one year of intense negotiations, Titusville firefighters and the city have agreed upon a contract.

The City Council recently approved a three-year contract that's been accepted by Titusville Fire Fighters Local 2445. The local International Association of Fire Fighters union and the city were in formal contract negotiations since June of last year.

The contract, affecting each of the department's 48 firefighters is retroactive from Oct. 1 of last year and will extend through Sept. 30, 2005. The council unanimously approved the document Tuesday.

"We're all pleased to get this behind us," Fire Chief Rick Talbert said. "The fact that we were able to do this without going to an impasse is a significant event."

The contract includes a 3 percent retroactive pay raise throughout the department for the first year, followed by a 4 percent increase in each of the following two years.

The union had opposed this wage package but came to accept that the city's limited budget could not allow further increases, said union president Don Pierce.

"We understand the city's in a financial struggle right now," Pierce said. "We're hoping the pay increases will be higher the next contract."

The department's average pay scale varies for each rank and classification, which includes lieutenants, driver operators, paramedics and emergency medical technicians.

Frank Ross, Titusville's human resources director, said examining pay scales throughout the city and working to maintain salaries that are competitive with other Brevard County municipalities is a priority.

The contract eliminated a grueling physical endurance test that each firefighter previously had been required to perform individually each year, Pierce said. A variation of the test now will allow firefighters to work in teams of two to complete agility tests on an annual basis.

City officials and firefighters said a main factor in reaching an agreement was the fresh perspective Ross brought to the negotiations when he recently became involved.