HARLINGEN — The City Commission Wednesday moved toward approving a classification plan for the fire department amid assurances from city management that the restructuring is very limited.
The proposal creates a new deputy fire chief post, and segregates the position that Deputy Fire Chief-Fire Marshal Danny Warner holds, eliminating fire marshal duties from the position.
Fire marshal duties would be assigned instead, and would not be part of being a deputy fire chief.
City Manager Carlos Yerena assured the commission that the city was “not getting rid of any position and no one is losing any money.”
The commission approved the first reading of the ordinance. A second vote is required.
“Those are the only two things that this does,” attorney Ric Navarro, who advises the city on collective-bargaining matters, told the commission.
“Once we get into the bargaining process, we’d like to explore possibly having some additional positions, hopefully lieutenants. We are not prepared to do that now because we don’t know what the fiscal picture is going to look like.
“But when we are bargaining with the union we would get a better handle on that. So at some point we may come back to you,” Navarro told the commission.
Navarro said that the existing budget would handle the changes that are presently proposed.
Besides the fire marshal post, other authorized assignments would be for fire prevention, hazardous materials, aircraft rescue and fire, and training.
At this time, a battalion chief is assigned to training and the deputy fire chief is assigned to the fire prevention office as the fire marshal.
According to the proposed ordinance, pay for the assignments would be determined by Yerena and the fire chief, either as part of the budgetary process or collective bargaining process, if applicable.
Assignments and the number of assignment positions would be at the fire chief’s discretion; assignments would be at will, and could be lifted and reassigned at any time.
©2014 Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, Texas)