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Posted on Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

Ann Arbor firefighters OK 'significant' contract that avoids further cuts to department

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor officials announced a breakthrough labor agreement with the city's firefighters union on Wednesday and they now say further cuts to the department can be avoided.

After two years of negotiations with the International Association of Firefighters Local 693, city officials are reporting that a new contract for firefighters through June 2014 has been successfully negotiated and ratified by the union's membership.

A resolution to accept the terms of the contract, which includes benefit concessions but increases in wages, will be considered by the Ann Arbor City Council on March 19.


The Ann Arbor firefighters union has a new contract with the city after two years of tense negotiations.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Mayor John Hieftje called the news of the agreement "significant" and said it means all of the city's labor contracts are settled now.

"This was a breakthrough in the relationship," he said, recalling the city had been in arbitration with the union. "Both sides agreed to step out of the arbitration, which is bound by a pretty strict set of a rules, and talk and that turned out well."

Hieftje said he's going to work to avoid planned cuts to the fire department that were included in the projected budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, including five position eliminations.

He said he hopes the labor agreement "heralds a fresh start" for relations between the city and firefighters, relations that have been contentious the last several years as the city has cut deep into the fire budget and eliminated a number of positions.

"The terms of the new contract provide flexibility, enhance operational efficiencies and improve fire protection services," Hieftje said in a written statement. "My thanks go to the members of Local 693 for sticking with the negotiation process and seeing it through.”

Fire Chief Chuck Hubbard also released a statement saying there was tremendous tension between the city and firefighters when he came on as chief.

"One of my main goals was to bridge that gap," he said. "This settlement definitely moves us in that direction and I commend everyone on the negotiating team who worked toward this goal."

Union President Matt Schroeder said citizen and firefighter safety is the union's No. 1 concern and the new contract affords the city the ability to meet those expectations.

"We are pleased to have the opportunity to work collectively with city leadership and to continue to forge a stronger working relationship in the future," he said in a statement.

Robyn Wilkerson, the city's labor relations director, and Nancy Niemela, senior assistant city attorney, head up the negotiations team for the city of Ann Arbor.

The contract includes benefit concessions that are similar to the contract terms ratified by seven other union groups in city, including adoption of the city's new health care plan, elimination of a deferred compensation match, new hire pension changes including 10 year vesting, and adoption of a defined contribution retirement health care program.

Other highlights of the contract include:

  • 24-hour employee food allowances will be reduced by 40 percent
  • The fire department will move to a standardized 54-hour work schedule and reduce the number of employees allowed on vacation or comp time each day, which will increase staffing per shift
  • Employees will receive a 1.5 percent wage increase in fiscal year 2012-13 and a 1.5 percent wage increase in 2013-14, which will return compensation to July 1, 2008 rates
  • Increased authority provided to the fire chief in the promotional process, which had previously been based on seniority only for many positions
  • Reduce paper costs and implementation of green procedures via mandatory direct deposit of paychecks and electronic distribution of union contract and departmental rules
  • New hire compensation plan for all positions

Hieftje said he's expecting fire department budget talks to pick up Monday night and he'll be pushing for the replacement of the department's out-of-service tower truck.

"I would like a new one as soon as possible," he said, adding it could cost close to $1 million. "And I think the chief would like to get some smaller pumpers as well."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 7:44 a.m.

These union people don't have a clue as to the concessions ordinary workers have made. Unions are a protected class shielded by the politicians they are allowed to buy. It is sanctioned bullying.


Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 4:27 a.m.

Yep, we're here just to hurt you. Good point. That's our main objective. Not saving lives, not helping the elderly, not educating people on fire safety. We're here just the hurt you. Good point I suppose. BTW, none of us are relatives of each other. Good conspiracy theory though. Keep trying. We love your attempts.


Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 4 a.m.

Born, I think you should realize that "folks like yourself" are in fact applicable to "folks such as yourself", as well. You see things from a different perspective, that does not mean those that see those same things differently are wrong, stupid, unintelligent, ignorant, uninformed or any of the other accusations you have made of those who disagree with "you". Here's a question for you regarding "choice" how many firefighters are related to each other and how many applicants were denied positions who were related to existing or former fire fighters? Not everyone gets to work in their "chosen" profession, some are forced to make a living. That you, and many union folks don't understand that, consider that, or even recognize that those people still pay your salary through taxes and to hear you complain about basically nothing even remotely resembling the hardships they face, is disturbing. Unions don't care about the people they hurt with their demands. That's my perspective.


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 10 p.m.

@BnR...nice to hear you say that and hope it is true. Some of your posts suggest otherwise. Believe me, I do not have any grudge toward you. As a homeowner and taxpayer I expect my hard earned tax dollars to be wisely used. I expect the best for my money. Unfortunately this is not always the case in Ann Arbor or most cities.


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 9:28 p.m.

Never said I was entitled to anything. Comments like that always are generated from folks such as yourself. I love what I do. The only thing I'm entitled to is reading all the loving, well written, and expert commentary from folks like yourself. And by the way, you choose your job just as I did mine. I'm not bitter towards the career path of anyone else. I don't have an issue with what you do, nor with what you make.


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 9:08 p.m.

@BnR..I knew you were not done. As yet, I am not sure the totality of the concessions but for myself a former non-union, non-retiree city employee it is about time. The city unions have always had their way with the city. It surely is time that they get a dose of reality. And by the way, you chose the job and it involves many hazards but should not come with any entitlement.


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 6:58 p.m.

Yep! You caught on to the master plan of all firefighters Snapshot. Don't know how you figured it all out. We decide to become firefighters only to be bullies and "hold citizens hostage" as you like to put it. Don't forget about the fear mongering! We learn that in the academy. And all this time you probably thought we learned how to save lives and stuff. Silly! Shhh... don't tell others about what you uncovered. LOL! I can't tell you how much we enjoy reading your comments!


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

You are correct snapshot. Actually surprised BnR did not blast you for telling it like it is. He is just sending you love.


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 6:38 a.m.

If you're going to cut anything Mr. Mayor and City Council make it Art NOT Public Safety.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 12:59 p.m.

This is good news for us all. Looks like a very favorable contrat for the Firefighters. Much better than hits other City Unions took. 1.5% increase for the next two years, that's 1.5% better than any other union(or salary) employees. And Yes, my Union has taken massive staffing and compensation cuts.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

Haha. Not favorable for the firefighters. They didn't even list half of the concessions the firefighters took. And remember the firefighters were the only ones that took the 3% paycut. So it's not a raise. It's a return to what everyone else didn't give but just really slowly.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 3:22 a.m.

"The fire department will move to a standardized 54-hour work schedule and reduce the number of employees allowed on vacation or comp time each day, which will increase staffing per shift." I was thinking and did some online research on firefighter work schedules after I posted earlier. Something didn't add up after I got my answer, what do you think? A typical fireman works a schedule that has them at the firehouse for 24 hrs. per shift with 48 hrs. off, Ann Arbor uses this schedule as described on the fire department website. I counted these days on a calendar and came up with 10 days being worked in a month. With that in mind I come up with 240 hrs. in a month not 216 as I earlier stated. The 216 hrs. was based on the information Mr. Stanton wrote up as a 54 hour standard work schedule times 4 weeks equaling 216 hrs. As I stated earlier we have a sleight of hand and creative math here in my opinion. So the bad thing is the firemen are going to be really tired being told to work more with a lot less. It seems the City of Ann Arbor and Fire Chief Chuck Hubbard are willing to have these guys make mistakes to benefit their pet projects. The city must have deep pockets gambling this way because one of these big mistakes could literally kill you, then the law suits will shortly follow. Are the interests of the citizens really being kept in mind? So, where did the firemen benefit with this settlement? I get the feeling these poor guys are being laughed at behind closed doors. Just food for thought.

Chase Ingersoll

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 3:13 a.m.

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Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 2:16 a.m.

&quot;Fire Chief Chuck Hubbard also released a statement saying there was tremendous tension between the city and firefighters when he came on as chief.&quot; Fire Chief Hubbard also said months ago the two new fire engines (that I have never seen on the road) clean the air when they drive. I guess they are cleaning the air real nice, where ever they are. My take on Chief Hubbard, after chatting with some firemen, is that he is part of the tension. A kind of person that would tell you to do as I say not as I did type. A typical hipocrit. I'm not sure any bridges were erected over any gaps. I predict that when all eyes are open and the firemen start to wake up as things are put in place, there will be more tension and resentment. Anyway, by reading the above article if there is a 1.5% pay increase for the next two years how is it an increase? Take a look and think again. Back to 2008 pay rates, food allowance reduced, elimination of deferred compensation match, the city's new health care program (my guess is that a total out of pocket will be 20-30% just to see a doctor), a retirement health care program (more out of pocket expenses), gas (which is expected to hit $6.00 a gallon very soon), cost of living; food for home &amp; work (which has gone up 35% since 3 years ago), and the numerous things just to live in general. So that pay increase just went out the window. Not to mention those guys increased their weekly work schedule to 54 hours a week, which leads me to believe there is a slight of hand happening here to possibly get around the reality of hiring any new firemen. So now we are going to have tired firemen trying to save our lives or their co-workers life because they are being set up to work 216 hours a month where the office worker @ 40 hrs. a week works 160 hrs. a month. We have heard of the tired doctors making mistakes, now the firemen. Way to go City of Ann Arbor, way to go firemans union. You poor firemen got suckered, you didn't benefit one bi


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 1:06 p.m.

Wow, the above comment is pretty shocking. All other City employees(and most working people) took the above cuts(or worse) years ago AND we have NOT gotten a 1.5% pay increase. My take is that you should be VERY happy to have been granted ANY kind of pay increase which is more than the rest of us can say.

Kai Petainen

Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 11:19 p.m.

yay! good stuff.


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 9:40 p.m.

Wow, now all we need is some fire trucks!

Linda Peck

Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 8:46 p.m.

This is good news.


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 8:27 p.m.

The city can buy a new ladder truck, paint it nice colors, and call it &quot;The Tower of Fire-Fighting Art&quot;, by Artiste' FireFyter. Done.


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 8:27 p.m.

I'm all for public safety employees being farely compensated and I'm glad that the city is living with-in its means and both sides are happy with the contract. But can someone who is a firefighter please explain to me why are people (firefighter) who are paid a good living wage with good benefits given a food allowance. I know once its in a contract its hard to get it out and I don't expect the union to give up their food allowance, but really a food allowance, cmon thats just plain silly. Buy your own food like the rest of the world.


Sun, Aug 26, 2012 : 11:19 p.m.

Hey SW40, Now you can look at the contract on the city website and view for yourself the &quot;Good living wage and good benefits&quot; the AA Firefighters enjoy. $14 an hour, huge medical premiums and copays, no retirement medical coverage, 54 hour workweek with no OT, no promotions for first 5 years. How does that $400 annual food allowance sound now? Can you raise a family on $38,000 a year minus increasing medical premiums for your wife and for every kid you have taken out of your checks? AA is hiring 6 FFs right now. Who can live on this pay? 22 year olds who live with mom and dad, who are either not smart enough to become Paramedics, or who are desperately trying to get into a department that pays a living wage. A revolving door of the working poor. I'm with you though...why should these $14 an hour losers get $33 a month to feed themselves? All they do is sleep, watch TV, and occassionally SAVE HUMAN LIVES! Another thing Mr. Lawman, these welfare eligible FFs actually get an additional $33 a month if they earn a Bachelor's Degree! Are you as outraged as I am? To think, a city is actually padding the luxurious $38,000 annual salary of the overpaid , spoiled, lazy new Ann Arbor FFs with an extra $8 a week just for becoming a better educated Professional Life Saver! In 20 years, they can earn up to $25.00 an hour! That is $56,000 a year for a measly 20 years. I'm with you SW40, fire em all and hire private EMS. At least they only get paid $11 an hour to save lives. As for fires, they hardly ever happen, so a bucket brigade of U of M professors can handle it. You cops carry extinguishers, right?

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 7:32 p.m.

&quot;Craig, I've asked you time and time again for a better solution.&quot; and I've given it to you every time. I'll do it again. Buy your groceries on your own time like very other working stiff does. or I'll buy your groceries on days you work and you buy my groceries on days you don't work (hyperbole not to be taken seriously) . There are trade offs in many jobs. And I ONLY SAY THAT because response time is important, right? That's what you guys say and I believe you. Seconds count, its life and death you say, I believe you. There is no way your response time isn't statistically compromised in the supermarket. By grocery shopping on company time you potentially endanger lives. If you did the shopping before your shift that risk is greatly mitigated. &quot;We also go to trainings, go downtown for meetings, etc. &quot; training I fully accept as part of the job description. To the extent it could compromise response time its a &quot;risk&quot; we all need to accept. You need training, end of that story. I will assume the meetings are extremely important otherwise public safety shouldn't be compromise for them. Thats pretty much the same answer I give you every time you ask. Its an answer that includes an explanation that I'm not just &quot;busting your chops&quot;


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 3:22 p.m.

I already told you. That was something the city put in. If your employer said, &quot;Hey, I'm going to give you $x.xx.&quot; I'm sure you'd say, &quot;Nah, it's all good, you keep it. Just keep sending me those nifty layoff notices and we'll call it good.&quot;


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 3:12 p.m.

Homegrown, First and foremost I never said where I worked so don't assume. Second, this a forum on an internet news website, if you don't want to read the comments then feel free to not do so. An open and honest debate about where public funds are spent and how they are spent is allowable. Myself and BornNraised engaging in some good old fashioned banter is ok as well. You see at the end of the day this is just nonsense on a news forum, for you or anyone else to take it more serious then that, you truly are the middle school girl. And finally to BornNraised, no I wouldn't know anything about taking pictures at station 1, your conspiracy theories are nonsense, not everyone is against the fire department. This thread was created to find out why you can't buy your own lunch, 33 comments later and you still won't answer that question, in the end I didn't win you just proved that your ashamed to acknowledge that your union is wasting tax payer dollars.


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

SW40 &amp; BornNRaised: It's obvious to me by your diatribe that you don't respect each other's career choice. I personally don't know what your problem is with each other, nor do I care, but displaying your contempt for each other in a public forum is not helping the public perception of either of the A2 police or fire departments. I do not support the city's choices in their constant cuts in both the A2PD and A2FD. Even buried in this &quot;almost dead&quot; article, many people are still reading your comments; I just did. I think you sound like a couple of middle school girls, and I'm not trying to be snarky. Best of luck to you both.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 11:48 p.m.

I'm done with this. You guys have it your way. If it makes you feel better, you win. Craig, see you at the store!


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 11:46 p.m.

Craig, I've asked you time and time again for a better solution. We're in the station for 24 hours. Instead of taking 3 individual 1 hour food breaks, we go to the store for 20 minutes at the lowest peak time. Would you volunteer to shop for all the stations? You call me childish but never answer the direct questions. And yes, we go to the store to shop for food. Deal with it. We also go to trainings, go downtown for meetings, etc. SW40. Reminds me of the guy taking pictures of Station 1 from City Hall and making derogatory comments on facebook. You wouldn't know anything about that guy though would you?


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 10:27 p.m.

We don't work in the same field, I'm ashamed that people judge public safety unions based upon people like you. Truly. Have a good day at the firehouse. Hope the chili turns out just perfect.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 9:35 p.m.

sadly BornNRaised all you do is resort to false statements innuendo and name calling. In that regard your the childish one.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 9:23 p.m.

It's like arguing with children. Craig, this has been answered until I've been blue in the face. You choose not to hear anything other than what comes out of your own mouth. SW40... I'm disappointed that you work in the same field as the rest of us. Truly.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

BornNRaised &quot;EVERYONE in the FD is well aware of you and your derogatory comments you've made regarding your perceptions of the FD. &quot; My only issue has ever been response time from the supermarket period. For you to suggest more is simply not being truthful. Asking honest questions isn't derogatory by nature.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 8:24 p.m.

Stop putting things in quotations that I didn't say, the purpose of quotations is to quote someone. I didn't say anyone's better then anyone. For the record if you think for one second I haven't seen with my own two eyes ping pong tables, pool tables, video games, dart boards, flat screen tvs, poker tables and all kinds of other fun entertainment activities in firehouses you are misleading the public. Let it be known here and now if there are any police officers unions getting a food allowance on the public dime I disagree with that as well, we are fairly compensated for our labor and we can afford to buy our own lunch. Do you feel the same BornNRaised?


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 8:14 p.m.

You're seriously going to play the &quot;We're better than you because...&quot; card? Come on man. Knock this off. You've got to be the only cop I know that would bash another member of safety services. No one calls out items in your contract and makes derogatory comments about you being a 'child' because of what's there. BTW, food allowances was something the city threw in OUR contract long ago.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 6:28 p.m.

BornNraised, There is a significant difference between not getting in shootouts and car chases and almost never fighting fires. Everyday a police officer goes to work in Washtenaw county they are dispatched to any range of calls for service; ranging from domestic violence, narcotics activity, traffic crashes, intoxicated subjects and all self initiated police contacts like traffic stops etc... At no time are we paid to sleep, bbq, shoot pool, play pingpong and we especially aren't charging the community to feed us. You see everyday we go to work we actually do police work, how often do you often fight fires, firefighter.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 6:19 p.m.

Boo-hoo. As opposed to all the shoot outs and car chases right?


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 4:01 p.m.

In sweet baby Jesus's name, Amen Brother!!


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.

BornNraised, Its not bitterness it's an adult reaction to a group of grown men receiving their lunch money handed to them like they are kindegarten students. You can attack the posters on this website if it makes you feel better but at the end of the day I know a couple things you can't dispute, you rarely fight fires, you are paid to sleep, you are paid to play video games, you are paid to wash the trucks, you are paid to sit in lawn chairs on a nice summer day watching the world go by and you are paid to eat food. A few years from now when Ann Arbor has a paid on-call fire department and HVA is taking your medical runs you may sit back and wonder, why did this happen; the answer is because you and your union refused to change with the times. You don't need a food allowance; and for your union to take advantage of the tax payers shows a lack of integrity.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 8:04 a.m.

BornNraised, As the old saying goes, I took the civil service exam and I checked the other box. I'm quite happy in my chosen field. Not everyone who questions you or other firefighters secretly wants your job, its extremely arrogant for you to believe so. I've worked in the area for long enough to see what firefighters do on a daily basis and while the medical runs and occasional fire do occupy some of your time we both know what goes on behind the scenes. For you or anyone else to imply that you have need for a food allowance because you are away from home for 24 hours is simply rediculous. Furthermore the idea of the hot meal sitting in the firehouse being ruined makes you sound even more like a bunch of pampered crybabies. There is a reason that so many other communities are moving to paid on call fire departments and bringing in companies like HVA, it makes sense. One of the reasons it makes sense is because a group of grown men and women believe that their food should be bought for them because their job is just so difficult and taxing they can't find money to make a sandwhich or cook a pot of chili without being compensated. But hey your right we should all just say thanks and allow the firefighters to do whatever they please because Backdraft was a good movie.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 7:21 a.m.

No firefighter has ever played that &quot;card&quot; you so bitterly speak of. But the next time the AAFD is hiring I'm sure we'll see you sign up and test for this cushy job you described. Maybe then you'll write something like, &quot;I can't believe the attitudes I have to deal with every day working this job.&quot;


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 7:05 a.m.

jcj, I acknowledge the explanation and guess what it isn't good enough. Many fire departments in the United States have moved to 12 hour shifts, perhaps this would solve the need to feed the firefighters. Guess what firefighters meals are sometimes interrupted, this isn't unique to many jobs but guess what is, being paid to sleep, play video games and goof off. If we want to play the &quot;we work so hard card&quot; then I'll play the card I know to be true, the current fire department structure in Ann Arbor is out of date and needs to be replaced. HVA can increase its presence to handle medical runs and Ann Arbor should move to a paid on call fire department. The days of paying firefighters to wash the trucks and play hoops in the back parking lot are over. For those of you that have watched to many firefighter movies depicting these guys fighting fires 24/7 jumping into burning buildings you might want to stop by the local fire station for a reality check and see your tax dollars at work. Between the lazyboy recliners and game tables its a miracle anything gets accomplished.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 2:10 a.m.

Funny how you claim to never have said that, but are immediately defensive of your &quot;Kroger comments&quot;. Craig, you and I know what you said. Don't be childish and try to get out of it. doesn't have the ability to search back last year to your comments. EVERYONE in the FD is well aware of you and your derogatory comments you've made regarding your perceptions of the FD. Should you wish to apologize, so be it. Should you wish to deny those comments to a group that is well aware of you and what you said, that's just you trying to find an out. You make 'supportive' comments, then make derogatory comments. Pick one side of the fence and stay there.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 12:52 a.m.

If you are expected to work a 24 hour day, you SHOULD get a meal that you can not get to have with your friends or family. If you put it in laymen's terms. If I travel for my job (which I do often) I put in an expense report to pay for my breakfast, lunch and dinner. I get a per meal limit. Some companies offer per diems for people who are away from home on company business. Rick Snyder gets a food allowance, why shouldnt the firefighters? If you get a phone call from a customer hardly compares to a firefighter who may have calls that run 12 hours in a row. While at a fire, how many firefighters do you see noshing on a sandwich. Most jobs can do their job while eating. Firefighters do not have a &quot;lunch hour&quot; or &quot;lunch half hour&quot;. They do not get breaks at specific intervals. They are not subject to many of the laws the every day worker might take for granted, including OSHA, overtime, etc. Oh, and most private businesses give their employees extra compensation for working holidays like XMAS and Thanksgiving. Doesnt happen in the fire world.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 12:51 a.m.

I will add the Kroger we discussed is outside the city in Pittsfield Township. But again at no point did I ever say what you allege....unless my memory is hazy. Find me saying that and I will humbly apologize.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 12:48 a.m.

I never said that. Either your memory is hazy or your lying. We had a discussion about response time from the &quot;deli counter&quot; / grocery shopping at Kroger. At no point in that discussion did I ever remotely suggest &quot;They spend all day at the deli counter.&quot; I did however suggest that response time in the City could be compromised when a truck is shopping at Kroger and I stand by that.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 12:28 a.m.

&quot;They spend all day at the deli counter.&quot; That was supportive right. Keep trying.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 12:13 a.m.

interesting. you sound bitter and I'm not sure why. I defend you guys in numerous other posts within Ann I have been on record numerous times in saying I want the fire department numbers increased. But it seems if I ever say a single thing you don't like I'm on your list. And I dare you to find any place I have made &quot;accusations without seeking any type of actual information,&quot; because its an accusation you can't defend. Mostly all I ever did was ask you questions you didn't like. And why would you on one hand chastise me for not asking questions then tell me you won't answer them anyway because you don't like me? That's a bit vindictive sounding to me.


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 11:16 p.m.

Insulting people? No, just those (you) that play expert without ever so much as ASKING someone on the department why something is. Instead you play the almighty since YOU do something a certain way then all firefighters should do it too. You like to pick and choose at your leisure. You never hear us saying, &quot;Hey we have to do things this way, so why can't you?&quot; We leave that up the the experts such as yourself. As to your question, no I'm not going to answer it. When someone constantly makes accusations without seeking any type of actual information, you burn all your bridges. Which is why everyone on the FD takes your posts for nothing more that comic relief.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 9:55 p.m.

BornNRaised, &quot;So if we should do everything like you do at work, does that mean you'll start doing some things like we do at work? Just curious if what's good for the goose is good for the gander.' Many jobs have their own unique elements. Working a 24 hour shift is certainly one of them. It still doesn't explain why you can't buy your own food. And I know plenty of people who only get a 1/2 hour at best. You think your the only people who can't ignore the phone? That is simply not true. I know people who take &quot;working lunches&quot; 5 days a week where they answer the phone as needed, deal with customers as needed. In that regard you guys are NOT unique. As to asking questions, I asked one in the third post. Would you be willing to answer it? Or are you just about insulting people?


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 9:50 p.m.

SW40 I hope this has been explained to your satisfaction. If so you should acknowledge that. If it has not been made clear then you are beyond reason.


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 9:40 p.m.

So if we should do everything like you do at work, does that mean you'll start doing some things like we do at work? Just curious if what's good for the goose is good for the gander. Also, when you eat from your 'lunch bucket' you get an hour roughly to yourself to eat. No phone interruptions etc. When our 'phone' rings we don't have the luxury of saying, &quot;We'll get to you after we eat.&quot; Doesn't matter if we just put a hot meal on the table and have to leave it there. Lots of meals at the firehouse get ruined. BTW, thanks for asking the question. We do normally only get 2 meals a day. Oh, never mind... you never asked... just assumed.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 9:22 p.m.

If you work a 24 hour shift its not unreasonable to only need 2 meals at work in that 24 hour period. For example if I work 8 am to 8 am I can eat breakfast at home before I start and breakfast the next day when I get home leaving only lunch and dinner at work. In any case the argument could be made that you pack two lunch buckets instead of one. Keep in mind they don't do that for 5-6 straight days like some working stiffs do.


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 9:03 p.m.

If I'm not mistaken, the food compensation is for food bought and consumed on shift. Think about it; you're at work for 24 hours in the same location. This means you are going to need breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you're in a three or four man house (Ladder 5 or any of the Engine companies), you've only got 3 people to split the bill with. If you want to eat more than a cucumber, it's going to add up (based on bills from other fire houses, it's around 8-10 dollars a person per shift - AA isn't cheap).

Gale Logan

Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 8:26 p.m.

Actually Mr. Goldsmith I believe you are incorrect. From reading reports here over time, it appears the money in the art fund came from dedicated funds that were used for construction. Work in parks, lots of work on water and sewer infrastructure, etc. None of this money originated in the general fund. It could have gone to fund a little more work on each of the projects it came from, 1% (actually a little less as there is a $250,000 upper limit) but no more. Each art project has to have a relationship to the fund the money came from. None of it could ever have been spent on the fire department.


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 8:24 p.m.

What are the new hire compensation plans? And what affect will it have on the quality of future personnel? Turnover in the department? Moral to an already dispirited community of hard workers?


Sun, Aug 26, 2012 : 10:58 p.m.

I know your question is nearly 6 months old, but have you seen the new hire compensation package? The contract is viewable on the City website. I only point this out because AA is hiring 6 FFs in September. The wage is $14 and change an hour...54 hour OT....No medical after retirement....25 year pension not vested for 10 years....Huge premiums and copays for medical, and it increases for your spouse and every kid you have. So, your assertion from March is correct, $38,000 minus medical costs will = high turnover, young inexperienced FFs, and low morale.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 3:38 a.m.

Well, I guess we shall know soon. All the labor contracts for the City of Ann Arbor are available on their website. Remember, those guys are going backwards when things for daily living are skyrocketing. I know if I took a huge pay cut it would really hurt, and I would be pretty mad. Especially when the City has always been fiscally responsible, except with the pet projects then they go hog wild. Yeah, I'd be bitter.

Chase Ingersoll

Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 8:24 p.m.

It's time to again remind the public that working smoke detectors and abating hazardous conditions, would have saved the lives of Ann Arbors most recent fatalities reported in this newspaper. Further, in NONE OF THESE CASE WOULD additional fire personnel, increase training or equipment saved the lost lives or have prevented the total loss of property......but a working smoke detector....probably. Chase Ingersoll

Chase Ingersoll

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 2:57 a.m.

John: The civil libertarian in me hates the thought of additional inspections. But the part of me that hates to think of even the most stupid people burning themselves alive, is jumping up in the face of the civil libertarian. I think there may be a technological solution to this conundrum: 1. reduce the power consumption of the detector; 2. photovoltaic cells on the outside - enough with the smallest amount of light to keep the battery topped off; 3. RFID signal coming from each detector to indicate working, degrading, not working; and a scanner that can be directed at a property and read the RFID signals; Another option: reduce the size of the smoke detector to where it can be implanted into every light bulb and when the light is off, run off of a battery the size of watch battery. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 12:41 a.m.

Actually, that only screams to the necessity of MORE fire inspectors. My landlord does a smoke detector inspection twice a year AND does one with the city inspectors every year. Landlords should be fined if they do not have working smoke detectors and every home covered under the city for fire protection should have an annual fire inspection similar to restaurants having a health inspection. The goal would be to teach people things to help avoid fires AND to have a plan set up in case of fire. Having lived through a fire as a teen where my family lost basically everything except the clothes on our backs, I can tell you how much this would have saved us in the long run.

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 8:17 p.m.

&quot;I would like a new one as soon as possible,&quot; he said, adding it could cost close to $1 million. &quot;And I think the chief would like to get some smaller pumpers as well.&quot; Nearly the cost of the ugly urinal artwork.


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 8:15 p.m.

How do you justify giving raises in this economy. Just another reason labor unions should not exist for public employees.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

It doesnt matter if they are getting a raise or getting it back, the city is in no shape to give ANYBODY any money. Public union should never exist. Private unions is none of my business because I do not have to support them finacially.

Just Sayin

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 12:39 p.m.

Take the time to read what the lawmakers in Michigan did to the State Employee Unions yesterday. They just made it easier to privatize the state departments. Especially Corrections.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 12:34 a.m.

&quot;Employees will receive a 1.5 percent wage increase in fiscal year 2012-13 and a 1.5 percent wage increase in 2013-14, which will return compensation to July 1, 2008 rates&quot;&quot; Actually sounds like the reason to have labor unions. After SIX years, the firefighters will make what they made in 2008. I guess in your world that is a good thing? I guess police and fire should not get paid, and we should hire the cheapest guys we can find. How about we offer minimum wage. Oh wait, the right wingers don't like minimum wage. How about we hire somebody who might or might not have any skills, pay them $10 a day, and hope for the best. Maybe you prefer an all volunteer fire and police department. Propose it and run for mayor. You MIGHT get your mother to vote for you, and that is about it.


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 9:47 p.m.

Harry You are not only off base on this! You are off the planet!


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 9 p.m.

&quot;Employees will receive a 1.5 percent wage increase in fiscal year 2012-13 and a 1.5 percent wage increase in 2013-14, which will return compensation to July 1, 2008 rates&quot; Doesn't sound like a wage increase to me. More like they're getting back what they gave up 4 years ago. re: Just another reason labor unions should not exist for public employees. You only want unions for non-public employees such as yourself????

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 8:15 p.m.

&quot;Every regular reader of this site must know by now that none of the money that goes into the city's art fund could have ever been used to fund salary or equipment costs in the Fire Department. No general fund money goes into the fund. It would be illegal for the city to spend those dollars on the FD or the PD or any other general fund expense. Mr. Stanton has said this repeatedly.&quot; Yep, fairy dust money that COULD go back into the respective funds, allowing LESS city funds to have gone back into various projects and BINGO, those saved city funds could pay fire fighter staff. This argument, that bucket money couldn't be moved the above method back to where it belonged is a myth, and makes about as much sense as the Mayor's excuses that global warming caused the flooding near West Park and that we can't limit art projects to local artists because of the Interstate Commerce Act. You local art lovers got what you wanted, a piece of junk only people visiting the City Building will ever see while roads are a joke and city services including fire and police protection have been cut. Congrats. You came stop repeating your 'myth' about buckets now.

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 8:08 p.m.

&quot;Fire Chief Chuck Hubbard also released a statement saying there was tremendous tension between the city and firefighters when he came on as chief.&quot; Brought on by the Mayor and former City Manager's lack of people skills, the insulting of fire fighter employees and generally using the public servants as whipping posts while they had the City's focus on 'other issues', you know, like strobe lighted cross walks, crappy art and no bid contract to political buddies.


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 8:05 p.m.

It is time to cut staff at city hall. I would rather wait a bit longer in line then to have the fire department or the police department cut. The safety and security of our community should be job ONE. AND IF THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL CANNOT DO THEIR JOB THEN IT IS TIME FOR A BIG CHANGE.

Gale Logan

Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

Every regular reader of this site must know by now that none of the money that goes into the city's art fund could have ever been used to fund salary or equipment costs in the Fire Department. No general fund money goes into the fund. It would be illegal for the city to spend those dollars on the FD or the PD or any other general fund expense. Mr. Stanton has said this repeatedly.

Gale Logan

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 4:17 p.m.

Carol: You are correct in part. The city council could eliminate the art fund and the dollars would go back to where they came from, the sewer fund, water utilities, etc, but again no more than 1%. actually lless) However because of rules set by the state none of the money could go to pay for fire fighters or their equipment because none of the money in the art fund came from the general fund. It all came from dedicated sources so it can only be spent on something that aligns with the project it came from. Thus a water sculpture that highlights reuse of storm water and adorns a building that houses the utility department. (The Larcolm building)


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 2:28 p.m.

Response to Gail: The Art Bucket was established by the council taking a small percentage from various other buckets, not the state as you mentioned. Therefore, if the council voted to remove funds from their original category to establish the art, they can vote to put the funds back where they &quot;actually&quot; belong.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 1:35 a.m.

Does Mr. Stanton walk on water? It is my belief he is in the hip pocket of the local politicians. Let's say their little puppet with a pen.

Gale Logan

Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 8:08 p.m.

From reading the articles here, the restriction against moving funds from their rightful 'bucket' to a different bucket comes from state law rather than local. You could try a letter to your state representative but it does not appear that the city can do anything about it.


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 8:06 p.m.

And that can be changed by the City Council today just as it could yesterday and the day before that. It's as ridiculous now as it has been since the art fund was created. No police or fire position should ever have been cut while art was being funded. Period.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 8:04 p.m.

your correct as far as you go. But to go a bit further....the art &quot;bucket&quot; wasn't created by God it was created by man. As such it can be &quot;uncreated&quot; which is what some of us desire. If man uncreates the art bucket then that money reverts back to its &quot;core bucket&quot;. The city council has control over how much money goes in to a variety of buckets in the budget process do they not? In the end that money could ultimately be used in a variety of different areas.


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 8:02 p.m.

The law or ordinance must be changed to meet the safety of Ann Arbor. There is nothing more important then our safety from fire and crime. It is time the people of Ann Arbor rethink the method of budgetting and put safety first.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 7:38 p.m.

&quot;The fire department will move to a standardized 54-hour work schedule&quot; how does that translate for a &quot;typical&quot; work week?

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

AJ, go to this link from the Department of Labor. The list of jobs exempt from overtime is extensive. It is far far bigger than just firemen. And many of those jobs are &quot;humble&quot; and rather low paying. I'm not pointing this out as anything other than a simple fact. Its not an attempt to besmirch firemen. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 12:57 a.m.

You are correct Craig, there are many people who do not get overtime........... they are called Salary employees which firefighters are not. There are also many people that make over $1,000,000 a year but you are comparing apples to oranges. And to correct my previous post, overtime is based on 212 hours worked in a 28 day cycle not 216, I don't want to spread incorrect information.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 12:48 a.m.

It actually averages out to be 54 hours per week, because of the 24 hour shifts firefighter work, their workweek is actually 9 days instead of 7. This is where the 28 day rotation comes into play as I explained before. So depending on how they set their schedule they will work 9-24 hour shifts a month which in the 28 day cycle is 216 hours. The firefighters will work no less than 48 hours and many weeks depending on their schedule will work 72 hours in what you would consider a &quot;normal&quot; 7 day workweek. Believe it or not, the firefighters agreeing to this saves the city a lot of money in overtime. If you take a private ems company for example, when they work 24 hour shifts any hour over a 40 hour work week is overtime. This adds up very quickly so the fact that firefighters have agreed to a 54 hour (average) workweek truly does save the taxpayers.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 12:42 a.m.

&quot;What most people don't know is that firefighters are the only ones exempt from federal labor laws that say after 40 hours they will be paid overtime. &quot; There are other people who don't qualify for overtime pay at all.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 12:34 a.m.

Thank you johnnya2, that gives me a clear picture of how that stuff works.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 12:29 a.m.

Craig, I am not sure of how it is done in Ann Arbor, but my brother is a firefighter in another state and they are on what they consider a 54 hour work week. He works 24 hours on, 48 hours off, then I believe it is every fourth week he has 72 hours off. There will be weeks he works a Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday (72 hours and the next week he would work Tuesday and Friday (48 hours). That would come to 60 hours a week over a 2 week period. On the fourth week, they take an extra day (24 hours) off, which equates to 6 hours per week not working. They have it set up in three groups. Group A, B and C. I know many times he will work 24 on, 24 off, and then 24 on again, and switch that extra time over time. it allows him to take a 2 week vacation without actually using vacation time and it also allowed him to have 6 weeks off when his daughters were born without losing his paycheck.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 12:04 a.m.

can anybody answer my question? If you work a 24 hour shift then 2 shifts equal 48 hours. That leaves 6 hours unexplained. I'm just wondering if there is an explanation of how that works. Are they no longer working 24 hour shifts?

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 11:38 p.m.

According to the fire chief, the move to a standardized 54-hour work schedule reduces the number of firefighters off duty each day, which, in turn, allows the city to keep more trucks in service and reduce overtime. The department used to be on a 50.4 hour schedule that resulted in more firefighters off duty.


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 11:10 p.m.

What most people don't know is that firefighters are the only ones exempt from federal labor laws that say after 40 hours they will be paid overtime. It's called the &quot;fireman's rule&quot; In a 28 day cycle a firefighter must work more than 216 hours (54 per week average) before any overtime is occured. I am not sure what AAFD worked before, but this is very common in the fire service.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 9:11 p.m.

sparty, not for a lot of people My wife works in the dental field where 36 hours is common. Her daughter works in the nursing field where 3 12's is common. In the piece work world of residential roofing a rainy week might be 20 hours and a dry week might be 60+ hours. Typically fire fighters often work 24 hour shifts. So I'm not sure how 54 hours works in to that.


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 8:07 p.m.

Isn't a typical work week 40 hours?

John of Saline

Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.

Wow. I bet that's a relief for the city residents. Now Ann Arbor can get back to buying more vital public art.


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 6:55 p.m.

It appears as though the unions are beginning to live in the real world again. It's about time.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 5:54 p.m.

Now it's time to work on these corporate executives and their sense of entitlement.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 1:42 a.m.

Actually, by the time their pay gets back to 2008 levels, in 2014, it will be six years, not four. I misspoke. Either way, seems like they have made sacrifices.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 1:35 a.m.

Starting to? Seems to me that anyone whose raise brings their pay back to what it was four years ago is pretty familiar with the real world.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 12:45 a.m.

Starting to?


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 8:08 p.m.

I think it's the City Hall that's beginning to accept that they must begin to live in the real world -- elections are coming and they realize they have to settle with the firemen or have one more open issue for us to hammer them on.


Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 7:30 p.m.

It's sad that that world looks more and more like Bolivia.