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Posted on Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 5:57 a.m.

Chelsea Area Fire Authority 2012 budget includes new aerial truck, firefighter raises

By Lisa Allmendinger

The Chelsea Area Fire Authority board has approved a flat-line operational budget of about $1.33 million for 2012 that includes plans to purchase a new aerial ladder truck.

“Actually, it’s a reduction of 1.3 percent,” Fire Chief Jim Payeur said.

The 2011 operating budget was $1,343,723 and the approved 2012 operating budget is $1,326,826.

Payeur said the department was able to “control costs because with a 24-7 staff we know who is going on calls,” Payeur said. And because of higher deductibles, health care costs were kept “flat” he added.

“We are holding the line in these tough economic times,” said newly elected board president Rod Anderson, who is also a Chelsea city council member.

CAFA operations are paid for through a 1.8-mill tax levy that was approved by the voters in the member municipalities of Sylvan, Lima and Lyndon townships and the City of Chelsea. It will be up for renewal in 2013.

The one large planned expenditure is the replacement of a 35-year-old aerial truck as an estimated cost of $700,000, which will be paid for through $150,000 from CAFA’s truck fund as well as a 15-year financing plan with annual payments of $48,000.

The new aerial ladder will be a minimum of 100 feet, have a water tank and pump, and carry the fire hose tools. The Jiffy Mix silos are more than 100 feet tall, Payeur said, and when there was an incident several years ago at one of the silos, an aerial from Pittsfield Township was used to rescue two people who were stranded while painting the silos.

Payeur said the two key things the board wanted to accomplish were to renovate the fire station — a job that is close to completion — and to replace the ladder truck, which benefits everyone in the surrounding communities, especially with the tall, newer construction. “It helps everyone’s insurance costs,” Payeur said.

Plus, with firefighters on duty round-the-clock, they are able to do a lot of building maintenance and go out into the community to provide more community education than five years ago, Payeur said.

Firefighters will get an increase in pay to $11.50 per hour, or a salary of $34,385 per year. Currently, they are receiving $10.31 per hour, or $32,432.92 per year.

In addition, there are plans to promote three firefighters to lieutenants. The pay rate for lieutenant is $13.40 per hour, while captains make $16.40. In total, the personnel budget is about $936,000.

Lisa Allmendinger is a regional reporter for She can be reached at For more Chelsea stories, visit our Chelsea page.



Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 12:12 p.m.

Don't forget 80/20, now that hurts the pocketbook on this wage pretty bad. stay safe while doing this dangerous job.

chel c cat

Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 2:45 p.m.

Just curiuos as to if Jiffy is contributing to the expense of this new rig, seeing that their silos are the only structures remotely close to being 100 ft tall in this community?

Rod Anderson

Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 3:52 p.m.

As you might expect, the real-life situation is usually more complex. For a tower, the ability to reach horizontally is more important to us than the vertical component, which you rightly point out is not common in the Authority. Chief Payeur has prepared a briefing on the rationale for the new tower, including examples of potential use. This is planned to be given at the 10 January Chelsea City Council, and will be shown on Ch 18 subsequently. The briefing is also available to the CAFA townships if desired. Thanks for the comment Rod Anderson


Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 12:44 p.m.

...and what do AAFD firefighters make per hour in comparison?? Seems this is one department that is managed right and operated within a set budget.. Lead by example, well done CAFD!'


Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 6:58 a.m.

So defensive BNR.. Why oh why do you feel I am attacking you and AAFD?? I would never!!


Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 6:53 p.m.

I don't set the pay scales. Nor do I determine what firefighter decides to work at what department. A2Medic decided to use this as an attack on A2. My point is there are differences between a major city and a small township. BTW, every station responds to structure fires if we're going to start correcting each other. So, I don't have an issue with what department does what, or who they pay what. That's on A2Medic.


Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 5:58 p.m.

@ BornNRaised: I thought it may be helpful to clear up some of your confusion. Just because a department has a "young" staff doesn't mean their skill level as compared to other department's "old" staff is any worse. In fact, "young" staff generally has more desire to train and learn newer and more effective and aggressive techniques. Training: You may be surprised to know that many CAFA members have the same if not more in depth and current training as compared to AAFD. Even some of the newest members have more training than most in Washtenaw County. More Calls: It's true AAFD runs more calls as a department than CAFA but how does that break down per station? CAFA has one station and all their firefighter come back on every fire whereas AAFD has multiple stations and their firefighters don't come back on every fire. More Residents: Well you're correct on that, but should you get paid more just because more people live where you work? Big Ten University: What does this have to do with anything? Specialty Teams: CAFA has members on the SAME specialty teams as AAFD. More Fires: CAFA members respond to every fire regardless if they are on or off duty. AAFD members don't respond on every fire. In addition, CAFA members have to be able to operate every truck and be able to fight fires in both an urban (with hydrants) and rural (without hydrants) setting. That's a true comparison and there's moreā€¦ The fact is that both departments have good firefighters and why does one deserve more than the other.


Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 2:30 p.m.

BTW, it's pretty clear to everyone here that you have some sort of personal issue against AAFD. Based on your past comments along with this one trying to tie two totally different stories together.


Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 2:07 p.m.

More training, more calls, more residents, big ten university, specialty teams, more fires. And this isn't meant as anything against them, just to comparison... they have a very young staff. Which equates to a turnover. Which equates to knowledge that leaves as soon as they become 'seasoned'. Which, I'm sure you can appreciate, takes multiple calls and fires before that happens. More calls means firefighters that get 'seasoned' faster. You asked for honest comparisons... those are just a few. One isn't 'better' than the other. Just completely different.


Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 7:12 a.m.

Hey don't be mad BNR.. Your a full time FF, they have full time FF's.. Why should you deserve different compensation than them?? I'm just asking for a simple comparison between the compensation of your 24hr FF and theirs.. If you feel like yours is more deserved, enlighten me as to why?


Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 10:47 p.m.

Good analysis. I mean Chealsea and Ann Arbor ARE 100% identical. Genius.