June 14, 2012
Officials approve firefighter contract
Two-year deal doesn’t include raises
By SCOTT SMITH
Tribune staff writer
— Kokomo firefighters wanted to add membership this round of
contract negotiations, but had to settle for a no-layoff clause.
The Kokomo Board of Public Works & Safety approved a two-year
collective bargaining agreement with Kokomo Professional
Firefighters Local 396 Wednesday, a pact which included no pay
City officials agreed to keep eight firefighters on staff who were
in danger of being laid off when federal grant money runs out in
City taxpayers will take over paying those salaries, but the
tradeoff for the firefighters union was another two years with no
“We all wanted a raise, but we felt in the end we were going to
better serve the citizens and better serve ourselves to keep as many
firefighters working as possible,” union president Rick Daily said
Despite the no-layoff clause, city officials have already announced
their intention to further trim the department through attrition.
Firefighters of retirement age are being offered a buyout. If a
firefighter accepts the buyout, he or she will be able to retain the
current employee contribution rate on their health insurance — 14
percent (or 16 percent if living outside the city).
If eligible firefighters turn down the buyout and retire later,
they’ll have to pay either 20 percent (if retiring after age 55) or
Daily declined comment on the buyout, saying it was “totally up to
It appears staffing was the main concern during negotiations, and
both sides acknowledged that the city’s annexation of more than 12
square miles of the county was discussed.
“I presented [the city’s] own fiscal plan for annexation, the same
plan they presented to the city council. It called for 10 additional
firefighters,” Daily said. “Hopefully we can hire some firefighters
and better protect those areas.”
The head of the city’s bargaining committee, Randy McKay, said the
fiscal plan information was mentioned, but said the firefighters
never put a request for 10 additional firefighters on the table.
Current staffing is 108, and city officials have said they hope to
be down to 100 by the time the new contract expires. It goes into
effect Jan. 1.
McKay said the fiscal plan isn’t a mandate, and said the city’s
plans — which include the new Fire Station 2 on East Center Road and
another fire station slated for South Dixon Road — will protect the
McKay said the city will reevaluate staffing needs after the
annexation takes effect, and in time to make a decision before the
two-year contract expires.
“I think we’re very satisfied with the contract,” McKay said. “We’re
pleased the firefighters stepped up to assist each other and ensure
the junior people on the department wouldn’t be reduced.”
• Scott Smith is a Kokomo Tribune staff writer. He may be reached at
765-454-8569 or via email at