Squamish’s firefighters have a new deal.
On Aug. 15, the municipality announced that the local firefighters’ union, the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2874, and the District of Squamish ratified a new collective agreement for the term of Jan. 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2023.
Under this agreement, annual wage increases over the four-year term are 2.5% for 2020, 2021 and 2022 followed by an average of the comparable communities identified during negotiation for 2023, which are consistent with other fire departments across the province, the District said in a news release.
District spokesperson Rachel Boguski told The Squamish Chief there will be retroactive pay increases, as the agreement has arrived late.
She added that both parties agreed to start bargaining for this contract later than usual so it wouldn’t occur at the height of the pandemic.
One of the highlights of the deal is a condition that stipulates a move from the current complement of eight full-time firefighters to 10 full-time firefighters in September 2022, and then to 12 full-time firefighters in January 2023.
The municipality said this outcome reflects the rapid community growth of Squamish and the increased service needs as a result. This increase will allow for 24-hour paid full-time firefighter coverage.
“The IAFF Local 2874 Professional Fire Fighters is proud to have had a positive advancement in the ability of our membership to provide the highest level of service possible to our Squamish citizens,” said union president and Squamish Fire Rescue Cpt. Kyle Derksen, in the release.
“This agreement, combined with the construction of two new fire halls, represents a significant commitment to keep pace with the growth and service expectations of our community. This initial investment in additional firefighters will immediately allow for faster response times and allow us to enhance the safety and well-being of both our community and our responding firefighters.”
The District’s chief administrative officer Linda Glenday said that the municipality is pleased with all parties' efforts to make the agreement happen.
Acting mayor John French also applauded the deal.
“We are appreciative of the collaborative efforts to finalize this agreement and we thank the Union for their hard work and positive approach,” said French. “The IAFF members are exceptionally dedicated to serving their community, and the outcome of this agreement will help them do that in a more productive way, resulting in even better service for Squamish.”
By the District’s count, Squamish Fire Rescue attended 945 call-outs in 2021, 692 call-outs in 2020 and 730 call-outs in 2019. The department is on pace to top 1,000 calls in 2022 for the first time. Together with the paid on-call firefighters, a team of 65 firefighters — including career, paid-on-call and administrative staff — serve Squamish.
More to come...