News - July 20, 2011

Fire board: 'Huge shift' in compensation policy?

Are firefighters overpaid? In negotiating pay packages, should fire districts consider only what other fire departments are paying, or the pay and employment levels in the general economy as well?

The Board of Directors of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District is weighing these questions as it prepares to adopt what a fire board member calls a "huge shift" in its employee compensation policy and philosophy.

Under the proposed policy, the board might survey both private and public employers and take into consideration "the perspectives of the community" — as well as labor and management — in evaluating pay fairness.

"The District shall consider the overall economic climate and condition affecting the District and its constituents when setting compensation levels, including regional economic indicators such as the rate of unemployment, inflation, current and projected revenues, and the District's anticipated ability to pay in the long term."

Board member Peter Carpenter is urging the public to participate in discussions on changing the district's compensation philosophy. He encourages people to come to the board meeting Tuesday night, July 19, when the board will discuss and may adopt the policy.

The public session is expected to start about 7 p.m. at the Station 1 classroom at 300 Middlefield Road in Menlo Park.

Negotiations between the board and the union representing the firefighters have been contentious since the contract expired in 2008. In April, the board imposed terms on the union, and is getting ready for another round of negotiations.

Go to to see the text of the proposed and existing policies, and posts on the Town Square forum.

Public comments on this proposal may be emailed to the clerk of the board, Deanna Riding, at


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