Commissioner Says Firefighter Pay Must be Cut - 8 News NOW

Commissioner Says Firefighter Pay Must be Cut

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LAS VEGAS -- Risking their lives is part of the job for Clark County firefighters. They're considered the heroes who run into a burning building when everyone else runs out.

But they're not going home empty handed.

"I have the utmost respect for the men and woman firefighters. But with that said, we cannot continue to pay them at the rate that we are paying them," said Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak.

A new report shows on average, firefighters are making more than $180,000 per year, including benefits.

Geoffrey Lawrence with Nevada Policy Research Institute says county firefighters are making more than county attorneys.

"Six of the 11 battalion chief make over $200,000 a year not including benefits," he said. "Their collective bargaining agreement tends to be more generous than the other agreements that county employees have."

Lawrence and Commissioner Sisolak say the problem is supplemental pay. According to the county report, firefighters are more than doubling their base pay with things like overtime, call back and premium pay.

Because they are under contract, they legally don't have to re-negotiate even if the county asks for help in a time of need. But their contract is up at the end of June.

Lawrence says that could give the county an upper hand.

"They don't have much choice. They are going to have to do one thing or another. They are either going to have to cut wages or lay people off just because they don't have the money to pay everyone at the wages they are now," he said.

And Commissioner Sisolak says the county has no choice but to be firm.

"We cannot get out our way out of this by reducing the number of pencils and pens and copy paper. We are behind that. We need to do more," he said.

The local firefighter's union was contacted for comment. They said they wouldn't be able to talk until tomorrow.

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