Firefighters Respond to High-Salary Claims - 8 News NOW

Firefighters Respond to High-Salary Claims

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LAS VEGAS -- The president of the Clark County Firefighter's Union is speaking out after firefighters salaries were criticized, mainly for the overtime they're raking in.

But Clark County Firefighters Local 1908 President Ryan Beaman says they seem to always get blamed for their salaries, but it's not them you should be upset with. He feels firefighters are being paid adequately for the services they provide but says the ultimate decision isn't theirs.

The battle between Clark County firefighters and the county could heat up even more as the county works to cut its budget. They are also starting contract negotiations with firefighters whose salaries are being questioned.

"We are the ones being blamed for the overtime but we have no control over the overtime," said Beaman.

Beaman says it's the county who is making decisions on how to pay employees. According to a county report, firefighters earn an average of $180,000 a year including benefits -- a good portion of that is overtime.

"In numerous county meetings, the commissioner has stated that it is cheaper to pay overtime. We as the employees have no opportunity to weigh in on how they staff their department," said Beaman.

He says his firefighters have been asked to do more with less. They also get premium pay, but Beaman says that was suggested by the commission.

"When you call a firefighter, you get a paramedic, also as a firefighter, somebody who is trained in HAZMAT, swift water rescue," he said.

Commissioner Steve Sisolak agrees that it's the county who allowed the contracts, but says no more.

"Our firefighters are important, not belittling what they do, but so are our policeman, our nurses, so are the hospital staff. If we paid everyone $200,000 with overtime, there wouldn't be a Clark County anymore," he said.

While he's firm on his position, he's not sure how his colleagues feel, saying the firefighter union is a force to be reckoned with.

"They are a very powerful political force. They get candidates elected to office. They intimidate opponents. They play hardball," he said.

Sisolack says he's received some threats from unknown individuals saying they hope his house doesn't catch on fire.

Both parties say they are hoping they will be able to work together during the upcoming contract negotiations.

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