Collective bargaining agreement is approved for Alachua County first responders

Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 6:28 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - County commissioners approved the collective bargaining agreement for firefighters in Alachua County, which brings salary and scheduling changes for the department.

The new budget went into effect on October 1st. It increases the salary of first responders.

“We started a new collective bargaining agreement with our union,” stated Fire Chief Harold Theus. “In that contract were significant changes, more changes, more impactful changes than Alachua County Fire Rescue has ever experienced in the past.”

The cost of this agreement is estimated at about three and a half million dollars.

The agreement aims to hire more first responders in the county. Firefighters said the recruiting efforts can help ease the pressure with some situations, especially scenarios like Hurricane Ian deployments.

“Having more staffing created the opportunity to go help others in the time of need, like during the hurricane as well as when we do have the Kelly Day,” shared firefighter Tyler Kuhn.

The multi-million dollar agreement is meant to recruit and retain employees, by increasing time off for firefighters, which gives them five days off, every three weeks.

“Having the opportunity to take a few days off every third week is going to give us that recharge time, and give us the ability to spend more time with our families,” said firefighter Ammi Racket.

The funds come from federal taxpayer money, although, Fire Chief Harold Theus said the department intends to bring EMT, paramedic, and firefighter staffing up to the county’s standards.

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