Next week, the Madera County Board of Supervisors will consider approving higher hourly pay for Paid Call Firefighters (PCF) and Paid Call Driver Operators (PCD), who currently receive the state minimum wage of $10.50 an hour, and $12 an hour, respectively.
If the resolution is approved Jan. 24, pay for PCFs, or volunteer firefighters, would increase to $15 an hour. PCD pay would rise to $18 an hour, with both raises pro-rated to be effective from Jan. 1 this year.
Additional certifications for Emergency Medical Technician, Hazardous Materials Technician, and Rescue Systems would further increase pay for both positions by $1 an hour, to a maximum of $18 for PCFs and $21 for PCDs.
At his first town hall of 2017 on Thursday, Supervisor Tom Wheeler said the raises would help give younger citizens an incentive to volunteer.
“We used to have about 300 volunteer firemen, now we’re down to about 100 or so,” Wheeler said. “And I would guess that around 90% of them are 70 years old, or older ... this is so we can get some young people back in our volunteer program like we used to have.”
The resolution will not be affiliated with Measure L, the proposed 1% sales tax increase focused on public safety up for voter approval March 7.
Madera County Budget Director Joel Bugay said the resolution would cost the county about $100,000 a year, if approved.
Eric Fleming, the county’s Chief Administrative Officer, said in February staff would make recommendations on another pay raise, possibly by allowing volunteers to be paid on all response calls. Currently, volunteer firefighters only receive compensation for responding to fires, not for car crashes or other medical calls.