In a vote last week, the Madera County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution to raise pay for Paid Call Firefighters (PCF) and Paid Call Driver Operators (PCD), positions that were previously paid the state minimum wage of $10.50 an hour and $12 an hour, respectively.
Approved Jan. 24 and pro-rated to be effective from Jan. 1 this year, PCFs, or volunteer firefighters, are now paid $15 an hour, with $18 an hour for PCDs.
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.
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.
The salary’s funding will come out of the county’s reserve fund, then transitioned into the general fund when it is budgeted next year. Joel Bugay, the county’s budget director, said the pay increases will cost about $100,000 a year.
At a previous town hall, District 5 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.”