The California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) and The State Employed Fire Fighters Association (SEFFA) have long lobbied the State to create a Fire Captain classification within the Bargaining Unit 7 Fire Fighter Series. Currently, the series only includes Fire Fighter and Fire Chief classifications.
Pursuant to Article 19.11, on November 4, 2014, CSLEA and SEFFA met with State officials from Department of State Hospitals (DSH), Department of Developmental Services (DSS), Military Department and California Department of Human Resources (Cal-HR), to explore the creation of the Fire Captain classification. Attending from CSLEA were Chief Counsel Kasey Clark and Senior Legal Counsel Ryan Navarre. SEFFA was represented by SEFFA President and Military Department Fire Fighter/Security Officer Steve Bradley, and SEFFA Vice President and DSH Fire Fighter Trent Schager.
CSLEA and SEFFA urged the State to consider creating the Fire Captain classification in order to create a fire services command structure more similar to the trade standard and to provide incentive for Fire Fighters to stay at their respective departments by providing promotional opportunities and career development.
"The need for standard industry recognized positions (i.e. Fire Captain and Fire Apparatus Engineer / Fire Apparatus Operator) besides the existing Fire Fighter and Chief positions is multifaceted," said SEFFA Vice President Trent Schager. "It gives State facilities industry-recognized chain of command that is clear and concise and establishes a career path for Fire Fighters. The Fire Captain classification would work as a tool, besides pay, to retain Fire Department members and would establish clear justification for advanced training opportunities, that are now being recognized as necessary for transitioning our membership from their first day as a new recruit Fire Fighter, through management / executive officer training as the Fire Chief running a Large and Complex Facilities Fire & Emergency (Fire Life Safety) Program. "
In support of their position, CSLEA and SEFFA provided State officials with salary surveys describing DSH, DSS, and Military Department Fire Fighters as among the lowest paid in California. The Departments have a difficult time retaining their Fire Fighters due to the higher salaries paid by other states, cities, counties, and agencies that offer our firefighters salaries anywhere from 30 to 100 percent higher than they currently receive. Although it may not fix Fire Fighter retention within the departments and the salary disparity, creating a Fire Captain classification would be a great start to providing current Fire Fighters with the ability to develop in their career while also providing the Departments with a better and more organized command structure.
"The creation of the Fire Captain classification will be a huge win for our members in that It will provide stability in the chain of command and give a path for career advancement," said SEFFA President Steven Bradley. "The Fire Captain classification would be a huge positive step for the State to come in to line with current fire practices and enhance safety and accountability for its employees. I want to personally thank and acknowledge the hard work by our SEFFA Vice President Trent Schager for the hundreds of hours of his own time he has dedicated to this mission. "
At the conclusion of the meeting, SEFFA provided State officials with a Draft Job Specification for the new classification. The State officials plan to meet amongst themselves to discuss this matter further and CSLEA and SEFFA look forward to receiving a response from CalHR in the near future. If you have any questions regarding this matter, please feel free to contact CSLEA at (916) 447-5262 or firstname.lastname@example.org.