Reminder of How and Why CDF Benefits Exist
Posted originally on 10/15/03


May be setting myself up here for a little sniping, but I'm a little confused over the recent "attacks" or ribs on some of the benefits the men and women of CDF have earned through the collective bargaining process.

Portal to portal has long been a goal of the federal firefighter for as long as I can remember. I find it to be fundamentally wrong when you ask an employee to get on the road away from family and friends, risk personal self for the mission, and not be compensated. It really is a matter of fairness. I suppose this is why I find it odd that folks would jump on this page and start slamming.

CDF firefighters work the longest workweek in the fire service. My class, Battalion Chief works twice as long as my federal counter part every week at 84 hours. My local counter part works a 56. I'm not here to make any excuses, I signed up, but lets be a bit more fair about this issue. My mission is completely different from my federal counter part in that I am also expected to proficient and can be held accountable for additional duties in the all risk environment. By the same token, I do not begrudge my fellow firefighters for what ever benefit they can attain through what ever means, be it collective bargaining or what ever else.

The motel issue smacks of good old jealousy. This benefit was bargain for fair and square at the table. There are give and takes in bargaining. We gave up something in return for it I can assure you. What people tend to forget is that motel use can be shown on par to be as cost effective if not more when you figure in the costs of supporting folks living sleeping on the ground. I know I don't have to tell you this, but lets look at shower rentals, potable water, gray water haul outs, wash tables for shaving and washing hands. then let's talk about the fad out there of tent rentals that come complete with the portable air conditioning units, and companion whisper quiet generators to run them.

Is there abuse of the motel use policy? Sure there is! And I'm sure if we looked hard enough we would find examples of abuse in ever aspect of the base/camp. Why is it we will fly an aircrane all day on a fire and not a word is said regardless of whether it is effective or not. How many shower units can you rent for 40K a day? How many rooms can you rent?

Keep in mind, that most of the time the motel rooms are doubled up. Now I don't want to get into the quality of room issue here-I know there are abuses there. I have seen plenty of engine strike teams lodging at a Motel 6 while the fats cats are hanging out a little better joint. I have even seen personnel from other agencies signed in on CDF motel sheets (federal and local both) who in reality are not authorized to do this for contractual and department policy reasons. The fact is it is done though-OK, big deal.

Anytime a firefighters benefit package is enhanced, that is a good thing. be careful of throwing rocks at comrades just because they have a benefit you don't. I don't throw stones at my local government counterpart for working the same fire I am and making twice the money for it.

We all make our choices of where to work and for who, if this is a benefit you would like to have on a fire assignment, then come join us, there is plenty of room.

Incidentally, on the other hand, I wouldn't mind seeing the look on some of our new people who have become accustomed to the motel lifestyle. Technically speaking, if it operationally impacts the mission of the fire, motels are not authorized.

Let's work together to better al the working conditions, not use this forum to divide and concur.

We suffered a great defeat the other day at the hands of outgoing Governor Davis when he vetoed our binding arbitration bill while he signed the same thing for local firefighters. As you can imagine, we were stunned as we have stuck with him (at great peril to ourselves) when he wasn't even as popular as the bellhop!

"Another CDF BC"