Brevard County firefighters rally for new contract, better starting pay

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Firefighters in Brevard County say they want a new contract.


They and some of their supporters gathered outside the county’s government center on Tuesday afternoon to raise awareness for their cause.

Currently, the starting salary for firefighters in Brevard County is approximately $15 per hour.

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The President of the local firefighters union says there’s plenty of competition for new recruits. Meanwhile, county officials are making an effort to attract and retain more firefighters.

The new contract has been under negotiation since January. The current contract expires on September 30.

“It’s a calling, and they want to do their job,” said Michael Bramsom, President of the Brevard County Professional Firefighters Union IAFF Local 2969. “Are we giving them the services, the knowledge, the equipment to do the job?”

County officials say Brevard County Fire Rescue has roughly 525 positions and currently has 27 vacancies.

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A new recruit not yet in the field makes about $36,000 per year. Once they’re out in the field, that number increases to about $45,000 per year.

“The issue is on any given day, we have three shifts and 143 firefighters that work each shift,” Brevard County Director of Communications Don Walker explained. “When you take that into account, you have 400 plus people in the field on a given day. There’s not a lot of buffer, so we’re requiring some mandatory overtime.”

A county spokesperson says part of the funding challenge for them is a “charter cap,” which limits how much the county can raise property taxes in a given year.

Bramsom said he couldn’t comment about the contract negotiations, but he did tell Channel 9 his union members are concerned about the number of firefighters nearing retirement and what that means for the continuity of the department’s current level of service.

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For its part, the county is recruiting, and providing a $6,000 bonus for those who stay on an additional two years after recruitment and orientation.

“Strength in numbers,” Walker said. “We’re looking to fill those positions.”

If the union and the county can’t reach an agreement by their deadline, a special magistrate will be called in to try to resolve the impasse.

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