City, firefighters' union reach ARU agreement

Memorandum of understanding also resolves other open issues

Brian Coddington, Communications Director, 509.625.6740

Monday, August 24, 2015 at 1:25 p.m.

The City of Spokane and the firefighters’ union worked over the weekend to improve medical response.

A sweeping memorandum of understanding (MOU) reached late Sunday restores the innovative pilot program that dispatches smaller sport-utility vehicles to non-emergency calls and closes a discussion about the position that oversees the Spokane Fire Department’s medical response program. The MOU, which modifies an existing labor agreement between the City and Local 29, the labor union that represents Spokane firefighters, also updates the process for filling the deputy fire marshal position, and resolves pending mediation relating to the department’s Special Investigations Unit.

“We are committed to innovation that delivers the best, most affordable service to our community,” Spokane Mayor David Condon said. “This partnership with Local 29 improves a pilot program that sends smaller vehicles to non-emergency medical calls and leaves resources available for more pressing emergencies.”

“We are excited to work with the City to accomplish new things,” Don Waller, president of Local 29, said. “We can always accomplish more in collaboration. We hope this sets a new tone for the future.”

Alternative Response Units (ARUs) will respond to non-emergency calls with two people using two different staffing models that will be tested during the balance of the labor agreement. The first model will dispatch two firefighters on ARU responses. The second, alternative model will also send two people on ARUs, although only one will be a firefighter. Use of the alternative staffing model is limited to 50 percent of all ARU deployments for the duration of the pilot.

Approximately 87 percent of the fire department’s more than 35,000 annual calls for service are medical/ public assist when automobile accidents are included. Response data will be collected and analyzed to evaluate the effectiveness of each model. If the ARU program continues beyond the agreement, the data will be used to determine the most effective and efficient ARU staffing model. ARUs responded to 3,860 calls in 2014 and managed 2,233 incidents without additional fire department resources.

The MOU also resolves several other open issues between the City and the firefighters’ union.

  • Local 29 has agreed to withdraw the pending Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) petition and pending Civil Service Commission complaint related to the hiring and classification of the Integrated Medical Services position. It will not contest the classification of the Integrated Medical Services Manager under the Managerial and Professional Association or the subsequent recruitment and selection of the Integrated Medical Services Manager.
  • City administration and Local 29 will jointly and publicly advocate for City Council approval of cooperative integrated medical services staffing with the Spokane Valley Fire Department.
  • The deputy fire marshal will be filled from the uniformed deputy fire marshal Civil Service list instead of the civilian fire inspector Civil Service list.
  • The City and Local 29 will jointly notify PERC that pending mediation relating to Special Investigations Unit assignment and staffing has been resolved.