A proposed ordinance that would give Pine Bluff firefighters with 20 or more years of service additional vacation time was recommended for approval Wednesday by a committee of the Pine Bluff City Council.
The council’s Public Safety Committee heard from Fire and Emergency Services Chief Shauwn Howell, who said the ordinance is similar to an ordinance the council is already considering which deals with the Police Department. The Fire Department was not included in that ordinance, which has been read twice and will be up for a final reading when the council meets Tuesday.
Howell said that since the work schedules for the Fire Department are different from those of the Police Department, a separate ordinance is needed.
The ordinance dealing with the Police Department provides that officers with more than 20 years of service would be eligible for up to four days extra vacation or a maximum of 24 days annually. Police officers work an eight-hour shift or 40 hours a week.
Firefighters, on the other hand, work a 56-hour week, and those with at least 20 years of service would be eligible for 10 full shifts or 240 total hours of vacation. Those with 25 years or more would be eligible for 11 full shifts or 264 total hours of vacation.
Department members who work a 40-hour work week would receive one extra day for every year over 20 years with a maximum of 24 days allowed.
The committee, made up of aldermen Bill Brumett and Lloyd Holcomb Jr. and chairwoman Alderwoman Thelma Walker, was told that the change would affect about 20 members of the 100 member fire department.
Howell said the ordinance would help to change the perception that the Police Department gets something that the fire department doesn’t since the original ordinance that was proposed by current Police Chief Ivan Whitfield dealt only with members of his department. A second ordinance that would increase the clothing allowance for police officers from $600 to $800 annually has now been amended to include firefighters.
“This is a step in the right direction,” Howell said, adding that while the new vacation time would result in some overtime, it would not be significant to the overall budget.
The ordinance increasing the clothing allowance was read for the first time during the council’s meeting last week and is scheduled for a second reading when the council meets Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. The meeting was moved from Monday because of President’s Day, a Federal holiday.