Unlimited Access. Try it Today! Your First 10 Days Always $0.99
News Opinion Readers Respond

Mayor's budget asks too much of fire fighters

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has proposed additional cuts to the Baltimore City Fire Department in her proposed budget ("'Tough choices' in city budget plan," March 21). The budget includes a proposed schedule change for the men and women who run into burning buildings that would increase their work hours along with reducing their hourly rate of pay while ultimately reducing the staffing of the department by as many as 300 positions.

Those fire fighters already work on average two hours a week longer than other city employees without additional compensation. Their salaries are roughly 16 percent to 20 percent less than the surrounding fire departments in the state of Maryland.

Throughout my career we have always contributed to our pensions, and beginning July 1, 2013, our members will have realized an 80 percent increase of the employee contributions to the fire and police pension system since 2010. Fire fighters in Baltimore do not receive Social Security benefits and must count on their pensions to sustain them after a grueling and sometimes debilitating career.

We truly recognize the importance of a sustainable pension. In three of the past four years we have suffered wage reductions by way of furloughs, stagnant wage increases while contributing more to the rising costs of health care, which has resulted in a net loss of take home pay. The men and women of the BCFD have given plenty during this economic downturn and only ask that the city administration look at other avenues before once again asking our folks to give more.

Whether it is a severe weather event, major emergency incident, a child needing rescue from a burning building or a family member needing immediate medical care, we will continue to serve the citizens of Baltimore with dignity and professionalism.

Michael B. Campbell, Baltimore

The writer is president of Baltimore Fire Officers, Local 964.

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts
  • Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
    Related Content
    • How to expand Baltimore's tax base
      How to expand Baltimore's tax base

      I have a couple of suggestions on how to make up for the city's loss of revenue due to state budget cuts ("Miller, black lawmakers voice concern over school cuts," Jan. 29).

    • The importance of Rawlings-Blake's pension reform
      The importance of Rawlings-Blake's pension reform

      Baltimore's active and retired police officers and fire fighters got a good bit of news this week with the release of an annual report on their pension system's finances. Thanks to strong investment returns and increased contributions from both the city and plan members, the system's net...

    • City Hall theater
      City Hall theater

      No sooner had the Baltimore City Council taken a strong step in defiance of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's promised vetoes of two controversial bills Monday night than they announced their intentions to cave under the pressure and let her have her way. The council, it seems, is an...

    • The message from voters
      The message from voters

      It appears that some of the long-serving politicians who have been addicted to tax and spending increases may have heard the message from voters that it's not their money and we are tired of them wasting our tax dollars ("Rawlings-Blake to create 'tax reform' task force," Nov. 11).

    • City's costly tax strategy
      City's costly tax strategy

      Baltimore and the Baltimore Development Corporation have found a way to stimulate growth that costs the city money ("Rising wealth, falling school aid," Feb. 8).

    • Minor privilege tax also affects residential property owners [Letter]
      Minor privilege tax also affects residential property owners [Letter]

      I could not agree more with your editorial regarding the minor privilege tax ("Minor privilege, major disincentive," Aug. 13).

    • Tired of sticking up for a city that doesn't stick up for me
      Tired of sticking up for a city that doesn't stick up for me

      Recently, a large semi-truck took off the back end of my car, which was parked right next to a "no trucks" sign on Toone Street in Canton. The entire experience was surreal, but initially I was fine because I was just relieved that no one was injured in any way. The truck driver was nice and...

    • Minor privilege, major disincentive [Editorial]
      Minor privilege, major disincentive [Editorial]

      Our view: If Baltimore is serious about fostering investment and growth, it needs to stop charging businesses for the privilege of existing here