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After being "gutted" by bankruptcy, most Detroit firefighters might get raises

Jul 15, 2016

Most Detroit firefighters should get a pay bump as soon as next month,

Under a tentative deal struck by Mayor Mike Duggan and the fire union, firefighters who cross-train as medical first responders will get the 4% raise.

The city says that 26 of the fire department’s 46 companies are currently doing medical runs, and that’s helped bring average EMS response times down to around 8 minutes. That's in line with the national average.

This won’t put the average Detroit firefighter on par with suburban counterparts. It won’t even put them back to where they were before the city’s bankruptcy.

“It’s a significant step closer,” Duggan said. “And as the city continues to recover economically, we are going to continue to share that progress.”

“This little bump is what we needed psychologically and emotionally,” added Detroit Fire Fighter’s Association President Mike Nevin. “Because we were gutted after the bankruptcy.”

Some future, smaller pay hikes are already scheduled in the firefighter’s existing collective bargaining agreement over the next three years, in addition to a 2.5% raise this year.

Another 6% raise will go toward shoring up Detroit’s public safety pension fund.

Duggan announced earlier this year that Detroit’s legacy pension funds, thought restored to solvency by the city’s bankruptcy, are actually still underfunded by almost $500 million.

Like all contract changes in post-bankruptcy Detroit, this one needs approval from a state-appointed Financial Review Commission, as well as the Detroit City Council.

City officials hope to get that approval by August 1.