Local City Officials, Firefighters at Odds

Frisco Central Fire Station | Image by Frisco Fire Department/Facebook

Frisco firefighters have asked voters to enact a civil service system, whereas city leaders oppose the power shift.

The Frisco Firefighters Association (FFA) is looking to make the Frisco Fire Department one of the 29 fire departments in the state with collective bargaining rights and a civil service system, reported KERA News.

Two propositions on the upcoming May 4 ballot aim to do just that, which could result in firefighters having more negotiating power and making them less at the mercy of political and ‘good old boy’ influence, as FFA president Matt Sapp argues, per KERA. A civil service system involves test-based hiring and promotion policies as well as a commission that will rule on disciplinary actions and dismissals.

On the other hand, city officials suggested that Frisco firefighters already have considerable sway over policy, with over 200 currently serving on 16 committees, per KERA.

Moreover, Wes Pierson, city manager, claimed that collective bargaining rights would result in increased costs and a civil service system with too much bureaucracy.

“We believe our current rules are actually better situated to meet the needs of our workforce in 2024 than the rules outlined in the civil service legislation that was adopted back in 1947,” he said, per KERA.

A clash over staffing led to the demand for a civil service system. The City of Frisco and FFA disagree over whether staffing figures meet the National Fire Protection Agency’s requirements. While the former finds the number of firefighters staffed within the Frisco Fire Department adequate due to the possibility of deploying additional engines when needed, the latter does not.

“Do they meet the number of personnel showing up on scene if they’re sending half the city over here? Of course,” Sapp said, per KERA. “But do you want half the city over here when they have other districts to cover because you’re not staffed appropriately? That’s really the question the citizens need to be worried about.”

“We are the stopgap,” he added. “There’s no 912. 911 is who you call. We are the problem solvers.”

Meanwhile, Pierson pointed out that it would cost the city $7.2 million to meet the staffing levels FFA is asking for and cast doubt over the necessity given that, for one, the Frisco Fire Department continues to receive high ratings. The U.S. Fire Administration recently chose the department to partake in the rollout of a new fire information and analytics platform.

As Bill Woodard, a Frisco council member and a member of the Safety First Frisco PAC, argued, this shows that the Frisco Fire Department is “the best of the best” and got there “without the need for civil service and without the need for collective bargaining,” per KERA.

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