December 19, 2012 - Paid-on-call personnel working for the Oxford Fire Department will have a happier new year thanks to a bump in their hourly wage beginning Jan. 1.
Last week, the township board voted 7-0 to increase their pay by 3.5 percent.
Right now, paid-on-call firefighters/Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) receive hourly rates of $9.88, $11.28, $14 and $16.97 depending on their level of education/training and the number of years they've been with the department.
In less than two weeks, those rates will increase to $10.23, $11.67, $14.49 and $17.56 per hour.
"The paid-on-call (staff) hadn't had a raise since 2008," said Fire Chief Pete Scholz.
Given township employees and elected officials are getting a 3 percent raise next year, Scholz "figured it was time" the paid-on-call personnel were rewarded, too.
"I felt it was well-deserved," the chief said.
Scholz indicated the pay increase is also meant to encourage more people to join Oxford's paid-on-call ranks, which the department needs to function.
"It's one more carrot that can hopefully entice somebody else to say, 'Hey, I want to do that,'" the chief said.
Right now, the department is staffed by 12 full-time career firefighters (not including the chief) and 22 paid-on-call personnel who respond to emergency situations as they arise.
Scholz believes 12 more paid-on-call staffers are needed.
The only time paid-on-call staff receive hourly wages is when they are responding to emergency calls or participating in training sessions. They are not paid for time spent in classes to become a firefighter or EMT.
Due to the need for emergency medical personnel, Scholz created, and the township board approved, a separate pay scale for paid-on-call staff who wish to serve as EMTs only, not firefighters. EMTs are desperately needed to help treat patients and drive the ambulance to the hospital.
Medical calls make up 80 percent of the department's total call volume.
By the end of the year, the department will have responded to an estimated 1,800 calls. On an average day, the department handles about five medical calls, according to Scholz.
This new paid-on-call EMT pay scale starts at $10.23 per hour and increases to $13 and $15.97 in the second and third years, respectively, with the department.
Paid-on-call fire officers also received a 3.5 percent pay increase in their annual pay.
The second assistant chief went from $3,708 to $3,838, while the lieutenant increased from $1,056 to $1,093.
The two sergeants received pay hikes that took them from $750 per year to $776.
Applications to become a paid-on-call staff member can be obtained by visiting www.oxfordfiredept.com or in person at Station #1 (96 N. Washington St.) between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old, a resident of either Oxford Township or Village, a high school graduate or GED-holder, possess a good driving record and have no criminal history.
Applicants must also successfully complete a standardized physical agility test, pre-employment physical exam and drug screening.
It takes 120 hours of class time just to become certified as a basic EMT and approximately 240 hours of instruction to become a firefighter.
For more information, please contact Chief Scholz at (248) 969-9483.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.