Johnstown’s deal with firefighters union would open up four doctor jobs

JOHNSTOWN — A quadruple batch of potential Johnstown hires would not be paid in tax dollars under an ongoing deal.

The city of Johnstown and union officials reached an agreement to open four full-time paramedic positions — each paid $48,000 — for the fire department. These roles are financially supported by insurance reimbursements and county funding.

“We’re trying to limit the amount we’re going to raise in taxes in the coming years and with EMS under the fire department doing a good job with that, it’s an expensive service that we provide and we need to find funding for it,” Councilman Scott Jeffers said.

The city council will vote on the measure on Tuesday.

Johnstown currently has four fire paramedics and a number of part-time paramedics to fill in as needed. Personnel changes had already been foreseen in the 2023 budget, which was adopted last month.

“We felt we had enough in the budget,” Johnstown Mayor Amy Praught said. “We have reduced overtime because, as you understand, we have firefighters who are also EMS workers and paramedics.”

The majority of members are EMT certified, a designation involving relatively less training and a narrower scope of rescue procedures. If the deal passes the board, it would be the first time in recent history that the department has boasted paramedic-only positions.

Johnstown Association of Professional Firefighters Local 779 leader Jake Van Every inquired about the eligibility of doctors from the International Association of Firefighters and the State of Professional Firefighters Association of New York to union membership during the agreement process.

“We didn’t know if we could get someone who wasn’t a firefighter able to join our union,” Van Every said. “They said there was no problem as long as it’s the emergency services, so it worked out.”

Formal talks on the four-member proposal have been underway for several weeks, according to the union official.

“I know our attorney has reviewed the memorandum of understanding, the city attorney has reviewed the memorandum of understanding, and everyone seems to be in agreement,” Van Every said.

Local 779’s collective agreement with the city expires at the end of the year. Negotiations are expected to begin soon.

Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-527-7659 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @TylerAMcNeil

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