Many fire departments use the staffing model of Firefighter/Paramedic. Lots of Bay Area departments use this staffing model. Wages in the Bay Area are much higher than in Patterson, CA. This makes the process of attracting and keeping Firefighter/Paramedics to the City of Patterson a challenge.
The Union has come up with potential solutions and the City of Patterson has been rejecting these options and has opted to hire Firefighter/EMT’s for the open Firefighter/Paramedic positions. We have tried negotiating with the city and even filed a grievance to attempt to have the City of Patterson honor their agreement with the IAFF Local 4577 that the best staffing model is for a Firefighter/Paramedic to be the primary medic.
Hiring Firefighter/EMT’s to fill Firefighter/Paramedic positions is creating a staffing model that is not ideal and Fire Captain/Paramedics and Fire Engineer/Paramedics have to be the primary Paramedic on a regular basis. The City, by not hiring Firefighter/Paramedics, has reduced the number of Paramedics on the Fire Department from 11 Paramedics to only 8 Paramedics. This is jeopardizing the ALS service we can provide to the citizens of Patterson by reducing the number of Paramedics on the fire engines.
At this moment in time (10/7/2023) we have 3 medics that are out for various reasons. This is placing a strain on the remaining 3 Fire Captain/Paramedics, 2 Engineer/Paramedics, and 1 Firefighter/Paramedic.
The City of Patterson needs to consider the Union’s ideas on recruitment and retention of Firefighter/Paramedics and hire this classification moving forward so we can continue to provide Advanced Life Support to the citizens of Patterson. They also need to honor their commitment that the best staffing model is a Firefighter/Paramedic as the primary Paramedic onscene. This important service is covered in detail in Part 6.
This lack of hiring and not filling Firefighter/Paramedic openings with Firefighter/Paramedics is creating a situation where firefighters, engineers, and captains are working more than their scheduled hours on a regular basis. This means they are working 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and sometimes more than 10 days in a row, without being able to go home. These firefighters have been doing this for years, quietly, but now is the time for the public to know the sacrifice they and their families are making.
This is affecting the mental health of the firefighters through family issues, lack of being able to go home, and no time to process the difficult job we do. Maintaining a fully and properly staffed fire department should be a top priority of the City of Patterson.