The five percent increase, which is retroactive for 2009, will increase the first-level firefighter salary to $48,924 per year. Currently, the city of Wenatchee pays first-level firefighter recruits $46,813 per year. The city of Richland pays first-level firefighters $49,536 per year.
"We don't try to be at the top of our comparables or the bottom. We try to be average," said Walla Professional Firefighters Local 404 Union President Todd Stubblefield, who is also a captain with the city Fire Department.
Over the last seven months, the Consumer Price Index for comparable cities has declined each month, with last month's index dropping to minus 3.1 percent.
In 2008, Walla Walla City Firefighters received a 2 percent increase, but the Consumer Price Index for that year was 3.7 percent, according U.S. Department of Labor.
"I think the City Council has done a good job stretching the tax payer's dollar. With the cost of living, it is not uncommon to see a little as a 2 percent increase and as high as 5 percent," said contract negotiations chair Javin Berg, a lieutenant with the city Fire Department.
Firefighters/EMTs also received an increase to their voluntary ambulance transport reimbursement. Firefighters had been paid $10 for every day they volunteered to be on call for out-of-town ambulance transfers. The on call rate was increased to $25.
Alfred Diaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8325.