Members of the Tinker Fire Department, along with 72nd Air Base Wing Commander Col. Paul Filcek, gathered in Fire House #1 on Sept. 6 for the signing of a renegotiated Local Supplement Agreement between Tinker Air Force Base and the International Association of Fire Fighters Local F-211, Tinker Professional Fire Fighters.
This is the first time the contract has been renegotiated in 25 years with the process taking six months.
Local IAFF President Jody Chase said they’ve been negotiating this specific agreement, regarding working conditions for the firefighters, for about six months. The agreement outlines exact working conditions from meal times, breaks, sleeping times, standby times and similar items.
“We’ve always had a really good partnership with the agency, fire chief, deputy fire chief and we always try to work through things diplomatically,” Chase said. “That shows in this contract.”
While the old contract from 1994 wasn’t completely thrown out, it was greatly expanded upon. Some of the changes include a schedule adjustment that will allow firefighters to spend more time with their family, as well as giving firefighters more stability in their work schedule from year to year.
“Since our last contract negotiations 25 years ago, our jobs have changed and the way we do business has changed,” Chase said.
A significant change in the new agreement is in Article 5 Section 1.1 regarding hours of work.
“We codified our 48-72 hour alternate work schedule,” Chase said. “This unconventional schedule is vital for the safety of our community, because it provides the same level of service while allowing longer periods between shifts for our firefighters to care for their families. The demands of the job can easily affect our families in a negative way, this helps with that.”
Another change is the solidification of firefighter station and work group assignments to ensure crew continuity, cohesiveness and a positive impact on crew morale.
“This is important to firefighters and the community alike. It provides firefighters with a sense of stability and cohesiveness that breeds efficiency,” Chase said. “Individual crews will now be able to build long-term goals to facilitate the higher plane of skill we strive for.”
Other significant changes include updates to overtime, fitness time and updates for compliance with the Command Labor Agreement.
“This is an agreement between our Local and the agency that we will work together to create a workforce that is highly motivated, multi-skilled and technologically advanced to meet the ever-changing needs of our Tinker AFB community,” Chase said. “This is important and ensures that problems can be resolved in a timely and fair manner.”
During the agreement signing, Tinker Fire and Emergency Services Chief Terry Ford called the process a top achievement.
“This is a big day for us. For me, this is a top achievement. We’re doing something today that hasn’t been done in 25 years,” Ford said. “Contracts are great, but what we have here is far more important. We’re family.”