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Firefighters step up, do right thing

Fittingly, Ironton’s firefighters, a group that serves as first responders in emergency situations, was the first of the city’s three unions to step up and do the right thing for the citizens.

The city and its firefighters reached an agreement on a new three-year contract last week, one that — by necessity — required the firefighters to make some significant concessions.

And they did.

Ironton’s financial situation has been tenuous for years and only minimal changes have been made until this year, with a fiscal crisis looming.

Even after adding more than $500,000 in annual revenue by raising the municipal fee and adjusting the tax rate for many citizens who work outside Ironton, the city still needed to make significant cuts just to make ends meet.

Council counted on concessions by the unions in the city budget and, as negotiations dragged on, had to layoff employees.

Overall, the talks have been characterized by many with knowledge of the negotiations as going poorly.

But the firefighters did the right thing and no one can question their commitment to the citizens.

The firefighters will begin paying 3 percent of their retirement pickup, cut 20 percent in the department’s food budget and take a 25 percent cut in each firefighter’s clothing allowance.

Although it could be debated that some of the perks should have been eliminated a long time ago, the bottom line is these are still part of the overall compensation packages for the firefighters and the agreed upon concessions total nearly $50,000 more than what the city had asked for.

An important thing to note is that these concessions will stay in place for the life of the three-year contract but health benefits, pension pickup and wages will be renegotiated each year. This is crucial and the reality is that more concessions will be needed in coming years.

For now though, Ironton’s firefighters have done enough and can focus on protecting the citizens physically instead of fiscally.