With New Contract, Rochester Firefighters' Pay Tied To Performance

Jul 7, 2017

Firefighters from the Rochester Fire Department and Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H. conduct aerial ladder training.
Credit Erica Rowe, U.S. Air National Guard

Firefighters in Rochester will be the first in the state to have their pay tied to their performance.

The City of Rochester and Rochester Professional Firefighters Local 1451 have agreed to a new four-year contract. Along with minor changes to health care policies and bereavement time, the contract calls for an annual review of each Rochester firefighter. The first responders will be graded on mostly non-emergency metrics, such as attendance and interactions with the community.

“Typically, firefighters, fire departments, don’t go to merit because we work as a team. And it’s kind of hard to evaluate people individually,’ says Sam Morrill, president of Local 1451 and a Rochester firefighter.

Based on their scores, firefighters will see annual raises of anywhere between zero and four percent.

Rochester’s firefighters have been working without a contract for the past two years, as negotiations between the City and the union dragged on, with the new pay system a key sticking point, according to Morrill.

Under the previous system, firefighters were paid according to a step system, which factored in length of service in the department as the key metric.

With the new contract in place, Rochester becomes the first municipality in New Hampshire to have all of its city employees on a merit-based pay system.