YONKERS, N.Y. – The Yonkers Fire Department is expanding its ranks.
A class of 32 recruits was sworn in as probationary members of the Yonkers Fire Department on Friday during a ceremony led by Mayor Mike Spano and Fire Commissioner Robert Sweeney at Yonkers Riverfront Library.
Five firefighters were also promoted to lieutenant.
Friday’s hiring of new members comes as city officials and firefighter union leaders continue to wrangle over the terms of a new contract and uncertainty on exactly how much the newest firefighters will be paid.
According to the existing contract, which expired in 2009, they would receive an annual starting salary of $70,996. City officials, however, have been pushing for lower starting pay during ongoing contract negotiations as part of an effort to reduce costs within the department.
Last week, the New York State Public Employee Relations Board decided contract talks between the city and the union had stalled, thereby sending the process to mediation. Should the two sides remain unable to reach an agreement, the next step would be binding arbitration supervised by the state.
As a result, city officials have said the new firefighters’ salary has yet to be determined and will likely be worked out while they are in training.
Regardless, the new group of firefighters is expected to help fill an estimated 45 vacancies in the short-staffed department and drive down overtime spending, an often discussed goal of the mayor.