Phoenix Council Approves Salary Boost For Fire, Aviation Dispatchers

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 - 5:05am
Christina Estes/KJZZ
The Phoenix City Council approved salary grade increases for fire dispatchers.

When you call 911 across the Valley, your local law enforcement agency answers. If fire or medical help is needed, your call is transferred to the Phoenix Fire Department’s Regional Dispatch Center. That’s where Sonya Valenzuela and others dispatch service for 26 jurisdictions.

“We are the voices on the line that help you deliver your baby at home,” Valenzuela said. “We’re the voices on the line that walk you through CPR when your child is found in the pool.”

Her union pushed to get the city’s human resources department to review fire dispatcher duties and pay. The HR department recommended raising fire dispatcher salary grades to match police dispatchers.

During a council meeting earlier this month, Joseph Witt Jr., a fire dispatcher and board member for AFSCME Local 2960, said they logged roughly 480,000 calls last year and, “This year we’re destined to break that total as call totals increase each year.”

Before the council approved the increase, Mayor Thelda Williams thanked them.

“I’ve unfortunately had the opportunity to call you and have been a tremendous help to me and my family,” she said. “You’ve taken us through some pretty perilous situations and you have done it in such a professional and compassionate way.”

The changes to salary grades will cost $217,549 for a year. Communications dispatchers for the Aviation Department will also see a salary bump that will cost the city $38,675 more per year.

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