WatchSonoma Watch

Firefighters boycott winemaker who criticized pensions, pay

Dario Sattui

North Bay firefighters launched a boycott of a Napa Valley winery this weekend after its owner criticized their wages and benefits in a letter published in the St. Helena Star.

The letter, written by V. Sattui Winery owner Dario Sattui, touched off a firestorm of angry comments on Facebook and Twitter by firefighters, police officers and their supporters.

“While I respect the work they do and the inherent dangers, they are greatly overpaid, work only two days a week (a third of which they sleep) and get to retire at 50 years old at 90 percent of their pay after working 30 years,” Sattui wrote in his April 9 letter.

“But maybe getting paid 90 percent of one’s maximum pay for another 25-30 years for doing nothing isn’t so unjust, as they received high salaries for working very little before they retired,” Sattui wrote.

Tim Aboudara, vice president and political director for Santa Rosa Fire Fighters IAFF Local 1401, posted a note about the letter on his Facebook page and encouraged followers on Twitter to read it on Friday night.

The response from public safety workers and their supporters inundated the winery’s Facebook page this weekend as word of the letter spread on social networking sites.

“I only hope that when your winery is burning down, no fire fighters come to help your business,” stated one post, submitted under the name of Emily Morena Orloff. “I hope your business rots in hell in this economy.”

“After Dario Sattui’s ignorant, uninformed ratings about firefighters I wouldn’t use your rot gut crap to clean auto parts,” stated another post, submitted under the name of Dan McCabe.

Several pages sprang up on Facebook to promote the boycott. One page, titled the Public Safety Boycott V Sattui Winery and Castello di Amoroso, had 819 fans by Sunday evening. Its creator was listed as Mike Stewart, who describes himself as a Ukiah fire engineer and paramedic.

A second Facebook page titled, in all caps, V SATTUI WINE TASTES LIKE RECYCLED SEWAGE, had collected 182 fans by Sunday evening. It insinuated that there were “strange labor practices” at the St. Helena winery and encouraged visitors to boycott V. Sattui wines.

“Public Safety people who want to stay healthy, and their supporters should probably avoid Sattui Wines, to avoid gagging as they drink,” stated the site’s creator, who was not publicly identified.

A post submitted under the name of Brad Conners — vice president of the Santa Rosa Police Officers’ Association — featured a picture of Sattui along with the caption: “Our hero….should anyone get flagged down by him or see him choking in a restaurant.” The post and photo were removed Sunday evening.

The vehemence of the responses prompted one supporter to urge public safety workers to tamp down their comments.

“Firefighters, medics, police, nurses and doctors do a rough job one which deserves respect. However, I am embarrassed at some of these comments that elude to not helping him if he was in a state of emergency,” stated a post submitted under the name of Sam Crenshaw, who describes himself as a paramedic on his Facebook page.

“The respect from others should be earned not expected. It is dangerous to say such things in a public forum with your name attached to it. We should approach this in a proactive way and NOT give him or others more reasons to say we are not part of a PROFESSIONAL group of people. These are tight times and such reactions can be taken in a very wrong way,” concluded the post written under Crenshaw’s name.

A copy of Sattui’s letter was placed on the site by a poster using Aboudara’s name.

“While we, of course, support the public’s right to speak their opinion, this particular author is outright slanderous against our profession, our wages/benefits, and our members,” stated the post under Aboudara’s name.

“What the author (Sattui) fails to appreciate, is that we may be able to chose whether or not to purchase his wineries’ products, but when he, his family, friends, neighbors, or employees find themselves in a moment of need, our brothers and sisters will proudly, professionally, and humbly answer the call and astound them with the high level of service they provide,” stated the post under Aboudara’s name.

- Ted Appel
Watch Sonoma County

197 Responses to “Firefighters boycott winemaker who criticized pensions, pay”

  1. bulk soap says:

    My point is that unlike somebody above suggested, this work should be done for people whoi love it, not for the money. That’s a joke to me. Certain professions need to be paid for “stand by”. I much prefer have to be helped by well paid firefighters, police officer, paramedic. Than by underpaid, unhappy and worried about their finances.

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  2. hal says:

    Pay for any position should be determined by the number of qualified applicants for the position.

    There is no shortage of qualified candidates for fire department jobs. So why is the pay so high? Contra Costa web site says firefighter 40 hours start at $6240.02 per month.

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  3. CHILL OUT says:

    This post should be erased, all its doing is salting the names of fire fighters bacause there slinging mud back and forth with the public and not really making themseles look good but neither is the public. I thought you guys were supposed to be cool under pressure? everyone has the right to say anything they want and the gov is controlled, at least i thought, by the private sector right? we all pay into the system, we all have a right to speak.

    PUBLIC: you have never had the experience or scare or loosing someone in a fire, be there while a mother deals with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or sae a life, a house, a living being or property from fire.

    To me pentions should have been dead a long time ago and if you make more than the private sector you sould be expected to save more than the private sector has to. Fiscal tradition is dead. no one is changing minds on this post. were just making eachother sound ignorant.

    hey, if i was making loot i would be pissed that someone was attacking my paycheck too. I dont care who you are. we get use to what we get but the thing is in an economy thats going down the crapper, in order to preserve our way of life we all need to make sacrifices. possibly not as extreme as everyone wants.

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  4. James says:

    Cynthia, with you and d-bag Sattui calling firefighters lazy, you should expect outright venomous attacks. This is a career so many people have chose for the rest of their lives and you criticize and mock them. You and your buddy Sattui can be seen as venomous attackers, so keep an eye out for hypocrisy.

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  5. Cynthia says:

    What’s outright venomous is the attacks the wining FF have launched on Mr Sattui. I’ve never seen such a gang of hoodlums parading as professionals in all my life.
    The truth is that just about every post denigrating Mr. Satuui comes from a FF or his wife.
    I logged onto the Satuui Winery site and order wine from him, to show him my support. Those FF should be ashamed of themselves and the ring leaders should all have been terminated on the spot.

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  6. Jim Stewart says:

    p.s. Fireman went out in the 70′s… If you don’t notice the color and gender mix in that profession these days then take off the femenist, racist glasses. They are filtering out the truth.

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  7. Jim Stewart says:

    Goodness Gloria,
    I hope you are getting therapy for your delusional jealous rages. That post is flat out venomous. Didn’t get chosen off someone’s hiring list? Thats ok, most don’t. Take a deep breath and let the anger go.

    BTW: Doctors and lawyers make many times the pay of firefighters. Unless they work for the government, then their salaries are capped as well….

    Please take care and don’t break the pill in half, take all your meds.

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  8. Cynthia says:


    1. The Pubic Believes the Profession is Inherently “Dangerous” – The fact is, however, some firemen never even see a live fire, but rather cart around senior citizens and illegal immigrants that call 911 for a paramedic. Rather than receiving an ambulance, however, an entire fire truck arrives equipped with the latest gadgets and numerous firemen who stand around and watch the spectacle. Firemen are also not listed on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics top ten most dangerous professions. Nevertheless, they boast to the public about how dangerous their profession is, and how such justifies their outrageous pay. Ironically, those employees in the top ten are silent concerning the hazards of their profession, notwithstanding their significantly lower pay. Sounds like “hero lobbying.”


    2. Only High School Diploma’s Need Apply- Unlike other professions that require years of foregone income and student loans (e.g., professor, dentist, lawyer, doctor, etc.) becoming a firefighter has very generous admission standards only requiring a high school diploma, and the prerequisite young age of 18. See e.g.,


    3. The Pay that Keeps on Giving – Setting aside the fact that you only work 15 days per month, get paid while you sleep, hang out with your buddies and watch porn at the fire station, the pay is outstanding! When you include overtime pay such is often in excess of $200,000. This is not to mention your generous “defined benefit” plan. Most of us in the private industry do not even know what such is. In fact, their pay has been increasing even in light of the current California budget crisis. But they are heros and therefore they deserve such extravagant pay – what a minute, is that what it takes to be a hero, excessive pay? Some make more than the base pay of the president of the United States! See e.g.,







    4. Don’t Worry About Uncle Sam – Many firemen are completely exempt from social security and medicare taxation because they have their own “qualifying public retirement systems” and “voluntary agreements“ between the state and the social security administration. They may also be exempt from federal and state taxation if they obtain “line-of-duty pay.” How is that for doing your part as an American. Do our soldiers get the same treatment for their line of duty?



    5. Time to Get the Golf Clubs Out – With all of your days off (every month), you will have lots of time for numerous rounds of golf. Case in point, one FDNY firefighter was known for playing 50 rounds of golf in one year. Maybe that is how the disability occurred.


    6. Union Protection from Salary from Disclosure – If the salary is justified why do they not want us to know about it? As a member of the union, you can rest assured they will fight the pubic disclosure of your salary and overtime pay all the way to the Supreme Court of California. I thought the public paid their salaries?


    7. Claim a “Disability” Enhance your Pension, Retire Early and Get a Second Job – This is the typical path of a firefighter. You claim a “disability” by setting the stage with your dangerous profession/hero status and then you retire early at 50, enhance your pension and find a second job.








    8. Why go to School and Earn Far Less. – Need I say more, notice the average salary for post-secondary teachers (with far more than a high school diploma) who earn on average $58,830. Private ambulance drivers conducing a substantially similar service earn a median wage of $30,000.



    9. You are Immune from Budget Cuts – Each time a budget cut occurs in California, “emergency service personnel” are exempt from budget cuts and furloughs. It is your essential status.

    10. Good Old Boys Club Membership – If you are a minority and are not part of the circle of nepotism you need not apply, as these magnificent benefits are not leaving the “family business.”



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  9. JD says:


    I genuinely appreciate your mature answer in amongst all this.

    Just under $40,000 is my base salary. I do earn, in total, just over $60,000 with overtime and some other factors filtered in (of which I’m sure you’re aware).

    Let me get this straight though: I was not trying to imply that EVERY firefighter or paramedic earns and works the same as me. It varies massively. But the reality is (and I’m being as sincerely truthful as I ever have been) most salaries are closer to mine than $300k. Please believe me.

    In terms of education, again, I was not implying that all firefighters have this. But all paramedics do have the same or equivalent training. Non-paramedic firefighters have EMT training, which is less, but not all that far off. We do more and more training and re-training every year. It’s a lot.

    And I’m not boasting at all. I was simply replying to a previous post.


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  10. mike says:

    Paul(#188): We agree that “we all have rights to our opinion, but public service groups, whether paid or not, have given up the right to choose who and who not they will provide their service to.”
    Beyond that you lost me.
    What you have seen in this forum are many things spoken from frustration and offense. But would emergency responders really withhold services from someone they dislike? Being an emergency responder myself, I will categorically say it would not happen in our time and place! In fact the only such instance that I can think of, 20 years back, resulted in the disbanding of a nearby volunteer fire department. Comments and opinions aside, Paul, we take our job and our duty to act very seriously.
    There is no firefighter mafia; Mr Sattui and his properties are quite safe!
    The rest of your post is nonsense. Sure, there is an occasional thief among the police and arsonist among the firefighters… but they are few, widely publicized, and short lived (this has been studied). And your mandate that we hold no second jobs? Well, aside from that being likely unconstitutional, you then would be obliged to provide a middle class wage and retirement to all of us! Which, I suspect, is counter to your argument.

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  11. paul says:

    we all have rights to our opinion, but public service groups, whether paid or not, have given up the right to choose who and who not they will provide their service to. The boycott is not merely a boycott of products but the threat of retension of services.

    This is no different than PG&E threatening to discontinue providing power if you criticize them.

    We would be better off knowing that no one is coming, than hoping a responder doesn’t like us and is dawdling enough that the response is worthless. In my opinion, any public sevice group that retains the right to threaten or imply loss of services should be considered summarily illegal, disbanded at the public level, voided of all rights to state and county and fed donations, required to give back all gear, funding and equipment.

    They should be denied access to any service type jobs. They have broken the main rule, bias in providing safety services. That they have openly implied their position, implies that it exists secretly, and that retractions are merely publiv denials for what they believe they have the right to do.

    The public has been fed years of “you don’t even have the right to defend your home” as the cit/county/feds will provide for you. The only way you get cops to your house is if you are rich or famous, yell “put that gun down” at the 911 op, or if they think you owe them money. So, if the firefighters want to join the cops as withholders of service, don’t expect me to be for any benefit to you.

    We know some of you start the fires, and this happens with individuals that need the firefighting money, so we think that the only effective way of stopping such activity is to with-hold all firefighting wages to volunteers, all money to service organizations that claim the right to bias, and scrutiny of any suspected of bias.

    WE also believe that paid service pesonell should not be allowed to have other jobs, especially out of area, and lose retirement if seeking retirement from another job. If the job is so demanding, there can’t be any hidden injuries from other hard work, or sleepiness from a physically non-demanding job. how about a new slogan “honest up, from the start.”

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  12. Tough Love says:

    After deducting the interest accumulated value of their own contributions, the cost to taxpayers of a COLA-adjusted pension to a Policeman/Fireman (with a 3% at 50 pension formula) who retires at age 55 with 30 years of service is MORE THAN 5 times greater than the employer- paid-for cost of the typical pension provided to a private sector worker retiring at the SAME age, with the SAME years of service, and with the SAME pay. And, the 5X multiple would be even higher if he retired earlier, at age 50-54 with 30 years of service.

    Such a generous pension would bankrupt ANY Private corporation that offered it …..and it WILL eventually bankrupt all the States, Cities, and Towns that offer it ….. unless significantly reduced for CURRENT as well as NEW employees.

    There are NO OTHER effective options (short of a financially equivalent increase in employee contributions …. to 30-40% of pay).

    THAT, in a nutshhell describes how INCREDIBLY generous these pensions are.

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  13. Michael says:

    JD….I don’t know where you work and I’m in no position to argue with your stated salary. However, I would assert that less than $20/hour is too low….My problem is that your logic contains a deductive fallacy. (JD is a firefighter; JD makes less than $40K/year; therefore firefighters make less than $40k a year)

    The fact of the matter is most California fire fighters (especially in the Bay Area) have starting salaries of around $70K. Government salaries are posted on 90% of any given entity’s web site. Pick an entity (city, district, or county) in the bay area, go to their HR site, and look up the job class for fire fighter…I doubt you will find one with a starting salary of less than $60K.

    You put forth the same fallacy in your education argument. JD is a fire fighter; JD is well educated; therefore firefighters are well educated. I doubt that there is a fire fighter job spec in CA that requires more than a HS education.

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  14. JD says:

    And tom,

    I have never met a firefighter that would call themselves a hero. Ever. Most cringe at it. It is the great American public that dubbed 911 services heroes, and it stuck.

    I agree, soldiers are brave and selfless and do a great deal for us. But, they also have the opportunity to have a house paid for them – not that this matters at all, but it affects their salary greatly.

    Everyone chooses a job. Everyone does that knowing full-well what cash/perks they’ll earn. I’m happy with my $39,947.

    But I would very much like to meet whoever is on $300k, as Mr Sattui claims.

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  15. JD says:


    You are grossly ill-informed about the work of your local Fire Department. Give them a ring, see if you can arrange a ride-out.


    I am a firefighter/paramedic.

    After completing High School at 18, I went on to get a BSc in Emergency Medical Care, which took 3 years.

    Then, before my 22nd birthday, I took the two CA state exams as well as the paramedic licensure exam.

    I then spent 1 year on probation as a paramedic, after previously doing 2 as an EMT.

    I now work 40+ hours a week and earn a base salary of $39,947.

    I tend to get upwards of 7 calls a day, mainly medical, which can take anything from 25 minutes to 3 hours to clear.

    There are the facts!

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  16. Michael says:

    @ Jake: Thank you for the more objective approach to this valid issue. Both sides on these boards have made ad hominem attacks, which always destroy validity in an argument and come across as emotional and defensive.

    You do a much better job of representing your constituency than most of your brethren on here. I was starting to lose respect for fire fighters in general and you reminded me that those on here do not necessarily represent a majority.

    While I believe that fire fighters are somewhat over-compensated and 3% @ 50 is unsustainable by tax payers; I do believe they should be well compensated… we might disagree on just how well, but it would be nice to at least have a fair, open, and objective dialogue on the issue, without being personally attacked by either side.

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  17. Schmucks says:

    Mr. Sattui… yer a schmuck for writing crappy things about our fire fighters. The point you were trying to make was lost when you went overboard with the ridiculous summation of how hard our fire fighters work. Any remaining respect I had for you went away when you published your nut-less clarification of what you originally wrote. If you’re gonna say it, have the stones to stand by it.

    Fire fighters and police officers and anyone participating in this boycott… yer all schmucks. You’re all so righteously indignant that you can’t see what’s happening around you. The Governator is howling for pension reform and everyone but public safety has already gone lean and tightened their belts. (You guys offered up the paid crossing guards as your concession. nice.) People are beginning to debate your retirement packages… and not just here. Read the news.

    Bad timing guys.

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  18. Neutral Observer says:

    I have friends who are emergency service workers. I do appreciate their work. While they work hard to be prepared and their job can be life-threatening, that is a choice they make when going for this career.

    It is a noble and challenging career.

    That said, unions are known for waste. Most other industries that require union labor are pushed to the brink by union folly. The only thing that keeps emergency service criticism low is their type of work and how politically unpopular it is to speak your mind about it.

    This is America, so you have the right to get as much as you can. However, entitlement is not part of that.

    Point: I’m fine with salaries for emergency services due to inherent risk. I am against union practices which encourage waste and entitlement.

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  19. Jon B says:

    The St. helena volunteer fire fighters have a bit of a hero complex in their crew especially with one coward captain that use his volunteer firefighter badge like he’s a police officer. He has also filed false police reports on people wasting police and court time, which i believe is a felony, a misdemeanor at least… If they were real volunteers they wouldn’t be paid, especially not $1000 + a day when they go help the forestry fight real fires, that they probably have no business or training to fight…

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  20. Jalama says:

    Firefighters are like drunks. They think they aren’t a problem, but they are. It would be cheaper for us to fund an IRA for each retiree and toss them into the real world like the people they worked for. For the new hires, IRA’s only and hire enough men for three shifts(at a reality rate). Extra firemen with no overtime, no sleeping, five days a month, lifting weights and playing ping pong jobs(inerspersed with traffic accidents and the occasional fire).

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  21. JAKE says:

    Let’s stop this already. Mr. Sattui’s remarks were very inflammatory and inaccurate, but he had something to say. Being a firefighter, I can say I have a job to do. I do not want the title of hero. I do things that are dangerous, I do have some down time, I cluster my work hours in 24 hour shifts allowing to share quality time with my family (but still work 56 hours/wk), and I get paid a wage that allows me to support my family in the area.

    I have been hurt multiple times, I have missed many special events and holidays with my family because of work, and I have seen things at work that people shouldn’t have to see. IT’S PART OF THE JOB.

    As for being compensated for this, there are things that need to be understood by the public at large. Firefighters salaries are fair wages. When you hear of inflated wages, they are usually referring to a few positions (upper level management) and figures that reflect overtime. Overtime exists because management realizes it is cheaper to pay overtime than hire extra people. Then they would have to pay their salary and their benefits package (vacation, disability insurance, etc.). It’s the equivalent of a company hiring out from a temp. agency instead of hiring a full time employee, a cost cutting measure.

    When articles claim firefighters are making $200K a year, it is the equivalent of working over 100 per week, every week of the year.

    As far as retirement goes, have you ever seen a 50 year old baseball player? Football player? Firefighting is a physical job and as people get older, they cannot do the things they did when they were younger, or at least they have an increased risk of injury. If you needed to be dragged out a house, would you want a 35 Y/O or 62 Y/O doing it?

    Also, how many jobs pay 9% of their salaries into their retirment system to ensure they have an income after they are not really able to effectively do their job.

    Both sides have taken their opinions to the extreme. Hopefully, this information above will not spark more debate, but just put a little better understanding of why things are the way they are.

    Wishing all of a you safe and happy lives…….

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  22. Aloysis says:

    Art, you mean “principles”.

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  23. John says:


    Unfortunately you also are mis-informed. There is not a firefighter out there who makes $164,000 a year for their base pay. (The exception maybe being the Fire Chief)Wages like that would be earned through large amounts of overtime. At least 50+ 24 hour shifts of it. That is on top of the 56 hours/week already worked. That would be over two full time jobs worth of work. The majority of firefighters make no where near that amount.

    It’s nice to have you involved in the discussion but PLEASE represent the whole truth.

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  24. Stu says:



    I looked and looked, and I couldn’t find winemaker on here anywhere!

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  25. Isabel says:

    Andrea, God-forbid you will ever need the services of the people you criticize. People who put their lives on the line deserve to be compensated well. Sattui has never had to put his life on the line to make the money he does…he is ungrateful son of a “beach”!

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  26. Zuma says:

    I am sorry! The job of a firemen is worth 50,000 a year, not 164,000!

    How many years of college is required?

    How many years of graduate school?

    How many years of internship?

    How many state exams or licenses are required?

    Average salary for firmen is about 45,000 a year in the USA!

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  27. Lou says:

    Here’s something interesting, CNBC reports on a survey by CareerCast.com that Firefighter is the number one most stressful profession in America. Grape grower wine maker wasn’t among those mentioned in the most stressful 21 careers in America. Maybe it’s listed in the 21 most self congratulatory and pompous.

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  28. Lou says:

    A boycott of the alcoholic products made and sold by a guy who has become very wealthy making them seems fair enough, especially if the boycott is by the members of a group he publicly denigrates by implying they are overpaid and underworked. This from a guy who hires others to work his fields and vats. He is entitled to his free speech and 15 minutes of fame and the people he has castigated are equally entitled to do whatever they have to do in their own defense.

    Of course the Press Democrat with its history of anti-unionism and long time general dislike of public employee wages and benefits gets to keep the fires of discord going and sells a few more newspapers.

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  29. bbadinov says:

    Hey don’t blame the overpaid employees, YOU voted for the shmucks that gave them the money without batting an eye.
    Ever wonder why the unions contribute so much money to the snakes in office?
    Now you ask them to cut their money? Yeah sure. Once you give free money away, not so easy to take it back. Perfect example of the Welfare…..see what will happen when you stop the free money for the people in LA , Chicago etc…..
    Only way to equalize all this mess is to make the country Social….like your master and savior Obama is doing.
    More power to him….you voted for him too!
    I stopped voting this crooked system years ago when I figured out it didn’t make one bit of difference who is in charge….they are all crooks…..prove me wrong…

    I have to respect Santui for speaking out and saying the truth……too bad some of the people CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!
    Enjoy your servitude…you deserve what you get!
    Let’s vote another feel good program and reward someone for doing nothing….since it will make you feel better.

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  30. art says:

    Plus, the owner is critisizing(sp) on how much firefighters and police officers get paid, but I guarantee that he gets paid A LOT more than they do and what does he do all day, sit on his butt.
    Business owners dont get paid- they pay themselves from profits. Please learn to spell and please learn some basic busines principals

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  31. John says:

    I find it interesting that every time finances get tight the finger of blame gets pointed at public employees. What about the mismanagement of the local and state governments? What about the financial institutions and brokers who profited heavily from all the irresponsible actions of citizens who couldn’t afford the loans they got? What about the revenue generating, job creating businesses that have been denied? These are the real causes of the economic downturn. Look at the actions of our state when we had the last budget surplus. Rather than pay down the debt they decided to spend, spend, spend.

    Firefighters work a 56 hour week. In the “private” sector that would be 40 hours regular time and 16 hours overtime. That means a starting firefighter makes around $20/hour(hardly outrageous). As for sleeping 1/3 of the time…ever heard of sleep deprivation? Many fire stations run 3-5 calls per night. Try waking up 3 times a night and sprinting for 20 minutes each time before you go back to sleep. Then picture someone standing over you with a balloon and a needle just waiting to pop it at any moment. It’s very restful I assure you.

    There are also many studies that show that firefighters live an average of 10 years less, are more likely to develop cancer, are more likely to have heart attacks, are more likely to develop traumatic stress disorders, likely to contract diseases (like hep C), incur debilitating injuries, and so on…over your average private sector employee. As for 90% of my salary at 50…I was 38 when I was hired. I’ll be lucky to make it to 55 without injury and get 51%. What a racket (Not!). Most of the people I was hired with were around 28.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love my job but that doesn’t mean I would be willing to do it for nothing. The compensation is fair for the risks and sacrifices.

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  32. Tom says:

    since 9/11 everyone considers police/fire/paramedics “heroes” and that they should be compensated as such–the true heroes are soldiers who don’t make
    anywhere close to this kind of money–
    do you think they would work for what a soldier makes?? no way—-so they should be grateful for the cake job they have

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  33. POaulo Barros says:

    I find funny firefighters, police, paramedics being accused of being overpaid. We do not think about that,, or at least voice the same concern for overpaid, self serving politicians. My point is that unlike somebody above suggested, this work should be done for people whoi love it, not for the money. That’s a joke to me. Certain professions need to be paid for “stand by”. I much prefer have to be helped by well paid firefighters, police officer, paramedic. Than by underpaid, unhappy and worried about their finances.
    These are also highly trained professional, not mostly illiterate and undocumented grape pickers. Unions only exist also becouse of vthe abuse and disregard for employee safety by businessman. Everytime you enjoy yourt Sunday with with fanmily, thank the unions. Otherwise you would be working, and for minimun wage.
    If you want to earn less, have noi benefits, no health coverage for you ort you wife/husband or children be my guess. Your solution is very easy: Don’t join a union.

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  34. Michael says:

    Nurses, fire fighters and cops are all necessary and serve vital functions in society.

    I also hear their unions saying that they should essentially be paid more because their jobs suck….If they hate their jobs they should quit. Slavery ended in 1863.

    I’m sure there are many in these occupations who would continue to do these jobs at lesser pay because they truly love their career. Imagine how much happier these folks would be if the whiney, “in it for the money” crowd went to work somewhere else.

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  35. Fed Up says:

    Dear Mike,

    Nice comment (really). But to “man up” as you say, requires action, not words.

    In your comment, you acknowledged that the increase from 2% to 3% “was a gift” and that (quoting) … “It appears that my unearned pension bump is significantly contributing to the fiscal crisis in CA.”

    Are YOU willing enough to (man up) to give back the extra 1%. If “technically” you cannot just ask for a reduction, will you donate it this year and every year back to the city ?

    By-the-way, you & I know that this “gift” was from ploiticians whose favor is bought with your Union’s money and election support. Private Sector Taxpayers would never have alloweed this if they CLEARLY understood what was going on.

    Depending on how long you (and your spouse) live, YOUR “gift” alone will likely have a value of $0.5-$1 MILLION.

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  36. Dave says:

    What Mr. Sattui fails to understand is public safety personnel are truly paid for what they might have to do. I have given death notifications to both child and parents. I have given CPR to someone who died. I have been assualted and now I am asked give back some of my salary to balance a poorly managed budget….Oh and for more than half of my career I have missed Christmas, Thanksgiving, my childs birthdays and such because I was working. Mr Sattui what have you done to make a difference?..Oh and I almost forgot I have also arrested drunk drivers who spent the day “Wine Tasting”…

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  37. Stu says:


    Is it safe for me to assume that you’re writing a check back to your former employer for the difference between your 2% @ 50 and 3% @ 50 retirement? Because otherwise, I think you’re pretty much saying, “I got it, and I’m keeping it, but I don’t think you should get it.” That argument has ZERO credibility.

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  38. Mike says:

    As a retired firefighter I find most of the comments, presumably made by fellow firefighters and their supporters, highly disturbing. After working for 28 years for a CA City in the fire service I reached my eligible retirement age of 50 in 2001. My pension formula all of those years was 2% @ 50, which meant I could retire at 50 with 56% of my salary. Within a year, the City agreed to raise our retirement formula to 3% @ 50 and I was suddenly eligible to retire with 3 x 29 = 87% of my salary. A 30% gift overnight. The City was told by CalPers that it would cost the City nothing to offer this generous benefit. Within a year, I and 1/3 of my fellow firefighters were retired. I have stayed informed of what is going on with my former employer since I continue to live in the city. I was astonished to learn that the City’s pension costs have quadrupled since 2002, which now costs the city over $5 million additionally each year just for the police and firefighters alone. The City has laid off employees, closed the senior center, pools, and cut many senior programs – the same amenities and programs that I was counting on in my retirement. I am now worried if my pension is safe. I have friends who were forced to go back to work when their pensions were cut in half (United Airlines). Will this happen to me and other government employees in CA. It appears that my unearned pension bump is significantly contributing to the fiscal crisis in CA. This is not a public safety issue! This is fiscal issue, which needs to be discussed in an open and direct way. Mr. Sattui has legitimate concerns. I am very disappointed in our public servants for their vitriol and vicious attacks. It is demeaning and undermines our credibility. The logic that we risk our lives and deserve whatever we earn is frivolous. Using that logic there can be no cap on our salary, since what is the value of human life. No salary or benefit is too high then. Well many cities are broke so personnel costs are critical. To not have this discussion would be irresponsible and only proves the point that the public safety unions have gotten to powerful. Most firefighters in this country are volunteers and do so proudly and with honor. We paid firefighters sound like spoiled children. Time to man up.

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  39. Kindness says:

    All I have to say is 9/11. These guys and gals deserve all the money they get! Have any of you been in a fire? I have, when I was 12 years old and I thank God there are men and women who are willing to do these jobs. Thanks to all the firefighters, police and paramedics!

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  40. Frank Thorne says:

    I see that after he made his comment that he has left for a month. Couldn’t take the heat.
    If you want to see a firefighter resting, go to u tube and search “redwood shores fire”.

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  41. Look at the numbers says:

    Alex: It was a per 1000 person number. A ratio. Since the construction workers had more people (total numbers) and a higher ratio, they also must have had a higher death toll (total numbers).

    And it’s not about if Sattui is better paid for sitting on his butt. He’s not being paid by “the people” to sit on his butt. He has a capitalistic enterprise.

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  42. Touch Love says:

    Just proves that Civil Servant unions (and many of their members) are a cancer on society.

    These Unions should be exterminated like the parasites they are.

    Come on citizens/Taxpayers …. are you going to put up with this intimidation?

    He’s correct … you know he is and you know you are being ripped off pay the outrageous salaries & benefits of police/fireman.

    Protest & SUPPORT this guy with your wallet and show the GREEDY Civil Servants that you NOT going to put up with this crap …as well as their ridiculous pay, pensions & benefits any longer !

    BUY his wine by the case … !

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  43. smash44 says:

    Where can I go buy some Sattui wine? I’d love to keep this guy in business. Anything to put it in the face of those snot-nosed firefighters. 90% of there salary after 30 years. WTF? Now I know why CA is broke. It’s becasue yuo stupid morons keep electing Democrats. What’s it going to take? When you’re eating cat food in retirement while they’re eating steak and caviar?

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  44. Alex says:

    Regarding “thefacts”:

    As I agree with you, I have found that some of your facts are indeed wrong. Of course I rule in favor of the firefighters and police, but I don’t want false allocations in favor of police/fire.

    1. You CAN join a state angency before the age of 21. Go to the California Highway Patrol website or contact them by phone and they will say that they hire at 18, but it is extremely rare!
    2. I know plenty of people who will retire at the age of 50 that will get 90% of their pay. This is not unusual. In order to get 90% of their pay, they would have to join onto the force as they are 21, but people do and as a result, they get 90% of their pay.

    Like I said, I’m not trying to bash you in any way, shape, or form, I’m just trying to not give any false allocations for any side.

    And I agree, the man does have every right to speak his opinion, but he could’ve done it in a more professional manner. Also, as much as I don’t like the man for saying that, he doesn’t deserve people saying that they won’t ever visit his winery or buy his wine ever again, as it has no relation to the topic. If his wine is good, then drink it. Don’t stop drinking it because of one comment. That’s just a sign of ignorance and immaturity.

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  45. Alex says:

    Correct Andrea, citizens pay for their salaries. But think of it this way, you’re paying for their service just like PG&E. You are paying for the police to protect you from getting house broken into, you getting hit by your spouse, your car getting broken into. You’re paying the firefighters to make sure that your house won’t burn down at 2 o’clock in the morning. You’re paying for the firefighters to run into a burning building risking their lives sacraficing themselves from their family just to make sure that you can go back to your family. You are paying a small amount of money compared to what you should be paying to go to sleep and feel safe throughout the night. So if you don’t like that, then welcome to reality!

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  46. just here says:

    this is really embarrassing i’m sure for the winery, and mr. sattui. i don’t think he realizes how small his world is. he spoke on something he was very passionate about but clearly not well informed. still, i think it’s rather sickening that ANY PUBLIC SERVANT would deny help to anyone in this country for any reason. i refuse to believe that any one of those men would not do the best they could to assist mr. sattui if he so needed. stranger things have happened. mr. sattui as smart of a business man as he tends to think, as this could pretty much ruin him for a while.

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  47. Andrea says:

    Good for Dario! Speak the truth Brother!
    NOTE: To all public servants, You work for us! We pay your salary! If you don’t like it, get a job in the private sector where you actually have to work hard and you won’t be a able to hide behind your union bosses skirts!!!

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  48. Alex says:

    Reply to Mike Stanton and comments on the origional author from the winery: (please don’t hesitate to critisize or correct me or ask questions)

    Although you supported websites from which you got your information about the most dangerous job, and correct me if I’m wrong because I never clicked on the links but, although firefighters and police officers have less deaths than construction workers, what is the ratio? There could be way more construction workers than police officers or firefighters, therefore, increasing the chances of deaths. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to prove your point wrong, I’m just saying to put that into consideration.
    In regards to the winery owner, sure firefighters get paid a high amount of money for what they do, but he needs to realize that police officers and firefighters put their lives on the line every day they wear that badge. They put on their uniform with some little thought in the back of their minds thinking “I might not make it back home tonight”. Firefighters may sleep 1/3 of the time that they are working, but that also means that they are also on medical calls, rescue calls, structure fires/wild land fire calls during the not so nice hours at night. They also might be out there for hours and hours at a time. Plus, the owner is critisizing on how much firefighters and police officers get paid, but I guarantee that he gets paid A LOT more than they do and what does he do all day, sit on his butt.

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  49. Tommy Win says:

    Keep up the good work firefighters. You are certainly now at the top of the list for us taxpayers who want nothing more than to help elect those who will help control and decrease excess government spending, waste, fraud and abuse. Perhaps we’ll look at your salaries, pension pay, benefits and overtime pay first. Nice work.

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  50. Mike Stanton says:

    Who Has a More Dangerous Job?


    In 2008 a total of 41 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty. http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/killed/2008/feloniouslykilled.html


    In 2008 a total of 118 firefighters died in the line of duty. http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/ff_fat08.pdf


    Construction is more dangerous than either police or firefighting. In 2008, a total of 5,071 construction workers lost their lives on the job. In fact, more construction workers lost their lives on the job than all the police officers, firefighters AND SOLDIERS IN COMBAT COMBINED. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cfoi.nr0.htm


    Firefighter – $42,528 – $79,642
    Police – $49,327 – $81,268
    Construction Laborer – $17,800 – $53,340
    (laborers were more likely to be killed or injured on the job)

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  51. Mike Stanton says:

    RE: are you serious

    “You cant put a price tag on that” THAT is where you are wrong. Everything in this world has a price tag and some people who still believe that crap are in for a rude awakening.

    Not having any sense of the value of a dollar will be the undoing of this country. If you had a terrible disease and it cost one million dollars to save your life, your loved ones would be attending your wake. EVERYTHING has a price on it, if it didn’t there wouldn’t be miners laying dead under Crandle Mountain.

    “The amount of long term stress that these people take both mentally and physically is something that you could never understand” – Again, this is a decision these people made, this was not their assigned job.

    It’s not jelously over their wages, it’s outrage at their bloated salaries, political bribery and union thug attitudes. These people work for US, they need to start acting like it.

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  52. Casey says:

    Here’s an idea: If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t type it on the internet. We might be shocked to see that we, as human beings, might actually find common ground and compromise when discussion trumps vitriole.

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  53. Kurt says:

    Because ot this ignorant jerk and the comments he made in this article, I will NEVER visit, or buy his rotten wine EVER!! He is a joke, and when the time comes for him to call on anyone in the public safety field, I hope the response time is intentionally delayed. He doesn’t deserve one minute of service for his comments.

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  54. terri says:

    Everyone has the right to voice their opinions. To have the correct information to back themselves up is crucial. The post regarding an entry-level firefighter and the the benefit package is great. It shows what needs to be done to earn the higher salary. As to only needing a GED and a 6 month academy course, basically not great info. Most departments are looking for 4yr degrees in fire science, structural engineering, along with a paramedic cert. The average age of an entry level firefighter is 27 yrs old. As for the benefits being paid by the cities, clearly stated is the fact that firefighters are required to pay the differnece in costs for their families, which is how it is at most jobs. Depending on where a firefighter works, most are required to live in the city whre they work. As in the case of CA most areas have prohibative housing and living costs so wives/husbands work and firefighters work second jobs to be able to afford to live there adn scrape by. Pensions are paid by both the employer and employee. To many government bodies are trying to balance their lack of planning, etc on the workers back. My husband is a state employee whose dept is NOT funded by the general fund and has been placed on furlow days and pay-cuts. This July we will be hit by another 5% paycut and will add another 5% to our retirement fund. This follows on the 15% cut taken in the last 2yrs. None of the reprsentives for the state of CA have taken any paycuts, or furlow days but did vote in an increase in their \perks\ such as gas cards for their state owned cars which can be used by all members of their staff and family. The elected officials work for the people and that needs to be addressed because they do not have anyones interest in mind other than their own.

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  55. onetwothree says:

    Since I have worked with my current Bay area fire department(3 years), my department had had 3 line of duty deaths of on the job firefighters.

    There have been another 5 deaths of retired members due to cancer directly related to on the job exposures. Of these 5, not a single one was more than 7 years into retirement, one retiree never even saw his first pension check, passing away 3 months after retirement.

    I understand the publics concern in these unprecedented budget times, but it pains me to see citizens posting that our job is no more dangerous or harmful than many others out there.

    The amount of harmful substances we are exposed to is great, and often don’t affect us till many years down the road. Please think about some of this before formulating responses.

    With any cuts to public safety(fire dept in this case) you will see some sort of harmful results. They may not be immediate, but at some time when there is a situation to be mitigated, there will be either a longer response time or less personnel to take care of the problem and that has consequences. It’s just a matter of how much you can stand to risk.

    Finally, I don’t believe citizens like Mr. Sattui should be criticized so much for speaking their mind, it’s his right as a taxpayer to voice his concerns over where his tax dollars are going

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  56. disappointed says:

    You guys are fire fighters! You fought your way through thousands of applicants to get the job of your dreams. You’re highly paid professional people… and you let some moron in Napa incite you to childish behavior. You’re bigger than this.

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  57. Jon Boy says:

    Irritated… I can understand your irritation, but for the sake of accuracy, according to CalPERS, the average lifespan for retired public safety is 81.4 years. Your body takes a beating… same as other physically demanding professions. Your psyche takes a beating from what you experience. This isn’t a question of whether or not you work hard and earn your pay… you clearly do and it is much appreciated. The issue at hand is our cash strapped cities and what can be done to avoid insolvency. You guys represent about three quarters of our budget. We gotta make changes.

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  58. thefacts says:

    A very hot debate, but here are some facts
    1)according to Calpers, the average monthly benefit for retirees is $1134 a month
    2)most retirees do not get social security
    3)tax money goes into an employees contribution from the State, but when the employee retires, that money comes from Calpers and the past contributions, not continously out of taxes. The money retirees recieve, in other words, is not coming out of the budget, the contributons while they are working are.So even if a retiree collects benefits for 5, 10, 15 years, it’s coming from Calpers, not out of the general fund. Calpers is the largest public pension fund in the US. They have traditionally made good returns on their investments, and also make money from loans. Even with the economic downturn, overall they are still doing well.
    4)the point that State contributions have jumped by a large percentage is misleading-when the economy was booming, Calpers actually reduced the contribution from the State to nearly zero, and now that the economy is doing poorly they have increased that contribution. People’s retirements have not jumped by some obscene amount
    5)A person cannot retire at 50 at 90% of pay. You cannot even join a State agency until 21, and most join at a much later age. The average retirement years are 16.7 years.
    I understand these are difficult times, but making public servants into villains is not the answer. Banks, mortgage companies and real estate companies got us in this mess, and then the banks recieved billions in bailout money. So why are we bashing firemen and police?

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  59. Anon says:

    Um. Why don’t you look at the pay FFs get vs the pay City Officials (cough cough…City Managers) get paid and their increase in salary. Just sayin.

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    Mr. Sattui stated the obvious and is now being ganged-up on mafia style by the unions and their cronies. They are making an example out of him. Who in their right mind will publish an article now criticizing the bloated salaries and pensions of all government employees.


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  61. Irritated says:

    ACTUALLY.. most of you have no idea what you are talking about… do you not understand what a physically demanding job a firefigher is?? Most people go out on back injuries before they ever see retirement at 50, AND if they are lucky.. which do the research, most people are still working at 50 or over 50 because people don’t get lucky enough to start their career at 20 years old.. THEY DIE AT AN EARLY AGE.. from saving YOUR property and inhaling carcinogens.. or being exposed to god knows what else. Developing cancers..

    The point of the argument is no matter WHAT profession you feel like bashing do the research.. you don’t walk a day in the life of a firefighters shoes you don’t know the hard work they do. When you are home on Christmas morning they are going to be there when your christmas lights on your tree burn your house down, or save your kid from when a car ran him over when he ran out in the street, heaven forbid your mother have a heart attack and their 3 min response time is what saved her life.. They deserve ever penny of their CALPERS when they retire.. if your job was half as important as theirs you would get the same benefits.

    Yes YOU ARE THE PUBLIC THEY SERVE.. you have a right to speak out and speak your mind. Freedom of speech is a blessing and a curse. Be prepared to hear the rath if you want to speak freely. But most of you sound ignorant more than anything else. . . the ones siding with Dario or whatever his name is. He wrote a very unprofessional article with absolutely NO hard facts and just assumptions, so to believe anything he said about their retirements and them sleeping.. makes you just as ignorant as him. Get the facts people, or shut up.

    I know everyone appreciates what firefighters do for the public… maybe a few of you think they are over paid. Well I guarantee the second you need them, the thought of how much their are making when they retire should not cross your mind. They deserve every penny of that, if they are even lucky enough to see it.. they put their life on the line every day for YOU. Never forget that.

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  62. Chris says:

    Actually Cyndi, you don’t have that right. People can boycott over anything they want to, it’s free speech. (No money=boycott, money=speech…ipso facto)

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  63. cyndi says:

    Last time I looked, people had a right to have an opinion without having someone organize a campaign against their livelihood. And the Firefighters, too, have a right to their opinions. So here is mine: paying people to serve the public is not a bad thing. However, 50 may be too young to retire and 90% of salary is definitely too much to pay when it comes from the salaries of tax paying citizens. If these figures are correct, let’s change them, just a little. Maybe 55 years old and 75% of your salary. At 55, it’s quite possible to continue bringing in a paycheck at another line of work for an additional 15 years or so to supplement the pension you are drawing. Many people do it. And those who are in shape enough to be firefighters at 50 surely will be able to sustain that shape for an additional 5 years.

    I don’t agree with vitriol in print or on the airwaves; I never have. But I understand frustration and feeling unheard as well as the feeling of power that comes from ranting and raving, in print or otherwise. Perhaps there is a solution to be had here that will allow a constructive conversation to emerge rather than a divisive blame game.

    Public service is, after all, about serving ALL the public and we are it.

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  64. Tommy Win says:

    I always believed that in America, one has both the opportunity for and the right to freedom of speech. It seems now that this is true only for those who hide behind a “Facebook” page and most certainly not for Dario Sattui who openly (albeit misguided and woefully misinformed) wrote a letter to the editor proselytizing against pay and pension plans approved by local politicians for Firefighters in American Canyon.

    Judging from the comments on a then hastily created ‘We hate Sattui now and forever and we are going to picket your business and shut you down to shut you up boycott page’, it appears that now in America, in order to voice an opinion, you must first have the approval of those who “live” in Cyberspace; the faceless, the followers, the ones who are paid to “overthrow” those outside their cause célèbre or who oppose their personal interests.

    This country provides for each of us to be able to state our opinions, however unpopular they may be to some. But when the “some,” clearly at risk of becoming exposed, and under the shield of cyberspace, twist said opinion into a gross misrepresentation in order to obfuscate the intent and divert attention to their own cause, have we not then created a new type of strong-arming, maybe cyber-gangsterism?

    Clearly, the comments on “Facebook” are mostly from those in law enforcement; those who have taken an oath”to protect and to serve”. Although Mr. Sattui was careless and ignorant in his opening remarks, curiously, the responses are contradictory to the oath for they overtly and covertly seek to bully, to insult, to browbeat, to intimidate, to threaten, to harm, to picket, and to humiliate Mr. Sattui for his personal sentiments.

    And one has to ask the question, why? Is the pay and benefit issue that Mr. Sattui questioned hit too close to home? Is there more to the question about overtime pay, about pension pay; about nepotism and paid vacation/sick leave? Is this only the tip of the proverbial iceberg?

    Sadly, and yet most gratefully, ours is a nation of heroes. They are the Firefighter who risked his/her life at 9/11, they are the Police who saved the child from burning wreckage, they are the EMT who gave life-saving breath to the heart attack victim. But, they are also the Soldier who braves gunfire 24/7 in a war zone; they are also the Teacher who daily strives to educate in public schools; they are also the Coal Miner who works in a three foot square “office” to bring warmth and fuel to our country.

    In today’s economic climate, we must not only take a long hard look at payrolls, administration and services, but we must also act responsibly; from the Politician, to the Firefighter, to the Coal Miner. One in 10 Americans still cannot find work. Many businesses have shuttered. Immediate and aggressive action to ameliorate the financial meltdown in our cities must become the norm. Among other considerations, this means bringing payrolls for Firefighters and Law Enforcement into alignment.

    Firefighters, heroes; you do yourselves a terrible injustice responding as you have. Your unqualified declarations, your overt threats for all the world to see, your data mining for anything remotely related along with your humiliation tactics serve only to show a side of you that is the worst in humanity; ignorance and intolerance. Now you are no better than Mr. Sattui.

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  65. Bob says:

    Judging from the response, I guess it’s fair to say that firefighters are a bunch of pampered crybabies. Mere words provoke them to threaten to allow someone’s home or business to burn down. In other words, they will do their job if they feel like it. In our town I can’t remember the last time a fireman or policeman was seriously injured or killed on the job. A lot of industrial occupations are hazardous too, but I never hear about how workers in the mill put their lives on the line every day. The people making such vicious comments have a lot of growing up to do. I hope that none of them actually have jobs in public service.

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  66. iswhatitis says:

    JW, FYI I have a college degree and have made more money in the private sector than I do now. The only reason I switched over was the pension, job stability, and the medical insurance. I understand my pay comes from taxpayers, I’ve never been ungrateful, but by the same token I won’t sit idly by while people hide behind thier monitors and say my peers and I are “parasites”. Our compensation wasn’t an issue when the economy was fine. Now that things are bad, how does that make us “parasites”? So much money is lost through mismanagement, inefficency, and top-heavy department structure, don’t berate and insult the little guys in the trenches doing the actual work. And no, I’m not embarrassed when my source of livelihood is attacked by people who really don’t have any idea what they are talking about.

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  67. mr. says:

    I don’t want to critisize the police or fire dept’s but to keep saying that if you are so jelouse of our pay try to be one of us, look at when they post a job in that sector. At least 1500 people applied in oakland and the fire dept. walked into the croud and hand picked their friends and relatives, it’s almost impossible to get into that job. if it’s so hard to do why is there so many people trying to get in. I think that is the question that is being proposed. The job is difficult and no one is saying it isn’t and if they are then they are wrong, but it is also overpaid and over benefitted.
    When Vallejo went bust the average salary was 171,000 dollars per fireman and 169,000 dollars a year to the police. The union dues were 245 dollars a month. Add that up and you know where the city council was getting their campain dollars from. Just because these salaries were negotiated doesn’t make them fair to the average taxpayer. If you were really hero’s like I have read so many say you would consider the cost of the services and give a little back, or at least acknowledge that it is unsustainable.
    2% at 50 is a very good retirement, for anyone. Keep talkin like you are so important and mabey just mabey people will decide that you can go find another job that pays that well in the private sector.
    I’d like to see some of you do what I do everyday.

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  68. New-Medic says:

    Ive been reading through much of these comments and there are only a few things I can say. First is that as a young person (22) I love serving those who need help. There is nothing that irritates me more than someone who wants to complain about their problems without knowning the other side.
    If people want to complain that public service providers are over payed and taken care of, then why don’t they join that group of people? As for education, a GED and 6-month academy is just the beginning. How about the constant education of HAZMAT, new diseases, or even the ever changing way of fighting fire. You think things have been the same since 60 years ago? Its always changing. And being on call 24, 12, or even 8 hours a days is more difficult than you can imagine.
    Police are judged before they get anywhere and are hated too much, medical personell are treated as though everyone knows more than them, and fire-fighters are in a constant state of training, serving, or resting if they can. Different types of scheduels are comming out all the time to make each person more effective because of how exhausting it is. Yes, some police can be rude, some medical professionals are not all that informed, and some firemen are lazy, but they get fixed I assure you.

    I have worked hard to earn respect of those I work with that they can trust their lives in my hands when it comes down to it as well as those I serve. I work at a station that we do medical and fire. So if someone wants to complain, I encourage them to try and make it into the public sevice sector. BTW for those of you who might think its better to send just an ambulance, Ive heard of private ambulance companies who doctor their paperwork so the person has to pay more. I dont know where or who, but just saying, those who serve with the taxpayers money I know would rather help someone and then be back to what they have to do (training, rest, or seeing their family).
    Also, as for asking how many wives work in the fire service, I know many who work to help support their families, and the other men (or women) who work most likely dont have a family because of the lack of time they get to have for a family. In the end, I just hope that whoever wants to complain doesn’t do so at the wrong time. I dont wish anyone to be hurt or learn anything the hard way, but I know that these men and women work very hard for what they earn.
    And just for those who think that I am too young to understand anything, think that because of people like me, I am enlisted BTW, others can grow their whine and call 911 when they need help so that they can do what they want.

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  69. Lisa Maldonado says:

    Can we please stop acting as if firefighters and tax payers are two different sets of people? We working folks pay an awful lot of taxes too.
    And it’s our tax dollars that pay for the roads and infrastructure for Mr Sattui’s Fancy Schmancy Medieval Castle.

    To all those of you supporting Dario Suttui’s right to “free speech;” you conveniently miss the point. No one is questioning his right to have an opinion and express it, crass though it was. If Mr. Suttui wants to express his frustration using rhetoric like firefighters “work only two days, a third of which they sleep” and firefighters get paid for “doing nothing” he certainly has that right but guess what, rights come with responsibility. At best his words were thoughtless and at worst they dishonor the men and women who protect us. In his own defense he says his problem is really with politicians. Well then why didn’t he just say that? See, I’m confused and I think Mr. Suttui is too. He should take time while relaxing in Tuscany to figure out what he really meant to say or better yet, leave it to someone who’s better at saying it. He clearly needs help in that department. Bottom line, his words were hurtful to a lot of people and a lot of people responded in kind. Most of us learned this as children but Mr. Suttui needs to quit acting like the injured party and accept the consequences of his actions.

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  70. nackel says:

    Boy, that winery just knocked out a huge chunk of its own revenue. Dumb business to spout off. Way to complain about the price our hero images get paid.

    So long, sucker!!

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  71. Mr. Taxpayer says:

    I would like to address some of the comments made so far.
    1. Firefighters are contracted to work 56 hours per week in 24 hour shifts. Those that work normal 40 hour week business hours receive up to 11% bonus pay. The reason is that working the 24 hour shift is far more lucrative. That means they work exactly two full shifts plus 8 hours every week and automatically are paid at the overtime rate for some of those hours per the FLSA. Every third week, they work an extra shift.
    2. I suggest local taxpayers obtain the daily activity logs on the fire stations in their cities and examine the actual call types and events they respond on and how much time they spend per call. You will find the average call takes 15 minutes: many are non-events, cancelled while en route, false alarms, etc. These documents are available under the Public Records Act. These logs will show that most of the time firemen sleep through most every 8 hour sleep period. It will also show that they average between 2 to 8 calls a day. At 15 minutes per call, they are engaged from 30 minutes to a couple hours on calls and on most of the medical calls, they are not needed. This represents a fraction of their paid time on duty.
    3. Firefighters and cops actually live longer in retirement than do all other employee groups funded by CalPERS.
    4. The claims of injury and death and daily exposure to carcinogens is way over played. The statistical data shows a very different picture.
    5. The messages given by the public safety folks, wives and relatives have similar themes: how demanding and stressful the job is, fearing one day he may not come home. These are key bullet points that the national fire union (IAFF) puts out to its locals and the members gladly regurgitate them for public consumption.
    6. The primary cause driving the out of control overtime costs is position coverage overtime. Firemen benefits allow them to take paid days off that average one day off for every 5 and 6 shifts worked. This represents about 16% to 20% which must be covered and paid at 1.5 pay.
    7. Yes, overtime is not factored into the last year salary for retirement purposes, but many other bonuses are. Look at the fire contract, known as MOU’s, on the city web site – typically found in the H.R. section. It will show how much more above base pay is applied to their hourly pay rates. For instance, many cities pay longevity pay, certificates obtain (most while on duty and at the city’s expense), skill and assignment pay, education, bilingual, shift differential (cops), uniform allowances, wellness pay, it goes on and on. This drives up the pension costs big time.
    Bottom line: as public safety costs swell, and take more of the general fund revenues, libraries, parks and recreation and other traditional services will proportionately disappear

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  72. Seen both sides says:

    I guess it’s really true that Americans have lost their civility, as this thread has shown. People, your arguments on both sides would carry more weight if you wrote with a little more respect.
    Because the pay scales that get tossed around are far from average, I think folks might like a glimpse of perhaps a more typical public safety worker’s picture.
    I have been a career firefighter in Sonoma for 5 years, and I make under $20 an hour, plus benefits (which are pretty decent and help offset the pay). Does that seem like too much? I don’t think so. Perhaps because I volunteered at this job for more than 15 years, for no pay at all, in part to earn the qualifications. So then if I retire at age 55, I’ll have a pension at 40% of my pay. (At least that will help add to the 401k from my last job, which has taken a horrible beating.) But I wonder if my body will hold up to age 55, even though I’m healthy today. Why? Because I have to be 100% on my game, physically and mentally, every work day. Any given day might be the toughest of my career. Any day might be the one where I have to fight for my life or the life of a teammate. And the job is hugely stressful on the body and the emotions, no question about it! There’s a reason that line-of-duty cardiac deaths spike after age 50. Come down to the fire or police hall and ride along for a shift; you might learn a lot and find yourself welcomed.
    So why am I in the business? Because I love what I do. Could you find somebody who would do it for 10% less? Sure… some people would do it for free, as I did. And volunteerism is great, it’s the proud backbone of many communities’ fire protection. But there comes a point where a town outgrows that model; when the community desire for faster response and better capability, and their willingness to pay a tax outweighs their willingness to step up and volunteer. Truth is, in modern Sonoma and Napa counties it is beyond hard to find folks willing to put in all the time and sweat that is required of volunteer firefighters or police.
    My agency also employs part time firefighters, who work for less than fast food wages and no benefits. All of them have other jobs. Most are trying to gain experience for a career job, so the turnover is high and the training is constant. Not the best situation for them or for us, but it’s part of the balance that we live with because our budget is really tight (as is everyone else’s) and we’re trying to provide the best service we can.
    So the bottom line is, as with many other things, when it comes to public safety you get about what you pay for. I believe most people, when they dial 911, want to have a damn good team and capable equipment at their door fast… not a low bid private sector team with burger king dropouts.

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  73. Amusing says:

    Ms. Maldonado.

    Mr. Aboudara absolutely overplayed his hand. A growing number of us believe that public safety dips too deeply into the public well. None of us have been able to say it out loud both because we could afford it and because fire fighters have been thus far politically untouchable. That seems to have changed.

    I think the fire fighters were slighted by that doofus in Napa. But at the end of the day, he’s just a doofus in Napa. What Tim Aboudara, you, and the other public safety members participating in this childish boycott have done is allowed a nothing issue to segway into a funding issue. Oops.

    Cities are running out of money. Some of them have already declared insolvency. Public Safety eats up the lion’s share of every single municipal budget. Your bull run is coming to an end. Not because we don’t like you or need your services, but because we can no longer afford you.

    I voted for your binding arbitration. I wonder how many of us would now vote against it? I wonder how successful you’ll be the next time police and fire go door to door, petitions in hand, looking for an even bigger piece of the pie.

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  74. Ummmm says:

    Are you serious… winery owners don’t draw from the public coffer. Police and fire do. We have an absolute right, if not obligation, to have this discourse. Sorry if it offends you.

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  75. are you serious says:

    I cant believe that people have nothing better to do then B***h and complain about fireman and cops. These people save lives…bottom line. You cant put a price tag on that. The amount of long term stress that these people take both mentally and physically is something that you could never understand. If you are so jeallous about there wages then maybe you should become one. You dont here them B***h about how much money winery owners make.

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  76. Lisa H says:

    I guess the firefighters, with their thin skins, don’t believe that anyone has the right to criticize them.

    The First Amendment guarantees the freedom of speech. Taxpayers most certainly have the right to express their opinions.

    To suggest that Mr. Sattui’s winery be boycotted, or that he deserves substandard service, is typical of the childish and prosaic attitudes of many of our firefighters.

    Get over it.

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  77. Americas is quickly becoming the new Argentina, which has the second-worst credit ranking in the entire world – only Venezuela is lower. Over the next 30 years, economists associated with the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, estimate (as have many U.S. economists) that the U.S. public debt will rise to between 200 percent and 500 percent of GDP. (It is now about 60 percent.) Debt levels of 200 percent to 500 percent cannot be supported; hence, the debt holders will face erosion of their capital through either inflation or nonpayment.

    No, we aren’t yet Argentina, but, if many of the policies of local governments and the Obama administration are not reversed, America will only get poorer and, in as little as 30 years, become a middle-income country, while dozens of other countries will enjoy a higher standard of living. But, don’t worry, our government employees will continue to be well paid with wonderful benefits paid on the backs of enslaved taxpayers.

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  78. lisa maldonado says:

    Mr “Amusing” (in an arrogant and smug kind of way)
    Mr Aboudara has not “overplayed his hand” (Check out the number of people joining the many boycott pages-not just the tea party anonymous scaredy cat haters like youself who don’t have the guts to post your own name) But please let your “SR’s Finest” friends know that I don’t work for anyone but the working class and the labor movement. So I don’t really care what they think about my comments. My job is to speak up on behalf of workers and advance equality and fairness and the right to bargain collectively for better working conditions in a country that is quickly losing what middle class it has thanks to smug shortsighted people like yourself
    Oh and the Chihuahua reference is really classy and shows the subtext of your racism really well. Keep talking.

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  79. JW says:

    Mr. Iswhatitis… what those of us in the private sector make is none of your concern. What tax money we commit to your salary and benefits is absolutely our concern.

    You have kindly provided a list of hardships that you endure for your pay. Thank you. We appreciate the sacrifice. I hope you aren’t operating under the illusion that you’re the only one with a difficult and potentially hazardous job.

    There seem to be many of us questioning whether or not we can continue to compensate you as generously as we have in the past. I’m not sure how many of us are smug desk jockey’s as you say, but we’re all tax payers. We all contribute in some way to the money you bring home and use to support your family. Maybe a little less attitude and a little more gratitude is in order… no?

    As to your comments that we wouldn’t do what you do for twice the pay… please! Your academy is what… six months? A GED and six months of junior college level schooling and you’re employable at a six figure salary and retirement bennies that are better than any found in the private sector. I’ve heard talk of your union making an argument that we should also pay for your health benefits after retirement.

    Where do you guys get the hubris? At some point do you become embarrassed?

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  80. Look at the numbers says:

    No one answered my question: how many of you fire wives work?

    Again, my wife and I both work full time jobs and barely get by. How many of you fire wives have to work for your family to get by?

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  81. iswhatitis says:

    To the poster About Time-what do you do for a living and how much do you make? When’s the last time you risked your life, risked bringing home diseases to your wife and kids, been assaulted, stabbed, gassed with human waste, had a hit put out on you, been in a riot, been forced to work 8 extra hours overtime when you were already exhausted, and then had some smug desk jockey hiding behind his computer screen say you’re not worth what they pay you? You couldn’t and wouldn’t do what I do for twice what I make, so don’t expect me to do it for free.

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  82. Democrat says:

    I feel sorry for the people who are so content with there own poor lot in life that they would fault a fire fighter or police officer for defending a livable wage for them and their families. All working people who put in an honest days work should be compensated justly by demanding more for their labor. Stop trying to tear others down and demand more for yourself. If you think wall street isn’t taking your money look at the multi million dollar bonuses they get for running companies and our economy into the ground. Join with the ff and pd
    and ask for more in your life!

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  83. About Time says:

    It’s about time someone started talking about these overpaid city and state workers. It’s not just the firefighters, Police, let’s not forget the prison guards. Well at least I know what wine to buy next time.

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  84. Larry Scharf says:

    good for Sattui for bringing up the obvious, and there’s no need for back-pedaling…these union members feel road rage as if their pensions lasting 30 yrs or so are beyond debate. Here’s what’s beyond debate:They should not make twice or triple what other public employees earn. From S.F. to American Canyon, our cities need to stand up to the bullies and unions, to avoid the bankruptcy blues.

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  85. Plungerhead says:

    And how about those firefighters who stood around taking each others picture in front of my buddy’s burning house waiting for a tender because they didn’t want to draw from a county mandated 2500 gallon fire tank located on the property.

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  86. Mike Stanton says:

    Here’s an idea. If it is OK to tie teacher’s salaries to their performance, why not police and fire? If the crime rate is down you get your fat bloated salaries, as long as there are gang bangers running amok, dope fiends on every street corner and hookers prowling the parking lot – Bad Cop, No Donut!

    Same with firefighters. Frankly, these guys are the WHINIEST people I have ever seen. Read these posts, Jesus, you would think someone was holding a gun to their head forcing them to do this. And what YOUR idea of a “decent” living and “decent” retirement is beyond the pale. STARTING salary for a SFFD FIREFIGHTER, BEFORE overtime is $111,000; this was in the Chron just the other day. Maybe, just maybe SFFD are up all night long, but NO WAY Napa, Sonoma, Santa Rosa, Petaluma, etc are. I would wager there are some nights those guys NEVER get a call. As for OFD having 30,000 calls this year so far, let’s look at how many of those were dumb stuff, roll-out and come backs, homeless guy ran out of needles, homeless guy threatens to kill self for 3rd time that night. I am certain their serious calls probably average one, maybe two a night. With cities as large as LA and Vegas, has ANYONE ever flown into either city and seen a structure fire in progress? Nope, me either, not in 40 years of flying. Does it happen? Sure, but not with regularity that some of the “heros” here would have you believe.

    And let’s look at that. We have a hero fetish in America. “Hero cop captures bad guy” “Hero firefighter puts out fire” “Hero 7-11 clerk cleans out Slushie machine” Aren’t we taking this hero thing a little too far? I mean, cops are supposed to catch the bad guys, so when a cop catches one isn’t he really just doing what we paid him to do? Heros are people who go above and beyond the call of duty. Not even our soldiers are all heros, if they were, getting the Medal of Honor would be pointless. Instead, we give the Medal of Honor to those men and women who sacrificed it all for their fellow soldiers; they did something MORE than just defend our country. We need to disassociate bravery from heroism, they are NOT the same. The 7-11 clerk can be brave for thwarting a robbery, but it doesn’t make him a hero. A firefighter can be brave for running into a burning building, but he is paid to be brave, it was in the brochure when he signed up; actually running into the building doesn’t necessarily make him a hero, it makes him a good worker.

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  87. Alex says:

    Public safety people should have swallowed their pride on this one. They are extremely (although not represented) out numbered by people who will never know a benefit package like they do.

    Or was it inevitable that a Dario would be the one to speak out loud about this elephant in the room.

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  88. Regular Joe says:

    Can someone please clarify…

    Market forces are not justifying these
    high levels of compensation. True?

    Do we have plenty of qualified candidates for these positions who would accept lower compensation?

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  89. Otis R. Needleman says:

    I respect the work firefighters, police, and paramedics do, but must agree they seem to have pretty good schedules, outstanding pay and benefits, and a mighty good pension going. Matter of fact, I’d say their pay and benefits far exceed most military people, the ones who actually go out and fight for our country. Many of these public-sector employees get six-figure pensions. In the military one would need to wear at least one star to get a six-figure pension. Mr. Sattui made some good points, and now some of these public-sector employees want to “boycott” him for expressing his opinion? Don’t sweat it, Mr. Sattui. They’ll be there should you need them.

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  90. R.C.M. says:

    It is hard to believe if you have an opinion about our economy it would lead to so much anger. Could it be this anger comes from those who are afraid to defend their position. Do I have to treat my neighbor ‘a fireman’ extra special in fear he will take his time if my house was on fire? Maybe I should boycott the next fireman who needs an operation……..

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  91. Firefools says:

    Volunteer firefighting or privatized firefighting is the way to run city fire programs. This is the way things will go once the pensions of firefighters bankrupt their municipalities.

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  92. Tommy Win says:

    Good for Sattui for bringing this issue to light. He’s focused the attention on this- We need to change the way the government writes their own pension deals and those of other tax supported entities.

    I feel this is a good conversation!

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  93. towerflower says:

    RN/EMT says: April 19, 2010 at 9:07 pmPlease do not pool all nurses and EMS personal with the fire department or police department. Private ambulance companies run calls and circles around the fire department with less pay, no pensions, no retirement this is the same for nurses. The fire department actually has a pretty bad rap in hospital settings. Their medics can be very lazy cocky and usually are angry if they need to get off the couch to run a call.

    You said:
    You might want to research that comment more. Just recently in my area of Florida the local Fire Dept responded to a person in distress–suffering from an asthma attack. They reached the person first and stabalized the person and requested to transport them to the closest hospital but were denied by the company that controlled the ambulances. In the meantime the company decided that the first responders weren’t worthy of making an informed decision of the person’s condition and diverted the first vehicle and sent another further away. The person waited more than 30 mins for transport while the FD was willing and able were forbidden to help. The person died and might have survived if the FD was able to complete the job and not have their hands tied by a private company.

    If you as a RN work for a hospital with no retirement system that was your choice as many hospitals have retirement benefits for their employees. If you work for a private doctor or other sector and don’t bother to open a 401K, roth, or IRA whose fault is that? Many public employees are expected to contribute to their retirement plans and it’s not fully on the tax payer.

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  94. RW says:

    I agree with Mike. Mr. Sattui didn’t need to insult firefighters. They are hardworking and dedicated. Many in smaller departments are volunteers or work part-time for minimum wage, although OSHA/government rules have made it difficult to have volunteers. Cal PERS will not allow a department to reduce an employee’s benefits. That is why the departments who are changing from 3%@50 to 3%@55 have to do so for employees hired after the change. Some departments are 2%@55.
    Read Sattui’s letter:
    \Editor: American Canyon firefighters’ negotiations are a joke.

    I thought I was doing well in the wine business. Had I had any real brains I would have become a firefighter. What a racket they have.

    While I respect the work they do and the inherent dangers, they are greatly overpaid, work only two days a week (a third of which they sleep) and get to retire at 50 years old at 90 percent of their pay after working 30 years.

    But maybe getting paid 90 percent of one’s maximum pay for another 25-30 years for doing nothing isn’t so unjust, as they received high salaries for working very little before they retired.

    Of course, most of them supplement that high pay with second jobs to allay the boredom, as they have so much free time on their hands.

    I don’t blame the firefighters. Good for them for getting as much as they can. The blame goes to the politicians and the government administrators. What do they care? It isn’t their money.

    The blame also goes to the public (myself included) which is either ill-informed, too apathetic or too afraid to rock the boat to act. No wonder governments are going broke and our taxes are so high.

    If I had run my two wineries like this I would have gone broke years ago.

    Where do I sign up to be a firefighter? I can do that job two days a week and run my two wineries on the side. What a deal. I can’t wait.

    And the American Canyon negotiators seemed to be content to be raising the retirement age to a whopping 55 for new recruits. They should be really proud of themselves.

    Dario Sattui
    St. Helena\

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  95. Jimbo says:

    As for Sattui’s comments. I think the only response is. Mr Sattui maybe you should become a Volunteer Firefighter. Just maybe you will see for yourself what is entailed. As a Citizen it would be refreshing to see citizens giving some of their time to help their community. Firefighters don’t profess to know how to Grow Grapes, why would you degrade their work if you have never been a Firefighter.

    Personally other than to degrade others. I don’t think you have what it takes to be a Firefighter. I believe they call it either MAN UP or SHUT UP. You opened the door now let’s see if you can walk through it.

    As for the Police. There was a comment about talk to an old cop. The thing about that was that the old cops had a sense of community. The Chief of Police lived in the neighborhood with no problems. They gave and got respect. These days Police are like Gestapo’s. They are Para Military Trained and have no respect for anyone else except for other Police. They get treated in the same manner as they treat people. With contempt. That’s why they have to always watch themselves. Protect and Serve was true with the Old Cops. There are very very few officers today who believe in this. Change the attitude and treat the community as you wish to be treated, then maybe things will change.

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  96. BLue says:

    Just so EVERYONE understands, this is the latest job anouncement from the City of Santa Rosa Fire Department for ENTRY LEVEL FIREFIGHTER directly from the recruitment webstites.
    You be the judge!
    Salary: $33.86 – $40.65 Hourly
    $5,869.00 – $7,046.00 Monthly
    $70,428.00 – $84,552.00 Annually
    Job Type: Full-Time
    Location: City Hall, 100 Santa Rosa Ave Santa Rosa, California
    Department: Fire Dept
    Ability to: Learn rules, regulations and operational procedures of the Fire Department; learn firefighting methods and techniques; learn First-Responder medical aid and CPR life-saving procedures; learn hazardous material first responder operational level methods and techniques; demonstrate a high degree of mechanical aptitude; learn the operating and mechanical principles of fire apparatus and equipment; learn to drive and operate effectively and safely the full range of fire apparatus and equipment used by the Department; learn to perform field calculations of hydraulics for the proper and effective operations of equipment; learn the operation of firefighting equipment; learn the street location and physical layout of the City and major traffic and fire hazards; think and act quickly in emergencies; work effectively as a member of a team; understand and follow oral and written directions promptly and accurately; communicate orally effectively to individuals or in a group setting; learn through structured lectures in a classroom setting and through oral instruction in an on-the-job setting; comprehend and make inferences from written material; learn to operate and enter data into a computer terminal, personal computer or keyboard device; produce written documents using proper grammar and punctuation; deal courteously and effectively with the public; establish and maintain cooperative relationships with those contacted in the course of work; learn to instruct in a classroom setting.
    Experience and Education: Any combination equivalent to experience and education that could likely provide the required abilities would be qualifying. A typical way to obtain the abilities would be: Experience – Full-time or part-time work experience of sufficient length to demonstrate good work habits; Education – Equivalent to completion of the twelfth grade.
    License or Certificate: Incumbents must either possess a Firefighter I Certificate issued by the California State Fire Marshal or have successfully completed a California State Fire Marshal approved Firefighter I Academy, and possess and maintain throughout employment an EMT-1 certification. Incumbents must be physically capable of operating fire apparatus and emergency vehicles in a safe manner, including during emergency operation and response, and shall be required to pass a State of California DMV medical exam and shall obtain and maintain a valid California Class B motor vehicle operators license. Additionally, incumbents shall be required to obtain and maintain EMT-D Certification.
    SALARY INCREASE: Salary increases from one step to the next may be granted on the basis of Merit once each year on the employee’s anniversary date.
    OVERTIME: Overtime is paid at the rate of 1½ times the regular hourly rate of pay.
    RETIREMENT: PERS for Local Safety Members, 3% at age 50 formula with single highest year final compensation.
    VACATION: Five shifts paid vacation each year for first 4 years of service; 8 shifts paid vacation for 5 through 11 years of service; and 10 shifts paid vacation each year for 12 through 24 years of service; 12.5 shifts paid vacation for 25+ years of service.
    HOLIDAYS: Included in work schedule.
    SICK LEAVE: Non-management fire suppression personnel earn sick leave at the rate of one-half (½) shift of sick leave for each month of service. A sick leave retirement buy back program is available.
    WORKERS’ COMP.: Workers’ Compensation benefits are provided under Section 4850 of the Labor Code.
    SALARY CONTINUATION: City contributes premium towards Long-Term Disability Insurance.
    HEALTH INSURANCE:City provides health insurance for employees and their dependents through the PERS Health Benefits Program. The PERS Health Benefits Program offers a variety of different health plans in which employees and their dependents may enroll. Employees are provided with a monthly allowance to pay their health premium. Employee is responsible for the monthly premium difference between the allowance and elected coverage.
    DENTAL INSURANCE:City provides and contributes the monthly premium for Delta Dental plan for employee and dependents.
    VISION CARE: City provides and contributes the monthly premium for vision care for employee and dependents.
    LIFE INSURANCE: City provides and pays premium for $12,000 term life insurance policy. Employees have the option to purchase up to an additional $88,000 term life insurance.
    BILINGUAL PAY: Employees designated as proficient in the Spanish language shall receive 3% additional pay.
    HAZARDOUS RESPONSE TEAM: Employees who are part of the Hazardous Materials Response Team shall be paid an amount approximately 3% of their base pay.
    EDUCATIONAL INCENTIVE PAY: Employees with six years of City employment are eligible for up to 4% educational incentive pay.
    PROBATIONARY PERIOD:Non-management fire suppression personnel serve an 18-month probationary period.
    WORK SCHEDULE: Non-management fire suppression personnel work three 24-hour shifts in a 9-shift cycle as follows:
    W = On Duty O = Off Duty
    W O W O W O O O O W O W O W O O O O W O W O W …

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  97. Vallejoan says:

    I’ll take a private ambulance over a bloated truck full of firefighters any day; it’ll get there faster, first of all. My neighbor had an asthma attack — they sent a firetruck with three personnel. Insane use of tax dollars.

    Vallejo took over parametics in 2000. When the exFire Chief was asked if saving lives had improved the chief said yes but when asked for proof he hemmed and hawed and finally admitted it was “anecdotal”.

    Fire Depts took over parametics because with the success of so many fire prevention efforts, fire depts were putting themselves out of a job. Most calls answered by fire depts these days are medical in nature.

    Check out my link for Vallejo salaries.

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  98. Mark G says:

    After reading all these comments…I wonder if the majority of the public really knows what they pay for with that tax money for professional firefighters.

    First, Firefighters ARE also EMTs or Paramedics (many- but not all volunteers are also EMTS, but very few a medics).

    They provide pre-hospital care PRIOR to the private ambulance arriving on scene. Full time – staffed fire engines 9which can provide medical, rescue and fire suppression services with the tool carried) arrive on scene within 5 to 10 minutes, there is a national standard (NFPA 1710). A private ambulance only has the local county or local service contract / agreement that sets a on scene time for a percentage of the emergencies, and often little or not repercussions if it is not met.

    Just hope your not the one with the heart attack when the ambulance takes 20 minutes to get there. This is because to make a profit, private companies shift units around and gamble on where emergencies may or may not occur. It allows for less ambulances and more profit. Besides, the fire department will normally be there to provide care if they have a extended on scene time.

    So.. with one person.. your getting the services of TWO skill sets. You Don’t have people sitting around wasting time, they are responding to emergencies, maintaining the station and equipment and training.

    The private EMTs and Medics are paid less.. BUT, the companies they work for bill the patient and the owners make money, often ALLOT of money.. it’s a for profit business, so.. they make a profit.

    In places where the public fire department has attempted to take over the ambulance service ( and make it most cost effective for the taxpayer), the private companies have often taken the agency to court to stop it.

    When you get in a car crash, the private ambulance can not cut you our of the car…or make any rescue of any type to save you. Only help treat you once the firefighters do this function.

    Yes..they is a union (IAFF), and yes there is apolitical action part of that union…BUT…does not EVERY American have the right to be politically active ?

    I was surprised by a comment about unions form a person who claims to be a nurse, the nurses union is very strong and active. If she does not a retirement, then maybe she should apply at a hospital with union representation.

    Are firefighters unions giving back and rolling back pay and benefits.. yes. State wide, firefighter union locals are agreeing to some level of roll backs. However, part of the problem was when times were good, local governments did not pay their full share into the retirement system, betting on the investments to continue to compensate for their share. Well.. that stopped, so they have to make up the difference. That is a major problem.

    As for volunteer fire departments, in rural areas they seem to work, in larger areas, a volunteer department would be hard pressed to respond to 10 or more calls a day, provide Advanced Life Support, keep up with OSHA required training and conduct prevention. Also…what is the ISO rating and the effect on insurance rates ? Yes, that the lower the ISO, the more you can pay for insurance.

    As for the veteran, your right, it is not combat. But 99% of Firefighters are not comparing themselves with those in combat, Firefighters are just average gays & gals being professional and providing a emergency service to the public.

    This man has a right to opinion.. and (like it or not), he make some points, HOWEVER his attack on what firefighters do and the job of a firefighter has nothing to do with the issue of adjusting salaries or benefits, or even budgets.

    Thank you

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  99. iswhatitis

    Public school educated, are you? Otherwise we might find logic in your argument.

    Our public saftey employees are working at a career they have “chosen.” That means they made a conscience decision to do the work they do. That means no one forced them to become police officers, firefighters, or correctional officers.

    That means they chose their careers KNOWING what was required. Is the picture coming into focus for you?

    Yes, they need to be — and are — well compensated. Being well compensated DOES NOT include the 2000% increase they demanded over the4 last decade, and stupid bureaucrats gave them at taxpayers expense. That is not well-compensated — that’s extortion!

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  100. Vallejoan says:

    Witch hunt? Isn’t that what you’re doing to Sattui?

    Wow, I’m becoming more afraid of the public safety union thugs than I am of the criminals on the streets of Vallejo.

    And where is there proof that PSU members die younger? Its becoming common knowledge that Firefighters aren’t even ON the top ten most dangerous jobs. Guess what job is more dangerous than firefighters and police? Garbage Truck drivers.

    “Sanitaton Workers or Garbage Collectors — and Recyclers — rose to the Number Five most-dangerous-job spot with 37 deaths/100,000 workers.”

    I see the vitriole in the attacks by the PSUs to mask the fact that you KNOW you are overpaid. And I’m paying you! Paying you to threaten me when I question your outlandish salaries benefits and retirements while we have to cut everything else in our city?

    NO WAY. Its sickening what the unions have come to: THUGS.

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  101. Poppycock says:


    Public Safety retirees do not drop like flies after 4 years of retirement. That’s an absurd myth public safety and their bargaining units use to justify their sweetheart contracts and “not-to-be-had” in the private sector retirement plans.

    According to CalPERS, the average lifespan for public safety retirees is 81.4 years.

    As to the rest of your argument that you spend time away from your family and are exposed to biological hazards, join the club pal. There’s lots of jobs out there that offer the same hazards with far less pay and benefits.

    I understand the fear involved when others start debating your worth. Don’t take it personally. We’re debating whether or not we can afford to continue paying these exorbitant expenses in these very lean times.

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  102. iswhatitis says:

    Before you all join the witchhunt for safety workers pensions, please take into account how many years these people live on average after retiring. I know that police and corrections live on average only about 3 years on average after retiring(some never reach retirement, some I’m sure live many years after, but the average is about 3). I can’t imagine firefighters being much different-the physical beating of their bodies, high stress, irregular sleep and no sleep, probably poor diet. People that risk thier lives for public service should be compensated. While the rest of you are at home with your families nights and weekends, they’re out risking not only thier lives but their families as well. Public safety workers frequently come into contact with AIDS, Hep A B C, TB, swine flu, etc and this can be taken home to their families. If they get injured or die who will raise thie children? These jobs have been available, no one wanted them when the economy was booming, now they’re under scrutiny. Unless you are willing to run into burning buildings, chase down criminals or wade by yourself into crowds of convicted felons in a prison, don’t bash on our retirements- they’re the only reason we work these jobs. And if you wouldn’t take these jobs before with the “gravy” pay and benefits why would you expect me to do them for less?

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  103. JB says:

    I, for one, could care less that Mr. Sattui hurt some feelings. It’s one man’s opinion. Doesn’t seem relevent to the debate.

    The critical issue at hand seems to be that we can no longer afford our public safety in it’s current configuration. All of us have taken a huge hit these past couple of years. Our pensions have dwindled or disappeared. Many of us have lost our homes. Good jobs are very hard to find.

    None of this is the fault of public safety. They negotiated in good faith and found common ground with the city. That was then. We don’t have the money anymore. We can no longer afford to irresponsibly commit over 65% of our municipal budget to police and fire

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  104. J.M. says:

    In response to Mark E. -

    Are you 65+ with no grandchildren or none that you would like to see? Maybe no children or none that wish to see you? Only an ignorant lonely, cranky old man would drag teachers into this in the manner that you have. Tell me, since you are the keeper of all knowledge, what does a teacher make? what are their “compensation” packages? If you truly new the answers to these questions you would have never opened your damn piehole to spew such inaccurate information.

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  105. Scott says:

    Its time to find a balance between the pay and pensions of firemen and what communities can afford to pay. I live in Sebastopol where we have an all volunteer fire department. Everything is great here. The town is safe and when there is a fire it gets put out. Not rocket science. Local governments may have to honor existing contracts with firemen but in the meantime begin they should begin setting up all volunteer fire departments.

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  106. Marc Emelianenko says:

    Bravo to Mr. Sattui for having the guts to speak truth to power. The compensation packages for public employees have skyrocketed over the past decades, particularly for those represented by unions like teachers and government employees represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

    ALL of these people are overpaid and under-worked — and then there are the outrageous pensions and health-care plans that virtually nobody in the private sector gets. And spare me the wearisome platitudes about how dangerous the police and firefighters’ jobs are. In certain areas, yes, but in most areas, not so much.

    I’ll gladly be upping my purchase of Sattui wines.

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  107. While I still respect the work our public safety workers do, I completely disrespect them for what they and their unions have become — leeches sucking the life blood out of society. Public pension deficits could reach half a trillion dollars soon, driven by public employee pension costs that have increased 2000% over the past decade. In 2009, $3 billion was taken from other public programs to pay for public employee’s very generous pensions. Many of these retirees can retire at age 50 at 90% of their final year’s pay. Some have played the system and are retiring with nearly DOUBLE their salary! Respect?? Give me a break!! You are thieves determined to take taxpayers for all you can get.

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  108. Local Fireman says:

    Local Salesman,
    First off, I don’t get at least 4 days off. My schedule is much worse than that. I get 2 days off per week. But, let’s discuss those who do work the “normal” Firefighter schedule.
    I understand that your job keeps you away from your family and friends, like ours does, and that you probably work a great many hours. There are many jobs that work a lot of hours. Does your job wake you up almost every night, sometimes several times per night? Does your job expose you to hazardous materials every day? Does your job expose you to diseases and infections every day? Has your job ever sent you to your neighbors house to keep it from burning to the ground? Has your job ever had you climb inside a mangled car to hold the hand of a woman who would die before you were able to get her out? Has your job ever had you go into a house where the child of a family friend has committed suicide? Has your job ever had you perform CPR on your own Grandmother? Mine has.
    I’m not discounting your job, or anyone else’s. What I’m saying is that this is a strenuous line of work, and one that I will not be able to perform at a ripe old age.
    As far as the funding is concerned, do you put 20% of your salary into your 401K? Between myself and my employer, we contribute almost 20% of my salary to my retirement. It is structured and well run, that’s why it’s still there. When I retire, my employer won’t be the one giving me a monthly check. It will come from CalPers. It’s not a continuous bill that a city or county has to foot. It comes from investments CalPers makes, much like your 401K.
    As far as being overpaid, how much is a reasonable salary for a 40 hour per week job in Napa County? $50,000? $60,000? $70,000? If a person working that job worked more that 40 hours, would he or she get overtime? I work a MINIMUM of 56 hours per week. I’m often called back to work on my days and nights “off.” My salary is $65,988 per year.
    I started at 32 years old, so to get my maximum retirement, I can retire at 62 years old. I was in the military before the fire service. I worked construction. I even worked a few years in the vineyards here in Napa Valley. My body has taken a beating. I have arthritis, back pain, and cardiac and lung issues that are all directly related to my job. Can I make it to 62 and still do this job? I sure hope so.

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  109. J.M. says:

    I think we all need to remember something – every one of us made our job choices, they were not determined for us. It has never been a secret as to what a firefighter makes as it has never been a secret how well a Dr. is paid so please, enough. So if you made your choice not be a firefighter, live with it. Those who chose to be firefighters, thank you.

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  110. Johnny B Good says:

    To Lurch aka Darryl and all his supporters.


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  111. Marc says:

    As a Combat Veteran and emergency worker for 30 years 24/7 !

    I feel their pay is out of line with today problems and needs to be adjusted to real numbers that will not bankrupt the citizens they Claim to represent.

    After reading all these comments by Professions it shows a lack of common sense to a Real problem.

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  112. Jeanine says:

    A proud Aunt of a fireman, who leaves his 3 sons for weeks during the summer to different parts of California to fight fires every summer. It is a very dangerous job, one mistake, which me make daily at our jobs, cost a firefighter their life. Money cannot buy a life.

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  113. hope says:

    You read these posts. People are angry about their hardships and insecurities. It is easy to sling mud, wine, whatever around. People, if you had the option of a union, you would take it. Reasonable or not that means security. If someone came in and attacked the job you were doing you would be mad too. We would all like to have a supportive job and know that the rug won’t be pulled out from under us. I think there are many over paid jobs, Real estate is one, see how easy it is to attack. They get tons of money, on moving paperwork and now the housing market is a mess. No one is yelling about them. Should we blame them for the housing crisis? I thank all the men and women who are willing to expose themselves to the horrors of what man can do to others, and other tragic events beyond control. This is a job that may need protection by a union. This is a job that needs support from the people. We as a people don’t educate ourselves on what is really happening in our communitys. You are on this page writing a response in anger about your city’s funds but do you go to town meetings? Do you know where the money is really going or do you listen to silly articles. With a man who is trying to drum up business? Question? Are you a bitter mud slinger or do you actually know what is really going on? If you don’t know what is going on then you should not speak.

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  114. Rose Lewis says:

    Hi: I’m writing in response to the ignorant letter of Dario Sattui:

    I am highly insulted at this stupidity and hope you get the responses and clarification he desperately needs. I can honestly say, I’ve never met anyone who had the nerve that was behind this letter, who didn’t appreciate the care and sacrifice from our firefighters. For your information, Dario, much of which you are severely lacking, most firefighters need more than one job to supplement their income.

    What do you think risking your life is worth? Oh, but only if you so it for 3, 24-hr periods per week (72 hrs) plus any callbacks at any hour of the day or night? Do you consider sleeping with visions of: decapitation, fatalities of all ages, drunken accidents, suicides and attempts,.. easy? (only to mention a few effortless duties). Or how about.. risking hearing loss or maybe being awaken at any time of the night regardless of your previous day, sleep deprivation, risking lung and personal injury at any time, family and marriage stress… being away for special holidays, racing through town when anyone can make a wrong move causing havoc, risking having to make split second life altering decisions…leisure? Could you and/or your family members deal with this lifestyle? How much of your wine have you been sipping?

    I’m wondering how much you will be selling after this insult to our heroes. Maybe it’s “sour grapes”? You might take a more sober inventory of your words before spewing such insulting ignorance in the future. Of course you’ll get the help you need from FD’s when you need it… but… How dare you!


    A firefighters support, friend and wife of 24 years,

    Rose Lewis

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  115. RN/EMT says:

    Please do not pool all nurses and EMS personal with the fire department or police department. Private ambulance companies run calls and circles around the fire department with less pay, no pensions, no retirement this is the same for nurses. The fire department actually has a pretty bad rap in hospital settings. Their medics can be very lazy cocky and usually are angry if they need to get off the couch to run a call. Most EMS personnel want to get into fire because of the higher wages,benefits and yes less time spent running calls. Nurses work non stop on their shift and every penny is well deserved, no pension/retirement of course. With that said we do need fire and police and they should be respected and their jobs preserved, they are greedy though and so are their unions.

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  116. Robert C says:

    The fire fighters and police officers should admit that the gravy train is over, and now it is time to give back to the community!

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  117. Local Salesperson says:

    Local Firefighter while I can respect your 56-72 hour work week, I can only say that you at least get 4+ days off after working 3 days. I am a traveling salesperson after being on the road for 3 days I get another 2 days on then I get to work on Saturday to catch up on paperwork. Oh and did I mention that I get to retire at 65 and hopefully my 401K and pension plan will be enough to get me through my retirement years. Why don’t you and all of the retired city workers look at what is actually bankrupting cities, it’s not park maintenance no it’s not street maintenance it’s pension payments. You have a difficult job I don’t discount that, but don’t try and make a mockery of a person’s comments when you and I know he’s correct.

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  118. Jeff says:

    Sattui has a good point.

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  119. Mark says:

    It is only April 19th and Oakland Fire has already responed to over 30,000 calls so far this year. So much for sleeping.

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  120. Local Fireman says:

    As a professional Firefighter, I would like to respond not only to Mr. Sattui’s comments, but also to many of the comments on this (and other) web page(s). First of all, I don’t know of any Fire Department that only works 2 days per week. Some work 3 days on, 4 days off, some work 2 days on, 4 days off (which is 3 work days in a 7 day period.) These work out to 72 and 56 hour work weeks, respectively. These hours include weekends and holidays. Some local departments work even more than that. How many professions work that many hours every week? How many professions require you to work all night, weekends and holidays?
    The notion that Firefighters sleep for 1/3 of the time they are on shift is also incorrect. Occasionally we get to sleep through the night, and we do get paid for that time. That seldom happens. Almost every night an emergency happens, in every jurisdiction (Yes, even here in quiet Napa County.) Even if it is only one emergency call, it’s not like just getting up and going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. You get startled awake by an alarm or a pager. You have to wake up completely because someone’s life might be at risk, and you can’t afford to be half asleep. This is all before you even get to the emergency. Let’s leave the nature of the emergency out of it for the time being. Once you get back from the call, you have to get all of your equipment ready for the next call and do paperwork while trying to wind down from the call. Now we can TRY to get back to sleep. That is just one call. How many professions have “down time” like that?
    The “day time” is spent in an effort to keep up on the maintenance of equipment (so that it is ready in an emergency,) keep up on training (so that we can offer the best possible service to our communities, and keep up with mandatory standards,) and inspections and public education programs. All this while still responding to calls.
    The retirement issue is one I have heard before. Sure, if a person was lucky enough to get a job at the age of 20, he/she could retire at the age of 50. That rarely happens. The average starting age in the fire service (for career Firefighters) is 27. This is a very demanding and stressful line of work. Not to say that there aren’t other lines of work that are as stressful, or even more so. We knew what we were signing up for, nobody is complaining. But, a person simply cannot perform this job as long as many other professions. Is our retirement unreasonable? No. Career soldiers can retire after only 20 years. That means a possible retirement age of 37. An officer with twenty years of service can retire and make well over $100,000 per year. Is that unreasonable? No. A person can only endure the stresses of that career for so long. The fire service is no different.
    I hear many people complaining because Fire Departments are budgeting for overtime. This is a silly argument. Overtime is unavoidable in Public Safety. Not to budget for it would be irresponsible. Calls happen right at the end of the shift. What should we do? Not respond for fear of overtime? People get hurt, sick, have babies, take vacations. Should we not fill their positions? Who will respond to the emergencies?
    Retirement is calculated on base salary. Overtime is not factored in. I’m not sure where many of these numbers are coming from. I am a career firefighter, I work well over 56 hours every week, and even with overtime, I don’t make $100K. Now, I understand that there are departments that make more money, but to call Firefighters in general “overpaid” is ridiculous and insulting. Many firefighters do have second jobs, but out of financial necessity, not boredom. In a society where it takes two incomes to support a family, Firefighters do what they have to to support their families. My wife works also, and it is almost impossible for her to juggle everything, but she has to, because she never knows when I will be home. That’s the nature of the line of work. This adds to the stress of the job.
    Do we make a good living? Yes. I’m not complaining. I have the greatest job in the world. Do we see and do things that most people don’t even want to know about? Absolutely! Do we get exposed to things that can (and do) shorten our lives? Yes. Do we deserve to have a decent retirement when we can no longer serve our community? Yes! Have we taken cuts, and made concessions to help with budget issues? Yes. Will we keep doing the job when all of this discussion is over? Yes. Even to mister Sattui’s buildings.

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  121. Stretch says:

    The fact that the firefighter union has a
    \political director\ sickens me.

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  122. JIM says:

    I also agree with Mr. Sattui. During the prosperous years from 2003 to 2007 rediculously generous contracts were successfully negotiated for police and firefighters. I respect their work but,with all the safety measures in place they are probably less dangerous than many of those in private industry.
    Try being a soldier, or a clerk in a convience store on Saturday night, those are much more dangerous jobs with much less pay. What is needed is to consolidate police and firefighters into one job with realistic salaries and pensions. No union member likes givebacks so I understand all the whining from them. I have been in two (at one time strong) unions they got greedy and the jobs disappeared. Put your egos away boys and get a clue. There are several websites that will provide the information on how much each one of you makes by name. I encourage everyone out there to lookup how much they make. you wiil be outraged!

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  123. Mark says:

    I think that police and firefighters’ pay and benefits need to come into line with reality. While cities are bleeding red ink, cutting everything, closing schools, we need to rethink EVERYTHING. Including public safety…if the current system isn’t working, and it’s not, something has to be done. I understand those jobs have much risk, and I’m grateful for the people who are willing to do them. It’s not a matter of wanting to change things, it’s a matter of not having the resources. Do you think it’s okay that they’ve cut my children’s school to the bone (closed some), that parks and pools are closing, that Sonoma County can’t even afford to pick up the trash on the roads…HELLO?! This isn’t the 1950′s anymore.

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  124. Beau Franklin says:

    Do you think firefighters are overpaid? When the economy was smoking 4-5 years ago (4% unemployment), Berkeley was hiring a dozen or so new firefighters. Approximately 3,000 people came to apply. They stopped taking applications after a 1000 or so and there was a rucus. Don’t you think the pay is out of line with what is needed to retain qualified firefighters? It is a joke. I am going to V Sattui to support his business ASAP. I love that place.

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  125. Look at the numbers says:

    Dave Bakerd:

    13 cents on the dollar is 13% of our tax dollars going to retirees. Thanks for helping make our point.

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  126. Jetlag says:

    In response to lisa maldonado. While I agree we should not begrudge people retirement and benefits, the institution of the fire department (not individual firefighters, they aren’t to blame) has been harmful to the wages and working conditions of EMS workers. This Fire/EMS “caste system” has to be resolved somehow, not sure how, though. Until then, the institution of the fire department begrudges others of fair benefits and compensation.

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  127. lisa maldonado says:

    Whenever I hear someone say “unions have outlived their purpose” I know they have drunk the “Haterade” from Faux News. Tell that to the miners who died because their boss put his greed and profits ahead of their lives and they had no union to speak up for them about safety. Tell it to the workers who are ripped off and exploited and have their wages stolen from contracters who take money out of their checks for health care but never actually pay their health care so they are left high and dry when illness strikes their family. Some folks need a little Labor Education 101. Go over to http://www.afl-cio.com abd you’ll see there are no grocery worker pensions raising the price of your eggs “angel” It’s greedy CEO’s and their private jets and huge stock options and bailouts that cause economic havoc…I guess it’s just easier to blame the average worker. This whole blog page is starting to look like a pot of crabs with everyone pulling each other down into the pot instead of trying to help each other out. We all deserve good wages and benefits. Get youself a union, stand in solidarity with your fellow workers and stop complaining!

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  128. Jay says:

    Oh no, all 27 Napa Valley firefighters are going to “stop” drinking sattui’s wine.

    I guess I should buy stock in coors light.

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  129. Police and Fire says:

    **Dave Bakerd**

    For every dollar paid in retirement to a police officer or firefighter 13 cents comes from tax paying citizens. The rest is paid for by PERS investments and employee contributions. So for 13 cents on the dollar a dedicated professional is ready and waiting to put their life on the line to save yours or your families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. 13 cents is a pretty small amount to pay for piece of mind.

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  130. Angelic_Faces says:

    Unions have outlived their purpose. A perfect example can be made of the union picketers in front of my local Foods Co. I shop there because the prices are low. If they unionize, the prices will skyrocket to cover the cost of the out of control pensions. I work in the public safety field, the retirement these people get is offensive … what about our men and women who are fighting for their lives in Iraq? A mere pittance. So union-lovers, zip it and thank God you have a job… and God forbid anything should happen to Mr. Sattuti or his winery because you will now be suspect. I will be happy to support him … he said what every other non-union American is thinking!

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  131. Ann says:

    I’ll buy Mr. Sattui’s wine. I AM angry about the 50 yr/90% retirement that we’re burdened with.

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  132. doveab says:


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  133. dave bakerd says:

    the reason people are upset w/ the compensation and retirement these firemen, etc. get is because they don’t get any of the same, almost noone gets retirement anymore, and their tax $ pays their salaries and retirement. calpers doesn’t get the return to pay it. most of the time their jobs aren’t that dangerous.

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  134. towerflower says:

    Mr. Sattui is obviously ignorant about the profession of the average firefighter and as such he should have kept his comments to himself and “be thought a fool then to speak and remove all doubt”–Abraham Lincoln. While the majority remove themselves from danger you will always have police and firefighter passing you going in to confront the danger. The job of a firefighter is a short career compared to most jobs because of the physical strain on their bodies over time and is compariable to that of an Air Traffic Controller and their mental strain and health issues from stress (also with a retirement as eary as 50). Early retirement for firefighters, police, military, & air traffic controllers are there for a proven reason. I have to wonder how many times Mr. Sattui went to work and had to carry 60-70 lbs while doing his job. How many times was he exposed to hazardous chemicals that could shorten his life, how many times did his family worry about him coming home from work, or how many times he put his own life on the line to save another.

    The way to show Mr. Sattui our displeasure with his spoken words is to tell your friends and neighbors to boycott his product until he apologizes to the firefighters. I for one will no longer buy any product from his winery.

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  135. Crash068 says:

    If firefighters and cops want to complain about this citizen or even boycott his wine, fine..it’s a free country. However, suggesting, as was done, that his house be left to burn or he himself be left to choke is akin to a child’s response.

    My family has 2 firemen in it and I have 3 friends in law enforcement. The firemen’s salaries ARE out of touch with today’s private sector, as many government jobs are.

    As far as the risks, injuries and other stated detriments mentioned here that are inherent to the profession; if it’s not what you want then come on out here into the private sector and start applying for jobs. Throw your specific skill-set out here on the open market and compete with all of us. Start seeing what private sector health car generally looks like. Then start saving, investing or whatever to plan for your years of retirement, usually 10-15 years after your fellow firemen have retired, because this is almost never a “pension”. I don’t mean not one of 90% of your salary I mean nothing…zero.

    All this tantrum that was thrown over one mans public opinion did is pull people like me off the sofa. I’ll be active from now on in this arena as will many others.

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  136. me says:

    This is nothing but an ignorant statement coming from an ignorant man.

    People do change their attitudes, opinions and beliefs. What he needs some instant wakeup Karma to make him realize his ignorant statements and his ignorant thinking.

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  137. No 10 day here says:

    RE: Mike Stanton re: No 10 day here

    1. ‘Spiking’ is ILLEGAL in the current CA pension systems. The old method was the average your three highest years (including OT). Since that was determined years ago to be ‘unrealistic’, it was outlawed and the current pension systems have either a 3%@50 or 3%@55 retirement based on your FINAL YEAR”S BASE SALARY (OT not included).

    2. Who the hell gets a “car allowance”?

    3. Find me a place where the “average starting firefighter” makes “$111,000″ because I’d like to apply there.

    4. A paramedic license, a 2 year fire degree, and other qualifications are not required for employment in the larger metropolitan areas so the local minority populations are both encouraged and qualified to apply. A certain percentage of these minorities will get hired to fulfill the need for “balanced demographics” amongst all civic departments. Reverse discrimination is the new nepotism. Sorry, it just is.

    5. “Your numbers are fantasy, not based on California at all.” No, they’re based on my retirement projections in NorCal, straight from the Retirement Board. An example would be the recent retiree with 22 years of service under his belt, retired at age 55 and has a monthly take home pension, after taxes and medical costs, of exactly $2014.97. The good news is he no longer pays the 9% into retirement as his status has changed. The bad news is that fire engine red Ferrari he always wanted is still never going to materialize.

    It’s a tortoise vs. the hare sort of race: while private sector types were getting the bonuses, the trips, and the hookers in Vegas on the company card, the public safety folks were getting salary increases below inflation in order to secure long term futures. We squirreled away funds and negotiated, through give ups, a more stable future that, in today’s economic climate, is worth its weight in gold. Because we sacrificed for the future, and others took, took, took, and spent, spent, spent, and didn’t save (X3), there is animosity, especially since the private sector fat cats were the ones who initiated the junk loan system to ensure every Juan, Dick, and Harry could own a home, even if they couldn’t afford it. The result? The private guys screwed up, wrecked the economy, and the system that the public guys built is under attack because we were smart enough to not over extend ourselves and we planned for the future. Sorry.

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  138. I Care says:

    In response to Give me a break!

    I do not agree with you. Our men/women overseas on the battlefield is the most heroic job ever. But I like to think we all have heroic jobs some of us out there. Doctors, nurses, teachers, FFighters, EMT’s, Paramedics…..

    But… You didn’t both mentioning CDF/Cal Fire. Those guys are IN IT for more than 1/2 a year battling blazes and loosing a brother/sister constantly to forest fires. Hmmm…. What about that.

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  139. bobby says:

    well what about EMTs then?
    they don’t make hundreds of thousands of dollars
    and what do you think they get when they retire?
    isn’t their work important?
    don’t they see the same tragedies?
    don’t they save lives?
    -why do firefighters make more than nurses? paramedics? and EMTs?
    isn’t this a valid question?

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  140. lisa maldonado says:

    It’s really sad to see workers fighting each other in a “race to the bottom” for wages and benefits. This whole “I have no benefits or retirement or healthcare so neither should you” line of reasoning is sad and dangerous. And unnecessary. All workers deserve vacation time and good wages and benefits and not to be starving in old age and getting their health care in a emergency room. And we can afford this (as countries like France and Sweden and Germany do)if corporations like Chevron and rich people like Mr Sattui (who lives in a castle I am told) would pay their fair share. I am so tired of privileged people who (as the great Molly Ivins used to say) “were born on third base but think they hit a home run” telling other people to do with less or do without all together because they don’t want to pay taxes. Workers should not engage in this “race to the bottom” and allow themselves to be played against each other while corporate CEO’s continue to get astonomical bonuses and obscene salaries (even when they fail!)

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  141. Give me a Break! says:

    Finally. The dirty little secret is out.

    Firefighter pensions are out of touch with reality. You’re not heros! As “A Veteran” wrote, “please stop acting as if your the equivalent to our brave men and women on the battle field. Because, you’re not….” Firefighters rarely fight fires anymore. They now mostly respond to medical calls…which by the way are usually handled by non-fire EMT’s and paramedics who do the job for less money and a 401K plan if they’re lucky…not some grossly overblown pension plan.

    Nurses are more at risk in the emergency room on a daily basis than a firefighter. Do they get 3% at 50? NO! I respect what firefighters do but come on…firefighting isn’t even in the top 10 most dangerous jobs anymore..http://www.forbes.com/2008/08/25/dangerous-jobs-fishing-lead-careers-cx_mk_0825danger_slide1_2.html?thisSpeed=20000. “America’s Hero’s” don’t look for praise and recognition…they silently and humbly serve. It’s time to get over this hero worship that the fireservice thrives on and accept that it’s a job…no more valuable than any other. Oh..and by the way…how nice to see that some of firefighters would threaten to withold help to someone in time of need or trash his business simply because he expressed his opinion in a newspaper…some of you should be ashamed and some of you should be embarrased!!

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  142. Professional FF says:

    The reason for the vehement response is because Mr. Sattui stepped up on his soapbox and launched an attack on firefighters based almost entirely on lies and half truths. He also displayed his complete lack of understanding of the profession and ultimately engaged in class warfare. I will address some of his points from a personal perspective as a firefighter.

    The impact on the general fund: Police and fire are the only organizations that operate 24/7 365 days a year. The budget therefore will be at least 3 times as much as an 8-5 operation.

    The easy shiftwork: Until you’ve worked it, you won’t understand it. It is not easy, there’s a reason that government has signed off on it. It has a to do with injury rates, but mainly from the City’s perspective it is far cheaper than having 3 times as many full-time employees working 8 hour shifts. As a “businessman” this should be readily apparent to Mr. Sattui.

    Firefighters work 2nd jobs: Firefighters do work second jobs, mainly because their spouses have a hard time working around abrupt, unexpected schedule changes that plague the fire service. An American Canyon firefighter may be called out in the middle of the night and be fighting a wildfire in Los Angeles at sunrise. Or assisting another city during an earthquake. Or a flood. Or a riot – fire crews from Northern California responded to the Rodney King riots and were shot at while they fought fires there. Many days there are emergencies right before shift change that cause crews to unexpectedly stay later than planned. Second jobs are just that – twice as much time away from the family, providing the dual income that is now the norm for most of society. It’s a responsibility to the family, not a scam.

    Lazy firefighters have it easy: My personal experience so far is a knee surgery at 6 years, another at 8 years, and another at 15 years. I walk with a limp and am a candidate for knee replacement, but I am waiting for retirement so I don’t wear it out as fast. I also suffer from shoulder injuries as well as a bad neck and back. I’ve either been exposed to or actually contracted noro virus, meningitis, HIV, Hepatitis A, B and C, infected cuts, and numerous strains and sprains. These are all run of the mill concerns for any firefighter. They are also a gift that we bring home to our families.

    Retirement: It is foolish to think that a person can continue working a firefighter’s job as their body begins to deteriorate with age. Most will have numerous bone and joint injuries by 50; after 40 the incidence of strokes, heart attacks and cancer begin a steep climb. In my department over the past year, three firefighters, all very healthy, have been diagnosed with cancer. Two had retired within the past 6 years, one is now dead. This is common in the firefighting profession.

    Although everyone’s tax rate is different, I’m shocked that Mr. Sattui, a multi-millionaire, is worried about sharing the cost of this service with the rest of the population who is served. The cost for your firefighters per capita is probably far less than $100 a year. It is easy for Mr. Sattui to sit on his throne and curse his servants, but it is repugnant and definitely lacks class. He would be wise to at least find out the facts and weigh the potential impacts of his pronouncements before he makes a jackass of himself.

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  143. Copper says:

    I would like to say that when I got into Law Enforcement 20 years ago I got into it to help people. I have been able to do that. What I also got was people trying to kill me for what I do, not who I am. There are not to many people who can say that they go to work with a target on them. This doesnt just apply to when I am at work. I have to worry about who knows what I do and where I live. I have to worry about my childrens friends and who thier parents are. How many of you have showed up for the first day of little leauge and found that you had arrested one of the dads for being a wife beater? It makes for a fun season…

    Although I love the work I do, it takes its toll. If you get a chance to talk to a old salty cop do so. See what his views are. He gets to read rants like these from people he is sworn to protect and save.

    As for the money. Do what you wish…fire everyone. The people that you would hire for $10 and hours will fill the streets for the jobs. And we as a city will get just what we pay for. I dont want the guy who is asking me if I want fries with my order to come save my family when some dopper breaks into my house because he thinks I am growing marijuana inside. I want that guy fixing my fries.

    I am sure that we can get a Police force that would work for $10 an hour. But do you want that guy on your door step at your worst moment? I dont! Not now not ever. The market sets the price for everything. If you want good/honest people you must pay for them. If you want something else, I guess its time to move.

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  144. wildoak says:

    How can one argue that we need fire and police? I think the point is how much can a municipality afford to pay for these services. We either have the money or not. And if not, we need to renegotiate contracts with the union. I’m the daughter of a firefighter that died while on the job. But the reality of the situation is that there is only so much money to go around. And so many things that we expect from our municipalities. It’d be great if it was 2007 and we had money coming in to cover all the services we now exptect. But it’s 2010 and we’re BROKE!

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  145. gc says:

    Agree with the winery owner. ALL public employees should go on a retirement system EXACTLY like private sector people have… it is called a 401K.

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  146. Mike says:

    For those who are wondering why firefighters and police are so up in arms about Sattui’s comments:

    People are angry NOT because of the salary and benefits comments. Had Sattui simply said that, then a useful debate could have started. Instead, he denigrated and insulted everyone who works in public service by claiming that we get paid for nothing and that 1/3 of our pay is unearned because we’re always sleeping through the night (a statement that is verifiably false).

    Before this discussion can go any further, Sattui needs to retract the obvious insults to all public safety people (fire, police, and EMS). We badly need to discuss how to fairly utilize shrinking city and state resources; the last thing we need is some inherited millionaire accusing firefighters EVERYWHERE of being useless parasites instead of the valuable members of society they are.

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  147. Mr. says:

    Real HERO’S don’t tell you they are they just act heroic!
    We all know how hard it is to deal with drunks, drug addicts, and all that really bad stuff that you public safety personell have to deal with, and the accidents and fire victims. I don’t dispute any of that. You all deserve our thanks.
    But that said I do agree that the retirement is rather generous.

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  148. LawDog says:

    I am an ex-firefighter. I was a hotshot for 3 years and intended to become a city firefighter. After working side by side with city firefighters I abandoned my aspirations to be a firefighter. My pride and conscience would not allow me to join the ranks of the overpaid and under worked.

    The culture of these fire departments is appalling. They expect to paid (overpaid) for their image. Firefighting has been well branded. Plain and simple. It is not any more ‘heroic’ than any other job.

    I have friends who are firefighters and travel for months at a time, often two or three times a year. They also have second jobs and STILL have more free time than your average citizen.

    Firefighters are not heroes, they sign up for this work. The inherent risk is part of the cache of the job.

    The public needs to stop succumbing to fear mongering. With the advent of fire sprinklers “firefighters” are becoming more and more obsolete. Perhaps we could simply train an underpaid paramedic to use the jaws of life rather than have firefighters act as first responders before handing off the medical calls to paramedics?

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  149. Mike Stanton says:

    RE: No 10 Day Here:

    “There is no ’spiking’ of salary and benefits. It is illegal in CA” – This is completely FALSE. Every single paper in California has ran stories about this ongoing practice in California the last six months about how police and fire are stacking the deck. This IS going on and it is NOT illegal.

    “The large salaries published in the papers are upper level chiefs” – ALSO FALSE. Chronicle just ran a story this weekend where the AVERAGE STARTING SALARY for a firefighter, BEFORE overtime is $111,000 a year! The Chief, she makes over $300,000 a year!

    “The days of nepotism are over” – WRONG again, it took the City of Oakland decades to even allow a woman to go through the fire academy. If it isn’t Nepotism, how can you have fire departments with such high concentrations of nationalities (the Irish for example) even today?

    “To get to the front of the 12,000 strong application pack you need to have a 2 year fire science degree” – NOT REQUIRED

    “a paramedic license” – NOT REQUIRED

    “The misconception is that the everyday firefighter works 30 years then retires at age 50 and ‘gets rich’” – ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

    “The average age to get hired is 27 for a 56 hour work week at about $70K. If you are fortunate enough to get hired at that age and in a 3% @ age 50 retirement tier as well, AND stay healthy enough to go the distance, then you will retire at age 50 with an annual pension of $48,300. This is in today’s dollars, adjust for inflation. Many firefighters are hired in their 30’s. Let’s take a 33 year old, same scenario: retires with an annual pension of $35,700 at age 50. Now consider this employee paid close to 9% out of pocket throughout his/her career for post retirement pension/benefits.” – Your numbers are fantasy, not based on California at all.

    “OT does not, repeat, does not count towards retirement numbers” – AGAIN, you have NO clue what you’re talking about!

    “When the bubble burst and the million dollar bonuses weren’t there anymore, everyone got pissed and suddenly the good guys became the bad guys” – This has nothing to do with bubbles bursting. Everyone is taking a haircut except these union represented thugs. Everyone is sacrificing to go for the big win except these guys. The reason no one raises hell because rock stars, bankers and CEO’s make more money than these guys is because WE’RE NOT PAYING THEIR SALARIES!

    How come you never see police or firemen trying to get some sweetheart deal for teachers? We have our priorities wrong in this country, I would rather see teachers making 111K a year and let’s go to a volunteer firefighting department. Better yet, let’s treat police like teachers, let’s key their salaries to their performance! If crime is not reduced police officers take a cut in pay. Any homicide department without at least 90% clearance takes a cut in pay.

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  150. Charlie says:

    I have worked for over 30 years. I dont get paid leave, paid hollidays, sick leave 3 weeks vacation pay. Medical, dentil, Raises like no tomarrow. Bonus, Overtime , double time. stress leave, Rubber room time. And yet I pay for this with my taxes. And I dont get RETIRMENT. ACLU is going to the United States of America

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  151. It's about time!! says:

    Finally…the dirty little secret is out!! Firefighter pensions need to be scaled back to reality.

    What about the paramedics and EMT’s who work side by side with America’s Heros but don’t work for a fire department? Do they get the ridiculous pensions? NO! How about the nurses who take care of the patient’s they transport? 3% at 50….NO WAY! Firefighters rarely fight fires anymore and now spend more time responding to medical calls and doing inspections. I truly respect what you do but come on….As “A Veteran” wrote, “please stop acting as if your the equivalent to our brave men and women on the battle field. Because, you’re not….” Firefighters are not even in the top 10 most dangerous jobs anymore..http://www.forbes.com/2008/08/25/dangerous-jobs-fishing-lead-careers-cx_mk_0825danger_slide1_2.html?thisSpeed=20000

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  152. LT says:

    Keep in mind, these employees pay into their pension. It’s not handed to them for free! They risk their lives for US. When it is your child they are saving, let’s see if you sing the same tune.

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  153. jb says:

    Mr. Sattui’s comments may be ill-timed and certainly have drawn the ire of fire-fighters and lovers thereof, but I’m having a hard time disagreeing with him. Public Safety consumes 60% to 90% of the municipal budget; a grossly disproportionate amount of the budget in my humble opinion. Yeah, yeah, yeah… police and fire are stressed and risk their lives. We get it. Having been a police officer for years, I know exactly what it is they do. Be that as it may, their sweet-deal contracts and “not to be found in the real world” retirement plans are crippling our cities and counties. Feels like it might be time for a reality check… how badly do we need these services?

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  154. BM says:

    My father is a firefighter, just turned 50 and is looking at retirement in less than a year. Being an active firefighter is hard work, both physically and mentally. That said, many firefighters retire with and from irreversible conditions from injuries sustained on the job while helping to protect people’s lives and property. Firefighters deserve to be paid what they are paid and to recieve their benefits. I believe that they are underpaid for their service to their community, which goes far beyond just riding around in a big shiny truck.

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  155. M.J.V. says:

    This is one of those debates where both trains of thought are correct. All of these services are absolutely necessary, and yes, it is impossible to pay these benefits, in the current tax structure. Recently, the Chief in Healdsburg, announced her retirement. She will go out at 90% which works out to be 135,000.00 per year. If she survives for say thirty years, that would be a little over 4 million dollars. That number is pretty close to the whole budget for a year for the town. She is just one employee. I guess the question should be, how do we make it work?

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  156. No 10 day here says:

    A lot of these comments are obviously harsh and knee-jerk reactions, and the fact that they can be left as anonymous lends to a stirring of the pot effect that the media just can’t get enough of. Let’s educate some folks here on the career field and the retirements in public safety: There is no ‘spiking’ of salary and benefits. It is illegal in CA and in the few bastions where it still occurs (FDNY) it is being stamped out, thank God. If you want to see anything close, look no further than city managers who negotiate an individual raise, get locked into large pension payments, then skip town to another location to do it again. The large salaries published in the papers are upper level chiefs. The days of nepotism are over. To get to the front of the 12,000 strong application pack you need to have a 2 year fire science degree, a paramedic license (another 2 yrs), seasonal time, volunteer time, and private ambulance time (another 2-3 yrs). The misconception is that the everyday firefighter works 30 years then retires at age 50 and “gets rich”. The average age to get hired is 27 for a 56 hour work week at about $70K. If you are fortunate enough to get hired at that age and in a 3% @ age 50 retirement tier as well, AND stay healthy enough to go the distance, then you will retire at age 50 with an annual pension of $48,300. This is in today’s dollars, adjust for inflation. Many firefighters are hired in their 30′s. Let’s take a 33 year old, same scenario: retires with an annual pension of $35,700 at age 50. Now consider this employee paid close to 9% out of pocket throughout his/her career for post retirement pension/benefits. Here comes Uncle Sam. If said employee is taxed at 27%, then they can expect an annual spendable pension of $26,061. That’s $2,172 a month. Oh, the post retirement medical. Take another $900 a month out for that, assuming it’s just the employee and spouse still on the plan, but now that the Health Care Reform mandated that to age 26, you’d better hope the kids get out of college and find health care soon. Regarding second jobs and overtime: OT does not, repeat, does not count towards retirement numbers. Second jobs are worked to provide income and retirement security for the retiring public safety employee because contrary to popular belief, you do not get rich quick in these professions! If you see the young fireman driving down the street in his jacked up truck making an ass out of himself you can bet the farm he lives in Mom’s house still and dumps all his salary into that vehicle. Public safety unions have, for decades, negotiated the long term security over the quick buck. For many years, as 401Ks were brimming with positive numbers, as dot-commers were getting multi-million dollar bonuses, as those with ‘portfolios’ were striking it rich in the tech and housing booms, the public safety employees were looking towards the future and negotiating for it. When the bubble burst and the million dollar bonuses weren’t there anymore, everyone got pissed and suddenly the good guys became the bad guys. Ask yourself why.

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  157. A Veteran says:

    I certainly appreciate the job firemen do. And, really don’t have a problem with their retirement income. After all, it’s what they were promised; deserved or not…

    But, I do have a problem with them flying the US flag on their trucks. Especially when they’re just driving to Starbucks or an ATM. Keep your 90% retirement, but please stop acting as if your the equivalent to our brave men and women on the battle field. Because, you’re not….

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  158. Ricardo Sorentino says:

    No doubt that police and firemen deserve high praise for the job they do; they’re heroes. But there are lots of hero’s in the work world, for a lot of different reasons. And many of those heroes only make a fraction of what police and firemen make, both in their working years and retirement. For example, how about the people who work graveyard shifts at gas station / food marts, or bank tellers, that at any moment might have a gun stuck in their face, all for low pay?

    With all the fiscal problems, there is no question that outrageous overtime and sweet-heart pension benefits for government employees are bankrupting us.

    With all the negative posts and comments on Facebook and such, it only shows how defensive police and firemen are, trying to protect their feed at the tax-dollar trough… clearly, it’s all about them and to heck with anyone who dares comment about fiscal responsibility.

    Let’s not even talk about the high rate of these employees that go out on disability just days before retiring… high-ranking government employees should come out in strong opposition with the negative remarks posted against the winery owner, who I’m sure pays plenty of taxes, that go to all the overtime and retirement benefits that these people collect, ‘until death do us part’.

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  159. L Cramer says:

    Sattui’s comments were intemperate and firefighters may justifiably want to boycott his business. But, his over-the-top comments hardly justify some of the vile, and unprofessional, comments in return, from firefighters presumably.

    Those comments were worse. Do they reflect on fire firefighters in general or public employees. I doubt it.

    Unfortunately, the internet seems to bring out the worst in some people, or at least provides them with an outlet to vent their anger and violent thoughts.

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  160. Sharon says:

    Of course fire fighters do heroic work. But I agree with Sattui, the overtime and pension benefits are bankrupting our local government. 90% of pay? That is ridiculous. Most unions have outlived their usefulness.

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  161. Anne says:

    I have to respond to the criticism leveled at the pay that public service workers receive. My main concern is that they have never been paid enough in terms of the hours they serve, the services they provide, and the nightmares that they regularly deal with. The situations that these employees deal with on a daily situation are enough to throw most people into the mad house.

    The stress is incredible and very hard to deal with. I’m talking about the cops that never know whether their next call is a dangerous life threatening situation or a fairly safe public annoyance. They never know and their health is always at risk because they NEVER know what is going to happen when they respond to a call. They get harassed and belittled until they are called upon to help. They are paid to help everyone. They want to. That is why they became cops. Do you really think that they went into it for the money? There is no way I would ever want their stress. Plus, just to add to the entire stress of getting jobs done and making calls on time, the paper work is a killer in itself. Keeping YOU safe is a paperwork nightmare. Keeping you safe is a public relations nightmare. Make one mistake and you will have more than a nightmare for the rest of your life. Have you ever made a mistake on the job?
    Keeping you safe is such a head ache that it is a wonder that we can get great people to fill these positions.

    A firefighter rescuing a kitten or risking his life to save someone in an unsafe burning building is not a fairy tale. These guys study all of the time about subjects that most people would never think of. Weight bearing loads? Air flow dynamics, chemistry traces for bombs, or people that torch their own places for the insurance. Oh, let us not forget the people that they are the first responders for. They don’t sit there and watch them die. They are trained to be first responders. They work very hard. I’m not sure where the Winery guy got his info. He sure didn’t know any fire fighters.

    There are more stories in the life of a teacher. They are regularly threatened, their cars and homes damaged. The life of a teacher is not fun. It is like being a cop, a parent, a teacher, and psy professional all at once. Most of them are teaching oversize classes that would defeat Superman. Many of you have one or two teens. Would you really want to organize and teach a multitude of them? Teachers WANT to teach. What do teachers get? A below level salary across the board, ok benefits (that they are supposed to be so grateful for-as they get cut more every year), and early gray hair from all of the stress. Kids are pretty dangerous and the responsibilities on teachers have grown heavier, not lighter as time goes on.

    Society needs to take the blame on this one. Yes, YOU. You need to be a responsible parent. You need to spend more on tutoring your child or good child care than on your car/stereo/clothes. Your child is our future. The emphasis should be on making your child and you value education. America is turning into a third world country because people would rather buy an iPod or Coach purse than invest in their children or themselves as educated people.

    When being smart in school or at work is a bad thing, you must realize that the end product will not be an improvement in anything that benefits our country. Our country got to be strong because we valued ourselves as contributing citizens. We contributed to a strong country. Currently, I see a lot of people complaining, but not a lot contributing to a strong America.

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  162. Jerry S. says:

    It’s sad to see members of the public take issue with public employees. How come nobody complains about a sports team member who makes more in one game than any cop or firefighter would make in a year? They retire at age 30 or 35. Or the rock star who contributes little to the health and well being of our citizens. You probably spend more on attending a game or a concert than you pay in taxes each year to be protected 24/7 by those risking their lives for you and your family.

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  163. Oregano says:

    No one complained when the mortgage brokers, realtors, and bankers were making double what public service makes. Then the economy goes to crap and we blame it on public safety, the only people who ARE working 24/7 and ALWAYS respond when you call 911.

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  164. Laura says:

    I am saddened by a lot of comments from these professional firefighter etc. Although, they may have reason to be upset these types of conduct make me feel like we have anger control issues with our firefighters and Police officers. I would expect these comments to be on UDJ blogs not being left on Face Book. How sad……

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  165. Marc says:

    I have walked a mile in their shoes and yes they are overpaid professionals who when times were good we gave all we could. Now they sound ungrateful while their Supports are all suffering with the recession! Right now every expense needs to be reduced for the good of the community and they are no exception. They can choose to be part of the solution or be part of the problem.

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  166. Thoughtful says:

    This is really absurd. Instead of a healthy debate about what a public servant is paid, some of you have decided to write some pretty horrible stuff. Because a person shares his thoughts that are neither threatening nor malicious to anyone, many of you feel that it is necessary to exact some type of retrobution for having an opinion that could be valid when all other occupations and industries are have to make cuts in wages.

    How much should a public servant be paid? That is the issue and that is what the conversation should be about. Not threatening someone for having an opion.

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  167. Carolyn C Crone says:

    Bravo Dario !
    What other “professions” can someone with so little education get such a high paying jobs? As evidenced in some of the posts, these “professionals” prey on the fears of the public. Thirteen fire stations in Santa Rosa. By closing about half of the multi-million dollar firehouses we could afford to build a new house for every destroyed one, even without insurance.
    Each “professional” will cost at least $5,000,000.00 over their lifetime. Not a bad income for a 13 week academy. Over 100 personnel in 1989. How many now?
    The 100 “professionals” will cost over ONE HALF BILLION DOLLARS. In reality, you are paying for THREE HUNDRED “professionals” because the 100 are only the active ones. Don’t forget the TWO groups of retired. That makes
    13 week academy… OH MY ! What a challenge ! Just think if our teachers could get by with that.
    If you really want to get upset, go to the California CHP site and look at those requirements.
    One important thing to remember… You can also choose to be one of them. Beats the hell out of 6 years of higher education to become a teacher of their children for one half the wage.
    One down side of fire and police “profession” is during these long hours away from their families… the wives like to play around. Example that made the paper was the spouse swapping going on in Lake county. This is very common.

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  168. ZUMA says:

    Sattui is right! The average wage for firemen in the USA is 47,000 per year and they dont get to retire at 50 with 90% of wages.

    By the standards of risk firemen claim,
    American soldiers serving overseas in combat zones would have to be paid a few million a year and retire at full pay after 2 years! How many firemen and policemen are killed on average in any given year? That determines the risk! The figure is very very low. In fact, their are other fields with much higher risk that arent paid half what firemen are paid. How much is a firefighter in Iowa or Nebraska paid? Most towns have volunteers that arent paid at all!

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  169. A.Weber says:

    As a former EMT working with the Firefighters of Napa County I can honestly say these men and women deserve every penny they get. I responded to countless number of calls with the fire departments throughout the county of Napa.

    You wonder why these Firefighters get the pay and retirement they do???? Let me tell you…

    The stress of traumatic accidents and extracating human beings from vehicles screaming in pain is devestating. The stress of doing CPR and trying to save a life while loved ones watch, only to see them pass on at the hospital is heartbreaking, even more with a young child. The stress of a fellow Firefighter injured or dying in a fire is unimaginable… or trying to save someone in a fire and not being able to get to them in time….. Missing loved ones and being gone for days or weeks at a time , Staying up for days at a time with little to no sleep is exhausting and unhealthy…. And the list goes on and on and on and on!!!!

    These horrors of the job are not things that go away when you go back to the station or home, they stay with you, sometimes for the rest of your life!!!!

    I always say some people can do it but a hell of a lot more can’t…. GUARANTEED!!!! The training, the strong will, the tough skin, the mental capability of doing this job is more than many people can take.

    There will always be people who take advantage of the system, and there is no way around that. But from my own experiences with the men and women of Napa County Fire Services, the pay they recieve is more than fair. They deserve more than Mr. Sattui’s, Mike Stanton’s, and many others foul comments and disrespect.

    Walk a mile is someone elses Firefighter boots AND THEN lets hear what you have to say!!!!

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  170. Mike says:

    The comments I’m reading here are absolutely repulsive.

    Mark, you don’t like the tickets? Either get the speed limits changed or don’t speed; don’t whine about cops doing their jobs when they catch you ignoring the law “because everyone else does”.

    Mike Stanton,
    Spare us the bull about how you respect “the people who reel these frauds in on a daily basis for pennies on the dollar”. My father did that job for over 30 years; and his thanks was being spit on every April 15th by “good citizens” like you because they got caught cheating on taxes, or on government contracts, or whatever. We all know the tune you play: it’s only cheating if THEY do it, the “little stuff I do to get by,” is “only fair”.

    Yes, there are problems with the pension system; but keep in mind that it isn’t just police and fire who are racking in the dough. How much are the professional bean-counters paying themselves while making fire and police out to be scapegoats.

    For that matter, how many police do you actually encounter outside of getting caught speeding? Your “police state” idiocy reeks of regurgitated Popular Media garbage as opposed to honest original thought.

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  171. DICK says:

    The hazards of police and firefighter work is appreciated. Police is the 12th and firefighter is the 13th most hazardous work. Thank you.

    Commenting on public safety also seems hazardous. Are Santa Rosa police and fire unions trying to stifle public speech? Many politicians are intimidated by public safety unions. Many people are intimidated by police.

    Does Santa Rosa have its priorities straight? SRPD recommended and the council approved cutting all school crossing guard’s funds. However Santa Rosa is filling all police position, not reducing pay and is budgeting for overtime. Doesn’t public safety include children crossing a street to school?

    There are 177 police officers in the SRPD. That’s enough to have an officer in every square miles of the city at all times [24/7] without overtime, and allowing time off for vacations, sick leaves and holidays. It will be fully funded.

    Some people think because SRPD is over staffed, some of our tax dollars could be better spent. They would fund school crossing guards and make smaller cuts to schools, parks, libraries, health, housing, streets. Where would you redirect funds? Let your elected officials know.

    Some in public safety claim they are heroes who go in harm’s way. But they will not take a cut in pay; even when others are losing their jobs, homes, savings and lives. Something doesn’t seem right, does it?

    Are you, SRPD, losing the public’s respect? What should you expect when you eliminate school crossing guards while refusing to take a pay cut or eliminate overtime pay for yourselves. It’s sad that it has come to this. A sad day in Santa Rosa.

    Your friend Dick

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  172. doveab says:

    i will buy a case from the winery and pass it along to my friends. Unions thugs — all of them need to be dismantled now that everyone has caught on how mucvh they are OVER-PAID!!

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  173. doveab says:

    I agree with the winery owner — UNIONS ARE overpaid —-Grossly overpaid and people are fed up!@ Kudos for speaking the truth. Over-bloated state workers need to get real! Let;s start firing and replacing our corrupt local politicians who allow for overpaid city slackers!

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  174. Ciera says:

    The so-called use-to-be firefighters and police officers who have verbally abandoned their brothers should be ashamed of themselves! Would you want a 60 yr old man coming into a burning building to save you? Would you want to rely on a volunteer dept who may or may not want to leave his ballgame on TV when you are having a heart attack? Or who would for 50% of their pay get up in the middle of the night over and over again to pick up some elderly lady who has been laying in her fecal for the past 3 hours cause she couldn’t get up? Did you forget the hours of training a week and the heavy equipment you put on everytime you went out or the sleeping under the fire truck on a stike team. How quickly you forget, and just because you are retired or use-to-be, doesn’t make it OK to bash. How sad for you that one man’s uneducated opinion in a newspaper showed your probable streak for all your jobs.

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  175. Blue says:

    In what city do these firefighters work in? Unless you work in south central LA, chicago, or even Oakland or San Francisco you have no argument. Yes occasionally you are up all night long, but then if possible you get to sleep the back half depending as your captain allows. When was the last FF life lost in this area. Steve Rucker was a horrible accident, but that was seveal years ago and in southern california on a wildland fire. How often is there a significant structure fire or MCI? STOP BLOWING SMOKE……. Yes the job is demanding and hard and at times horrific, but thats what you signed up for. Stop your whinning. YOUR NOT GODS stop acting like you are. True heros are the ones that step outside of expectations to act! Firefighters knowingly accept the job risks as conditions of employment.

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  176. john says:

    I cannot believe some of these comments. a little education would go a long way if u research a subject.. my neighbor is a fire fighter and i have done several ride alongs with him. I can tell u first hand what these guy’s do is not easy. they do not sleep all day, they don’t have time. between training, cleaning, school drills, inspections and running calls, these guys get beat up on a daily basis. they cant even sit down for a full meal most of the time and they certainly don’t get to sleep through the night. Fire fighters aren’t just fireman anymore, they wear several hats, Fire, confined space, haz-mat, auto extrication, swift water, EMT and paramedics, high angle rescue, just to name a few. I’m so embarrass by these comments i cannot type anymore

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  177. J.D. says:

    It’s quite apparent that all the negative comments about the fire service and police oficers are being made by jealous failures who were not smart enough to get jobs in this line of work. I challange anyone to TRY and walk in our shoes and do our jobs. Being away from home for 96 or 120 hrs, seeing people at their worst, and having nightmares on a daily basis of all the horror that you witnessed in a day that most people will never see in their lives! Many people THINK they can do the job….FEW people can……The many are the ones that make comments on here, having no clue what they are talking about!

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  178. Listen up Mike says:

    I think Mike Stanton needs to do a ride along for a day-otherwise you need to control your words. Go back to your ivory tower and let the real fireman and police do their jobs, because you couldn’t handle it. You might want to think of the amount of salary and retirement that’s worth risking your life every second you are at work. Go back to your cubicle now, the world should never have to see you doing anything other than that.

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  179. Mike Stanton says:

    RE: Supportive:

    If I didn’t like my job I would go find another one. People should go whining about all the hardships and trouble thay their job brings on them especially in today’s economy. I bet there would be 100 people who would be glad to do their job for half what they get paid for. Imagine that…firefighters and cops who make NORMAL salaries. Heck, we’d probably have enough money to pay our teacher a decent salary then. Those are true HEROS, they educate our children to be better people and responsible members of their communities. Maybe with MORE EDUCATION, we wouldn’t need the police state we now have. It’s a proven fact that every single dollar you spend on education IN prison will save taxpayers 100-fold in reduced crime and reduced rates of incarceration. Won’t hear any of that from these guys, nope, just warehouse them. As for the firefighter who has to pull dead DUI victims from their cars, if the POLICE would ACTUALLY enforce DUI laws and NOT announce that there is going to be a DUI checkpoint, they might actually prevent some of those DUI’s….a novel idea; preventing crime through enforcement of the laws already on the books…who knew? Besides, why do we have DUI checkpoints on holidays? Is there some rule that they can’t arrest drunks any day of the week? All this surely seems like low-hanging fruit to me, but I guess staking out the local Starbucks makes for an easier day on duty.

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  180. Chris says:

    I suppose the winery pays taxes for the services of the fire department. I bet he even keeps and lawyer handy if they decide not to respnd to an incedent at the winery…

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  181. Mark says:

    I agree with Sattui, the outrageous overtime and pension benefits are bankrupting our local government. The benefits could be reduced and there would still be tons of applicants for each position. The unions have a stranglehold on local government and other services are suffering because of it.

    A few less cops on Fountain Grove writing tickets is OK with me.

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  182. Supportive says:

    These brave men and women risk their lives to help people. Try being more supportive! If you had a job under that kind of stress every day then you too would understand why they retire at that age. Some of them aren’t lucky enough to make it to retirement because they lost their life trying to save someone elses. And would you have a smile on your face at every call when you are more concerned with doing your job rather than making a friend? Walk a mile in their shoes and then leave a comment! Ignorance!

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  183. ed says:

    Having now heard of this winery and seen their website, I am going to get on their mailing list to buy product.

    Thank you Brad for bringing this winery to the attention of sane citizens.

    Do you and your union cronies own another high end winery in St Helena and really are looking to make even more money from your part time jobs by the boycott?

    Too bad in backfired on you.

    You are going to get burned as your gravy train is ending soon. Its called public bankruptcy and starting over — like United Airlines

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  184. Mike Stanton says:

    Where else in this world can you get a job through nepotism or the good ole boy system, work the fraction of hours they do and game the system by stacking the deck the last year to rake in the hoard of cash at the expense of the public? Only in California. People are all over this guy because he says what everyone else is thinking but doesn’t have the fortitude to say in public. As for Mr. Conner’s “education” of the public, in Russia they call it re-education when they don’t subscribe to your way of thinking. I think perhaps it is the police and firefighter that needs to be re-educated and reprogramed as to what PUBLIC SERVICE is. Public service is where people sacrafice of themselves to serve the public for the greater good. Today’s cops are thugs and gangsters and have done far more to tarnish their occupation than anyone. People used to teach their kids to run to a cop if they’re in trouble, today’s cops are more likely to shoot you than help you. As for the firefighters, there is more fraud, more scams and more worker’s comp cases against these overblown steroid junkies than any other public servant out there. The City of San Jose’s fire department is trying to get rid of the doctor down there who has weeded out dozens of fraudulent worker’s comp claims, costing that city millions of dollars. Wanna see a REAL hero? How about the people who reel these frauds in on a daily basis for pennies on the dollar, they are the only defense we have from the inside job being perpetrated against the public. Name ONE single occupation that can collect 90% of the pay for life after they have already stacked the deck that final year? WAAAH, we get shot at by gangs….WAAAH, we go into burning buildings. Yeah, like the poster said, there are people in American that do all this for free and the average salary for REAL cops, that actually help the public is usually around $40,000 a year, not $125,000. Babies…the whole lot of you.

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  185. Mel says:

    You know, a lot of these comments bashing fire personnel really hit a nerve. I come from a fire family and have been involved with the fire service myself since ’96, starting as a volunteer. Do you really think it’s such an easy job? What about the moms and dads that don’t get to see their kids all summer because they are out on fires? What about those that NEVER come back?? Did you ever think about that? Yeah, we CHOSE this lifestyle, but we sacrifice a lot of time with our families to make sure the rest of you are safe.

    Love how people think that firefighters get to sleep and get paid. Firefighters work 24 hours a day, they run calls all hours of the night and sometimes don’t sleep for several days. I know, I’ve been there. I’d love to see you office jockeys do that.

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  186. Joe Maciorowski says:

    With reguard to Brad Conners comment:

    I would do the job Firefighter for 50% of what they are paying. Hell I did it for free as a volunteer, being a volunteer actually cost me.
    As for the enforcement side i do agree you take greater risks but you are paid for that. I wouldnt want your job for any amount of money .

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  187. eugene says:

    Firefighters occasionally risk their lives, although more people die on the job at 7-11 stores. The fact is these folks claim they need to retire at age 50 because they are so worn out after being fire fighters. If true, why do many have second jobs before age 50?

    Cant they at least be fire look outs on Mount St Helena between age 50 and 60, or Mt Tam.

    No doubt these highly “inflamatory” comments to the wine maker prove that the fire fighters have gotten caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

    How about 42 days a year in paid time off. How about car allowance and accrued vacation paid back at retirement to spike their pensions based on their last year of compensation.

    If the job is so hard,why would they have unused vacation?

    Cake job, looting the public treasury all the way to bank. The real folks that should complain are teachers. They just have not figured out how to scam the public like firefighters.

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  188. Brad Conners says:

    Upon reading my quote in this article, realized that it sounded very different than intended. In no way did I mean to insinuate that any member of public safety would turn a blind eye to ANY member of the public in their time of need. In fact, the opposite is true. We, by our nature, reach out to help people regardless of how they may feel about us. I removed the comment as soon as I realized how unprofessional it sounded.

    In regard to a comment below, I would not do my job for 50% of what I earn. The risk I take, the time I spend away from my family, and the stress and liability I incur by the nature of my job would not be worth it. I work hard for my paycheck, as do the other men and women with whom I have the privilege to work.

    While public safety workers feel backed into a corner with the retirement issue, I still think that the best way to communicate our perspective is through education. I especially feel that those who are vocal critics of our retirement and benefits need to consider the many sides of the issue, and the many contributing factors to municipalities’ financial difficulties OTHER than their employees.

    There is a lot of misinterpretation of numbers regarding CalPERS, etc, which I think has led to a lot of harsh sentiment. As I stated in my Close to Home column a couple of weeks ago, the SRPOA continues its commitment to collaborate with the City of Santa Rosa to keep the ship afloat during these remarkably difficult times.

    I would encourage anyone who wants to examine the information for themselves regarding CalPERS to visit their website at calpers@ca.gov.

    Brad Conners
    Santa Rosa Police Officers’ Association

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  189. D says:

    All jobs should have a ceiling on what is afforable to that business. In the private sector every job has a value,and you can only afford to pay a certain amount for that job. OR YOU GO OUT OF BUSINESS! All public service jobs break this rule and just figure they will ask for more when they need/want it. Its automatic right, you have to pay more than the other Town Mgr is getting,that other dept. just got theirs we need a raise now.On & On & On we go! Please put some folks with half a business sense in charge for just awhile. We need to get ALL the emotion out of politics, and get this train back on the tracks.

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  190. Joe Maciorowski says:

    I was a paid firefighter/paramedic and I think the whole retirement racket stinks. Where else do you get to retire at 50 and get rich?! There are thousands of people who do the same job as volunteers. Really, they get up in the night for free to help people… I did and I have all the respect in the world for volunteer firefighters and NONE at all for the whining, wimpy paid guys that just want to get a fat check and have the nerve to think they are special. I am past 50 and can still out-run most of you paid babies, sitting in the station getting fat. We should FIRE all of you and go all volunteer fire and EMS in california with the exception of Cal Fire whos wages are much more realistic. Fire-EMS training should be part of the high school program so that all citizens can help each other. The paid firefighters have been ripping off the local governments for years; it’s time to reel them in. When 12,000 people test for a few firefighter jobs in the bay area every year something’s wrong. The job must be really too good to be true! Cut the pay back to the point where it’s hard to recruit firefighters for the job; supply and demand! You may think it’s strange thatI am biting the hand that fed me, but everything I just stated is absolutely true! I am not in the PERS retirement system and don’t want to be part of that rip-off. I fully and entirely back Mr. Sattui’s thoughts and comments, and believe that everything he said is true!

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  191. Joe says:

    When did facebook posts become news worthy? I’m amazed at how low journalistic standards have gone.

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  192. Mad Dog says:

    How much would you like to bet that as a winery/vineyard owner, Sattui makes a heck of a lot more money than a Police Officer or Firefighter!

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  193. Billybobjoe says:

    I have a real hard time understanding why public safety officers and fire fighters are encouraged to retire so young. Most workers are hitting there prime at the age of 50. How is that these guys and gals seem to loose all value when they should be peaking.

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  194. ken good says:

    what did he say that isn’t true?who else gets to retire at 50 then take a job with another agency and retire again?it is a scam and is bankrupting cities.work until 65 like the rest of the population.i used to be a cop and fireman work a few days a month and spend most of it working out,shopping,cruising for chicks etc.get over yourselves guys.

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  195. JackCNYC says:

    The commentors were a little harsh but I’ll bet that Sattui feels the same way about doctors, dentists, vets, and lawyers… until he needs one… and I’ll be he has a McCain/Palin bumper sticker on his car.

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  196. jon says:

    The thing that is fuuny here is that these workers do get paid a lot for the most part. But think about it. I have talked to many that act like they are 100% concerned about saving lives, when many love the wage. How many would do the job at 50% of the salary? I have already seen an outrage when cities start cutting from these jobs. If saving lives was the number 1 concern, would it matter what the pay was? The cities are going to do what they need to, to keep running. I respect everyone’s job, except when people think they are above someone else. I have seen a lot of workers from the fire departments and such, that are rude and really show little concern for the people they SERVE.

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