Reedy Creek Fire Department Approves New Employment Contract for Raises & More Staffing

Spencer Lloyd

Reedy Creek Fire Department Approves New Employment Contract for Raises & More Staffing

Firefighters and first responders as part of the Reedy Creek Fire Department, which covers Walt Disney World, approved a new contract today after years of negotiation.

reedy creek fire department

Negotiations between the Reedy Creek Fire Department and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District began earlier this year when the state-operated CFTOD took over for the former Reedy Creek Improvement District, essentially operated by the Walt Disney Company.

According to WESH, the union president Jon Shirey said they have been working under an expired contract for years. “Up until January of this year, we had gotten zero momentum in moving this thing any closer to being signed,” Shirey said today. “There’s a huge level of relief. We have a level of open communication dialogue that we’ve never experienced before here.”

Under the new contract, starting pay for firefighters will increase to $65,000 per year, and EMS starting pay will rise from $40,000 to $54,000 per year. Additionally, the department will hire 25 additional firefighters and 12 more EMS paramedics in the next six months.

“We were having a major recruitment problem previously,” Shirey said. “So we’re very happy. Our daily firefighters staffing will go from a minimum of 32 firefighters to 44 by the end of this contract.” They’ll also eventually have four extra ambulances and a staffed ladder truck.

Shirey expressed gratitude toward the state takeover of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, stating “Ever since then, it’s been a completely different experience for us.”

80% of 185 union members voted in favor of the contract, which now heads to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board for approval.

Reedy Creek Fire Department

Reedy Creek Fire District first responders expressed alarm last spring in the wake of Governor Ron DeSantis’ plan to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District, stating their lifetime Disney passes and lifelong health insurance were at risk as a result. Union leadership has been in regular dialogue with Gov. DeSantis since, expressing they’re reassured by the governor’s track record with first responders.

Tim Stromsnes, communications director of the Reedy Creek Professional Firefighters Local 2117 union, told the Orlando Sentinel earlier this year in the face of the CFTOD takeover “Anything has got to be better than what we currently have. We really hope that this new board will bring the morale up for Reedy Creek [and] will make us an elite emergency services department again. We’ve got our faith in the governor that we’re going to be around and that it’s going to be a better place to work.”

The union has had a rather rocky relationship with Disney, who appointed all five seats on the district’s Board of Supervisors. Their focus is largely on the theme park business and union members allege the Board cares little for actual employees of the District, which includes first responders like firefighters. Fire trucks and rescue units have broken down on multiple occasions, forcing responders to arrive on the scene in SUVs. Staffing has also remained inadequately low. Disney and Reedy Creek have both aggressively denied these claims.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 9B, which enacted the state takeover of the district, at the Reedy Creek Fire Department in February.