HONOLULU (KHON2) — Pay raises are coming for Hawaii firefighters, after an arbitration ruling. And that should also lead to a similar ruling for HPD officers. Officials said the extra money should help solve the ongoing staff shortages.

The president of the firefighters union said the new contract is a fair one. He added that police officers will likely get a similar deal when their contract is renewed.

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Firefighters have been without a contract since July 2021.

The new four-year contract calls for no pay raise for the first year, 3% for the next year and 4% for each of the following two years. The Hawaii Fire Fighters Association President Bobby Lee said it bodes well for HPD, which will go into arbitration next month.

“They tend to lump police and fire together and police and fire being the major public safety entities, that’s where the comparability comes in,” said Lee.

The State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers (SHOPO) is working to get a significant pay raise for HPD members to cut into the shortage of more than 300 officers.

“We need to increase our pay, we need to increase our benefits on the front end to get these officers in the department.”

Robert Cavaco, SHOPO President.

Cavaco said the raise, combined with a new schedule of working 3 to 12-hour shifts a week will go a long way in attracting and retaining more officers.

“It will be a great retention tool. It’ll do, not only a retention but an incentive for other people in the community to come into the law enforcement profession,” said Cavaco.

Two districts are testing out the new schedule, which Cavaco said has already improved staffing. He hopes that it will be adopted department-wide in June.

Fire departments also face their own staffing shortages. Lee said the new contract will bring more stability knowing what’s ahead.

“Then you see what happens with the retirements, whether people are gonna stay whether they’re gonna retire. A bad contract obviously pushes people and creates vacancies all at one time,” said Lee.

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He says the Honolulu Fire Department is about 100 firefighters short.