Officials to address low pay for Garner firefighters
Posted February 28, 2016
Garner, N.C. — Garner has one of the busiest fire departments in Wake County, but the town’s firefighters are among the lowest paid.
Firefighters at other departments in Wake County are paid as much as 14 percent more and this week, the county’s Fire Commission plans to address the salary gap.
Mayor Ronnie Williams said the town has grown a lot since he took office. About 28,000 people call Garner home.
Fire officials said their calls increase two to five percent each year. In the growing town, hiring more firefighters is a growing challenge when other communities are showing them the money.
The starting salary in Garner is $30,400. A study from a consultant’s firm called MAPS recommends it get bumped to $37,000.
“Too many people overlooked it. As a town, we overlooked it ourselves,” said Williams of why the salary has remained low.
Williams said funding disputes over the years between the town and county likely fueled the disparity. The town pays just over half of the cost to run the department and the county pays the rest.
County commissioner Matt Calabria said firefighters across the country are long overdue for a raise.
“They have continued to do more with less for many years now. I’m glad we’re looking at this issue,” he said. “I expect we’ll be making some meaningful improvements for some of our hardest-working citizens.”
The Wake County Fire Commission will meet Thursday night to review the consultant’s study about firefighters pay and will then make recommendations to the Board of Commissioners.
Williams said that he doesn’t believe that public safety will be jeopardized if the town and county are unable to secure a pay raise for firefighters.
“They’re dedicated to the job. They’ll probably continue to work for whatever we pay them because they are true to the profession,” he said.