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Officials to address low pay for Garner firefighters

Posted February 28

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— 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.

5 Comments

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  • James Barefoot Feb 29, 2016
    user avatar

    I know several Firemen They like their job and they love the fact they work 12 to 15 days a month. This schedule gives them time off to do other things. Farming, Landscaping and other hobbies a 5 day 9 to 5 shift does not allow.

  • Roy Jones Feb 29, 2016
    user avatar

    The Garner fire department is not alone with low pay, the city of Raleigh is also experiencing the same. Raleigh did a pay study around 2008 ago with the finding all online firefighters were at least 15% below the national average, the raise never happened. Raleigh has been doing another pay study for the last two years with nothing coming from it. Yes all the firefighters I associate with do have passion for the job but many work other jobs to make everyday ends meet. Raleigh fire fighters has had one raise scene 2008 of up to 3.5% With a consistence increase of insurance rates with less coverage, new employees benefits have been cut as well, workers are loosing money. The cities should provide compensation for the jobs these people do, risk their life everyday in attempt to save a stranger.

  • Roy Jones Feb 29, 2016
    user avatar

    The Garner fire department is not alone with low pay, the city of Raleigh is also experiencing the same. Raleigh did a pay study around 2008 ago with the finding all online firefighters were at least 15% below the national average, the raise never happened. Raleigh has been doing another pay study for the last two years with nothing coming from it. Yes all the firefighters I associate with do have passion for the job but many work other jobs to make everyday ends meet. Raleigh fire fighters has had one raise scene 2008 of up to 3.5% With a consistence increase of insurance rates with less coverage, new employees benefits have been cut as well, workers are loosing money. The cities should provide compensation for the jobs these people do, risk their life everyday in attempt to save a stranger.

  • Dan Wilder Feb 29, 2016
    user avatar

    They do the job because they actually believe in it and are dedicated to it...not because it pays well. There are those who know this that take them for granted and take advantage of them because of it. People have to fight for them as hard as they fight for you, if you understand what I'm saying.

  • Jerry Powell Feb 28, 2016
    user avatar

    “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.
    Read more at http://www.wral.com/officials-to-address-low-pay-for-garner-firefighters/15444895/#faS1FJXZPExhbPPx.99 This is exactly why we see these stories about first responder agencies (police, fire EMS/Rescue). They will be extremely lucky if they get 1/3 the raise that they should, but the voting hands also know if they give them 15% then it will go away for a few more years.