Local News

Raleigh firefighter works several jobs, uses Medicaid to make ends meet

Posted July 20

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— Many Raleigh police officers and firefighters say they can’t afford to live in the city they serve and protect, and they are blaming the city’s pay structure.

The starting salary of $33,654 for Raleigh firefighters ranks far below neighboring areas of Wake Forest and Morrisville. First responders say young recruits are getting trained in Raleigh and then moving to another town where they can make more money.

“They can come here, get all their training and certifications, stay for the minimum time the city requires so they don’t have to pay back a fee then go to another department making $4,000, $5,000, $6,000 more,” said Professional Firefighters Association President Keith Wilder.

Officials said this trend will leave Raleigh at a safety disadvantage if it continues.

“We hear all the time employees are the backbone of Raleigh’s great government, employees are the backbone of what makes this system work so efficiently in how we are able to do more with less. We’ll be the first ones to agree with that, but people are tired of getting gold stars on their spelling test. They want to see it reflected in their paycheck,” said Professional Firefighters Association President Keith Wilder.

Police are asking for a 10 percent raise while firefighters are hoping to see a 7 percent salary increase. City leaders are asking for patience while they commission a compensation study that will consider comparable cities and restructure Raleigh’s pay scale.

Jason Brown said six years as a Raleigh firefighter has meant tough times for his family.

“Since I’ve been with the fire department, I’ve had them on Medicaid,” Brown said. “I spend most of my time working, finding odd end jobs, working my part-time job.”

Wilder said Brown’s story is not unique.

“Most everyone I know works a second job,” he said.

Brown said he loves the city and will stay, but acknowledges that decision comes at a price.

“At the station, I leave there, go home, catch a nap, say hey to the kids and run to my next job,” he said.

City leaders would not comment except to say the compensation study is set to be completed by the next fiscal year.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Andrew Stephenson Jul 21, 3:55 p.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    He misunderstood my semi-Joke. All is well now.

  • Steve Willyg Jul 21, 2:26 p.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Nothing here aids you in you plight? This is an ignorant statement on your behalf!

  • Robert Hand Jul 21, 12:07 p.m.
    user avatar

    Just so everyone knows it's 24 hour shifts not 12.

  • Vern Barnett Jul 21, 10:56 a.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    I recant last post. I reread Andrews post and I took it the wrong way. I sincerely apologize.

    Please ignore my last comment.

  • Vern Barnett Jul 21, 10:54 a.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Annnnd there's the anger and name-calling, right on schedule, lol. Please ignore this sick persons wish for a random commenter's family to die in a car crash.

    We can continue or respectful conversation now

  • Amy Whaley Jul 21, 10:50 a.m.
    user avatar

    Who is able to qualify for medicaid making $34,000 a year?

  • Andrew Stephenson Jul 21, 9:32 a.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


  • Roy Jones Jul 21, 9:19 a.m.
    user avatar

    Raleigh just received a insurance rating of class 1 (ISO class 1) What this means in money terms the city has the lowest insurance premiums residents and businesses can receive. Also the city is required to keep staffing at required levels or risk of loosing that class in return everyone's insurance premiums would increase. The city cannot hire firefighters as quick as they are leaving mainly due to pay in all ranks. Several department in the surrounding area are hiring all ranks of firefighters with an significant pay raises to join their department, The benefits are basically the same with the main difference is salary increases from $5,000 to $7,000 a year to start out. Knowing the city cares more about parks and city's welfare system than city employees who blames anyone for leaving. #3

  • Andrew Stephenson Jul 21, 9:15 a.m.
    user avatar

    "Oh, Hi Mr. Firefighter, thanks for saving me. Oh, you're exhausted from getting off your terrible part-time Walmart job to supplement your income? No problem"


  • Gail Dragon Jul 21, 9:11 a.m.
    user avatar

    City employees should be able to afford to live in the city they protect and service... Shame on Raleigh and shame on the man who said they have time to work a second job because they only work 4 / 12 hour shifts a weeks. BTW, when you need their services, let's hope they aren't too exhausted from working multiple jobs to help you effectively.