Fayetteville Firefighters Want Pay Equal To Police Officers
Posted April 26, 2006 5:29 a.m. EDT
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Should police and firefighters get paid the same? Fayetteville City Council members are expected to make that decision soon when they look at the city's next budget.
The City Council recently gave police officers a 9 percent raise and is considering a 6 percent raise for firefighters. However, firefighters say they want equal pay, since they find themselves in harm's way just as much as police officers.
"We need to get to where we need to be in the pay cycle," said battalion commander Steve Harrell.
Some City Council members seem sensitive to firefighters' needs and blame old administrations for the pay gap.
Councilman Keith Bates said Fayetteville firefighters are not getting paid 19 percent less than firefighters in similar cities because of "something that happened overnight."
He promises to change that.
Another councilman, however, Paul Williams, disagrees, saying police are more important than firefighters and deserve more money.
Williams said he also believes fire departments should be staffed by volunteers, not paid city employees.
"It won't just stop with firefighters," he said. "What about sanitation workers? If we're going to pay the (firefighters) the same as police, then we got to pay everybody the same."
Across North Carolina, firefighters usually do not earn as much as police. For example, in Raleigh, police officers have starting annual salaries of about $31,500; firefighters, a little more than $30,000. In Durham, police start at $30,000 a year; firefighters star at $27,300 a year.
Fayetteville has the largest gap. Soon, with the pay raise, police will have annual starting salaries of $32,500. Currently, firefighters earn less than $27,000. Even when firefighters get the 6 percent raise, they will earn less than firefighters in similar-sized cities.
Fayetteville's fire chief is not publicly taking sides on the issue. He is referring all questions and comments to the city manager's office.