News 12 First at Five/ Monday, July 28, 2014
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Augusta's fire chief says his department is losing new recruits. Firefighters are trained to win against flames and smoke, but according to Chief James lately his department is losing.
Chief James says every time a new recruit leaves it's almost as if $23,000 walked out the door. The city spends that amount per new cadet.
"We just lost a firefighter a couple of weeks ago. He had been a year and a half. the airport offered him $32,000," said Chief James.
Augusta's HR Department confirms in the past five years 140 firefighters left and within that number more than 30 retired. Chief James plans to raise the entry level salary for firefighters from $26,000 to $30,000. It'll cost the fire department an extra $190,000 for this year and the chief says his department already has the money.
Other city employees haven't had a raise in years.
"When we had trash service the people who picked up my trash were just as important as any other employees that work for the city," said Commissioner Bill Fennoy.
"They're certain jobs within our community that have a value of higher priority than others. It would be some of those jobs in public safety," said Commissioner Donnie Smith.
Sheriff Richard Roundtree is also asking for $3,000 more per deputy. He says his officers are leaving as well.
"It's been something that we have tried to address for awhile. I don't know the exact implementation date, but it's something that we need to address," said Chief James.
Chief James says the people who risk their life on a daily basis should be paid a little more.