ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) – The Marietta Fire Department and City Council are on the “hot seat,” according to firefighters demanding oversight on a new pay scale. City staff say the new scale offers little pay equity in the ranks.
“I worked in the fire department, putting my life on the line, putting my future health on the line with all the chemicals we are exposed to as a firefighter,” interrupted Ron Presley. “And I ended my career making $18.40 an hour, that just seems a little low.”
For 20 years in Marietta, Presley fought fires. But after retiring in March, he says there’s still one more to come out.
“This new salary study,” he said.
Although he is no longer a city employee, he and other retired employees told CBS46, and also told Wednesday night’s council meeting, that they were keeping their hands off current firefighters for fear of reprisals.
“There is no explanation of how salaries are calculated. There is no objective formula, chart or spreadsheet,” a pensioner said during the public comment portion.
Another said: ‘We sit here and talk and talk and talk about public safety and getting paid adequately. Adding, “you want the best, pay for the best.”
Retirees like Presley allege that because of hiring incentives and recent salary increases, new hires are ending up earning more than senior suppression staff.
Current employees claim that because there is no pay scale monitoring, there is no pay grade equity.
“Let’s say this guy has been here for 10 years and this guy has been here for 5 years, the 10 year old guy should earn more if everything is equal when it comes to their training certifications, and that’s just not happening” , Presley said.
CBS46 spoke to several other current firefighters who wished to remain anonymous, they echoed Presley’s comments. But the city disagrees.
A city spokesperson sent us the following statement:
“City staff presented a compensation study to city council this year, which was approved this spring and came into effect May 1. These changes to the compensation of our employees, which totaled $2.1 million, are the largest wage increases at the City in the past 20 years. The take-home pay of City employees is, on average, higher than that of other local governments in the metropolitan area. Over the past 24 months, certified firefighters have received an average salary increase of 12%. That 12% includes an average 6% raise they received two months ago on May 1.
The salary study was carried out by external consultants. The City followed the consultants’ recommendations and added another 3% increase to all eligible City employees. As of May 1, the starting salary for our Fire and Police Departments increased by more than 9%, resulting in employees receiving a higher raise than recommended by the consultant. Additionally, a separate compensation plan was put in place for Public Safety in May, which definitively outlines starting salaries for each rank. However, the city has been using compensation plans with pay grades for over 30 years. »
Regarding the demands for additional wage increases, the city spokesperson added:
“Our firefighters receive incentive compensation for additional qualifications, training and certifications. An example of this would be a firefighter who is a certified paramedic receiving a pay raise for paramedic certification. Additionally, the City will also pay for their certification, so we pay for their training and then fund a higher salary once they are certified. All firefighters are eligible to participate in the incentive program. Firefighters who refuse to participate do not receive the additional incentive pay increases over and above the annual increase granted over the past 10 years.
Meanwhile, CBS46 called several city council members who disagreed with an interview but said they were reviewing the numbers and speaking with the city’s legal department.
Current firefighters say they will be at the next city council meeting to demand action.
Copyright 2022 WGCL. All rights reserved.