Local fire department requests increase in pay

JACKSON, Tenn. — A local county fire department is requesting pay equal to their city counterpart.

According to Madison County District 3 Commissioner Joey Hale, during Friday’s budget committee meeting, Madison County Chief Eric Turner requested a 30% increase in full-time personnel and a 30% increase in their pay.

Turner said that this pay increase would make them competitive with the Jackson Fire Department and other surrounding departments in West Tennessee.

“We’ve been equal for several years, and as they’ve went up this last process they went through, they went up and they needed to. And now we just need to come up also to be competitive with them and other departments around West Tennessee as well,” Turner said.

Turner is concerned that his firefighters making less money than Jackson Fire Department firefighters could lead to issues with recruitment and employee retention.

“I mean we’ve got great employees, and we don’t want to lose those great employees. So it has not been an issue as of yet, but the salaries have been equal. So, you know, it worries me and concerns me with our neighboring departments going up and us not coming up,” Turner said.

Hale said the pay issue is quote, “something that they’re looking at as far as the totality of the circumstance.”

“We’re still working out benefit costs as well as the number of full-time firefighters needed to perform the service to the county. So it’s all just being considered,” Hale said.

Hale said that it is difficult to balance a budget, and the commission is working very hard to work within the taxpayer funding that exists.

“I think that’s the first step is to make sure that we find any areas that we maybe can consolidate some spending as well as making sure we take care of the people that are working in Madison County best we can within the budget we have today,” said Hale.

Hale went on to say that their main focus is gathering information to learn why there is a decrease in volunteer firefighters and an increase in requests for full-time firefighters.

“And so that’s part of the picture, as well as their salaries and benefits, as well as understanding their callouts and work stresses and making sure they have the equipment that they need. You know, there’s a capital request right now for close to three million in equipment and fire engines and those things. So it’s not just the salaries that we have to consider, we have the total picture to understand and we don’t have all those details quite yet,” said Hale.

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