Supporting our First Responders
To say I respect Raleigh's finest and bravest is an understatement. I can never thank them enough for performing their dangerous and much needed profession. After meeting with multiple firefighters and police officers, this city needs to realize their struggle.
Regarding the RFD, Raleigh changed its pay scale to a "step program"which has received praises & shuns from the RFD alike for being a good program, just bad implementation. The current system sets a lot of firefighters back by not taking in time in service (TIS), but rather time grade (TIG). When the step program was implemented, firefighters of the same rank were all reset to the first "step" of that rank. What this means is that regardless of how long they have been in the fire department, everyone had to start over in their rank on the pay scale. For many, this wasn't a problem. For everyone else that had been serving for quite some time, this meant that by the time they retired, they would not receive the max out their pay.
Over two-thirds of our police and 96% of the RFD do not live in the city because they cannot afford to. Housing costs are increasing in Wake County, and RPD/RFD pay has been constantly kept low for decades and it shows. A recent study1 released on September 30th shows that Raleigh first responders are the fourth worst paid metro in the USA.
My plan of support for our first responders is to do the following:
- Fix the pay scale of the RFD by changing it to a Time in Service & Time in Grade exactly as our military uses. I have spoken with our fire fighters, and they completely support this idea.
- Issue 120 hours of annual military leave for those that serve in the Reserve or Guard as well as several mandatory mental health days that must be taken each year.
- Ask that our city manager issue a cost of living adjustment that meets the national average.
- Create a study for building a dormitory for new RFD/RPD responders that will struggle with finding housing near their station when they first enter the profession.
- Pay parity - All entry level firefighters will enter the department at the same pay grade and rates as an entry level officer with the RPD. Each RFD and RPD will have a matching pay scale to include time in service and time in grade.
- Retirement for the RFD will be lowered from 30 years to 25 years to match the RPD. Those who are already in the 5 year difference window will be given the option of early retirement or to stay in service to possibly achieve promotion. All firefighters in the 5 year window of the 25 to 30 year transition who chose to have early retirement will have their retirement programs paid in full by the city to complete retirement deficiencies.
It is my goal to make sure that the RPD/RFD are well staffed and payed so response times can be lowered and retention is kept high. The RPD has 100 vacancies, and the RFD has over 50 vacancies. In the next couple of years, senior staff will be retiring and we will see even more vacancies, we must take action now.
*Below is the pay scale that the DoD uses. This is the type of pay scale that the RFD wants and one I wish to implement.