Supporting our First Responders
To say I respect Raleigh's finest and bravest is an understatement. I can never thank them enough for their dangerous and much needed profession. After meeting with multiple firefighters and police officers, this city needs to realize their struggle. In 2017 both departments received raises for its employees, but recently they have been walked back. There are even members of the RFD that also serve in the US Military like I do. In fact, several serve in the same unit as I do.
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.
My plan to address the RFD and RPD is known as the "Bledsoe Plan" and is very simple to implement. This is the Bledsoe Plan: RFD will match the RPD in entry pay all the way to the highest level, retirement will be lowered to 25 years to match RPD, & both departments will be given military leave.
- 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. Upon graduation, RPD/RFD graduates will start with the current RPD pay of $42,300.
- Military leave will be given to all members of the RPD/RFD who enter/are in the military. 120 hours of military leave will only be given to the National Guard and Reserve for use in military service.
- 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.
- Institute a cost of living adjustment (.1-2% every year)
to account for inflation and stagnant pay for both the RFD and RPD over the course of 10 years. The lowest increase is 0.1%, even if there are no large raises over the decade - the departments will see a minimum raise of 1% after the 10 year plan.
- Dorms/small apartments for entry/lower ranking first responders within the city. 96% of the RFD lives outside of Raleigh because they cannot afford to live here. Having dorms or small apartments available to single first responders just starting out, then they can focus more on their job and less on their finances.
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. Due to this being an issue of time, I am requesting that a tax increase be passed to pay for staffing, pay, and maintenance of the fleets. 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 has been using for decades. This is the type of pay scale that the RFD wants and one I wish to implement.