Dealing with staffing shortages, Raleigh police officers, firefighters will protest for higher pay

19 April 2022

— Raleigh police officers and firefighters will come together Tuesday afternoon to amplify their call for better pay.

Firefighters told WRAL News better pay will support the Raleigh Fire Department’s work to retain employees and recruit for nearly 60 vacancies.

The group of first responders plans to protest outside the municipal building at 228 West Hargett St. in downtown Raleigh between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Raleigh Fire Department truck

There are currently 58 vacant firefighter positions within the Raleigh Fire Department, an increase of 450% in two years.

Although Raleigh’s living hourly wage is $17.33, a Raleigh firefighter starts their career at $13.42 per hour. The city’s new proposed pay plan only increases firefighters’ pay to $15.06.

Firefighters want the City of Raleigh to raise the starting pay $18.20 per hour and adjust the entire pay scale accordingly. Their proposed rate is $2.30 higher than what the city is currently proposing.

Raleigh Professional Firefighters Association president Andrew Davis told WRAL News the current plan won’t do anything to retain veteran firefighters, which poses a public safety threat when staff shortages persist.

“We do predict that this summer there may be communities that won’t have fire protection for a day or a couple of days due to not having staffing,” Davis said. “That worries us, that sickens us.”

WRAL’s Amanda Lamb reported last week that every law enforcement agency in Wake County has a higher starting salary than Raleigh Police Department.

Raleigh City Council is looking to fill the police department’s 168 vacancies, which is about 20 percent of the total force, by upping minimum pay in every category, with the biggest jump for new officers.

“It was truly a slap in the face to basically give these veteran officers half of what they’re giving new recruits,” said Raleigh Police Protective Association spokesman Rick Armstrong.

Armstrong said he agrees a pay raise for entry level officers from $42,000 to $50,000 makes sense. But he says to make it fair, veteran officers must also get substantial pay raises.

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