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City Council: Fulton firefighters will not receive pay increase

Fulton firefighters will not be getting a pay increase, according to the city council.

This comes after some firefighters and community members went before the council at Tuesday night’s meeting to ask members to re-consider a pay increase.

Last month, the council approved to raise the starting wage from $8.65 an hour to $9.50 an hour and $10 an hour after six months.

But some in the department said this is not enough.

Firefighter and union leader Todd Gray went before the council and said the department is not asking for a lot, but they just want a livable wage.

But the council said it’s just not in the budget and that they already raised wages last month.

The meeting got heated when one community member called on Fire Chief Dean Buffington to shine some light on the issues.

He declined to interview with ABC 17 News, but he did go before the council and addressed training hours equipment issues. Nothing about wages was mentioned.

According to fire officials, the department is almost at a 50 percent turnover rate in three years, 25 percent just within the last year.

When the high turnover rate was brought up, one council member suggested the high turnover rate could be due to a poor attitude within the department.

The comment sparked some reaction from Todd Gray, who said his men don’t have poor attitudes, they just want livable wages and said he feels like that is not too much to ask.

Right now, the Fulton Fire Department has a 25 year old ladder truck that is out of service and the average age of all equipment is 22 years old.

The council said they will have to look at the budget to see what can be done about broken and aging equipment.

Although Buffington wouldn’t comment on Tuesday night’s events, Fulton Mayor LeRoy Benton told ABC 17 News he sees both sides of the issue.

“I understand their frustration,” Benton said. “There’s frustration on each side. We would love to give them whatever they request. I would love to pay them what Columbia pays but I don’t have the resources. I have to operate within the budget constraints.”

The council said they would continue to listen to the fire department’s concerns, but said the wage discussion is over for now.

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