City: No raise for Huntsville firefighters, months-long audit shows no justification for desired pay bump

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - It appears firefighters' quest for equal pay is all but extinguished. The Huntsville Firefighters Association wanted to see salaries for four positions within the department equal the base wages for their police counterparts.

Following city policy, the human resources department performed a formal job reclassification audit, but only did so for two of those four positions.

The result of that months-long process found that firefighters and fire engine drivers warranted no pay change.

"Per that policy then we will not be including an upgrade in classification for the firefighters in this next budget," said Mayor Tommy Battle.

Huntsville firefighters last saw a pay grade increase in 2007. Association President Steve Jones wanted the pay parity to help improve the quality of life for roughly 350 fire and rescue employees.

The city also compared firefighter pay at three levels to 12 other similarly sized cities in the region.

"Within those 12 cities, at the entry point, we are the fourth highest, at the mid-point, we're still the fourth highest and then when they top out, they're third highest," said Huntsville City Administrator John Hamilton.

The only two cities with higher salaries were Tallahassee and Birmingham.

"All the other cities are below us and in some cases, significantly," he added.

The HR department also indicated that of the 107 positions it has audited since 2012, almost 60 percent of them have been recommended for a pay grade increase.

Councilman Will Culver, who originally sponsored the ordinance calling for pay parity, said he wants to continue to discuss the issue at the next council meeting, so more firefighters can be present.

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