Huntsville firefighters continue push for equal pay

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle says it`s a tough topic to discuss –

“How do you talk about their pay scale, what their worth, what their value is? We value every worker in the city of Huntsville especially our firefighters,” said Battle.

Even so, he stands behind a recent reclassification audit that determined whether certain firefighter positions were due for a pay raise.

“The audit came back that, yes, they had a couple extra duties coming in to their job, but it wasn`t enough to warrant a raising of their salary.”

Now, members of the Huntsville Fire fighters Association are turning to city council members to pass a pay parity ordinance. It would put fire fighters, fire driver engineers, fire captains and district fire chief`s pay on the same scale as their police counterparts. Currently when a fire fighter is hired he or she receives $12.61/hour, in contrast to the $18.54/hour received by a rookie Huntsville police officer.

Association President Stephen Jones says their push for pay-parity is not about undermining the contributions of their brothers in blue. Rather, about recognizing the contributions of fire fighters – who often work more hours for less pay.

“Huntsville fire fighters and police officers are public safety employees who are both charged with safety and well being of our city and citizens,” said Jones. “The data has consistently shown fire fighting is among one of the most dangerous and stressful jobs in existence today, it also shows firefighters work 40% more hours than police officers and work at a lower hourly and overtime rate.”

Currently, only the fire chief, deputy fire chief, fire marshal and assistant fire marshal are paid on the same scale as their police counterparts.

The association’s proposed ordinance would implement the pay raises over a three year period. The council is expected to vote on the ordinance on Thursday.