FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) — In the City of Florence’s annual budget, the city council approved an 18% pay increase for Florence police and firefighters.

Florence City Council member Bill Griffin told News 19 that the salaries of firefighters in particular are much lower than average, and that this pay increase is long overdue.

Florence firefighter Brody Martinez told News 19 that he was very excited to hear about the pay increase.

“I love this job to begin with,” Martinez said. “Being able to do it and also, you know, be able to provide for my family and for myself and all that, you know, it’s helped out a lot. I was very, very happy to hear it.”

Florence Fire Department officials told News 19 that their starting salary for firefighters was just over $35,000 before the pay increase. Now, the starting salary is around $42,000.

Martinez said that he believes this pay raise is a good step to attract new firefighters.

“It’s boosted morale. I know it’s going to help, you know, retain new recruits coming in,” Martinez said.

Officials say that the Florence Fire Department requires 93 firefighters to be fully staffed. As of November 22, the department only has 75 firefighters on staff. However, they say they are hopeful this pay increase will help them attract new recruits.