Man dedicated to being Raleigh firefighter says pay too low

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Sam Scott (WTVD)

Sam Scott has been a Raleigh firefighter for three years. When he thinks back about what made him want to become a firefighter, his thoughts go back to the day of one of the biggest fires Raleigh has ever seen.

Scott lost his home in 2007. He lived in the Pine Knoll neighborhood where a small fire quickly spread to destroy dozens of town houses. Having firefighters help him that day made Scott want to dedicate his life to helping people.

"I know what it feels to really not have much of anything after a fire and I'm glad I was chosen by the Raleigh Fire Department to be there for somebody else," said Scott. "There's nothing more gratifying than being a firefighter to me."

Now, in addition to fighting fires, Scott is joining his fellow firefighters in a mission to get a bigger pay increase. Right now, City of Raleigh firefighters and police officers are on track to get up to a 3.5% pay raise. They say that's not enough and in the past weeks have taken their plea to city leaders and even rallied outside city hall.


On average, firefighters in particular, say they work more than 50 hours a week, just at the fire station.

"At the station, you'll typically do three 24 hour shifts, with a day off in between," described Scott. "I'll go from the station for 24 hours, and the next day I'll go immediately to my second job.

"I feel like a full-time job should be able to provide a little bit more so you don't have to work so much on your off days, spend time with your family," said Scott.

His family includes a fiancé, a 2-year-old daughter, and his mother, Pamela Hickmon, who sent a letter to the city council.

Excerpt from her letter:

"He loves being a firefighter! It is an honor for him to serve the community as a "First Responder" and to help keep their families and valuables as safe as possible. He has a family and not much else to call his own because of the financial struggle."


Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane responded to a similar letter last week from a firefighter's wife.

"I read every email and empathize with all of them. However, I also feel strongly that a one-time bonus that has been suggested for only entry level officers is not the answer and would not address the concerns we've been receiving," said the mayor. "I'm looking for a better, comprehensive solution that addresses all of our city employees, especially our first responders."

"I'm very appreciative for any pay raise," said Scott. "I would just like for myself, my co-workers, and family at my job to not have to work so much of the down time."

"Regardless of what happens, we're still going to get on the truck. We're still going to run calls. We truly believe it's duty above self," said Scott. "A bad day for most people is if they get into an argument with their bosses or co-worker. A bad for us means we may not come home."

And it's for that reason he and his firefighters want to be able to cut back on the extra hours to be with, and provide for, their loved ones.

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