Pricey artwork fans flames over Raleigh firefighter pay

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Firefighters and supporters continue the quest for better pay in Raleigh.

Even as the City of Raleigh discusses a salary study to find out how first-responder pay compares to other cities, the city announced a new public art project intended to show support for firefighters.

But instead, it has some people smoldering with anger.

"I get very emotional because these guys are the ones that protect us," said Jeff Morse, who has lived in Raleigh for 15 years.

Though he isn't a firefighter, he supports their fight with city council for a pay raise.

"Our first responders charge into chaos to protect your kids and my kids if needed," Morse said. "And these guys got to work two and three jobs to feed their kids."

So when he saw the city's plan for a $65,000 art piece outside a new fire station, he started a conversation on Facebook saying:

"Maybe if Raleigh City Council nixed deals like this, they could pay our firemen and police a real wage."

Kim Curry-Evans is Raleigh's Public Art Coordinator. She is overseeing the city's "percent for art" program. The city uses 1 percent of a construction project for public art.

Curry-Evans says the sculpture that will go outside the new fire station will show people how much the city cares for its firefighters.

"Typically that actually is not all that much money when it goes to creating beautiful pieces," she said.

"We do want to support and show encouragement to our firemen even though they may not feel that way sometimes," she added.

Morse thinks the city is choosing art over people. And painting the wrong picture.

"You need to respect them," he said.

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