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Firefighters remain vocal while waiting for Raleigh pay study

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Firefighter Aaron Voss was asked by his colleagues to stand before the council to talk about pay raises.

More than a dozen Raleigh firefighters rallied outside City Hall before sending one of their own inside to again demand increased salaries from the city council on Tuesday night.

"They can't even afford to put food on the table, put a house over their family's head," said Aaron Voss, a firefighter asked by his colleagues to stand before the council to talk about pay raises during Tuesday night's public citizens' request portion of the meeting.

Council members and the mayor quietly listened while Voss accused them of having double standards. Earlier this year, firefighters and police were given a 3.5 percent raise. They've been arguing for 8 percent, especially after hearing some city leaders received pay raises higher than that.

For example, city spokespersons confirm the city attorney received a more than 11 percent raise last year, as did the chief of police.

"The raise they gave us was not a raise, because at the same time they increased our insurance that was more than the raise so we've lost money and lost money," Lt. Chris Ferrell said.

Ferrell was recently promoted when a now former superior resigned last month for a higher paying job.

Ferrell is not happy about the city doing a pay study to consider a higher raise, and he said he's not confident in the process.

City leaders are considering cost of living and comparing Raleigh to other cities considered "comparable."

The way Ferrell understands it, it's not fair.


"The very top-tier city officials are going to be compared nationally and they want to compare us to the local market," said Ferrell. "That's a double standard"

But those working on the compensation system study say that's not the case. They say Raleigh firefighter and police pay was compared locally earlier this year when they were in a time crunch, but that the larger study being done now is much broader.


They say the pay study that is scheduled to be complete by February will compare all city employees, firefighters included, to cities around the nation, considered comparable to Raleigh. They say these are cities not less than half the size or more than twice the size of Raleigh. Pay scales from local and regional towns and cities are also being referenced.

Still, Ferrell said they can't stay silent while they wait for the outcome of the study in February. He said they need to stay visible during this time as they've already lost firefighters to other cities this year.

"We've lost a dozen people this year to resignation," Ferrell said. "Young firefighters going to other cities and to take other jobs and we're on pace to lose a lot more this year."

When asked to comment about Tuesday night's rally of firefighters, a city spokesperson referred us back to previous statements saying that they are choosing not to comment until the study is complete.

Council members and the mayor did thank firefighters for their time and said they found what Voss had to say compassionate.

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