Columbia-Richland firefighters may see a higher starting salary

Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 11:34 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - In Columbia, City Council members got their first look at the 2023 - 2024 Proposed Budget.

A good chunk of it will go to public safety, the fire department is set to get 25 million dollars.

Columbia Richland Fire Department Chief, Aubrey Jenkins is happy after Columbia City Council members sign off on the first reading of a 425 million dollar budget plan.

Fire Chief Jenkins, Columbia Richland Fire Department said, “People love doing this job, but you know what it also comes down to you got to get paid to do it as well.”

The fire department is set to get a million dollars more than its previous budget.

Some of that money will go to raising starting salaries from slightly over 34,000 to 43,800 thousand dollars.

Jenkins said, “Well, I think the main thing is to be competitive. Fire service now is very competitive with the salaries and that’s what we want to be. We want to be competitive, but also you want to take care of your folks as well.”

Part of the money is set to buy firefighters new gear to battle fires.

Jenkins explains, “So it’s important to all of our firefighters to get another set of bunker gear. Basically, what happens is say they catch a structure fire. They would use that same wet fire gear on, in order to go to another call. So what we want to do is county and city council has approved to get our firefighters a second set of gear.

And there’s more good news, the fire chief says he’s short 60 firefighters, but help is already on the way.

Jenkins says “We just graduated about 12 or 13 people about a week or two ago they just graduated. So this week I am actually making some conditional offers to about 25 or 26 people that wanna work for us. They’ll be meeting with me this week. We will make them offers. Bring them on and will have a recruiting class that will start sometime in August or September, so we get those folks through class and on board and get them fighting fires working.”

City Council members are expected to have a second reading and pass the budget later this month.

If that happens all the new firefighters will see that new 43,800 dollar starting salary.

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