ATLANTA, – It’s one of the most dangerous jobs of all. Being a firefighter means battling smoke and flames, and the dangers of a building collapse.
The city of Atlanta is now advertising for new firefighters. The firefighters’ union told Channel 2’s Richard Elliot that’s because so many current firefighters are leaving.
Both the Atlanta fire chief and the firefighters’ union president agree that Atlanta has some of the best-trained firefighters in the Southeast, but the union says other departments are swooping in and taking those firefighters with offers of better pay.
You have to be well-trained to do the job well.
“It’s easy to transition an Atlanta firefighter because we’re trained so well, and there’s so much investment in us,” said the head of the Atlanta firefighters’ union Paul Gerdis.
Gerdis said the rank and file are concerned about pay and benefits.
“It’s easy for other departments to pick off our members because they can attract our members with higher salaries, better benefit packages,” Gerdis said.
Atlanta Fire Chief Joel Baker said he’s working with the union and the mayor’s office to enhance firefighter pay and benefits.
“This is the strongest and largest the fire rescue department has ever been,” Baker said.
Baker told Elliot he doesn’t believe attrition is a problem at all, but isn’t surprised other departments want to hire Atlanta’s firefighters.
The city is advertising for 75 new firefighters to replace the 68 who left last year.
As someone who came up through the ranks, Baker said he knows his firefighters want more money.
He’s asking them for patience while he works with the mayor.
“Times are going to get better, you know? I want our members to have faith and confidence in their fire chief,” Baker told Elliot.
The union says it has had good meetings with the chief and the mayor’s office. It’s hopeful something can be worked out.