Recognizing and rewarding Atlanta's firefighters
It was announced on June 9 that Atlanta's City Council will consider proposed legislation from Mayor Andre Dickens that would see firefighters salaries increased by anything from 7 to 15.5%. The increase is intended to attract new firefighters to join the force, while also rewarding and recognizing the efforts of long-serving members of the team.
Commenting on the proposed increases, Mayor Dickens had this to say:
“The women and men of the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department put their lives on the line on behalf of Atlanta residents, and as Mayor, I want to make sure they are fully supported. These increases will go a long way toward helping us recruit and train the best firefighters in the region as well as retain firefighters who have served our city for years."
A growing trend
Atlanta seems to have caught-on to a growing trend that's sweeping through the southern U.S. - a need to appropriately treat and financially incentivize first responders in order to stop them from moving off the force or transferring elsewhere in the country where they might be better appreciated.
In nearby Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis recently approved a state budget of $109.9 billion which includes within it a provision to pay $1.000 bonuses to all first responders for the second year in a row. The so-called 'Freedom First' budget has also set aside funds that will be used to bump starting salaries for police officers up to $50,000 per year, and a $5,000 bonus will be offered to entice officers from outside Florida to move to the sunshine state.
Mayor Dickens may just have caught on to the idea that in any business, whether that's a private corporation or a public service, workers need to be paid fairly to entice them and reward them for their efforts.
Sometimes it's not just about better pay either. In Florida again, Gov. DeSantis also recently announced an investment of $10 million in its Urban Search and Rescue teams to buy and maintain equipment and to ensure the teams are able to train effectively.
Help with the rising cost of living
As much as pay-rises are good for recognizing and retaining staff, the extra money will also no-doubt be welcomed by firefighters who, just like everyone else, are struggling with the rising cost of living right now.
Governor Kemp's dropping of sales tax on gas through to the end of May could have helped. Some may also have benefited when he launched the initiative to hand back over $1 billion to Georgia taxpayers. But the cost of gas continues to rise, and so does the price of everything else.
The increase to firefighter salaries in Atlanta then, seems very timely!
Do you think firefighters are more deserving of a pay rise than other professions and services? Do you think Georgia's politicians should be looking for ways to help others too? Let me know in the comments section below.