For years, the Chattanooga Fire Department operated with an inefficient wage schedule that resulted in inconsistent pay increases and no clear career path for rank-and-file fire fighters. To address the problem, members of Chattanooga, TN Local 820 and the City met and founf common ground on a workable plan, which was made official in a Memorandum of Understanding.
Local 820 President Jack Thompson and Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke signed the MOU at Fire Hall 1. “We are very pleased that the City was willing to listen to our issues and work with us on a solution agreeable to everyone,” says Thompson. “This will go a long way toward improving morale and our ability to recruit and retain fire fighters.”
Under the old plan, fire fighters could not get raises unless they were promoted or there were raises citywide. The inconsistencies created a lot of frustration among Local 820 members.
With a strong desire to fix these problems, Thompson called on his past experience in the military to develop a new pay plan for the fire department similar to the one the U.S. military uses.
The new plan makes fire fighters eligible for a wage increase every two years, as long as the fire fighter completes the required training certifications. Additionally, the plan created an engineer position that will serve as a career path stepping stone.
As a result of this plan, no fire fighter will receive a reduction in salary. However, some of the higher-paid fire fighters may experience a temporary wage freeze until the plan catches up to their current level of pay.
Local 820 and the City estimate that the entire department’s pay will come in line with the new plan sometime in 2017.