Bryan County career and volunteer fire personnel will soon see an increase in pay and a different work schedule thanks to an affirmative vote by Bryan County commissioners.
At the regular monthly commission meeting Tuesday, Bryan County Emergency Services Director Jim Anderson said several firefighters have left over the last several years, with pay and the schedule being the primary issues.
"The proposal presented," he said, "is to increase the pay and reorganize the services of the emergency department."
Reorganization includes integrating emergency medical services into fire service and cross training emergency medical technicians and firefighters, Anderson said, as well as changing the work schedule so career firefighters and EMTs are on duty 24 hours and off 48.
According to Anderson, Bryan County currently employs 13 career firefighters who will receive a percentage increase in salary, and volunteer firefighters will see a doubling of the amount they receive per fire - from $10 per fire to $20 per fire.
In addition, if a fire call lasts over four hours volunteers will receive an additional $10, according to Anderson.
As an example, Anderson said the annual starting salary for a Bryan County firefighter will go from $19,000 to $26,000, a substantial pay raise necessary to compete with surrounding counties and necessary for keeping firefighters on staff.
Chairman Jimmy Burnsed said it has been "quite a while" since the pay scale of the firefighters and volunteers was adjusted."I looked at salaries in the surrounding counties, and an adjustment is necessary," Burnsed said. "They do a great service for our community, and we have to make sure we’re listening to them, hearing them, and responding to their needs."
Burnsed estimated the increase would cost about $60,000 from the fire fund for the remainder of this year, but the change in working structure would eliminate most overtime, balancing the budget back out.