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Firefighter pay increase discussed at retreat

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WILMINGTON, NC. -- From battling dangerous flames to rescuing car crash victims, Wilmington’s firefighters provide a valuable service to our community.

After a series of recent complaints about their pay, Wilmington City Council is now being asked to put a price on that service the firefighters provide.

"I believe that the city staff, the city manager, and his staff have done a great job in adhering to what the council wanted to see which was no tax increase, and to continue to provide a level of service that our citizens have come to expect and want,” said Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo.

But according to at least one person in attendance at the Wilmington City Council budget retreat at Wilmington International Airport the public service Mayor Saffo is speaking of could be suffering due to a lack of competitive pay. According to Chuck Bower, head of the Wilmington Professional Firefighters Association, that needs to change.

"We would like to see a long time plan to make sure that the compensation packages continue to grow to at least ensure a living wage and as always a market average,” said Bower. “We're not asking for the moon and the stars we would just like to be average."

According to Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo the concerns of the city’s firefighters are being heard loud and clear but any raise has to fit within the budget.

"It's a balancing act,” said Saffo. “You know we have a lot of citizens out there that probably are living below a living wage and haven't had a raise in years. We have to be cognizant we have to be sensitive to the needs of our citizens who will be helping to pay for this."

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