MFD turnover rates low, mayor says
By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
March 21, 2002
Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith disputed a claim Wednesday made by firefighters that an alarming number of qualified employees are leaving the department because of low pay.
Smith said Meridian firefighters actually have the lowest turnover rate of any other department in the city.
In fact, over the past three years the fire department has an average turnover rate of 7.1 percent compared to a city-wide average of 11.1 percent. And in two out of the last three years 1998-1999 and 2000-2001 the fire department has retained more employees that any other department.
Over the past three months, firefighters have met with the Meridian City Council and mayor, and have spoken at several city council meetings about low pay and low morale within the department.
Mike Sims, president of the local firefighters union, said today that the results of the turnover rate are not comforting.
Pay scales on file at city hall show that a firefighter I has a minimum pay range of $19,882 a year and a maximum of $29, 823. Gary Matlock, the city's Human Resources Director, said 10 firefighters fit that classification and their average annual salary with overtime is $21, 867.
For senior firefighters, the minimum pay range is set at $22,084 and the maximum is $33,126. Matlock said 52 Meridian firefighters are in that category and make an average of $24,729 a year, including overtime.
Matlock said there are 27 captains in the MFD whose average annual salary is $31,167 a year with overtime the range is set for a minimum of $28,688 and a maximum of $43,032 in that category.
Fire Chief Bunky Partridge's annual pay was upped to $60,000 a year in Tuesday night's city council meeting, putting him at the top of his pay scale for fire chief, which ranges from a minimum of $40,428 and a maximum of $60,642.