Birmingham Fire graduate 80 new recruits in the new year

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – Birmingham Fire now have a full class of 80 new recruits ready to graduate in the new year.

Birmingham Firefighters Association Local 117 chairman Stephen Cook said the department was still understaffed and operating cramped, but not at a critical level. He said about 15% of the department is currently in recruit school, but are graduating early in the new year.

Cook said it will help with furloughs, overtime and retention of firefighters, as it adds four to five additional crew members to each battalion.

But, Cook said, the most helpful thing for recruiting is a further 15% raise across Jefferson County for all public safety. The Jefferson County Staff Council is re-evaluating all job classifications and found the county was not keeping up with recruiting, so it approved the change. Birmingham’s increases will come into effect in July.

“Our workload is incredible compared to everyone else,” Cook said. “So with a 15% increase on top of the cost of living increase that we got last year, we’re getting into a situation where hopefully it won’t be so difficult to recruit anymore.”

Cook said it was one raise for each town in Jefferson County under the merit system and the staff council allowed each town to determine how to implement the raises, all at once or in stages.

Increases take effect based on each city’s fiscal year.

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