VB firefighters union pushes for better pay scale

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A local union claims Virginia Beach firefighters are not getting paid fairly for their merit or experience, and now they are taking to the radio waves to get your help.

The Virginia Beach Professional Firefighters (VBPF) union says the current pay scale is not paying senior firefighters enough or giving newer firefighters incentives to stay. The group’s president, Bill Bailey, said the Virginia Beach Fire Department has what’s called a “pay compression problem.”

“For example, employees that were hired six years ago are making starting salary. Employees that get hired today — six years later are also making the starting salary,” Bailey said. “It’s the same amount of money.”

Bailey said not only does the pay scale discourage firefighters to join the department or stay with it for long, it also hurts morale and focus.

“What concerns me is when you have firefighters taking second jobs or third jobs to make additional salaries, and their primary job suffers,” Bailey said.

The union decided to take action in December by releasing a radio advertisement that said, in part, the following:

Every year Virginia Beach firefighters and paramedics respond to over 62,000 9-1-1 emergency calls for help. Today, Virginia Beach firefighters are facing an unfair pay system that doesn’t recognize experience, advanced skills and training.

The VBPF hopes the ad will raise some eyebrows and encourage City Council to look at their pay problem.

“We want to increase awareness of what we do and how we are there for people, so maybe they will call their City Council members,” Bailey said.

10 On Your Side talked to Mayor Will Sessoms about the pay compression problem, which he acknowledged. He told WAVY.com there hasn’t been the money in the past to fix the problem, but said this year may be different because the city is expecting more revenue from real estate taxes.

Click here to contact a Virginia Beach City Council member.

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