TFD firefighters demanding contract negotiation, pay raise

Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 10:40 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Wednesday, firefighters of Tallahassee gathered at City Hall and demanded that their contracts be negotiated 120 days after their current ones expired.

Among the sea of red shirts, Josue Desile says they are all asking for the same thing.

“Just knowing that some people are getting paid $400 a week, doesn’t make no sense. We could just work a regular 8 to 5 and make that same amount of money or even more, and not put our lives on the line, so it just kind of sucks, to be honest with you.”

TFD employees currently make $440 a week compared to Leon County Sheriff’s Office’s $629 and Tallahassee Police Department’s $552.

TFD is asking for more pay, saying their agency is the lowest paid of all local first responders.

They say they are not asking to be at the top, just not at the bottom.

The firefighters believe a ‘fair’ wage would be proper compensation for responding to every 911 call even during a pandemic.

Desile has spent more than 2 years working for the lowest paid department. He believes his community is not putting them first.

While he misses birthdays, celebrations and is putting his life on this line for others, he hopes that today shows enough is enough.

“They don’t care for us as much as we care for them,” DeSile said. “That is how it feels sometimes, like we are out here every day it seems like and sometimes we don’t even get to sleep. they get to go home every night, we don’t.”

Now he is in disbelief, having to protest for higher pay.

He says their hard work should speak for itself.

“When you call 911, we are the first ones to show up, so why not treat us fairly like everyone else in the community?” DeSile added.

Mike Bellamy, the Vice President of Tallahassee Professional Firefighters, shared, “This affects everyone, not everyone has a fire everyday but everyone has some kind of need, specifically some kind of medical need, in their life where they need a Tallahassee firefighter or paramedic show up. So this is really about our community and our ability to respond to your emergency.”

A City of Tallahassee spokesperson said that City management and Union leadership agreed to a contract.

However Union membership voted it down, which is why it’s currently at an impasse.

Even though firefighters showed up to Wednesday’s commission meeting, the issue of negotiations was not addressed by the board.

However, Commissioner Matlow assured them that their pleas did not go unnoticed.

“Everybody in their time of need has had a Tallahassee firefighter help them out,” Matlow said. “They always stand up for us and do the right thing. And I think it’s important as a city an all American city that we stand up for them and show them we do value them, you are worth it, and we want to pay you fairly.”

Firefighters are now hoping that both sides can go back to the table, and finally come to an agreement.

The City told WCTV Wednesday night that they will continue looking into the matter and work towards a resolution.

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