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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms promises pay raise to firefighters

Fire crews battled a massive blaze at a northwest Atlanta salvage yard on Monday, Sept. 23, 2019, officials said.
Fire crews battled a massive blaze at a northwest Atlanta salvage yard on Monday, Sept. 23, 2019, officials said.

Credit: JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM

Credit: JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms promised city firefighters on Tuesday that they would receive additional raises, but didn’t specify how significant they would be or when they would go into a effect.

“I can’t say that all of the details have been worked out,” Bottoms said. “But it will happen, and it will happen soon.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms promised on Tuesday to give Atlanta firefighters a raise. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution)
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms promised on Tuesday to give Atlanta firefighters a raise. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Bottoms made her remarks at the annual Breakfast with Our Bravest, an awards and fund-raising event organized by the Atlanta Fire Rescue Foundation.

Shirley Anne Smith, the foundation’s executive director, said that firefighters who attended the event were disappointed by the lack of details fro the mayor.

“We were really hoping for a big announcement,” Smith said.

When Bottoms accepted the invitation to speak at the breakfast, firefighters took it as a sign that the mayor planned to reveal specifics about pay hikes.

Smith said she still believes Bottoms' administration is acting in good faith and that the mayor has shown more of a willingness to increase firefighters' pay than previous administrations.

Firefighters did receive a 3.1 percent raise in the city's 2020 budget. That amount is dwarfed by the 30 percent raises for police officers that Bottoms announced last year.

The police raises won’t go into full effect until 2021.

The city agreed to the police raises after a study found that Atlanta Police are paid below the median amounts at almost every level and rank.

The Fire Foundation hired the same firm that studied police pay to conduct a similar review of firefighters’ compensation. That report was released in May.

It found that base pay ranges were below the overall market and hurt the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department’s ability to attract and retain talented firefighters.

Under one proposal in the report, firefighters’ base pay would jump to $61,825, an increase of $18,572, to make the department’s salaries competitive.

Bottoms said that her chief of staff and her chief operating officer met with Fire Chief Randall Slaughter last week to hash out a way to pay for salary increases.

Smith said firefighters are seeking raises of 20 percent by the end of next year.