Palm Beach Gardens firefighters in need of competitive pay - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Palm Beach Gardens firefighters in need of competitive pay

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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla-- United in yellow,  Palm Beach Gardens firefighters and community members packed city hall Thursday night.

They were speaking to city council about the need for competitive pay for some of their veteran firefighters.

The firefighter's union says this comes down to public safety because the city will lose experienced fire medics to better paying agencies in the area.

The union says firefighter paramedics with the department between 10 and 12 years earn about 50,000 dollars annually. They argue there is no automatic pay increases in sight, there haven't been any in a while.

"When you have nowhere to move and you haven't moved in ten years. Now you're married, and you have kids, and you have bills to pay and the cost of living continues to increase yet our pay still stays the same, it's tough," said Ashley Terrana a veteran PBG firefighter paramedic.

The union says that 50,000 dollar salary here pales in comparison to the 75,000 dollar salary a veteran firefighter with the county earns.

"That type of money in my home would be a huge asset to my family and what we do," said Terrana.

Residents also spoke out at Thursday night's meeting, sharing heroic stories about the first responders in the room.

It's not clear how much the union is asking for or if it will cost taxpayers any more money. Council members said they understand the firefighters' concerns and have directed the city manager to work towards a solution.

However,  the city and the union are currently in contract negotiations and are still at odds. It's not clear when the issues will be resolved.

As time passes, firefighters warn that without competitive pay, the city risks losing veteran firefighter paramedics to agencies that will pay better.

"If you want to have comparable rates, otherwise they can do the same job somewhere else and be paid more money," said Michael Zingaro, a firefighter paramedic with Palm Beach Gardens.

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