Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore Fire Chief James Clack has been asked to stay on as head of the city fire department but it’s his proposed raise that has some city firefighters and residents up in arms.
Derek Valcourt has more on the proposed salary increase and why it has many so upset.
The request for more money for the fire chief comes just after the controversial closure of two fire companies.
“It’s infuriating. It really is,” said Ianthia Darden.
Darden isn’t happy the company of firefighters operating Truck 10 in her Harlem Park neighborhood is slated to close Oct. 1 because of budget constraints–which is why news that the Board of Estimates will consider giving Fire Chief James Clack a $3,200 raise next year has her so upset.
“People’s lives are in danger and you’re talking about giving someone a pay raise. Please, come on,” Darden said.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake wants a contract extension for Clack until 2018 with incremental pay raises. Chief Clack released a statement saying, “I am very happy that the mayor has asked me to continue to serve as fire chief for the next several years. We’ve made great progress; we have more work to do.”
The mayor’s office also issued a statement praising the fire chief and touting his accomplishments. The mayor’s office points to a record low of 17 fire fatalities last year and only three so far this year. In a statement, the office says the mayor believes that extending Clack’s contract will allow him to continue to implement meaningful changes to the department and public safety.
But the pay increase also outrages firefighters and their union representatives.
“If there’s no money, there’s no money. We should all feel the pain. It’s my opinion he should turn the raise down. That’s my opinion. Again, it’s a slap in the face to the people he leads,” said Michael Campbell, Baltimore City Fire Officers’ Union.
“You don’t give yourself a raise. You don’t accept a raise when your men are doing more with less. That’s just a disgusting proposal,” said Rick Hoffman, Baltimore City Firefighters’ Union.
Those fire union representatives say they’ll be on hand to personally tell the mayor and the Board of Estimates members why they oppose a pay increase for the chief and ask them to stop it.
The Board of Estimates meets Wednesday at 9 a.m. at City Hall.