Review of firemen pay completed

Review of firemen pay completed

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A review of the Hattiesburg Fire Department's pay scale by a third party is complete.

Van Craft, whose company Craft Entities, LLC was hired by the city to conduct a wage hour assessment of all city departments, sent a letter to Mayor Johnny DuPree in August that said he found no problems with HFD's wage hour requirements.

"Other issues were encountered outside the area of Wage Hour regarding possible compensation plans and contractual matters," Craft's letter read. "We are not able to provide analyses of these issues to determine if any problems lie in these areas. We are not saying that there are or are not problems in these areas that need to be addressed since our expertise does not include these areas."

Craft's letter, dated Aug. 24, suggested that the city "may wish to contact other resources for help in these areas."

Although the mayor received the letter in August, it was not presented in the city council meeting until Monday. City Clerk Kermas Eaton said he received the letter last week and forwarded it to the council, but when the mayor spoke with Craft regarding the findings, Eaton was not present.

Longtime Hattiesburg fireman Michael Davidson said he and other firefighters on the front line of this fight had not received a copy of the letter.

"We will review the letter and send it to the IAFF (International Association of Firefighters), and then we'll determine what we'll do from there," Davidson said.

Davidson, who is a battalion chief in the department serving almost 30 years, said he wanted to stay with the department until retirement, but he does not think that will happen based on recent controversy surrounding their pay.

"About 12 guys can retire this spring," he said. "I'm one of them. This pay raise they're offering us will affect a lot of the decisions whether to stay or go."

Davidson referred to the $1,500 raise sworn firemen will receive under next fiscal year's budget. However, the city council has not approved the budget and has until Oct. 1 to do so, according to assistant chief financial officer Connie Everett.

Craft's letter said he would continue the wage hour assessment for the rest of the city and will provide oral and written reports of the assessment at its conclusion.