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Ga. firefighters say city may lose senior members over pay disparity

Marietta’s new hires got 9% raises, veteran firefighters did not; members are now pressing for a structured pay scale

By Leila Merrill

MARIETTA, Ga. — Marietta firefighters told city council members Wednesday night that the city may lose veteran firefighters because raises for new firefighters were approved earlier this year, but veterans did not get raises.

11 Alive reported that the veterans understand that the 9% raises were needed to draw more firefighters to join the department, but in some cases, the veterans wound up earning less than new hires.

Firefighters said that the department does not have a structured pay scale based on years of service and promotions, but rather, promotions and raises are given subjectively.

“There’s no choice but to offer [raises] to the new hires, or you won’t get any,” said retired Marietta Fire Captain Merv McDonald. “But you’re shortchanging the ones that have been here. Veteran firefighters and the newly hired firefighters, their salaries are just within a few hundred dollars of each other, in some cases.”

Council members listened and ended the meeting without commenting. Firefighters said they would show up at the next council meeting to try to get help implementing a structured pay scale.


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“I didn’t start the job for the money,” retired Marietta firefighter Ron Presley said after the meeting. “I didn’t really care about the money, but you have to live on something.”

Presley recently retired from the department after 20 years and said he was earning $18.40 an hour.

“I was here 20 years,” he said, “and you had guys that were here six years that were making more than I. So, the pay scale’s just kind of all screwed up right now.”