GLADEWATER, Texas (KLTV) - An East Texas city, with a limited budget, must watch as their firefighters leave to take higher paying jobs elsewhere.
In Gladewater, budget limitations and a neighboring opportunity have resulted in a firefighter exodus.
“Currently we got 8 full time firefighters that have given resignations to go to a new job at Smith county E-S-D. Go to 24 hour a day service,” says Gladewater city manager Ricky Tow.
8 out of a 12-man department have given notice.
It was those job openings in Smith county that drew several Gladewater firefighters to seek bigger salaries.
“They’re paying about 10-thousand dollars more than what Gladewater pays,” Tow says.
Concerned citizens brought the issue before city council Thursday night.
“You’re going from a 12-man department to 4 guys. Then in January, you’re going to have 1 guy left,” said one citizen.
For young firefighters, many with families, it’s hard to pass up.
“Financially for a young group that’s and opportunity, some are taking advantage and moving,” Ricky says.
It puts the city in a very tough position. Needing a fire department, but not having funding to give pay raises.
With a budget set, the city is unable to get caught up in a bidding war.
“We went through a budget cycle that started back in May. Basically no pay-raises for anybody,” says Tow.
In the meantime, the city will county on mutual assistance from neighboring fire departments, as they try to replenish the fire department ranks.
“We’re going to actively pursue new job applicants,” said Gladewater mayor J.D Shipp in the council meeting.
If you’d like to see the full Gladewater city council video, you can view it on ‘gladewatermirror.com.’