ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (FOX 5 DC) – In Northern Virginia, firefighters, doctors and police are calling for a 10% wage increase as unions representing these first responders say Alexandria is losing talent to other departments.
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As a result, law enforcement officials in the city fear that they will not be able to provide the same level of service to the community.
Officer Benjamin Saks, president of IUPA Local 5, says morale is at a very low point and more first responders are likely to leave.
“It’s disheartening for us as police officers to know that we go there every day and risk our lives and the city turns its back on us when we desperately need a salary to keep people. here, ”Saks said.
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Alexandria firefighters, doctors and police say departments are struggling to recruit and retain. This is also happening in Arlington and Fairfax County, which are losing first responders.
Unions representing first responders in Alexandria say they are not paid enough to serve their community and this is what turns people away. In the long term, impacting taxpayers who will then benefit from fewer services and emergency response times.
“The department is going to get to the point where we won’t be able to provide the same level of service to the community with we losing this number of people and the only real way to solve this problem is to pay us fairly,” says Saks.
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The Alexandria Police Union says their pay ranks 19th out of 20 Northern Virginia jurisdictions. They also reveal that in the past nine months they have lost 30 officers and only 11 of them have been replaced.
For Fire & EMS, the union says their salary ranks 18th out of 19 jurisdictions in Northern Virginia and as of the last check they are down by 70 firefighters. As a result, they are working a lot of overtime.
Firefighter Matt DeBenedetto said he has already made a huge adjustment in his life to continue working in Alexandria.
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“When I first moved here I was living in Alexandria, but accommodation in Alexandria is so expensive – I had to move to Fairfax just to pay myself a house, so it was already something I did. made to try to split my dollar by a little further and the next step would be to try to transfer to another jurisdiction, ”said DeBenedetto.
He adds that there appears to be a revolving door at the fire and emergency department with people coming and going and hopes he doesn’t have to be next.
“Just to know that I worked at Walmart [five years ago] and I didn’t have to worry about whether or not I was going to come to my family every night and I made more money when I went there than when I currently do now, risking my life and the life of my family – quite frankly – coming back from the pandemic is ridiculous, ”DeBenedetto said.
The mayor, city manager and city council have announced they will hold an unprecedented meeting next Tuesday where they will explore mid-year salary adjustments and a possible one-time bonus.