Lufkin Firefighters Pay Concerns

by Larry Little

For five years the city of Lufkin has been planning to build a new fire station, but eight year firefighter Michael Sanford is among those who doesn't believe the department needs a new building. He'd rather see a pay increase for Lufkin firefighters. "We would like to see the benefits increase to similar cities. We are the only city in this area and statewide that provide county and city ems," says Firefighters Union President, Michael Sanford.

Sanford says the department is constantly losing firefighters because of low pay making it harder to provide top quality service for Lufkin citizens. "It greatly affects our workload and how we handle day to day operations because we don't have enough personnel to man the ambulances and you end up responding with a paramedic and a basic," says Sanford.

City Manager Paul Parker doesn't believe there is a firefighter retention problem. "I was surprised to see the firefighters opposing a fire station. I think the point they were trying to make which is ironic because we had already been discussing potential raises," says Lufkin City Manager, Paul Parker.

By law firefighters can't go on strike, so both parties would like public safety issues addressed. "At this time we can go to the bargaining table and sit down with the city and get these problems fixed. We would prefer that this ends here," says Sanford. "Obviously we want to pay our firefighters a good salary for the job they are doing and we want them to be at an average of similar cities our size. It is not an issue we don't want to pay them, but we may not pay them as much as they desire to have," says Parker.