One of the top issues facing American firefighters in 2018 is a lack of balance between the compensation firefighters receive and the amount of personal risk and unavoidable sacrifice that goes hand in hand with the profession. Firefighters and EMS Fund targeted ballot measures that sought to rectify this issue and came across Proposition B in Houston, Texas where firefighters are working tirelessly to receive a pay raise equal to what other first responders, like police officers, have received in the past.
Houston firefighters, when compared to those at the top five departments in other Texas cities, currently earn about 30% less than their colleagues. In those other four cities (Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio), firefighters earn an average of $51,721 annually. Houston firefighters, on the other hand, earn an average base salary of just $42,121 per year. Houston is currently the largest city in the state of Texas with a population of 2,340,814. The second largest city in Texas is San Antonio with a population of 1,541,456
Firefighters and EMS Fund decided that Houston firefighters were in need of our support and because supporting firefighters is essential to our mission we made this project a top priority. We directed resources to a group supporting the cause called Support Our Firefighters PAC. A representative from the PAC shared with us about how meaningful the donation was to support its TV campaign, “Thank you so much for your support, I have my firefighters down here knocking on doors and making phone calls but where we’ve got to make a bigger impact is the TV space.”
The firefighters of Houston ultimately prevailed on election night 2018 with a victory in support of the measure 59% for, 40% against. The people of Houston spoke loud and clear that they want their firefighters to be fairly compensated going forward. The $100 million per year budget increase has been criticized by some, especially Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. Others have simply pointed out that in a city the size of Houston, this comes out to an increase of approximately $40 per person. Houston Mayor, Sylvester Turner, threatened to lay-off hundreds of city workers including firefighters.
For now, the people of Houston have spoken, and they said the believe their firefighters should get a raise. How smoothly the aftermath of this victory goes rests on the shoulders of the Mayor and the City Council. The Firefighters and EMS Fund, undoubtedly along with many others around the country, will be watching closely as things unfold should Houston firefighters ever be in need of assistance again.