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Fire Chief Says Department Can't Compete with Others Offering Higher Pay

Bellevue-Dayton Fire Chief Chris Adkins expressed concern Tuesday night about his department's ability to retain firefighters.

He spoke to the Dayton city council and said that other local cities are posting firefighter positions with salaries north of $55,000 while the BDFD only starts at $45,000.

Chief Adkins said that he recently lost one firefighter to Fort Wright where the employee saw a $14,000 annual pay increase.

"We are not going to be able to staff a fire department for much longer," Adkins said. "They can walk away but they don't want to. These guys need to know that you have their backs - that's about as blunt and plain as I can put it." 

The Bellevue-Dayton Fire Department operates as a LLC with a governing board appointed by both the cities of Bellevue and Dayton, which also jointly funds the department.

Adkins stated that he feels like a broken record when it comes to telling council about the issues his department needs to address. 

Mayor Ben Baker and City Administrator Jay Fossett expressed both an understanding of how grave the situation is and a desire to remedy it. Councilman Jeff Volter suggested a budget amendment to increase pay for the firefighters and council was agreeable to an emergency session called in mid-July to address it quickly. 

Fire Captain Adam Hall took to the podium after Chief Adkins to reiterate the need for immediate action and draw parallels between how much money Bellevue and Dayton have saved since merging the fire services and how much money they are requiring to continue staffing firefighters.

"We can leave, but we don't want to," Hall said. "We don't want to leave this department in a bad shape."

Chief Adkins said that he would be having the same conversation with Bellevue's council next week.

-Connor Wall, associate editor