“We personally thank Mayor David Amrhein, Fire Chief Danny Kimble, Steve Nunnery, Ashlee Anderson, Chris Calbert and the Zachary Professional Firefighters Association Local 4644 for all of their hard work over the last six months,” said Captain Gordon Lipscomb, speaking on behalf of all ZFD firefighters. "It took a lot of work and research on their part to make this raise possible."
Lipscomb said that Mayor Amrhein made good on a promise to the department. “One of his (campaign) promises was to bring Zachary firefighter pay up to parish standards," Lipscomb said “We were making well below what starting pay is at fire departments like Baton Rouge, St. George and Baker."
The 10-14 percent pay increase now makes a starting Zachary firefighter's salary more than what neighboring departments are making, Lipscomb explained.
“This is great for several reasons,” said Firefighter Todd Phenald, “We've always received only a few applicants, but now we're hoping the number of firefighters who apply here will rise.”
In addition, Phenald said that before, any applicants who applied at the ZFD were usually firefighters who didn’t make the cut in Baton Rouge or guys who just absolutely wanted to work in Zachary, no matter the pay.
“We’re hoping this will not only increase our applicant pool but raise the standard and quality of people who apply here. The ZFD has actually lost good firefighters because of the pay," said Captain Chris Young.
Every year, Zachary firefighters, along with all city employees, receive a three percent cost of living raise, but this recent salary hike for the fire department was much needed and long overdue. "Why would firefighters work here for this pay when they can go up the road in any direction and make more (money)?" Lipscomb asked. “Hopefully, we’ll now be able to hire and keep quality guys in the department.”
Lipscomb, Young and Phenald maintain that every firefighter currently with the department is top-notch and all personnel - career and volunteer - are really close. “We’re like family...especially now with the recent news that Chief Kimble is here to stay,” said the firemen. “We work really hard, as hard as any other firefighter in the city, parish or state, and we should make what they make."
"The biggest thing for us was to move Zachary forward and increase the quality of applicants," said Lipscomb. "Now our starting pay is better than in other departments."
"I've been here eight years and the department has never had the kind of working relationship it currently has with Chief Kimble or Mayor Amrhein," said Lipscomb. "They took this raise issue head on. The Mayor made a promise, and he's kept good on his promise. We really appreciate this administration for rewarding us for our dedication and service."
The ZFD employs a staff of 24 career and about 30 volunteer firefighters plus a secretary.