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Saturday, 27 February 2021

Signal Mountain fire and police

Credit: WDEF CBS Chattanooga, TN
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Signal Mountain fire and police
Signal Mountain fire and police

Why is a well off community like Signal Mountain having a hard time keeping fire and police employees?


Public safety leaders of signal mountain say they are struggling to attract and retain employees.

News 12's winston reed is live to tell us what factors are impacting turnover rates.

After speaking to signal mountains police and fire chief, it's clear that salary, cost of living and overall publicity play a major role with attracting candidates and retaining them.

In the last three years, signal mountain's fire chief eric mitchell says the department has lost 12 employees.

"not all of it's necessarily due to salary.

Some went to other careers.

Some left the state for other things."

A hefty number compared to a relatively small department.

"luckily we've been able to fill those positions but it's a constant struggle trying to find the best qualified candidates to fill those positions when there is so much competition from other fire departments in the area."

Signal mountain firefighters salaries range from 30 to 32 grand annually dependent on certification.

With the relatively high cost of living, only one employee who is not the chief lives in the city.

"let's face it you can build buildings, you can buy apparatus but your most important asset is your folks.

Keeping your most trained qualified people is what you want to do."

Over in marion county, sheriff "bo" burnett says a majority of his employees are from the area and the decent cost of living compliments their wages.

Not to mention the sheriff installed a financial longevity plan with the county 4 years ago.

"90 percent of the employees have been here i would say 10 years or longer.

I've got employees that have been here 20 years."

Back in signal mountain, police chief mike williams says keeping officers on staff is easy, attracting them not so much.

"it's very difficult these days to do recruiting for law enforcement because of the recent past with a lot of the bad publicity and negative comments on social media."

A majority of the police department's staff has left due to retirement in recent years according to chief williams signal mountains fire and police departments are working on next years budget with the city.

Chief mitchell is hopeful, more money will be invested.

Reporting live in signal mountain winston reed news 12 now.


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