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Rosemount Firefighters get a raise

The Rosemount City Council approved a pay raise Monday for the city's firefighters. Going forward, firefighters will receive $6 per call and drill instead of the $2 they have been getting.

The city council has talked about raising the pay for firefighters since last summer. The council anticipated the raise while planning the city's 2012 budget. The raise will be effective as of Jan. 1, 2012.

"It's a step in the right direction," said fire chief Scott Aker.

Even with the raise, Rosemount firefighters receive less than many other departments. Numbers collected by city staff show the average pay in the area is $12 an hour. Apple Valley pays its firefighters $13.83 an hour. Eagan pays $13 per call and Lakeville $10 per call.

Rosemount's pension packet mitigates some of the disparity. Rosemount firefighters receive $6,900 per year of service on the department. However, firefighters have to be on the department at least 10 years to qualify for a pension.

City administrator Dwight Johnson said he feels like the raise is a good step to improving recruitment and the retention of firefighters.

Aker said he's not sure $6 per call will help the department recruit, but said the council is acting in good faith towards the department. Aker said the department is considered a volunteer fire department and many of the people who apply to serve on the department are surprised there is compensation.

With two stations, the city council has a goal to have 50 firefighters. But since Fire Station 2 opened five years ago, the fire department has not been able to meet that goal.

Currently the Rosemount Fire Department has 43 firefighters. Aker said the large number of calls last year put pressure on the department and its volunteers. Additionally, the fire department holds three training sessions a month.

"50 would be a good number," said Aker.

Firefighters responded to 690 medical and fire calls last year. That's up from 2010 and the most the fire department has had since responding to 769 calls in 2008.

In its discussions, the city council has talked about the future of the department and the need to make additional changes such as hiring full-time staff, duty crews and increasing pay again to ensure the department continues to provide for the community.

Johnson said sometime in the next few months the city council will sit down with the fire department to discuss priorities.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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