New city firefighters make less than $15 an hour, a lower starting pay rate than city parks laborers earn.
The issue came up at last week's Marion City Council meeting when a city resident questioned the existing pay rates for city parks employees, rates that went before city council for approval.
"I'm not trying to say that's not an important job, but in the grand scheme of things, if I need my park to look pretty or my house not to burn down, I'm going to choose house not burning down," said Christian Dunston, an East Fairground Street resident. "It just seems that we as a city for some reason are backwards on what we pay who."
The hourly rate for entry-level firefighters without EMT certification is currently $13.84, a rate that, according to city firefighters' union president Ryan Redmon, is much lower than other comparable fire departments in the state. Most new firefighters are hired at the next rate up, at $14.48 an hour, as most new hires are certified EMTs.