NEWS BRIEF: Atlanta firefighters ‘headhunted’ by trucking industry, drastic shortage ensues

AFD unprepared for fires?

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Photo credit: CL FILE
Atlanta Fire Department Firefighters

Firefighters are abandoning the Atlanta Fire Department in droves for safer, higher paying jobs in the trucking industry, according to union officials, who told city council members this week there is now a deficit of about two hundred workers. “The truck driving thing is what really shocked me — they’re headhunting our people,” said union chief Nate Bailey, adding that trucking companies are offering huge raises to entice firefighters who hold commercial drivers’ licenses to switch careers.

Firefighters who normally do 24-hour shifts are now working twice that long. “When you go 48 hours without sleep strange things start to happen, right? But we have to do that to keep the stations open,” Bailey said. Fire chief Roderick Smith told Atlanta’s public safety committee last month that he expects the city to increase firefighter salaries, which currently stand at roughly $55,000 annually.