Fire Chief Calvin Kluesner told council members Thursday, “You need to pay my people more money — I’m losing them left and right.”
Kluesner said in his eight years as chief that 34 people have left the Jasper Fire Department to take higher paying jobs at other municipal departments.
“We are losing people to Tuscaloosa and Cullman,” Kluesner said. “I’ve got one that is fixing to leave now, and, from what I heard yesterday, there are three more on the list.”
The Jasper Fire and Rescue roster is extremely young, Kluesner said.
“We are losing all our experienced people,” he said. “We bring people in and train them and spend time with them. They stay here two, three or four years and they’re gone.”
Kluesner said he is tired of the Jasper department being a training ground for other departments.
“We train good people and train them well — we just keep losing them,” he said. “It costs a significant amount to train each firefighter.”
Jasper councilman Johnny Rollins suggested that members of the council should visit the fire department and listen to the concerns of the city’s firefighters.
“The best way for the council to tell what is going on is to go there and talk with them and spend time with these people,” Rollins said.
Kluesner said he agreed “100 percent.”
“You will find out our biggest problem is pay — that’s a morale buster,” he said. “Until the council and the city decide to pay our emergency workers, police and fire, what they need to be paying them to keep us viable with other cities, we are going to keep losing people to other cities, and we are losing good people.”