JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The “Red Flu” has hit the Jackson Fire Department (JFD).
About 50 out of 81 JFD firefighters called out sick from work on Monday, August 7 over salary disputes.
International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) JFD Local 87 Union President Rasean Thomas said the firefighters called out due to feeling overworked and underpaid in the capital city.
Thomas said if this continues, the lack of firefighters will impact the entire city.
“The people whose houses that we run into every day, whose babies we have delivered, whose car fires and house fires we put out to stand behind us in unity and contact your city councilman. Contact the mayor’s office. Contact the fire chief and tell them simply, ‘I stand with the firefighters, and they need a raise and they need it now,’” he stated.
Until an agreement can be reached, Thomas said firefighters not showing up to work is costing the city a large sum of money.
During a news conference on Monday, Jackson Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba said they’re not dealing with a lack of political will but a lack of resources.
“What we pledge to do is that we will work with our Department of Administration, and we’ll look to present what it will take and what we believe will be the necessary adjustments. More than likely, through millage, in order to meet that desire,” the mayor said.
Jackson Fire Chief Willie Owens emphasized that he wants everyone to know he is always advocating for a raise when it’s time to discuss budgets. He said the issue is finding where the funds for a raise would come from.
“We have to find the funding from some other place, because we do not have it in the city budget at this particular time, especially talking about the raise that the firefighters say that they believe that they deserve, and I honestly believe they do deserve it,” said Owens.
The fire chief said he has an appointment before the council this week, and he will be asking for a raise.
Fire officials said no services are going neglected, and they will provide the same services every day. They will also respond to any call that comes in.