FREDERICK COUNTY, Md. (DC News Now) — The demand for quality trained firefighters is being felt all over the nation as fire departments struggle to recruit. Frederick County, Maryland is taking steps to retain and attract fire personnel.

550 professional firefighters who serve Frederick County will soon benefit from an increase in salary, increased leave and a leave bank dedicated to training peer support team members.

Frederick County Executive Jessica Fitzwater, alongside Frederick’s Career Firefighters Association (International Association of Firefighters Local 3666), signed a memorandum to improve salary and working conditions for union firefighters.

The new memorandum provides an 8.5% pay increase next year and an additional 6% in 2025.

Fire Chief Tom Coe said the salaries will allow the county to be more competitive.

“I’m incredibly excited about the signing of the memorandum of understanding. we enjoy an incredibly positive working relationship with our career firefighters association, the union that represents the career firefighters in Frederick County. and this document outlines our plan to work together for the next two years.”

“It’s important that we compensate our first responders in Frederick County appropriately. and as there are departments all over the Maryland, DC, Virginia, and Pennsylvania regions that are actively hiring firefighters with a very limited pool of applicants. It’s imperative that we remain competitive in that market, so we bring high-quality candidates to Frederick County to best serve the citizens of our county, ” said Chief Coe.

Stephen Jones, President of the International Association of Firefighters Local 3666 said in a press release: 

“Collective bargaining is a process – and the process worked. this contract paves the way for a safer Frederick County and invests in our firefighters that put their lives on the line every day.”

The contract will go into effect beginning July 1 of the fiscal year 2024.