Hiring and Retention Hurdles in Signal Mtn.

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SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, Tenn. (WDEF)- Public safety leaders of Signal Mountain address their struggles to attract and retain employees.

In the last three years, Signal Mountain’s Fire Fire Eric Mitchell says the department has lost 12 employees.

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“Not all of it’s necessarily due to salary” said Chief Mitchell. “Some went to other careers. Some left the state for other things.”

A hefty number compared to a relatively small department.

“Luckily we’ve been able to fill those positions but it’s a constant struggle trying to find the best qualified candidates to fill those positions when there is so much competition from other fire departments in the area” said Chief Mitchell.

Signal mountain firefighters salaries range from 30 to 32 grand annually dependent on certification.

With the relatively high cost of living, only one employee who is not the chief lives in the city.

“Let’s face it you can build buildings, you can buy apparatus but your most important asset is your folks” said Chief Mitchell. “Keeping your most trained qualified people is what you want to do.”

Over in Marion County, Sheriff “Bo” Burnett says a majority of his employees are from the area and the decent cost of living compliments their wages.

Not to mention the sheriff installed a financial longevity plan with the county 4 years ago.

“90 percent of the employees have been here I would say 10 years or longer” said Sheriff Burnett. “I’ve got employees that have been here 20 years.”

Back in Signal Mountain, Police Chief Mike Williams says keeping officers on the staff is easy, attracting them not so much.

“It’s very difficult these days to do recruiting for law enforcement because of the recent past with a lot of the bad publicity and negative comments on social media” said Chief Williams.

A majority of the police department’s staff has left due to retirement in recent years according to chief Williams.