Higher Salaries for Chicago Firemen.
Members of the Chicago fire department who have for some time been working for an increase in salaries, have addressed the Mayor and council as follows:
“Herewith we, the members of the Chicago fire department, in appealing to your honorable body for an increase in salaries to all members of the fire department, desire to submit to you a few statistics why we are justly entitled to be properly considered by you when making up your estimate and appropriation for the year of 1911. Before we go into the merits of our cause we wish to inform you that the firemen have only received a 10 per cent, increase in their salaries since the year 1893, a period of 17 years, and there is one grade that never received one cent of increase during all these years, namely battalion chiefs, so you may see there has not been a horizontal increase in more than fifteen years, the time we base our statistics on. You must agree with us that almost every other branch of the municipal service have had their salaries increased from 20 to 50 per cent., and some even more than this percentage, and we desire to submit to you a few increases granted to other municipal employes as compared to the fire department.”
The petition quotes the increase in the salaries of the electrical department, which ranges from 25 to 58 per cent Members of the police department have had their salaries increased since 1893, from 12 to 25 per cent., and street cleaners, from 33 to 88 per cent., while during the same period employes of the fire department have had an increase of from 10 to 18 per cent. The petition says further:
“Now, after working two and one-half years in the lower grades to command first-class pay, which is $1,247 per year, let us compare a fireman’s wages with that of the street laborer at $2.00 per day. We will take actual number of hours spent in company quarters and omit the time worked at fires which he responds to at which he may be one hour or fifteen hours on his off days. After dividing his yearly salary by the hours worked per year wc find that he receives 21 3-8 cents per hour or 3 5-8 cents less than the poorest paid laborer employed by the city. We also find that a captain in the fire department receives 31 1-16 cents per hour, and it takes the average fireman ten years of hazardous service to receive the small sum. Right here we wish to present a few statistics to show that the occupation is hazardous by giving the number of men killed and injured in the discharge of their duty. Since 1893, a total of 1,457 firemen have been injured and 69 killed. Taking as a basis the total number of men in the fire department, which is 1,760, we find that 82 per cent, were injured and all of them required to pay their own physicians’ surgeons’, medical and hospital bills, making quite an item eaeh year. Here is a list of fatalities and injuries unapproached by any civic body in the world outside of the fire service. Total number of hours in vear. 8,760: total number of hours worked by firemen in year, 5,475; total number of hours averaged by other city employes, 2.288. We herewith submit a comparison of salaries to show the justice of our cause:
During the present year the captains and lieutenants of New York were increased from $2,160 and $1,800 to $2,500 and $2,100. respectively. At this time all other members of the New York fire department were voted an increase of $200 per year, to take effect January 1, 1911.
The petition further quotes statistics to show that all other trades have shown wage increases ranging from 35 per cent, to 185 per cent. During this time foodstuffs have increased from 25 per cent, to 128 per cent.