SAN JOSE (KGO) -- The city of San Jose is welcoming a new group of firefighters fresh out of the academy. But, it's only day one and some of them may not be planning on making San Jose their home forever.
Being a San Jose firefighter is an exciting job and entry level pay is $86,000 per year. The department boasts it protects about 200 square miles of terrain that includes residential, commercial, high rise and wildland areas. That's why thousands apply for a position, but only 21 were hired. They graduated from the fire academy on Friday.
"We had a very strong applicant pool. We had a couple of thousand people apply for us. So we're very pleased to see this recruit class come through and graduate last week," said David Vossbrink, City of San Jose spokesperson
Those 21 graduates start their new careers this week, joining the 700 or so firefighters across the city. But even though you won't notice a difference by appearance, the new men and woman will be making less at retirement. The pension reform initiative, Measure B, passed in 2012. It put in place a tier two pension for all new city employees. That means the new firefighters will only be eligible for 65 percent of their salary after 30 years of service, compared to 90 percent.
Since 2012 the San Jose Police Department has seen a huge increase in retirements and resignations, as officers are leaving for other departments. That brings up concerns the new firefighters will also take their services somewhere else.
"We will probably be able to tell within you know one to three to five years down the road whether they end up staying here or not but we need them to stay," said Jose Guerrero, San Jose Firefighters Local 230.
The firefighters union says these new hires are important in bringing down the response times to emergencies. Meanwhile the lawsuit against Measure B is still ongoing.