CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) -The Charleston Fire Department (CFD) is looking at the next steps to make sure they are retaining firefighters.

City of Charleston Fire Chief Dan Curia says he has been working tirelessly for the last few years to grow a strong department and fill every position, but making a livable salary is the biggest issue they are facing.

“The pay and retention issue is our number one issue to tackle,” says CFD Chief Curia.

John Baker with the Charleston Fire Association says retaining fire fighters is difficult as the starting minimum wage is less than $13 an hour.

“Retaining those firefighters that we train up and have ready to go to protect our citizens and visitors of Charleston are coming and going quicker than we can make a motion to keep them here,” says Baker.

City of Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg says every city employee deserves higher pay, especially the fire department.

“Keeping employees, getting them trained, paying them enough so they can live here is a real challenge for our organization as a whole,” says Mayor Tecklenburg.

Baker says on average firefighters stay with the department for about nine years. He says it is important that the department looks at ways to try to keep people on board for longer.

“We are a very young department and we are very progressive. It is very scary because we do have to expand and that average years of service is just going to drop as time goes on,” says Baker.

Chief Curia says moving forward it’s important to him to hire and retain firefighters from the Lowcountry, so that experienced firefighters stay with the department.

“The more we can retain our personnel, the more we can quit losing them from 0-4 years, and the better off this fire department is going to be for years to come,” says Chief Curia.

“We are the best city in the world. We really are. For us to have this type of issue is very concerning especially with all the growth that is happening in the near future,” says Baker.

The City of Charleston plans on discussing pay rates of city employees like the fire department, during their Human Resources Committee Meeting on Thursday.