A group of Charleston firefighters Tuesday afternoon gathered outside city hall in downtown Charleston to demand more pay, saying current wages aren’t enough to live close to where they work. 

Starting pay for firefighters in the City of Charleston is less than $39,000, according to Charleston Firefighters Local 61 — just over half the income of $73,073 needed to live comfortably in Charleston according to a 2021 report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Protesting firefighters said they completed a 90-day study last month comparing their salaries to those of neighboring cities like Atlanta and Savannah. Charleston, they said, ranked toward the middle or in the bottom third of investigated cities. 

The firefighters are asking Charleston City Council to increase their pay, saying they have to work longer hours to make ends meet on current wages. City officials have not yet responded to the requests.