Maintaining a full-service fire department on a tight budget can be difficult. One of the greatest challenges that municipal governments face is negotiating wage deals with labor unions.
If not kept under control, wages can overwhelm budgets. In Kansas City, Missouri, the city council just voted to approve a four-year wage deal that will give firefighters and ambulance workers annual raises of 2.6 percent. This is higher than what was initially budgeted in the city's five-year plan, and could be difficult to finance.