Alarmed by the news that Fairfax is busy recruiting 77 permanent and 20 temporary employes for its Department of Environmental Management, neighboring jurisdictions are raising salaries for their building inspectors.

Hoping to head off personnel defections, Alexandria Deputy City Manager Bradford S. Hammer March 25 approved a 10 percent pay raise for that city's building inspectors.

"We knew that positions out in Fairfax may have an impact on staffing," Hammer said this week.

Hot on the city's heels, the director of the Department of Development Administration in Prince William last week asked his county's board of supervisors to consider a 15 percent pay raise for its building inspectors and plan reviewers.

"Our counterpart agency in Fairfax County has just been authorized to hire 97 new positions in response to development there. That's more people than we have in all of DDA. They are actively recruiting trained inspectors and reviewers in our agency and our jurisdictions right now," the director, Martin E. Crahan, warned the board an April 9.

Crahan said he fears Fairfax County will bleed his 87-person department of its best employes. Prince William pays its starting building inspectors $16,328 compared with $17,747 for the same job in Fairfax. At the top end of the scale, Prince William offers $25,092 while Fairfax pays a combination inspector trained in plumbing, building and electrical work $31,484.

Before its latest raise, Alexandria paid a beginning inspector $16,594 and an experienced supervisor $26,674. Now, with the 10 percent increase and a reclassification of jobs, the pay scale starts at $17,372 for beginning inspectors and goes up to $32,417 for the top inspection jobs. The city has 15 people in its inspection division, about half of whom are long-term employes, according to a city personnel supervisor Terrence L. Robinson.

Fairfax officials, meanwhile, shrug off suggestions that their recruiting imperils other localities.

"If there are 100 inspectors in DEM, we might have two from Prince William County and four from the state," said Thomas R. Lowe, assistant personnel director. "Many come direct from the construction industry where they might make on the outside a little bit more but now want some of the benefits after 20 years."

Jumping ship doubtless is attractive to some government employes. William H. Pennell, head of Alexandria's inspection division, said his staff could realize a 25 percent pay raise if they were hired by Fairfax. Pennell had asked the city manager last July to revise the inspectors' pay scales. Action was delayed, however, until Fairfax got going.

Arlington, by contrast, is in better shape.

"I don't expect any mass exodus from our inspector staff," said Emory Rodgers, division chief for inspection services. The pay range for his beginning inspectors is $19,000 to $28,000.