Firefighters Have Become A Big Problem

It is worthwhile reading the BusinessWeek story about the power of national firefighters union and their push to get more bargaining power nationally.  Some are blind or indifferent to the future of the finances of the cities that they serve so well and that compensate them so well.

Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee have resorted to shutting fire stations temporarily or taking trucks out of service to cut costs. Philadelphia’s closings, which began last month, are intended to save $3.8 million, mostly by cutting overtime. Firefighters’ pay played a key role in the 2008 municipal bankruptcy of Vallejo, Calif., a city of 115,000 near San Francisco. Its fire and police contracts called for raises of more than 10 percent just as the housing crash hammered tax collections. The average firefighter’s pay and benefits were set to hit $193,000 a year before the town went bust.

via Sounding the Alarm for Firefighters’ Pay – BusinessWeek.

About Stephen E. McGaughey
International consultant in economic development programs and projects

One Response to Firefighters Have Become A Big Problem

  1. Robert Burr says:

    Once again, the math is skewed out of the range of reasonable proportion. Years ago, firefighters and police officers were hard working, community minded heroes that worked for reasonable pay. They certainly deserved their reasonable pensions. The average Joe lived 7 years past retirement in the 50s. Now, a 21 year old firefighter entering the workforce in 2004 could reasonably expect to earn $4 million dollars over 30 years, plus bonuses, benefits, increases and pensions worth another $3 million, plus a retirement at 24 years based on a final salary of $169,000 for another $4.5 million plus incredible health benefits. The boys that put out fires in the old days would never believe the new kids could earn more than $11 million in gross compensation over their lifetime. If they live longer than average, it’s much, much more — guaranteed. To be clear, I fully support the police and fire teams, the good and generous citizens of Coral Gables offered them this deal and they gladly signed up. We’re not blaming them for this mess. They work hard, do a great job, make us all proud. But the numbers are enough to scare the pants off any self-respecting taxpayer struggling to keep up with this economy — without any sort of guarantee. The math does not add up. There’s a crack in this wall that can’t be fixed. It will crumble.

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