If you're not familiar with the term "step raise," it is a civil service term that most (if not all) fire departments use. Most departments have anywhere from five to seven steps. So, day one on the job (usually after the academy), you start at step 1, one year later you're at step 2, two years later at step 3, then finally four years later, you max out at fifth step. From there, the only way to get raises are to promote or if there are annual cost-of-living wages. Hopefully you see how that $2000 per month turns into $7000 per month within five or so years. Don't be deceived by what might just be academy pay or first year pay. If you are that concerned about salary, look at how much you top out and how long it takes you to get there.