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    Default Extremely interested in the fire service but what about pay and second jobs?

    After talking to family in the fire service as well as professors at school, and upon doing a lot of reading and self reflection, I have decided that the fire service is for me. However, it seems that firefighter/paramedics make, on average, 45 grand a year which is dismal. I would be doing a job that I love, but 45 grand would limit my freedom. So my question is what are real life firefighters doing for extra money? Or, are you guys simply living off of the average salary? Are you working second jobs? If so, are you working part time at another department or doing something competely different? I've realized that a big part of being happy in life is choosing a career that you love. For me, as far as I can tell so far, this is the one for me. I just wish it paid more and am looking for guidance and real life testomonies from paid firemen.

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    If you decide on the fire service as a career youíll love it. Now to working a second job, most guys I know work a second job, Iím an OSHA/Safety instructor. We have guys that do everything from cut grass to work for another FD to work as an RN. It just depends what you want to do. Yes you are correct the average starting pay is around $45K but with a little hustle you can make at least another $15K-$30(depending where you live)with out killing yourself.

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    Starting pay is a lot less than $45K here and yet we never fail to have far more people than we could ever hope to hire apply and test. If money is a major motivator in your life my advice is to find a different career. Sorry to sound harsh but frankly, a person wants to be a firefighter or they don't, and money, while important, simply can't be a prime motivator for wanting this job. Clearly in many parts of the country there are many other jobs that will pay far more than being a firefighter.

    My second job is teaching at the local tech college part-time in the fire service program. Additionally over the years I have sold fire equipment, tried selling fire apparatus, worked construction, taught EMS, made and sold wood items I have made, sold firewood out of my yard, and worked part-time as a relief officer at a combination FD.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LP2004 View Post
    After talking to family in the fire service as well as professors at school, and upon doing a lot of reading and self reflection, I have decided that the fire service is for me.

    That's Fine, but has the Fire Service decided that you're the one that we need?

    However, it seems that firefighter/paramedics make, on average, 45 grand a year which is dismal.

    Averages are just that, Averages. People in Southern California make a LOT more than that. Small Cities in Rural America Pay a LOT less. You need to find out what the deal is, in the area where you want to be.

    I would be doing a job that I love, but 45 grand would limit my freedom. So my question is what are real life firefighters doing for extra money? Or, are you guys simply living off of the average salary? Are you working second jobs? If so, are you working part time at another department or doing something competely different? I've realized that a big part of being happy in life is choosing a career that you love. For me, as far as I can tell so far, this is the one for me. I just wish it paid more and am looking for guidance and real life testomonies from paid firemen.
    To Cut To The Chase: I am a Retired Career FIREFIGHTER (Firemen tend Boilers) who had a VERY rewarding Career in a major East Coast Department. This is also my Fiftieth Year in the Fire Department, since I was a Volunteer Firefighter before I was Hired, and I continue to Volunteer today.

    I'd like to make a really serious suggestion: Earn a living at something else.

    It seems really apparent that money is a serious issue to you, more so than Firefighting. If I'm correct, then I would offer that you should become a Doctor, Lawyer, Stock Broker, Corporate CEO, or whatever you wish, so that your lifestyle will be protected. In all Honesty, I think that you should join a Volunteer Fire Department somewhere, try that for a few years so you will truly understand what it's all about. TONES, I'll be back.
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LP2004 View Post
    I have decided that the fire service is for me. However, it seems that firefighter/paramedics make, on average, 45 grand a year which is dismal. I would be doing a job that I love, but 45 grand would limit my freedom.
    I guess you are all about the money... I am a career FF as well and don't make 45 grand. Maybe I sjould move on... Oh thats right I love this job and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. IF YOU'RE ALL ABOUT MONEY MY FRIEND MOVE ON AND LET SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO BE THERE DO THE JOB.

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    It really depends on where you work. I worked in SW Missouri as a firefighter for 5 years. I left there for a department out west and made $15,000 more my first year here than my last year there, and the cost of living was really not that much more. Now I don't work 2 jobs and I'm able to do alot more things with my family. Hope this helps.

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    I tried to make it as clear as possible that, while the money is not great, I still wanted this job. I'm looking for second job ideas. I have already started my education in this field and I will have this for a career someday.

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    Talking

    I will make approx. $26,000 this year at my full time dept. and about $5,000 at my part-time dept. Not much money, but my wife (she's a school teacher) and I live within our means and we are extremely happy with our careers. Yeah, I wish I made more but I dang sure do not want to go back and work in the private industry doing anything! This is the best job in the world, hands down!!

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    Try Nursing School.

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    Talking Pappy always said

    My first post here so here goes.

    My old man "retired chief" always told me that "there ain't nothing worse than a job you don't like". Never fully understood that until I became a career firefighter. Now, I can tell you that it is the best job in the world. As everyone on here will all agree. And I would not trade it for any other job out there. We don't get paid squat round here but we all make due. I'd rather be comfortable financially and have a job I love than work my but off doing something I don't love just for some extra dough. But hey, that's just me.

    be safe

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    Quote Originally Posted by lrg500 View Post
    I will make approx. $26,000 this year at my full time dept. and about $5,000 at my part-time dept. Not much money, but my wife (she's a school teacher) and I live within our means and we are extremely happy with our careers. Yeah, I wish I made more but I dang sure do not want to go back and work in the private industry doing anything! This is the best job in the world, hands down!!

    You don't want to work in private industry? A place where talent and hard work are rewarded with money?
    BE A BACKBONE - NOT A JAWBONE

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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    To Cut To The Chase: I am a Retired Career FIREFIGHTER (Firemen tend Boilers) who had a VERY rewarding Career in a major East Coast Department. This is also my Fiftieth Year in the Fire Department, since I was a Volunteer Firefighter before I was Hired, and I continue to Volunteer today.

    I'd like to make a really serious suggestion: Earn a living at something else.

    It seems really apparent that money is a serious issue to you, more so than Firefighting. If I'm correct, then I would offer that you should become a Doctor, Lawyer, Stock Broker, Corporate CEO, or whatever you wish, so that your lifestyle will be protected. In all Honesty, I think that you should join a Volunteer Fire Department somewhere, try that for a few years so you will truly understand what it's all about. TONES, I'll be back.
    Dead on, Harve!
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    LP, for me personally it's not a matter of pay. Some people in the fire service feels it's their calling, feel like they were put on this world to help people, that's why we still have volunteers. It's not the money for a lot of guys, if you're looking to get rich in life this isn't the job for you. If you want a rewarding career and feel good about what you do in life, then this is the place.

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    With any other profession in the world, asking a question about the salary would seem completely appropriate.

    But for some reason, whenever a prospective firefighter even asks a single question about benefits, pay or lifestyle, he is met with the usual cries of "this job isn't for you" or "if money matters to you, then you should look to do something else".

    Give this guy a break. He is asking the same questions someone would be askign when considering any other career. While much of the advice is accurate, there is a general undertone that suggests by asking these questions that he is somehow not the right person for this job.

    Worrying about how you will put a roof over your head or feed your family does not make you less dedicated to the profession. There are plenty of us that do this job with the utmost dedication that have these same concerns.
    Last edited by jakesdad; 07-08-2008 at 02:06 PM.

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    45K a year to work 10 days a month, less than that with Kelly days and holidays.

    The ability to shift trade and take more time off in larger chunks...

    Sounds pretty good to me...just sayin.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jakesdad View Post
    With any other profession in the world, asking a question about the salary would seem completely appropriate.

    But for some reason, whenever a prospective firefighter even asks a single question about benefits, pay or lifestyle, he is met with the usual cries of "this job isn't for you" or "if money matters to you, then you should look to do something else".

    Give this guy a break. He is asking the same questions someone would be askign when considering any other career. While much of the advice is accurate, there is a general undertone that suggests by asking these questions that he is somehow not the right person for this job.

    Worrying about how you will put a roof over your head or feed your family does not make you less dedicated to the profession. There are plenty of us that do this job with the utmost dedication that have these same concerns.
    In principle, I agree with Jakesdad. Asking about salaries, typical work schedules, and benefits before deciding on a career is a sign of mature thinking, not a sign that someone is "only interested in money."

    However, in this particular case, I think the negative reactions are probably related to the way that the question was asked. The original poster actually used the word "dismal" in describing the average pay for firefighters.

    If you started a conversation with a truck driver or a school teacher by telling him that the average pay for his profession was "dismal" I don't think you'd get a very positive response - same for firefighters. If the OP had asked about salaries and secondary employment without using the word "dismal" or the phrase "45 grand would limit my freedom," I would hope the response from members of the forum would have been different.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMasters View Post
    In principle, I agree with Jakesdad. Asking about salaries, typical work schedules, and benefits before deciding on a career is a sign of mature thinking, not a sign that someone is "only interested in money."

    However, in this particular case, I think the negative reactions are probably related to the way that the question was asked. The original poster actually used the word "dismal" in describing the average pay for firefighters.

    If you started a conversation with a truck driver or a school teacher by telling him that the average pay for his profession was "dismal" I don't think you'd get a very positive response - same for firefighters. If the OP had asked about salaries and secondary employment without using the word "dismal" or the phrase "45 grand would limit my freedom," I would hope the response from members of the forum would have been different.

    I undertand where you are coming from, but the truth is that there are areas of this country in which the salary for a firefighter is DISMAL. Less than 30K a year to start in many East Coast departments with the cost of living as high as any place in the country could be considered dismal.

    While there are many other benefits to being a firefighter, such as rewarding work, comraderie and brotherhood, flexible schedules and pensions, salaries are the reason why everyone tells you not to "take this job for the money" in the first place.

    I just can't be offended by someone who is simply telling it like it is.

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    Most of the paid guys around here have businesses and those that don't have a full time job. The FD is like their part time job.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMasters View Post
    In principle, I agree with Jakesdad. Asking about salaries, typical work schedules, and benefits before deciding on a career is a sign of mature thinking, not a sign that someone is "only interested in money."

    However, in this particular case, I think the negative reactions are probably related to the way that the question was asked. The original poster actually used the word "dismal" in describing the average pay for firefighters.

    If you started a conversation with a truck driver or a school teacher by telling him that the average pay for his profession was "dismal" I don't think you'd get a very positive response - same for firefighters. If the OP had asked about salaries and secondary employment without using the word "dismal" or the phrase "45 grand would limit my freedom," I would hope the response from members of the forum would have been different.

    You are Correct, at least from where I'm standing. First Impressions are often a indicator of not only where someone is at the moment, but also where they are headed over the long haul. My concern here is twofold: A - Someone takes a job and wastes a couple of years of their life figuring out if it is a good fit, or not. B - Someone takes a job and their employer spends a lot of money on them in Training, only to see that investment wander off to do something else.

    One thing that may be different about me is that I had absolutely no interest in moving away to another part of the Country. If I could not get a Firefighting Job in this area, then I'd work at something else. My first Firefighting position was a 30 mile drive, one way, in a major city's Paid department. I left there after 4 years to take a job as a Paid Driver in Volunteer department that was only a few miles away. There are people who will move or commute a large distance to work, and that's OK by me, it's just that I'm not one of them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    You are Correct, at least from where I'm standing. First Impressions are often a indicator of not only where someone is at the moment, but also where they are headed over the long haul. My concern here is twofold: A - Someone takes a job and wastes a couple of years of their life figuring out if it is a good fit, or not. B - Someone takes a job and their employer spends a lot of money on them in Training, only to see that investment wander off to do something else.

    One thing that may be different about me is that I had absolutely no interest in moving away to another part of the Country. If I could not get a Firefighting Job in this area, then I'd work at something else. My first Firefighting position was a 30 mile drive, one way, in a major city's Paid department. I left there after 4 years to take a job as a Paid Driver in Volunteer department that was only a few miles away. There are people who will move or commute a large distance to work, and that's OK by me, it's just that I'm not one of them.
    So are you suggesting that its OK to question the commute, but not the salary?

    Seems the commute was important to you. Did that make you less dedicated or more likely to "wander off" ?

    To imply that this poster might decide to leave after a few years, or waste his employers money on training simply because he is asking about the compensation of the profession makes abslutely no sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LP2004 View Post
    After talking to family in the fire service as well as professors at school, and upon doing a lot of reading and self reflection, I have decided that the fire service is for me. However, it seems that firefighter/paramedics make, on average, 45 grand a year which is dismal. I would be doing a job that I love, but 45 grand would limit my freedom. So my question is what are real life firefighters doing for extra money? Or, are you guys simply living off of the average salary? Are you working second jobs? If so, are you working part time at another department or doing something competely different? I've realized that a big part of being happy in life is choosing a career that you love. For me, as far as I can tell so far, this is the one for me. I just wish it paid more and am looking for guidance and real life testomonies from paid firemen.
    You don't want to become a FIREFIGHTER!

    Forget it. You would never make it a career, let alone get through the proby school.

    I've got over 28 years on the job and make over 70K, but I had to work my butt off and study every book there is and take every test until I thought that I had taken everyone that were written. I am glad I came on when I did.

    By the way when I started the basic pay for a new firefighters was 18k a year.

    K

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    If money is so important to you, the fire service is not for you. You have to do it because you like it, not because you need it.



    You severely limit your income potential by being a public servant.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LP2004 View Post
    After talking to family in the fire service as well as professors at school, and upon doing a lot of reading and self reflection, I have decided that the fire service is for me. However, it seems that firefighter/paramedics make, on average, 45 grand a year which is dismal. I would be doing a job that I love, but 45 grand would limit my freedom.
    One has to learn to adapt. $45K is actually base salary for a lot of firefighters at the top step of the pay grade for a private... add overtime, educational incentives, EMT-Paramedic incentives, specialized training stipends, holiday pay and such and one will find that one can live quite comfortably. The higher you go in rank, the better the pay. I am a Deputy Chief, and my income was in the 6 figure range last year with the benefits and incentives.

    There is also the pension system to consider. In my state, the numbers are 80% of your highest three years salary at 32 years of service. Each state is different

    So my question is what are real life firefighters doing for extra money? Or, are you guys simply living off of the average salary? Are you working second jobs? If so, are you working part time at another department or doing something competely different?
    In my FD, we have some tradesmen, a lot of firefighters work for one of the ambulance services, a few of us work at the State Fire Academy, some have landscaping/snow plowing businesses, etc. As for myself, I work at the Fire Academy, have an auto detailing venture and do some free lance writing/reporting for a local weekly newspaper... and I still find the time to do things I like.


    I've realized that a big part of being happy in life is choosing a career that you love. For me, as far as I can tell so far, this is the one for me. I just wish it paid more and am looking for guidance and real life testomonies from paid firemen.
    You are not going to get rich being a firefighter, but then, wealth isn't just measured in the amount of money you have; the admiration and respect of your peers has its own rewards.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    I work for a large department in the south, and my base is just under 55k. Put in holiday, vacation, and some ot and another 8-15k is not out of the questions. Additionally, I am free to work part time on the side if I need. I am able to live quite well on my salary while only working 10 days per month. In my area, 55k puts me owning a nice home and having a little left over for the "finer" things. Im not rich, but I am getting close to forgetting what Ramen noodle and Natural Light taste like.

    Additionally, this career offers so many things that you can't put a price on. The lifestyle, camraderie, and schedule can't be beat. A 9-5 simply is not for me.

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