1. #1

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    Default Which Department Has The "Best" Benefit Package?

    Hey all,

    First time poster so I hope I put this in the right forum. I know this question is a bit loaded but let me explain what I'm looking for. I'm the process of considering going full time as a firefighter somewhere in the country. Problem is I'm looking for 3 very specific things before I consider a department.

    -20 year retirement plan
    -Population of at LEAST 60,000 or larger
    -Have fire academy (so I can get emt certified)
    -seasonal weather, (ideally would like to have all 4 seasons)


    The reason I asked which department is considered to have the best beneift package is b/c I went to Raleigh, NC earlier this year, only to find out that you have to work 30 years before you get full benefits. Now that may be fine and dandy for some but i got to thinking, "why would I want to move somwhere where I have to work 10 years longer to get benefits when I can stay in my home state and receive the same benefits?" I'm currently on a volunteer department and I was talking to a neighboring department and we got to discussing our benefit package. I was blown away with their retirement package. AFter they put in 20 years, they currently receive $1900 each month before tax for rest of the their life and it goes up every year, so it adjusts accordingly. The one big catch is you have to do all 20 years or you get NOTHING. Now for those who have settled in their house and plan to do it barring accidents, that's an awesome plan. So this is what got me to thinking about full time departments. Which ones meet my criteria b/c I'm sure some departments are great but like Raleigh, the idea of having to put in 30 years before getting full retirement kinda takes the wind out of my sail, especially knowing I can stay in my home state and do only 20.

    so for all the firefighters on here, can I get some input? Sure it'd be nice to have all of my wants but I'm realistic to realize that it may not exist. I'm wondering if Denver might have this or perhaps Boston?

    If this has all been covered before, I apologize.

  2. #2
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    Default ?

    This may not be an answer, but I think your goals are set a little high. I have my FFI / II and EMT-P and all the extras and I am testing everywhere and will take the first job that I can get. It isnt like it has been in the past, these jobs are harder to come by each day. I think you should get all your education in and test everywhere. If you want to leave one on place for the next that is fine, but beggers cant be choosers. I am from MI and there are very few FDS that have the 20 and out rule and we will see that option going away very shortly with the diming economy and harder times. Also are you from MI (i.e.4 seasons) because 90% of the FDS wont even let you test until you have FF and EMT-P. Hope that helped..

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    montgomery county, MD has a 20 year plan

    Fairfax, VA has a 25

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    Montgomery County is 50% after 20 years. No minimum age.

    Is there any department that has %70+ at 20 years? Never heard of that.
    Last edited by Firemedic515; 08-06-2008 at 10:19 AM.

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    The military is the only place I know of that has a 20-year retirement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by porkrinds13 View Post
    the idea of having to put in 30 years before getting full retirement kinda takes the wind out of my sail, especially knowing I can stay in my home state and do only 20.

    Yea, god forbid you actually have to work 30 years to get a retirement package better than most in the private sector.


    Your whole post has one huge assumption, that you can actually get the job. Fire jobs are tough to get, can't really imagine it getting easier in this slumping economy.

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    Many departments in CA have 3% @ 50. That equates to 60% at 20 years. But you must be at least 50 before you start collecting.
    Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."

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    San Antonio - 80% after 21 years.

    My advice is don't be too picky...

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    Quote Originally Posted by lukequintin View Post
    San Antonio - 80% after 21 years.

    My advice is don't be too picky...
    That's impressive. Is there a minimum age to collect?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firemedic515 View Post
    That's impressive. Is there a minimum age to collect?
    Not sure about that. If you retire after 31 years, you get 87.5%.

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    Default Phoenix

    PFD has some great Bennies:
    BENEFITS
    Health/dental insurance –
    Life insurance -
    Longevity Pay
    15 vacation days/year
    15 sick leave days/year
    11 Paid holidays/year
    Tuition Reimbursement Program – Take a class get reimbursed for tuition and fees
    Uniform Allowance – We have our uniform store and you are given $625 annually to spend.

    Deferred compensation – City contributes 6% of your salary per year
    Drop Program -

    Public Safety Retirement – Retire at 20 years get 50% Retire at 32 years get 80% of your annual salary every year for the rest of your life.

    OTHER GREAT BENEFITS
    Gyms at every fire station
    Annual Physical
    Schedule – 24 hours on 48 hours off.
    Be part of the Phoenix Firefighters Union Local 493
    Shift trades. Work for someone on a different shift then you can bank that time so you have a free shift off in the future.
    Overtime Opportunities – Every day there are overtime opportunities.
    Friends Helping Friends
    Health Center
    Nutritionist

    Plus the Drop program is freaking unreal.. collect retirement /and/ pay five years before you get out.. pay off all yer debt and live like a king when you actually do get out.
    Not to mention you get to work for one of the best Fire Departments in the world.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peterbound View Post
    PFD has some great Bennies:
    BENEFITS
    Health/dental insurance –
    Life insurance -
    Longevity Pay
    15 vacation days/year
    15 sick leave days/year
    11 Paid holidays/year
    Tuition Reimbursement Program – Take a class get reimbursed for tuition and fees
    Uniform Allowance – We have our uniform store and you are given $625 annually to spend.

    Deferred compensation – City contributes 6% of your salary per year
    Drop Program -

    Public Safety Retirement – Retire at 20 years get 50% Retire at 32 years get 80% of your annual salary every year for the rest of your life.

    OTHER GREAT BENEFITS
    Gyms at every fire station
    Annual Physical
    Schedule – 24 hours on 48 hours off.
    Be part of the Phoenix Firefighters Union Local 493
    Shift trades. Work for someone on a different shift then you can bank that time so you have a free shift off in the future.
    Overtime Opportunities – Every day there are overtime opportunities.
    Friends Helping Friends
    Health Center
    Nutritionist

    Plus the Drop program is freaking unreal.. collect retirement /and/ pay five years before you get out.. pay off all yer debt and live like a king when you actually do get out.
    Not to mention you get to work for one of the best Fire Departments in the world.

    Pretty nice package. Almost identical to what we have in Montgomery County, MD Local 1664.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lukequintin View Post
    Not sure about that. If you retire after 31 years, you get 87.5%.
    That might be the highest % I've heard about. I'm guessing most people get out a 21 and take 80% (depending on the minimum age). You'd have to work 10 more years to get 7.5% more.

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    Default 20 and out

    Not sure what your hometown is since I didn't see where you mention it, but, a lot of Kentucky departments have 20 year pension systems. Your retirement salary is based on 50% of your highest 3 years average pay, that is 2.5%/year with full retirement benefits after 20. So you can retire after 20 years with no minimum age...this is based on dept's that use KRS (KY retirement system). So, if you want to work 25 years, you would draw 62.5% of your high three years based on the 2.5%/year. Health insurance is funded by this system too after 20 years. I can only speak for the department I work for and those surrounding me in the metro Louisville area, but you get 2-4 weeks vacation/year avg, health insurance benefits/costs vary from dept. to dept, and you can do shift trades. Louisville has a population around 700K, Lexington around 280K, Owensboro around 55K.

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    Ours in Arkansas with LOPFI is 85% of final avg. pay... Time is 28 years and retire at any age (Have to wait until 55 to collect or you take big hit on your percent figure) or 20 years and age 55... Or age 60 and 5 years... Also have a 5 year drop...

    Final avg. pay is figure by the highest 3 years of pay within 10 year period then use the following 2.7% X FAP X Years of Paid Service...


    Might give Texas a try next... I know one B/C on Texas side of texarkana he said he has 32 plus years in and he's around 110% of pay... Fire dept is his life and he'll be there until run him off...

    Jason

  16. #16
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    Boy, your post sure sounds selfish. It's all about me. I want...........



    Do me a favor and don't apply at my department.
    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by porkrinds13 View Post
    I'm looking for 3 very specific things before I consider a department.

    -20 year retirement plan
    -Population of at LEAST 60,000 or larger
    -Have fire academy (so I can get emt certified)
    -seasonal weather, (ideally would like to have all 4 seasons)

    so for all the firefighters on here, can I get some input? Sure it'd be nice to have all of my wants but I'm realistic to realize that it may not exist.
    I think it's good you're doing your research. I understand sometime you must take the first job you're offered, but often times that leads to a FF either 1) leaving the first department for a better one once they know what they want or 2) staying at their first department and being miserable. No one on this board can tell me that either of those don't happen because I work for that "better" department that has a lot of new hires coming from the first department that offered them a job.

    I can speak for the only 2 places I worked for, San Angelo and Fort Worth, TX.

    SAFD - full academy: fire, all EMT up to paramedic. No college or cert requirements. Texas Chapter 143 civil service (ie. job security, standard promotional system), IAFF Local 886. Retirement after 20 years of service and reaching age of 49yo. DROP program. Vested after 10 years. A good private pension. City buys back accrued leave time upon retirement/resignation. Deferred comp and cafeteria plan offered through the city. City population ~100,000, 8 stations, 150 FFs. 24 hour shifts.
    Drawbacks: Ambulance. Pay somewhat lower than other cities of comparable size in the region (Abilene, Midland, Odessa). No 4 seasons - in most of Texas it's usually cold/cool or warm/hot. And even that varies some. 3 man minimum crews.

    FWFD - full academy: fire, EMT only. No college or cert requirements. Texas Chapter 143 civil service, IAFF Local 440. Retirement when your age and years of service = 80 (eg. 30 years on at 50 years old). DROP program. Good private pension. City buys back accrued leave time upon retirement/resignation. Deferred comp and cafeteria plan offered through the city. It's the 17th largest city in the US, with about 700,000 people. No one realizes this because we're shadowed by Dallas. 40 stations with more being planned, 4 man crews, 900+ FFs.

    That's just a summary. Check out the respective cities' websites for more info.

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    Well I have been testing, volunteering, going to school, and trying to get on a department for over a year now and I can honestly say I haven't once asked the question you did. Maybe it's because I live in CA and most departments have good bennies anyway but still...you're worried about retiring after 20? You're in for a shell shock once you actually start pursuing this career!

    Your post sounds like you think Firefighting is an easy way towards early retirement. That mindset will get you nowhere in attaining a badge. Start with the basics. Again "Beggars can't be choosers."

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    Quote Originally Posted by BCLepore View Post
    Boy, your post sure sounds selfish. It's all about me. I want...........



    Do me a favor and don't apply at my department.

    Are you kidding me? This guys is just trying to do some research.. i didn't get a selfish vibe from this question at all. The more informed you are the better in my opinion. And he should make informed decisions on what career he wants to pursue.. jeez
    I'm sure this will prompt George to run to your defense, but this is a strange reply from you. You are usually the more level headed of the advertisers on here. You can't get mad at a guy for trying to stay informed.

  20. #20
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    As a New York City Firefighter, you will receive an incredible benefits package and a competitive salary that more than doubles in your first five years on the job.

    But act now, the chance to join only comes every four years.

    Benefits include:

    Lifelong medical coverage for you and your family;
    Growth opportunities;
    Flexible work schedules;
    Up to four weeks paid vacation per year;
    Pension after 20 years of service.

    STARTING SALARY
    $36,400
    $4,090
    $40,490

    AFTER 1 YEAR
    $38,194
    $6,153
    $44,347

    AFTER 2 YEARS
    $41,600
    $6,702
    $48,302

    AFTER 3 YEARS
    $45,760
    $7,372
    $53,132

    AFTER 4 YEARS
    $50,440
    $8,126
    $58,566

    AFTER 5 YEARS
    $68,475
    $18,043
    $86,518

    Promotion Opportunities:
    Lieutenant
    $84,421
    $35,250
    $119,671

    Captain
    $96,903
    $43,270
    $140,173

    Battalion Chief
    $126,178
    $19,467
    $145,645

    * Fringe benefits reflect overtime, holiday pay and other differentials
    ALL GAVE SOME BUT SOME GAVE ALL
    NEVER FORGET 9-11-01
    343
    CAPT. Frank Callahan Ladder 35 *
    LT. John Ginley Engine 40
    FF. Bruce Gary Engine 40
    FF. Jimmy Giberson Ladder 35
    FF. Michael Otten Ladder 35 *
    FF. Steve Mercado Engine 40 *
    FF. Kevin Bracken Engine 40 *
    FF. Vincent Morello Ladder 35
    FF. Michael Roberts Ladder 35 *
    FF. Michael Lynch Engine 40
    FF. Michael Dauria Engine 40

    Charleston 9
    "If my job was easy a cop would be doing it."
    *******************CLICK HERE*****************

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    Benefits and Salary for EMS Members

    EMT Salary Information*

    EMT Salary:
    Base

    Starting Salary
    $27,295

    After 1 Year
    $28,840

    After 2 Years
    $29,355

    After 3 Years
    $33,990

    After 5 Years
    $39,179

    Paramedic Salary:
    Base

    Starting Salary
    $37,346

    After 1 Year
    $41,139

    After 2 Years
    $42,818

    After 3 Years
    $47,233

    After 5 Years
    $50,501

    Benefits for FDNY EMS members include:

    Choice of a wide variety of health plans with family and domestic partner coverage Three weeks vacation to start (increases to five weeks after eight years);* Excellent pension benefits which include five year pension vesting and full pension benefits after 25 years of service, regardless of age; Shift differential, meal money and overtime;* Excellent promotional opportunities;
    Deferred compensation, 401K and flexible spending plans; Veterans’ credits for those who meet the requirements. *Base salary does not reflect overtime, shift differential, meal money and benefits. Salary and vacation provisions are subject to change pursuant to collective bargaining settlements.
    ALL GAVE SOME BUT SOME GAVE ALL
    NEVER FORGET 9-11-01
    343
    CAPT. Frank Callahan Ladder 35 *
    LT. John Ginley Engine 40
    FF. Bruce Gary Engine 40
    FF. Jimmy Giberson Ladder 35
    FF. Michael Otten Ladder 35 *
    FF. Steve Mercado Engine 40 *
    FF. Kevin Bracken Engine 40 *
    FF. Vincent Morello Ladder 35
    FF. Michael Roberts Ladder 35 *
    FF. Michael Lynch Engine 40
    FF. Michael Dauria Engine 40

    Charleston 9
    "If my job was easy a cop would be doing it."
    *******************CLICK HERE*****************

  22. #22
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    Peter,
    I wouldn't expect you to get it. You usually don't


    His post is all about what HE wants. What about important things like:
    - A department with a good reputation
    - Good morale
    - Community involvement
    - A department that is valued by its community
    - Job satisfaction
    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com

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    Oh i get it..
    this thread just gives you another excuse to ride down on your moral high horse and tell everyone here how much more you love the fire service and that they should only pick this job for selfless reason.
    However, not everyone is some freaking fire yahoo that looks at it that way.. to some people it is a job first and a lifestyle second, and with that mind set it is good to find out where they would be best employed. Not everyone here is willing to suffer through some long drawn out volunteer process, or be hired by a department that doesn't reward them for working hard. And if a department has a good reputation; or any of the above mentioned items it usually because they treat their people well. It's not a statistical anomaly that companies (not just fire departments) are more productive when they treat their employees well and give them good bennies. A happy worker is a good worker, love of the 'job' can only go so far to make a good fire fighter, they have to be able to take care of their family while they are on the job and after they retire. I would think less of an applicant if they didn't ask about the system they are attempting to get on with. They need to be as informed about the department they are applying for as possible
    I'm sure if you were coaching someone you would tell them to find out as much about the station they are applying for as they could. I see this as an attempt for this individual to do just that, he is trying to find out the most he can about the departments he would want to apply for.. He has a goal and a set of criteria that he wants those departments to meet.. he seems well organized and his plan seems well thought out.
    And name me a department that has a good reputation but treats their people like crap, i don't think they exist.. so i sure any department that would fit the criteria you stated above would have great bennies.. they are one in the same

  24. #24
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    Peter,
    First of all, I want to preface by saying that you don’t get it. You are NOT in the fire service. You are giving opinions about something of which you are not an expert.

    You are in Iraq. I have a lot of respect for what you and the other men and women are doing. If I were at a different point in my life, I would be there too.
    You are an expert on the military and what is going on there. I can have an opinion, but your’s is much more credible. You are living it every day.

    When you do get hired on the fire department, complete the academy and probation, you too can have an opinion. I guarantee it will be much better received. As you progress in your career and become a senior firefighter, you gain more credibility. Again, your opinions will probably change. When you promote and become involved in entry level hiring, you become more credible.

    You wrote
    ”However, not everyone is some freaking fire yahoo that looks at it that way.. to some people it is a job first and a lifestyle second”

    I guess you’re right. I am some freaking fire yahoo that has a commitment to the fire service. I see it as code and honor. I thought that with your military background, you of all people would understand this………

    It’s kind of ironic, that I see people in the military as people who truly have a sense of patriotism and commitment to their country. We in the fire service consider ourselves to be a “paramilitary organization.”

    Just last week my crew and I stood at attention as the body of a fallen soldier killed in Afghanistan was removed from the charter jet. Watching the scene unfold as his family saw his coffin, draped in an American flag, for the first time is something I will never forget.

    To my crew and I, this epitomizes the definition of honor and commitment. Do you not agree?

    You wrote:
    ”Not everyone here is willing to suffer through some long drawn out volunteer process, or be hired by a department that doesn't reward them for working hard. “

    We agree on this. If you remember, I am the one who writes books and gives seminars trying to explain what the fire department is all about. My goal is to teach people what it takes to get hired. More importantly, what it takes to complete probation and the academy. Lastly but most importantly, what it takes to get along in the fire station.

    And if a department has a good reputation; or any of the above mentioned items it usually because they treat their people well.

    Not even close to the truth (see below)
    You wrote:
    It's not a statistical anomaly that companies (not just fire departments) are more productive when they treat their employees well and give them good bennies.

    We are different that working for IBM. While I agree with your philosophy, we are public employees. I do, however, treat my 12 employees in my private business this way. For the record, my business is unrelated to the fire service….

    A happy worker is a good worker, love of the 'job' can only go so far to make a good fire fighter, they have to be able to take care of their family while they are on the job and after they retire.

    While I agree with you, we differ in the definition of “take care of your family.

    You wrote:
    “I'm sure if you were coaching someone you would tell them to find out as much about the station they are applying for as they could. I see this as an attempt for this individual to do just that, he is trying to find out the most he can about the departments he would want to apply for.. He has a goal and a set of criteria that he wants those departments to meet.. he seems well organized and his plan seems well thought out.”

    Again, we absolutely agree. I expect a candidate to research the department. The rub I had with the original poster was the, “It’s all about me and what I want” attitude in his post.

    You wrote:
    ”And name me a department that has a good reputation but treats their people like crap, i don't think they exist.. so i sure any department that would fit the criteria you stated above would have great bennies.. they are one in the same”

    Again, you are misinformed. I will not point out any specific departments here as it’s not my place to do so. However, I guarantee you that there are hundreds of departments that have a very good reputation but do not provide good pay and/or benefits.

    I will tell you that MY department qualified as one of these – until recently. Our union does a comparison with ten departments in our region. WE WERE LAST ON THE LIST OF COMPARABLE CITIES!

    As a Battalion Chief, I was paid roughly 30K less than my peers in the other departments.

    My department has a FANTASTIC reputation in the state of California. We are aggressive, well trained, have awesome equipment and the morale is great in the fire station. The workforce, however, is very cranky toward the city as they felt (to use your words) “treated like crap.”

    Yes, a couple of our members left and went to other departments (3 out of roughly a workforce of 475).

    Fortunately, our union just got us a new contract. For my rank it was an immediate 15% raise, plus bilingual incentive and a couple of other negotiated benefits. The future raises through 2012 will put our members in the middle of the survey cities.

    So, here is an example of where our members felt they were not valued. Our people never wavered on their commitment to the community.

    Stay safe and keep your head down. Thanks for making our world safer......
    Last edited by BCLepore; 08-09-2008 at 02:21 PM.
    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com

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    I never really looked at the benifits of the job when i went a testing. I just wanted to fullfill the little boy's dream of ridding around in big red trucks. I am happy to be paid and able to support my family.

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