1. #1
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    Default 2 Questions about Fire Career

    I am wondering about 2 things in regard to a firefighting career:

    1. When you are on duty at the station, besides responding to calls what does your day entail? Are there training classes that you constantly keep up with and other job duties, or are you generally just doing cleaning and maintenance? Truthfully, do you get pretty bored around the firehouse if you spend most of your time doing cleaning and other chores?

    2. How much a part of your pay encompasses overtime pay? Is this a standard part of the pay package for most dept's? In a typical year how much extra do you generally make on top of your base pay in overtime comp? So, if your dept base pay is $36k, what would a typical FF take home that year?

    Thanks

    Ron

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    Many say the job is 90% bordum and 10% shere fright.

  3. #3
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    1. When you are on duty at the station, besides responding to calls what does your day entail? Are there training classes that you constantly keep up with and other job duties, or are you generally just doing cleaning and maintenance? Truthfully, do you get pretty bored around the firehouse if you spend most of your time doing cleaning and other chores?
    Some of the things my shift does on a daily basis other than respond to calls are: Cleaning the station (house work), Physical Training, firehouse.com , Street drills, other drills (Ladder pipe, RIT, Building construction), formal/informal critiques of past incidents, grocery shopping, preplans and walk throughs, district familiarization, driver training and last but not last, sleeping and eating.

    Bored? Sure, but you can always be learning/reviewing something new/old or helping someone else learn/review something new/old.


    2. How much a part of your pay encompasses overtime pay? Is this a standard part of the pay package for most dept's? In a typical year how much extra do you generally make on top of your base pay in overtime comp? So, if your dept base pay is $36k, what would a typical FF take home that year?
    None of my base pay has OT in it. See FLSA 7(k) exemption. A staring Firefighter in Fairfax County makes about $39,000 per year. Take home works out to about $950 - $1000 biweekly.
    Member IACOJ - Building crust and full of lust...

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    I work in a different system than most in these forums, being Federal civil service, but we do have an OT rate. Our hours are split up with regular pay, firefighter pay, and regular overtime. Our resulting pay is a combination of all of these. Anything over 80 hours is overtime in a pay period, and I work a regularly scheduled 120 hour schedule. Is this what you are talking about?
    IACOJ Military Division
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    Raven,

    Yes that is what I meant by OT pay. It was my understanding that most dept's had a system similar to that. That of course is only based on what I have heard periodically over the years from some FF's. Mostly it was guys in California that I have heard that from.

    I guess maybe it is not as common as I thought.

    Thanks to all for answers.

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    I don't know how common it is nationwide. The most obvious effect is that our annual reported pay is much lower than our actual take home pay. An entry level rookie making $25,000 base pay will really pull in about $39,000 gross annual pay. The reported base pay is misleading.

    Our pay system was originally set up for office type personnel and was mutated to cover firefighters. That is why it is so strange compared to other systems.
    IACOJ Military Division
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    Those are both really great questions and they tell me that you don't think that this job is all racing down Main Street lights and sirens every day and that you are looking to your future well being as well.

    1) Yes, it can get really, really boring at the fire station. Like the other post said, my fire department also requires 280 house of training per year and at least an hour of PT per shift. We also attend drills at the training site a couple times per month, go food shopping, cook, give tours, do chores, and test equipment (many of those jobs aren't all that exciting either). Like most other things you get out what you put in. You need to take initiative in doing things otherwise you WILL get bored. I've also noticed that boredom turns into hunger which turns into eating which turns into pounds.

    2) As for OT, most departments usually have a seniority system and when the OT becomes available depends on several factors such as how your department staffing is, if the department is allowed to give OT (at one point we were not allowed OT), or if you happen to be available when you are offered the OT (if we are not home or turn it down we go to the bottom of the OT list). Most of the people on my department get around 2 to 10 shifts per year (it fluctuates because of new hires and retirements). That roughly translates into about 1000 to 5000 bucks per year extra.

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    The road to promotion is paved at least some in part to initiative in all aspects of the job. It just so happens that pursuit of the collar brass is exactly what will keep you from being bored! Besides all the duty things people have described here, remember as part of a group you'll be training in various situations. While thinking of things to do during your 24, think of any and all training possibilities you've ever wondered about. Talk with your partners & superiors about developing new training.

    Some cities & towns feel that shift work means firefighters can be expected to work 48 hours each week as part of their normal cycle, and pay is 48 straight hours. We get Time & 1/2 after 53, and my town avoids it like the plague. I think morale tends to be up when short & long OT shifts are offered on a regular basis (coverage for people calling out sick or vacation). On the other hand, 48 hours in a couple days of working isn't bad when I think about 4 days each week available for other things.


    ~Kevin
    FF/Paramedic

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    Surfcolt,

    I am from Colorado also. Where in CO?

    I will concur with most of what people have said about the other duties when not running fires. Some departments and officers are worse than others when it comes to busy work. Where I work there are daily truck duties and house duties. Here is a typical day where I work:

    0700- Line-up

    0710 to 0745- Truck day (clean out the compartments and work all the equipment in those compartments for a given day.

    0745 to 0815 - Breakfast

    0800 to 1000 - Teleconference training (not everyday), hands-on training.

    til noon - Building inspections, hydrants, hands-on training, shopping, workout and whatever else might need to be done

    1200 to 1300 - Lunch

    1300 to 1700 - If no scheduled training or other commitments, relax. If you are a boot (new guy!) ensure truck/shower towels are cleaned and put away, general cleanup around the station, study.

    1700 to 1900 - Prepare and eat dinner, daily housework, daily cleaning of the apparatus and anything else the officer wants to get done.

    1900 to 2200 - Watch movies/tv and generally relax.

    2200 to 0600 - Sleep (if the dispatchers leave you alone)

    It goes without saying that you run calls as they come in. Some days are busier than others. It also depends on where you are stationed. Our Engine 1 runs on average 10+ calls per day. The unit I am on right now gets around 5 per day on average. I will tell you this, it is the best job on earth!! And I bet there is noone on this forum that would disagree.

    About the OT. We get a base pay that is for our regular 240 hours a month that we are scheduled. ANYTHING over that is paid at time-and-a-half. Any mandatory training is paid at OT rate. Any extra shifts are paid at OT rate. For example, I have worked 100, 90 and 73.5 hours of OT for the last 3 FLSA periods. That is money on top of my regular rate. And get this, during one of those periods I had 6 days off in a row! I am finishing up a 4 day break without working as I am writing this! I have been on 15 months (came on as a medic) and I will be making 52K base and if I continue to get the same amount of OT I should bring in between 60 and 70K this year. I can't imagine doing anything else. I am about to go with my wife, son and dog for a walk. All that time and still plenty of quality time with the family. If you are contemplating doing this for a career, I would suggest you go for it. If you have any questions for me feel free to email me at msulentic@yahoo.com and I will see if I can answer them for you.

    Later,

    Matt Sulentic
    If a fire is an emergency to the fire department, who do they call?

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    Excellent point about quality time spent, and if I can get away from the original question for minute...

    Fire service shifts tend to give us a lot of free time during the week, time that many have other jobs. I have two schools of thought on this in terms of providing for a family. I can work my own landscaping away from firehouse work and still have a couple days each week for a family; OR if my future wife & I decide I would stay home with kids and run the homefront 5 days a week, I'm not too proud to do my 48 hour FF/paramedic gig and let my spouse work as much as she wants in her chosen career.

    I look at the pay two-fold (and billfold!): The pay isn't bad for 48 hours done in a few days, leaving room for more income with OT or other work; The retirement system is great here in New Hampshire with 20 years in the fire service.


    ~Kevin
    FF/Paramedic

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