Firefighters are men and women who work to protect citizens and property from fire damage, however it occurs. Firefighter jobs include high levels of risk but are necessary for public safety. Although conditions and compensation vary from one firefighting department to another, all firefighters enjoy certain benefits in addition to their standard compensation.
Wages and Benefits
Firefighters earn wages and benefits that are competitive with other jobs that don't require a specialised education. Fire brigades recruit young candidates and train them, often providing pay during training periods. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, firefighters earn a minimum base salary of about £31,200 per year, as of May 2008, and can make more than £65,000 per year by advancing to a fire captain position. Fire brigades also provide employee benefits including health insurance, life and disability insurance, paid leave and membership in local credit unions.
The majority of firefighters enjoy a relatively high level of job stability. Firefighting is less subject to automation and outsourcing than other industries, resulting in job growth that tends to exceed national job growth averages, according to the BLS. Because they work for local governments and perform essential services, firefighters are less often subject to furloughs and layoffs than workers in other private and public sector jobs. Firefighters also often have access to overtime, or additional pay on top of a base salary at the individual worker's discretion.
Firefighters, especially those who work for local fire brigades, have recognisable positions that entitle them to participation in civic activities and, in some cases, a sense of civic pride. Firefighters who receive promotions or department honours are recognised publicly. Firefighters also participate in holiday celebrations, including parades and special events, both to safeguard public safety and to receive recognition for their ongoing efforts.
Early retirement is another benefit. Because of the job's physical demands, firefighters typically retire before old age. Half- and full-pay pensions give retired firefighters incomes during extended retirements. Retired firefighters can also move into administrative positions to keep working, or take positions as part-time volunteer firefighters in their communities to contribute to public safety in a more manageable capacity.