Firefighters deserve every penny

Jan. 12, 2012 - Buellton, California, U.S. - Firefighters rescue a San Juan Capistrano family from a car dangling over a bridge after a fiery crash on Highway 101 near Buellton. Fire crews use a US Navy SEEBEE heavy forklift to stabilize the BMW that was dangling over the side of the bridge. A mother and her two daughters were taken to the hospital. (Credit Image: © Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara News-Press/

Jan. 12, 2012 – Buellton, California, U.S. – Firefighters rescue a San Juan Capistrano family from a car dangling over a bridge after a fiery crash on Highway 101 near Buellton. Fire crews use a US Navy SEEBEE heavy forklift to stabilize the BMW that was dangling over the side of the bridge. A mother and her two daughters were taken to the hospital. (Credit Image: © Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara News-Press/

I just finished reading Margaret Wente’s article in The Globe and Mail about how firefighters are one of the “best-paid guys around” Lots of time off to go fishing, hunting or run your own business on the side and your union always wins.

I guess Marg has never heard of female firefighters but for the sake of argument I will assume she means both sexes when it comes to firefighting.

Fire 2

Maybe Ms. Wente never heard of Jonathan Sanchez, the firefighter from Grande Prairie who was fired because he publically aired internal concerns shared by his co-workers and himself. This is part of his termination letter.

“Please be advised that your employment with the County of Grande Prairie No.1 (“county”) is terminated effective immediately for just cause for reasons which include failing to be a loyal and faithful employee, breach of confidentiality, making unauthorized statements to others, not following the chain of command, not acting in the best interests of the county and for bringing, or having the potential of bringing, the reputation of the county into disrepute.”

Guess the union didn’t get its way.

Even more surprising with Margaret’s article is her own paper published a story less than a year ago about how a full-time firefighter was subjected to discipline because they volunteered in another community.

My point to this is the union doesn’t always get its way and firefighters are open to discipline, including termination, just like the rest of us.

As for what a firefighter earns, as far as I am concerned it’s not enough.

Fire 1

Sure, someone will say, “I will take their job”, but they wont put themselves through years of college or specialized training just in hopes of becoming a volunteer, as most of the smaller communities have as their firefighters.

Regardless of a firefighters shift, they still work 40 hours a week based on the length of their schedule, this also includes working Christmas, your child’s birthday and anniversaries. Nobody talks about wanting to go to the scene of a car crash and remove a steering wheel that is embedded in the drivers chest, or having to gather the limbs of a child that was just crushed by a tractor trailer.

Do you want to go down into a subway tunnel and clean up the aftermath of someone who just jumped in front of a train? Didn’t think so.

The next time you want to take a jab at what someone earns, describe the whole job description, not just the perks.


56 thoughts on “Firefighters deserve every penny

  1. Katy Freeman

    Powerful article Marven. Firefighters risk their lives every day. They are in my opinion, underpaid. How can you put a price on saving a childs life or anyone’s life for that matter.
    Give them a raise!!


      Ok sure, give them a raise, and close schools and hospitals! THERE is never enough money to do it all!

  2. Bryan

    I do not believe Firefighters are over paid I simply believe there are too many of them. If Firefighters’ calls were limited to fires, vehicle accidents and specialised rescue situations like hazmat or water rescue, municipalities would need less Firefighters. If you put one ambulance on the road for every fire truck you take of the road (fire trucks are more expensive and carry more people, ambulances are less expensive and carry less people) you save money and you maintain your response times. From a firefighter stand point you allow them to focus solely on rescue knowledge and training which is vitally important and quite a bit more complicated than “putting wet stuff on hot stuff”.

    • Rocketman

      Speaking as a firefighter (so you can take this as what it probably is, which is one sided), I would agree with you as long as it doesn’t affect overall staffing, otherwise it doesn’t make sense. The calls you listed, say the medicals, are responded with a crew of four not because it is needed, but because that’s how many we have. We can’t have two on an ambulance and think it is enough, then suddenly have to hire four because we just got a structure fire call. The numbers are there based on worse case scenarios, and we need the four per truck not because of Unions or government overspending, but because of safety demands by the industry, governments, courts, and other agencies that say we have to do things safer. And the overall numbers of paid firefighters have shrunk across the board… Stations that used to have three units and twelve firefighters now have one unit and four or five, what we used to do with twenty we now do with twelve, and so on.

      • Al

        You guys deserve to be one of the top paid professions without a doubt the physical, emotional and spiritual toll firefighting takes makes it one of the most demanding jobs out there. My hats off to you

    • Moose

      Ok I am assuming your not a fire fighter. In our company we have five trucks and use everyone of them. We have a pumper truck, 2 tankers, a rescue van, and a wildfire truck. It’s not just the big cities that need recognizing. It’s also the small municipal volunteer departments as well

    • Chris

      The Insurance underwriters, dictate, where, and how many fire trucks are required. Once a municipality, assumes a fire dept, they are obligated the # of trucks required by the insurance industry, to maintain rates. In an urban area ,where they are staffed , it only makes sense to respond to medicals, as there is nothing regulating ,how many paramedics are required. There is how ever been a much need increase in the last several years of paramedics. long over due!. That being said, by removing fire trucks will increase , insurance rates by the Hundreds of dollars, where as maintaining them, its a matter of a couple dollars to the home and business owners. As a tax payer in this over taxed country, I’d rather see my taxes increase $3 a year, as opposed to my insurance being jacked up $300-$600 dollars, because a municipality cant provide sufficient fire protection. Its not the “greedy” fire fighters ,as some assume, its the insurance industry,with their mandates, to save themselves money!

    • Katie

      I think your comment is rude. “Putting wet stuff on hot stuff”?? How about some of the other details.mentioned in the article like pulling steering wheels out of people’s chests and untying kids who have hung themselves. Paramedics are not superior just because they are cheaper.

    • My city thought as you do. They took a whole station and an Engine out of service. Within hours we had a structure fire. The structure was a multifamily (3+). Because that engine was out of service, a fire that could have been contained at $15,000 blossomed into $50,000 of damage. You cannot say there are too many firefighters, not when cities are suffering because those firefighters have been cut. Another example… The city cut 15 firefighters in any effort to balance the budget. Because of one felon bent on a bit of nighttime B&E, we had 2 Multifamily buildings go up. The *gentleman* set one on fire and the flames spread and jumped across a carport to the other building… One felon… 2 buildings. Let’s not talk about the old factories at are tinderboxes… Yeah, you see where I am going with this. And no, I am not any sort of first responder…

  3. Steve

    Well said!! Lets not forgot to mention the issues of PTSD and the traumas of the job and how it affects those who serve as well as their families.

  4. Rob

    It never ceases to amaze me how people who have no clue about what others go through are always willing to comment on on what they perceive others do.

  5. Kaz

    It is very true, fire fighters are not paid enough for what they do. I am a volunteer myself and trying to become career. In our municipality, we are not allowed to be career and volunteer at the same time even thought we have shortage of volunteer, I am sure like most municipalities both here in Canada and in the US. Understanding that these people, no matter career or volunteer, put their lives in danger EVERY SINGE DAY to help someone is something some people simply not capable off. They love what they do, they don’t do it for money (my-self including), BUT proper compensation for putting their lives on a line should be in place!

  6. bluenose

    Really. 30 years of service says different. PTSD. Perhaps fire departments should screen for people prone to this and eliminate them from the process. . This is becoming more epidemic everyday. Its a great way to quit work altogether and still get a paycheck. Nobody can prove that you don’t suffer from this. Its whiplash for emergency service providers. 10 minutes on the internet and you know all the “symptoms”.
    Margarete Wente is right. Every firefighter, officer in the front seat, either does business on the side, is a good golfer or takes care of the kids.
    8 weeks vacation, 8 sick days per year, work 1 day one week and 2 the next. Not to mention OT shifts when someone else has booked off sick. Yeah that’s rough.
    As for putting your life in danger every day. Surely you jest. That is an outright exaggeration. You have been watching to much Chicago Fire.
    You don’t deserve more money, but the volunteers who turn out deserve something more than money. They deserve the respect of all of you “underpaid” paid firefighters.

    • Seriously? For your information, Firefighters, Police, and
      Paramedics all go through an intense screening process as do the Military. Obviously you don’t suffer from PTSD so you wouldn’t understand it and thankfully nor do I.
      Contrary to what you might think, PTSD is real, just ask the hundreds of our Military Veterans and Emergency workers who try to live with this disorder on a daily basis. I think you are way out of line.
      Where were your 30 years of service? If you are a retired Firefighter then you are fortunate you don’t have to live with this or any other Firefighting related diseases. Oh yes, Cancer. Maybe they make that up as well.

      As far as Maragret Wente goes, she’s just a journalist, that doesn’t make her an expert.

  7. joe

    Collingwood Ont, fire dept has a sauna, helps clear the body of toxins…..Not kidding they have one. 100k a year…..

    • Dean

      I am assuming that you disagree with this concept. I can see why you may think so…but obviously you do not understand.

      Joe…next time one of those Collingwood FFs dies from one of the many cancers that we get from the job, you be sure to remind them how you feel about a tried and true method to try and prevent those cancers. Go tell their widow that their loved one got overpaid.

      I can smell a housefire in my hair for four days after the fact while I am in the shower. Just being exposed to the smoke is bad enough. This ain’t camp fire smoke. It is loaded with the toxins from all the plastics and synthetic items that now are used in making our houses. Now mulitply that by 100 for how bad the smoke is from a warehouse or chemical plant fire…or a car fire (which is VERY common)…even a train derailment.

      Yes…Wente is right. There are less fires. But I would go to 1000 fires of houses built in the 50’s instead of one now. And all it takes is ONE fire from the wrong place to get you ONE of the MANY cancers we are now getting. But that is the risk we accept. What risks do you face in your job? Is that commensurate with YOUR pay? I can say with no hesitation that MINE is not.

    • Jay

      I dare you to say that to the civilians rescued by Collingwood Firefighters yesterday, who selflessly entered into fire conditions so bad it destroyed their turnouts and MELTED helmets and the facepieces of theit SCBA.

      I bet 100k and a Sauna seems like a damn good deal to those folks.

    • Marty

      The studies show conclusively that 60% of firefighters will die of cancer. That is compared to 40% for the general population. Also, firefighters regularly get more aggressive types and die much younger from them. The cost to manage these workplace claims is staggering. Saunas are believed to help by flushing the surface and absorbed contaminants out after exposures that showers alone cannot. What better use of the tax money; thousands in prevention, or millions in treatment and death benefits?

  8. marshall

    Retired vol fireman ….hope the writer never needs the fire service and a truck rolls up with only one full time or vol as all levels of government cut back service….just leave the fire service alone.tough to get vol members now….

  9. Erik

    Well said Rocketman, Bryan is an idiot. Even if we have only ONE fire a year we don’t have enough manpower when we arrive, it is a safety issue, not a union issue. Did you cancel your fire insurance because you didn’t use it last year?! Medical calls are a bonus to the city taxpayers in our town.
    Joe, are you related to Bryan? Maybe read up on firefighter cancers, I’ve been to too many funerals. Saunas are exactly what we need, and VERY few cities are progressive enough to care that much about their employees. ( None in my Province)
    We don’t talk enough to the public about what we really see on this job and you should be thankful for it. How many dead children have YOU carried to an ambulance?

    • GG

      💔 As the wife of a firefighter & resident in a growing community, I appreciate the work Firefighters do and the sacrifices they make. It’s heart breaking to see people make statements about something they honestly do not understand. Someone please put a price tag on the value of having help at your door within minutes of an accident or fire in your home! It’s priceless! Not to mention the unglamorous lift assist and false alarm calls that keep you up all night one right after the other, while the people criticizing sleep peacefully at home. Thank you all for what you do. For not hitting snooze when you’re asked to roll out! For the countless times you’ve stayed over exhausted & fighting a fire seeing, smelling and mourning the loss of life while I sleep comfortably at home. John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. ~ God Bless you all! ~G

      • Steph K

        I fully agree with you. I will never forget the time my husband came last year from a large fire telling me how the family couldn’t get theirndog out of the burning house, so him and another went back into the house to find the dog. They were able to save it luckily and he survived, and they were standing in direct flames getting the dog out. The owners of the house turned out to be those who complained about overpaid cops and firefighters, and they turned up at the station with small gifts of gratitude saying they could never repay them enough for saving their dog. I don’t think people realize what they go through. From cutting down people whom have hung themselves, cleaning up other suicides, pulling dead children out of burning crashes, my husband has seen it all, and has to deal with it because he loves his job of saving lives and helping others. Its not all fun and games and sleeping. I can’t remember the last time my husband had a night of sleep while working.. He generally has 5-9 calls from 10pm – 6am, varying in length, and does NOT have a side business. However, what is wrong with a side business.. I work two jobs to ensure we have enough money to send our children through university. How is it any different? He spent thousands of dollars while working 3 jobs to become a firefighter, taking courses, writing tests, the list goes on. I get so frustrated with those who think they know what the job entails when they have not seen anything

  10. JIM

    You might be worth it, but what happens when average people making average incomes can no longer afford the high priced help. There are no options! Governments and civil servants get whatever they want. It was not always this way. Firefighters and first responders deserve to be paid well, no doubt but they should also SERVE the people paying the wages and respect them .

    • Dean

      Jim…I cannot type enough to explain to you the MANY MANY ways we do serve the public taxpayer. I challenge anyone..ANYONE…to come learn what we actually do. It never ceases to amaze me how many people have no actual clue what types of calls we respond to. But never mind the actual front line response, look at the softer side of what we do: building inspections, public fire safety education, disaster preparedness, training, blood pressure and cholesterol screening, etc., etc. Then you get into the charities and fundraising….millions raised for burn treatment and muscular dystrophy, collecting jackets for those in need…and a pile of other smaller charities. And then you get into the stuff that doesn’t even get mentioned: collecting hazardous materials to make our communities safer, or something as simple as shoveling a senior’s walkway.

      Jim…it would blow your mind to see how we SERVE. You know why we serve? BECAUSE we respect them. That is why it stings a little when those we serve don’t respect us.

      • Bill McKee

        The last time I checked, the educational requirement of a probationary firefighter was grade 12 in Ontario. A one-year college course was an asset and most training is done after hiring.

        When we exaggerate our qualifications we sound stupid.

    • Jim.. Here we go again. Another reference to the “average income earner.” Do you know what is involved in becoming a firefighter? Do you realize the intense training they endure? The post secondary education they must have, the sacrifices they make? They are at higher risks, for cancer, heart disease, not to mention like many of our emergency service workers, they are also subjected to PTSD. Walk the walk before you talk the talk. Lets talk about respect Do you complain about the salary your Doctor makes? We also pay their salary. But in my opinion, FF’s like Doctors, Teachers, Police, Paramedics deserves the salary they earn. They’ve paid their dues in education and intense training. This is really about the “Have’s and the Have nots” And for the record, I haven’t met a first responder, who doesn’t respect the community they serve. Believe me when you have a child with a chronic illness like me, who requires emergency assistance you would be singing a different song. I hope you or Margret Went never needs the needs the service of Firefighter or emergency service worker. Because I can assure you, when you are in need, you will see how they serve you with the upmost respect.

    • Oh Jim, here we go again. Once again, this becomes an issue of the “have’s and the have not’s.” Why don’t you walk the walk, before you talk the talk and train to become a firefighter! You think it’s that easy?

      Firefighters put their lives on the line, make sacrifices and endure continuous vigorous training after they’ve completed college. Firefighters are also at higher risk for cancer and heart disease. Like all emergency service workers, they are also subjected to PTSD. Would you complain about the salary your Doctor makes? For the record, we pay his/her salary as well. What about the nurse, police officer, paramedic, teacher. We pay their salary as well. We need them all, and they earn and deserve the salaries they make. Keep in mind all the careers I have mentioned, have completed some form of post secondary education and or many years of university and other training. Perhaps you need to change your profession? Trust me as a mother of an adult child, with a permanent life threatening illness, you couldn’t pay them enough! Where I live, it’s the Firefighters who happened to respond to my son, before the paramedics, and saved his life. Let’s hope you or Margret Went never ever require the service of a Firefighter or any other emergency worker. But maybe only then, you will realize how they DO SERVE and RESPECT the people in their community.

      Maybe it’s time for a career change Jim.
      Perhaps a coach for a hockey team? I heard the Leafs got one for $50 million. Funny I don’t hear the fans complain about the cost of tickets…..


    • Terry

      Jim if we are going to talk about averages… it costs the average homeowner less than $1.00 per day for fire coverage for a full time department. How much was your Tim Hortons today? Less than a dollar a day to keep you, your family, your friends, and the public safe, and to be there almost always first when you’re having your worst day. That includes wages, apparatus, and equipment to help keep first responders safe. (Yes including the detoxifying effects of a sauna if a department is lucky enough to convince their councils about the health benefits of having one) Also I know Firefighter Sanchez personally who was let go by the County of Grande Prairie. He was the president of the Firefighters Association and presented numerous times to his superiors the memberships concerns about safety, and lack of equipment testing for the Firefighter’s safety. It’s not a matter of getting our way… It’s a matter of having EVERYONE safe including firefighters and first responders. Everyone deserves to go home at the end of the day.

  11. Dave

    JOE & JIM, you must be talking about SOME fulltime/career firefighters…if you want to move to South Stormont, make $13/hour when pager goes off, train approximately 160 hours per year, respond to ALL calls for assistance at ANY time of day or night and use your own vehicle to haul dirty hose/equipment, I’ll gladly await your applications! Talking heads just don’t get it!

  12. Colin

    42 hours a week. And, for most, straight time for working holidays. Unfortunately, even our defenders in the press don’t have the facts.

  13. As a paid-on-call (read: volunteer paid hourly) I do over 500 hours a year in my department, and more outside the department on my own time and dollar and at least half of that TRAINING (in addition to my regular jobs). People have no idea the training demands that now exist. Volunteer, paid-on-call, career, same standard, same expectations of performance. Just the willingness to expose oneself, not only to the hazards of calls but of training is getting beyond what most people are willing to do and the volunteer pool is shrinking. I’ve incurred back, leg, neck and shoulder injuries that have accumulated over time at calls and in training. I’ve been to incredibly toxic scenes and exposed to stuff that will probably kill me in the end. My joints, muscles, tendons and organs are being prematurely aged and outright damaged. I am not unique in this. The 30 year volunteer has turned into the 3 to 5 year volunteer because the demands are so high. People come in take 1 to 3 years to become semi-useful and then are gone. Those who want fewer firefighters are getting their wish as the attrition is horrendous these days and its only going to get worse as fewer of the next generation want to take up the job. And as fewer take up the job those who remain are at risk with a younger, less experienced workgroup, with fewer longer serving experienced officers. Add that to faster progressing fire behaviour and hostile fire events, the risks have tripled. The situation isn’t pretty and its not being reported properly.

  14. D

    As an electrician making over $100k/year I totally support a pay raise for fire fighters. I understand that I get paid by private corporations but my job is less important and far less dangerous than that of these heroes willing to put their lives on the line for us ungrateful folk.

  15. Troy

    Lots of typical fear mongering again. Funding cannot keep up. Risk is no longer the same. Volunteer dept. Are completely different than large metro depths. They truly have trouble with equip., manpower, and resources at actual fires very difficult to come by. I have worked along side both and have seen the difference in both at fire calls, rescue calls, and many medical calls.

  16. Shawn

    I agree that fire services are essential but even Erik agrees that Paramedics are essential, stating that “how many dead children have you carried to an ambulance?” I have been a paramedic for 9 years and received many patients form firefighters but the reality is that they are handing patients to paramedics who are providing the life saving care to the patients! In the incident of a structural fire I agree many firefighters are required to control the fire but you need to look at how many structural fires occure in a community each year. When you speak to assisting on medical calls its just assisting, providing CPR and oxygen is a minimal skill set! Transportation to the local ER or specialty care centre and advanced medical care en route is what makes a difference in the out come. I am not here to disagree that firefighter are over paid and over worked but how many carers can work 24 hours straight, I know paramedics or police could not! Assisting on medical calls speaks to the short coming/ lack of responding vehicles of the local paramedic service and the realization that local paramedics are not available or as strategically placed as fire halls. Please consider Ms. Wente’s article based on call volume alone not looking at medical assist calls, again they are assist calls and would be better served by a second responding ambulance with trained paramedics specializing in health care not fire/rescue!

    • Shawn. I agree with you and appreciate what you do. Your profession is just as valuable as Firefighters, Nurses, Police Officers, Teachers and other civil servant employee’s. But with all due respect, having mutiple ambulances at a scene isn’t always feasible. Trust me I’ve seen it all too often. And in medical emergency, I’m thrilled to have Firefighters to be the first to respond with a difibulator and or oxygen, when an ambulance can’t. As you know seconds matter, and believe me when it’s your loved one, you appreciate the help as soon as possible. Firefighters and Paramedics are both a necessary to service their comminuty as first responders. And I appreciate it them all.

      But Margaret Wente is not a Firefighter she is not an expert. She is a journalist. Her job is to sell newspapers. She has never put out a structure fire, she’s never responded to a car accident and never had use the jaws of life. She is just a journalist.

      • Krista

        Your missing the point!! If the money was in the appropriate place there would be enough ambulances and ambulance bases throughout the community for paramedics to be available to arrive on scene first. In our community there are 3 fire halls covering the same geographical area as one ambulance station. If my house is on fire I want a firefighter but if my family member or myself need medical care I want MEDICAL care. A defib, CPR and oxygen will only get you so far. A paramedic has the knowledge and critical thinking skills to assess and treat appropriately with cardiac rhythm interpretation, respiratory support (ACP can intubate on scene) and medication.

      • Krista…Funny though how this article has been twisted. And that may be the case. I just know, it was Firefighters that saved my son’s life on two different occasions. And provided the care he needed until Paramedics arrived. I do understand Krista, But my son is still with me, and for that I’m grateful. You can’t argue that.

    • Terry

      I agree that a certain focus should be on getting more EMS units on the road and out of the emergency rooms waiting for patient transfer. What I don’t agree with you 100% is the fact that there are a LOT of medical calls that fire has been dispatched to for “Lift Assists” meaning the patient is too heavy for the arriving EMS crew to safely take down a flight of stairs, load onto a stretcher, or carry them through waist high snow. That’s not even including rescue calls where the patient has to first be removed from the danger BY FIREFIGHTERS and then brought to awaiting EMS. I have even personally arrived on a scene of a back country rescue and piggy back the paramedic out approximately 3 miles crossing 4 streams because she was not wearing proper PPE for the environment. (i.e. Winter gear), and then had to hike back and meet the remaining crew and help bring the patient out to the ambulance (All of which was in the middle of the night during a blizzard and -27 C). There is no possible way you can discount all medical calls from Fire Departments because they are needed to do the grunt work in a lot of situations.
      This article was not about EMS, or Police, or School Teachers.(All of which are vital and very honorable professions) This was a direct attack on Firefighters from an uneducated person who probably garners a large salary to write stories which have no direct correlation to saving lives.

      • Shawn

        Terry, firefighters will always be required and I am not saying they should not attend medical calls! I my region our fire service refuses to attend “lift assist” calls by their choice and I am not positive on the reason for this, they use to!

  17. Ryan

    Jim, firefighters are paid a fair wage for the horrors we deal with. Long hours, brutal conditions in all types of weather, PTSD, family issues and the list goes on. On average the majority of tax payers pay less than a dollar a day for full time municipal fire departments. Is that a lot to ask for safety, lower insurance costs and a state of mind? You say SERVE???? What is it you think we do when we cut a family out of a car, put our lives on the line for others in fires, provide medical help and so on? Really ? As a former soldier (who was paid terribly) and a firefighter for 15 years I am offended by your statement and that of that hack Wendt. People think we sit around and do nothing and well sometimes yes we have lots of down time to train and so on but when the stuff hits the fan who is there to do the work you or margrette I think not. If people only knew what horrors and things we deal with they would either cry or soil themselves. We do it cause no one else will.

  18. Kim

    It’s “funny” people never question the amount of money that is paid out to professional athletes; but some question whether a fireman gets paid to much? … Comments on government spending more than what “he” perceives as to much? Lets see… can you put a price on someone’s life? Can someone who walks into danger knowing they may not come back out ever be paid enough? Tell all the families that have lost a loved one trying to save a stranger that the government needs to cut back on staffing or that fireman get paid too much… go ahead, I dare you.

  19. Goose

    Clearly this writer has led a blessed life that has never required fire, rescue or police assistance. What’s next, slamming our military because they get to “travel and visit exotic places”?

  20. Always love to see people resort to insults when someone does not agree with their view. You should really be above that if you are indeed a firefighter. You all go on about your virtue, saving lives, fighting fires, putting the wet stuff on the red stuff and then the rhetoric come out when there is an opposing view. Do your job, try and make a face like a firefighter
    I can remember when we did our job, for little money, absolutely no recognition, and we had pride in our work. That was enough. Times they are a changing

  21. Dear Margret Went. For years I have read articles you have written on Firefighters, slamming and degrading their profession. It makes you wonder why the “HATE ON” for that profession? I udnerstand and respect the freedom of the press. But you need to do a ride along with them sometime not just for a day but live and breath their job for a week. Then come back with another story.

  22. Marg

    Why the “hate on” for fire fighters? In my opinion, their chosen profession is more beneficial to the masses than that of a person who ‘chases a chunk of rubber, with a stick, on a sheet of ice; or one who ‘smacks a ball with a metal pipe, then runs in a circle’; or one that ‘pushes his weight around, in an open field, kicking, or throwing a ball to his “co-worker”… get my drift? Who’s complaining about THEIR wages, AND downtime?!? We need to get our priorities straight. THAT’s just MY opinion…..

  23. Mike

    I don’t think firefighters are necessarily overpaid. But I do think there should be more money for nurses (any many other hard working public servants). Is it fair for firefighters and police to get large raises and staffing guarantees, when nurses and other occupations don’t have the same? There’s only so much money to go around, and when firefighters get larger raises every year than equally deserving staff who are paid from the same pot (public funds), that’s unfair.

    The answers are sadly, either stop giving firefighters large raises, or raise taxes. Otherwise, the nurses (who work just has hard and in as grueling conditions, if not harder), as well as other employees, suffer (no pay raises at all for 5 years!)

    • I am the wife of a firefighter and this may initially sound odd but… I am always grateful when my husband comes home after a quiet shift. Grateful because that means no one in the community in which we live and he serves has suffered a personal tragedy.
      I am also grateful for all of those who have never had to rely on the fire department for any kind of emergency, you have been truly blessed. I understand that until you have need of something you may not recognize its full value.
      Many thanks to all the women and men who are waiting and ready to provide a valued and skilled service to our
      communities when we need you.
      There are infinite places we can all point fingers at in our municipalities appropriation of funds and operating budgets. As tax payers we regard and value the services provided in our communities differently. Fire suppression and prevention are at the core of community safety requiring personal that is highly trained, dedicated, and skilled. A big responsibility that once used personally becomes invaluable.

  24. Lisa Swaren

    In my city, there are five Hospitals with Emergency Rooms. Compare that to our 26 Fire Stations (three of which are combined fire and EMS). Consequently, chances are, you are closer to a Fire Station than a Hospital. Count your lucky stars for fire fighters folks. There’s a good reason they are first responders. Thank them and support them when they ask for your help. They are loyal, sleep deprived, courageous and vigilant emancipators. Stand behind them (always). When your local IAFF requests funding, it’s really to support you and your dearest in your moment of greatest need.

  25. tiller

    So I’m not saying that firefighters don’t deserve the luxuries of the job or the pay that they get because they do see a lot. I also agree that there a lot of them. Maybe a little too many. I’m also thinking that this article is US based. I’m in Canada and the firefighters up here are rarely based with EMS. They get two BBQ’s and two sleep overs. 80% of their call volume are first responder calls to assist ems and statisically they are cancelled before they get there because if EMS is available, they get their first. The building practices in Canada have created safer environments to live in and fire prevention is A1.
    Do they see crappy things that regular people don’t? Of course they do. What about police? They do too! You imagine being a police officer and have to deal with a child or elder abuse case and have the restraint to not teach the assailant a lesson. Or the paramedic that so overwhelmed with all the calls they do in a day that at the end they want to curl up in a ball and cry and they can’t remember when they last ate(firefighters usually get breakfast, lunch and dinner).

    Do I think they deserve a your compassion, love and respect? Sure but don’t forget about the other members of emergency service!

    • Tiller, I have read through the comments. Unless I missed one, I have not seen one post that suggests that Paramedics or Police Officers are not effected by the tragedies they are exposed to. No one said they weren’t. I have not seen one post that suggests we need less Paramedics or Police Officers. In my opinion we need more! I have not seen one post that suggests Police Officers or Paramedics sit around all day and do nothing. It always amazes me how people are so quick to judge and criticize someone else’s profession, without actually working in the field themselves.

      Keep in mind, and I will repeat it again. Margeret Wente is a journalist. Her job is to sell newspapers. She has written an article based on someone else’s opinion and took a spin on it. But, at least Margaret Wente can go home at the end of the day, cook dinner in her own kitchen, have dinner with her family and can go to sleep in her own cozy bed at night knowing that she has well trained Emergency Personal standing by if she needs them.

  26. bobbobyboi

    BFRIGGS… Big difference is doctor,nurses, and paramedics actually work all of the shift…unlike?
    Wait, sleeping I guess counts as being well rested just Incase so they do work..

      • bobbobyboi

        I’d feel guilty getting paid 100k year, I wouldn’t be able to sleep with my issued fire department pajamas on… And the fired dept dosent hire “independent thinkers” so I’m out

  27. Gloria Macdonald

    I am discussed by the article in the Globe and Mail about all fire fighters being paid, Sorry to tell you in the rural areas in Nova Scotia the fire fighters do not get paid for their time whether it be as first responders or fire fighters. I know they can be called out at any time 24 hours a day and in all kinds of weather as volunteers. I have seen this happen a good many times over the last 20 plus years.

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