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fire departments and paramedics are underpaid. Also, career firemen and paramedics deserve the same benefits and respect given to volunteers. My personal experience working with both paid and volunteer agencies should give myself credibility to the readers. I am writing to professional firefighters, paramedics, and volunteer firefighters. I am also addressing the people in charge of creating the salary and benefits for firefighters. It is likely many professional firefighters will be able to relate to my experience.
This left me thinking: why can’t professional firefighters and paramedics make a reasonable wage? My high school requires students to complete thirty-two community service hours before graduation. a union head for New Orleans Firefighters says. but left me wondering about the quality of life for many emergency responders. and 600 television channels. such as the Hermantown Volunteer Fire Department in Minnesota are now paying their volunteers to respond to calls. new apparatus biyearly. Nicholas Felton Jr. I have spent two years as a volunteer firefighter. Others. Immediately after visiting the local fire department. and one year as an EMT working with professional firefighters and paramedics. At the same time. I am not alone.Why are Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Underpaid? Firefighters and paramedics are often looked at with respect and honor by the communities they serve. I had never thought volunteering could be so much fun. I thought it might be fun to look into a volunteer fire company. The fire hall receives almost a million dollars a year in funding that provides for an endowment. volunteer firefighters received excessive funding that could have paid for a full time staff in addition to expenditures. My time as a volunteer firefighter was a terrific learning experience. “We are in a crisis situation.. the initial requirement to serve my community quickly turned into an interest. I frequently saw professional firefighters and paramedics struggling to provide finically for their families. As a volunteer firefighter. I quickly piled up several hundred hours of community service responding to calls and training with the fire company.” referring to his staff’s needed increase in pay (Bohrer). evolved into a hobby. and almost reached an obsession. .
Attracting new firefighters.” They concluded that if the administration costs per volunteer are above $800. However. Minn. I shared the view of many residents in my area of the local volunteers. found a way to encourage participation. paid. many volunteer fire departments have increasing call volumes and border growing metropolitan areas. While Eveleth. or a balance between the two.In Hermantown. They are now paid $7 an hour on calls and $5 when training. giving up personal time any moment of the day or night to take care of others. I started to become frustrated with the affluence associated with a “volunteer” agency. For example. It was an example of selflessness I greatly admired.. Volunteer. Before I was a member at my fire company. Eveleth. the clubroom had an unlimited supply of draft import beer. after a year of service. Many of the volunteers argued for a form of compensation for the time they spent training and on calls. it was $500. One community decided to begin supplementing the department with hourly incentives. Most importantly. two researchers would disagree that it is the best economic method. firefighters said they spent as many as thirteen hours a week responding to calls for help and training. Minn. Jeffrey Brudney from the University of Georgia and William Duncombe from Syracuse University conducted “An Economic Evaluation of Paid. and Mixed Staffing Options for Public Service. They were dedicated heroes. “For the amount of hours a week we put in. Minn. and the flat panel televisions were custom built because the size they wanted could only be specially ordered. than it is more beneficial to start hiring paid staff. $500 isn’t much” (Hermantown Joins Trend of Paying its Volunteer Firefighters). One man had just received his check for the week. as well as retaining current volunteers is an increasing challenge. the . This is an important study for any town or municipality considering a transition to volunteer.
I enrolled in the New York State Emergency Medical Technician school. without custom built televisions. It eventually led to my resignation. only one member had obtained the medical certification. including my chief. The article by Becky Bohrer for the Associated Press showed how while retention rates were stable and hiring patterns had not dropped significantly. This is before taxes. While my fire hall did have this certification on paper. labor relations specialist for the state federation of the International Association of Firefighters says that turnover is low because benefits are good and “you have good public standing.24 (Bohrer)... Experiencing more advanced medical training than my fire hall typically provided only increased my disappointment with the fire company. Believing I could lead by example. Was it possible to make a living out of such a demanding job? The starting salary for a firefighter in the city of New Orleans is $8. Most firefighters. but the chance to work with highly skilled and passionate people outweighed any thought of compensation or difficult hours.they’re America’s heroes. and of course. I took a job with Rural Metro Ambulance as an EMT. I would be working closely with professional firefighters and paramedics.quality of care was not at the level of a paid agency. lacked sufficient training to effectively treat patients because they were not prepared to commit the time to training. union dues. The standard for professional firefighters is to be EMT certified. My pay was barely above minimum wage and the workday was either a twelve or twenty-four hour shift. It takes a New Orleans firefighter nine years to earn $10 an hour. social security. It never occurred to me that the pay and hours could be more important to someone trying to settle down with a family. the mayor’s office was reluctant to give an increase in pay and did not comment for the article.” . Tom Riddle.
but because he did not attend college directly out of high school. Beyond that. he can’t afford to go back now. but is now a burden on him and his family. He is married with three children. his youngest born this July. The firefighters and paramedics who dedicated their lives for little thanks. It was not uncommon for Dan and myself to walk in an emergency room with a patient. Dan McCarthy is a 26-year-old paramedic with Rural Metro Ambulance. There were opportunities every day to make a difference in someone’s life. and minimal pay were inspiring to work with. While my coworkers’ talents are useful in their current occupation. the financial struggle my coworkers went through moved me the most. but is at par with emergency room physicians. it is easy to lose sleep at night seeing them struggle to make a living for them and their family doing what they love. Why can’t professional firefighters and paramedics make a reasonable wage? To see volunteer firefighters bask in opulence that is not fully earned while professional firefighters and paramedics struggle to provide for their families was an eye opening experience. His talents and skills would make him a capable and excellent physician.Working as an EMT was the most fulfilling experience of my life. exceptional dangers. He works three jobs. rarely sees his children and wife. That was an uncommon and highly respected sign of approval that very few people ever earned. It became clear it was very challenging to make a living as a professional paramedic. The image of unlimited hours seemed appealing at the time. One of them was especially poignant. Some people say that volunteers are a cost saving way to protect the . He grew up without a father or a dedicated mother. and have an experienced physician tell his interns to listen and learn from everything Dan has to say. and got sucked into the vortex of emergency medicine.
Others argue that the paid firefighters currently working are overtaxed and not paid properly. It was clear the community valued volunteer firefighters for their work. but it appeared the professionals weren’t valued for their commitments.community with eager and willing participants. .
CO%3B2-9>. . University of Maryland Library System.do?risb= 21_T2337216766&format=GNBFI&sort=RELEVANCE&startDocNo=1&results UrlKey=29_T2337216778&cisb=22_T2337216777&treeMax=true&treeWidth=0 &csi=304481&docNo=14>. "Salary Survey Report for Job: Fire Fighter.com:80/us/lnacademic/results/docview/docview. 2204.474-481. Becky. 23 October 2007. and William D. . Brudney. 24 October 2007 <http://links. and Paramedic Stress: An Annotated Bibliography. New York: Greenwood Press.Bibliography Bohrer.com/research/US/Job=Fire_Fighter/Salary>.jstor. Duncombe. "An Economic Evaluation of Paid. Volunteer.. 22 October 2007. Jeffrey L. State and Regional: LexisNexis Academic. <http://www.. Miletich." Associated Press 25 May 2007. Ellen. JSTOR.0. Firefighter. "Hermantown Joins Trend of Paying its Volunteer Firefighters. "Firefighters Launch PR Campaign for Better Pay." The Associated Press 22 August 2006 LexisNexis Academic.5 (1992): 474.lexisnexis. I Love a Fire Fighter: What the Family Needs to Know. Kirschman.org/sici?sici=00333352%28199209%2F10%2952%3A5%3C47 4%3AAEEOPV%3E2. sec. New York: Guilford Press.payscale. 1990." PayScale." Public Administration Review 52. Police. John J. and Mixed Staffing Options for Public Services. University of Maryland Library System. 24 October 200 <http://www.
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