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What Kinds of Benefits Do Firefighters Get?

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Firefighter must place themselves in imminently dangerous situations on a regular basis. The career requires physical prowess, endurance and a working knowledge of medical procedures. This why a city or other municipality employing a firefighter isn't shy about extending an attractive benefits package to firefighters, including a competitive wage, health care coverage, retirement pay and fringe benefits. This encourages firefighters to seek a given position.

Salary and Fringe Benefits

Firefighting is usually a paid position in large cities and municipalities across the country. Starting salary for firefighters varies by state. According to the Seattle Fire Department's website, as of January 2011 the starting salary for firefighters is $62,856. By contrast, the starting salary for New York City firefighters is $39,370, but $3,704 in fringe benefits, including sick leave, paid vacation and holiday pay, adds to that total. The salary of New York City firefighters increases to $76,488 after five years of service.

Health Care Coverage

Health coverage is another benefit for the majority of firefighters across the country. Some cities, including New York, offer firefighters lifetime health care benefits, including for immediate family members and spouses. This helps firefighters deal with the lingering health effects of constantly entering conditions with poor air quality and the physical toll of being in harm's way on a daily basis. Coverage options range widely and can include medical benefits with prescription drug coverage and emergency medical care along with dental and vision coverage.

Special Programs and Life Insurance

Firefighters are municipal employees, making these professionals eligible for special programs available only to government workers. These benefits include tuition reimbursement programs, credit union membership and access to disability insurance. Tuition reimbursements allows firefighters to receive more in-depth training to secure promotions with the department. Firefighters also have the opportunity to purchase life insurance from state-certified providers. This coverage allows firefighters to leave a lump sum behind to family members at death to pay for funeral expenses and any bills that may remain.

Retirement Benefits

Retirement benefits for firefighters vary by state across the country. For example, firefighters in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, become eligible for retirement within 10 years of service while New York City firefighters become eligible for retirement at 20 years of service. Some states allow firefighters to select either a monthly benefit at retirement or a lump sum payment. Other states guarantee firefighters a state pension plan, meaning the state pays firefighters a retirement salary based on the average of career earnings.


Jonathan Lister has been a writer and content marketer since 2003. His latest book publication, "Bullet, a Demos City Novel" is forthcoming from J Taylor Publishing in June 2014. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Shippensburg University and a Master of Fine Arts in writing and poetics from Naropa University.

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