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New Report: Firefighter Salaries by State

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October 14, 2019
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New Report: Firefighter Salaries by State

When fire strikes, the first responders on the scene are often a specialized group of emergency personnel who put their lives on the line to keep flames from spreading—firefighters.

These courageous humans spend their days on danger’s doorstep, stopping fire in its tracks and often risking smoke exposure and burns so you don’t have to. Seems like a pretty important job, no?

We sure think so. Inspired by firefighters’ heroics, the safety experts at Frontpoint examined government data to report on career firefighters’ salaries in each state. Check out our map below to see how your state ranks.

Career vs. Volunteer Firefighter Ratios

Nationally, about 33% of active firefighters are career firefighters, 55% are volunteer, and 12% are paid per call. Our report focuses solely on career firefighters.

What is an Adjusted Salary? 

When housing costs soar, gas fills up budgets, and restaurants eat away your paycheck in some states more than others, comparing salaries gets a bit tricky. 

That’s why the Frontpoint team opted to include firefighters’ adjusted salaries—or salaries that factor in each state’s cost of living. The adjusted salary represents the “purchasing power” a firefighter would have based off the cost of living in each state.

Methodology

To calculate each state’s average career firefighter salary and adjusted salary, the Frontpoint team first gathered firefighter data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2018 Occupational Employment and Wages report

Then we looked at Regional Price Parities (RPPs)—which measure the differences in price levels across states and metropolitan areas—from the 2017 Bureau of Economic Analysis. From there, our analysts calculated the RPP adjusted salary by dividing the annual mean salary by the price parity for each state. 

Fast Firefighter Facts

  • Firefighters bring home the most money in California, where the annual mean income clocks in at $81,580. The lowest firefighter salaries come out of Mississippi, where the annual mean income is $30,370.
  • Ohio has the highest percentage of firefighters per capita with 3.546 of every 1,000 employed residents fighting fires for a living.
  • The annual mean career firefighter salary in the US is $53,240.
  • Seems life is pretty pricey in Hawaii. The Aloha State has the largest ranking gap between actual salary (8th place) and adjusted salary (19th place).
  • Pennsylvania has the lowest percentage of firefighters at 0.795 of every 1,000 getting paid to fight fires. About 90% of Pennsylvania fire departments are fully staffed by volunteers.

Complete List of Firefighter Salaries by State

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