If you are on Facebook and in the firelife, you've probably seen the post from a guy in Vegas that went on a rant about the taxes he pays and what he thinks firefighters do on shift. It was a poor choice of his to make that little rant public. He ticked off more than a few people.
However, my friend Leah turned it into a giant learning experience. Even though she figured he'll never read the message, she still sent him one. She also posted the message publicly on her page.
You can go directly to Leah's post on her Facebook page. She has over 11,000 shares now.
As soon as I read it I knew we needed to share it here. What this guy says is something we hear frequently. In fact, we have had levies that didn't pass because of campaigns similar to this. And numerous elected officials around the country have taken a lot of money away from the fire dept due to ignorance and not caring to actual find out facts.
Thank you, Leah, for allowing me to use your words. Hopefully, we can inform a few more taxpayers about how things work.
This guy has taken down the post and deleted his account or put it into total lockdown. No worries, I took screenshots and so did 100's of other people.
In case you can't read what he wrote with the picture it goes like this:
“What I want to know is why am I paying in my taxes for firefighters to go to the gym, go to the store shopping, pay for their food, pay for them to stand on the corner and collect money in boots. Pay for them to sleep, I don't get it. They already only work half the time and make $100,000 year. Can someone help me understand this.”
Your post about FF's came across my feed this afternoon and since I do not have the ability to comment on the post, I decided to send you a message instead.
I'd like to point out some untruths you stated in your post. I am all for personal opinion, and you certainly are entitled to one, but I feel it's important to have facts rather than basing your opinion on assumptions as well.
1) You are not paying them to go to the gym. It is a requirement of the job to be in good physical condition and most departments require that their union pays for the gym memberships, the FF's pay for it out of pocket, or the gym donates/waives the membership fees as a good deed. While they are on the clock when going to work out, they do not get to “clock out” when there. The gym must be within their designated district and if the tones drop, they respond. Laws require that all other jobs are given adequate time for breaks and meals, FF's are exempt from that because they are at the mercy of the public need.
2) FF's work 24-48 hour sets and require food while on duty. You would too during a 24-48 hour time period. You do not pay for their food, they pay for their own. They do go to the store while on duty, but again, they do not get to clock out or ignore a call when it comes in. Go ask the store manager how many times they have had to put the FF's cart in the walk in fridge for them because they have been called out in the middle of getting food.
3) You do not pay them to stand on a corner and collect money in a boot for their own personal funds. The well known Fill-The-Boot drives are successful fundraisers that many departments have joined forces with MDA to put on annually. The FF's that you see standing in the sun collecting donations are generally off duty, but in their turnouts.
4) You do not pay them to sleep. As stated before, most work 24-48 hour shifts. While the potential for sleep may be there, they still do not get to clock out during the “sleeping hours”. They are on call the entire shift, and sometimes that means that they don't get to sit down or eat or sleep. period. Their days and nights are at the mercy of the public, and Vegas is not a city that has much down time.
5) They do not work “half the time”. Most FF's work what is called a 56 hour workweek. their 48 hour sets overlap in a 7 day period, thus making the average hours worked per week 56. If you take the pay you threw out there of $100k a year (I should mention that the starting salary for LV FF's is much closer to $50k per year), they make roughly $34 per hour. I know a lot of people who make that and MORE per hour and don't do and/or see what FF's see every. single. day. And if you take the more accurate $50k a year, that takes it down to about $17 an hour. I made more than that at my first job out of college.
6) They absolutely do still go into burning buildings, especially if there is a possibility of victims. It is very rare to not go interior on an active fire.
You see, I am the wife of that FF you are ridiculing. I know what goes on on the other side of things. I am the one my husband comes home too after 48 hours filled with no sleep, cramming one sandwich into his mouth while going from call to call. I am the one who has to watch him suffer after losing a baby. After extricating his high school classmate from a vehicle accident. After Pulling two children from a burning building. After losing a brother and sister to a Vehicle vs pedestrian because some jerk couldn't slow down in a school zone.
I am the one who sees her husbands job always under scrutiny because people like you decide to blast them without knowing all of the facts and details. I am the one who knows that when she kisses her husband goodbye in the morning, that he is going to work with the mentality that he will risk his life to save yours, even after the things you have said about FF's.
A firefighter wife”
Thank you, Leah!
Want to help educate more people? Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever you have an account. It needs to get to those that aren't in the fire life so maybe they will stop listening to these jerks and their lies and start looking at facts.
And then you now have a high school kid earning more at McDonald’s than the 19 granite mountain hotshots made per hour! Let’s not forget the average hourly pay for them is $13./hr.
I don’t think the money should be the main focus, but it sure seems to be the one that catches the most attention. Firefighters make a lot of different incomes based on the cost of living in their area.
It’s the fact that so many taxpayers hear these same lies constantly and believe them.
Bob lashua says
Awesome factual response. Ignorance does not give people the right to make false accusations.
It’s amazing how people spout lies because they believe them to be fact 🙁 It’s unfortunate and why Leah felt the need to try and calmly write a letter out. So happy she did!
Magdalene Otto says
Absolutely awesome response Leah, hats off to you for keeping your cool. The public hasn’t got a clues what is involved in being a fire fighter, hauling all that equipment around, the weight of it, lifting the jaws to cut someone out of a vehicle, the hours spend cleaning up the mess someone else created. Hauling a fully charged hose line around into buildings as well as other equipment. I was going to respond to that clown directly unfortunately wasn’t able to do so at the time, as I was driving, you did an awesome job.
A retired Fire Chief in Alberta, Canada
I support FF’ers, but I support the truth even more. The statement about MDA is not “entirely” true for Las Vegas. I do not know the exact details, but Las Vegas on duty FF’ers do participate in fill the boot and use city fire trucks and I know for a fact that engines have left their corners to handle calls so I suspect that they were actually on duty.
And your information about salary is not transparent as you quote salary that only a small % of FF’ers actually receive. Additionally, the inaccurate #’s you provide do not reflect pension and benefits which is considerably greater than what FF’ers would find in the private sector for jobs that require the minimum qualifications needed to be considered for employment as a FF’er.
I stand by my statements about collecting money for the MDA. Yes, some may stop by while on duty, but they are not relieved of work and the emergency duties of the job while there. They still have to respond to calls, and they are still working. They are not being paid for the sole purpose of raising money for the MDA.
As for salaries, I never claimed that the salary I was referring too was based on their entire package. Many jobs (and I mean MANY) offer a package to their employees that no one talks about when referring to base salary. Yes, many departments pay into a private pension program, but they also don’t have access to social security, state disability or any of the other government based monies because of this. what about the private sector jobs that cover medical, dental, vision, contribute to 401k’s, give a car allowance, and have a bonus structure? Most people in those positions don’t include those items when they talk about “take home pay” either.
Lastly, not all departments have “the minimal requirements” you may be referring too. Firefighting is a lot like have a trade. Most go to an academy of some sort to earn a fire science degree, many more go to paramedic school to become a certified paramedic, and in order to promote upwards in most departments, one must have additional educational certificates. They also train regularly to keep skills fresh as well as attend classes off duty to make sure they have the proper knowledge to do their job swiftly and accurately (someone’s life is likely on the line, so swift and accurate is something you want, right?).
Do you have the same problem with the salary welders make? How about a plumber? An electrician? I doubt you do. 99% of the problem people have with what FF’s make is because 1) their salary is paid by the taxpayers so they feel entitled to decided how it should be spent, and 2) because they work for a government agency their salary is public knowledge.
again, I stand by my original statements.
PREACH IT SISTAH!!! Taxpayers want the best for their salaries, but aren’t willing to do the same for those being paid from their tax dollars. HYPOCRITES!
Brian Schrader says
As far as her comment about pension is concerned, I know too many brothers and sisters that worked 30+ to near 40 years doing the job they LIVED only to die months to a short number of years after they retired. Some never even get to collect one single retirement check or enjoy a life away from the stresses of the job. Constant pain from job related injuries, and the ever present threat of cancer leads to higher insurance rates. Theses are the things that aren’t considered when people complain about how much or little money we make or what kind of retirement we recieve. I’m a 15 year FF in Houston and we just got our pension reduced, our contribution increased, haven’t had a contract since 2014 and haven’t had a raise since 2011. We are one of the lowest paid departments in the country yet the 3rd largest city and one of the highest in response numbers per population. This is a fight on both sides, one against the city leaders and the other against lies perpetrated by uninformed citizens. We firefighters are always going to respond no matter what because we live the job and love our citizens even when they bash us like this guy did. Thank you Leah.
Brian Schrader says
🤦🏼♂️that should say LIVED not LOVED. 😕
Edited for you 😉
My FF was in heavy construction before becoming firefighter. Many in heavy construction don’t live long enough to enjoy their retirement or are in horrible pain as you described. That is common in many high stress, physical jobs unfortunately.
I think that’s why some citizens get it and others don’t 🙁
Brian Schrader says
I get it. The difference between heavy construction and firefighting is when you fell the pain you can stop and walk away to recover. In the midst of a fire you have no choice. I was in the Navy prior to boing the FD and have a service connected disability from an injury received in the gulf. I’ve lost most of the use and feeling in my right hand, but it didn’t stop me from joining this brotherhood. I yearn to serve the citizens that I live around so I figure out how to overcome that little setback. My biggest problem with the publics’ misconception is that we aren’t asking for a pot of gold when we retire, we only want something that we can survive on. If we were paid a livable wage equivalent to other departments of our size and scope, we might be able to invest our pay in a different retirement program. Unfortunately we are held down by city leaders who want us to work for minimum salarys.
Fred DeSantis says
Gil you can’t compare private sector jobs to firefighting. Firefighters absolutely deserve they’re pensions you for got to mention we don’t receive social security.
EVERYONE DESERVES THEIR PENSION! That’s not up for debate IMO.
However, if someone wants to debate pensions and healthcare and all of that then they should bring in numbers for other professions and compare apples to apples. The amount of training and the hiring process. The constant training. Having to pay for your own training. Find those jobs that are comparable and bring in all their numbers and the hours worked…then it’s a discussion lol Right?
I mentioned that they don’t have access to SSI. 😊