Letters to the Editor

Doctor, lawyer, teacher? No, EDH fireman

By January 28, 2011


As you help your child plan their future you should consider the occupation of an El Dorado Hills firefighter.

To become a firefighter requires EMT-1 or EMT-Paramedic certification (ARC 12 month, three days/week program, $1,200), 20 college semester units and 13.5 weeks of firefighting training — so approximately a 2 year commitment. The per employee total compensation for the EDH Fire Department is $208,000 ($13,728,057 wages and benefits/66 employees —www.edhfire.com/documents.

That’s nearly three times what a teacher with a master’s and 10 years of experience makes at Oak Ridge High School. To me, this compensation seems a little high knowing that the mean salary for an urgent care physician in California is $190,000. I also noticed that the per employee compensation for the Sacramento Department of City Attorneys is only $131,101.

Keep in mind, that this is a job people are willing to volunteer to do for free.

The budget for the El Dorado Hills Fire Department is derived from our property taxes as well as new home fees. As we have all seen, excessive employee compensation exploded in city, counties and water agencies, like EID, during the housing boom. Now that the revenue source is gone the taxpayers are saddled with these financial obligations. The El Dorado Hills Fire Department is governed by an elected, five member Board of Directors (www.edhfire.com/administration/bod/board-members). The board is now beginning compensation negotiations with the firefighters union and a search for a new fire chief.  The fire department website states that the new fire chief will receive “the California PERS safety retirement of 3 percent at 50, fully paid by the department, vesting in five years.” Wow!

Sherry Bunk
El Dorado Hills

Special to Village Life

Discussion | 4 comments

  • Sally SmithJanuary 29, 2011 - 10:39 pm

    This article is a bunch of nonsense. Firefighters at EDH fire are not making what this article states. And getting the job as a firefighter/paramedic is a whole lot harder than a little 2 year commitment. Try at the very least a 5 year commitment and then try getting hired on with a department. Getting hired on is very difficult and competitive. Before you go and write a article that is obviously not all true,auberge you should go a talk to a firefighter and see what it takes to get their job and maintain it. Oh and next time you call 911, make sure you thank them for getting you or your loved one to the hospital before they die. Why don't you go write an article about how much Sac Metro firefighters make, or maybe how much the Garbage man makes.

  • Paul RavelingMarch 20, 2011 - 11:13 pm

    I'm commenting as one who helped a nephew become a paramedic first, then he went on to become a paramedic-firefighter. He's now a fire captain in a Bay Area fire department. There's some degree of truth in both the original post and the reply, but for the most part I agree with the original letter. The income cited in the letter appears to be the fully burdened cost to the Fire Department; takehome pay is less but firefighters are in fact well compensated. On the other hand very few EDH firefighters live in EDH -- generally they're young and can't afford real estate here. However, firefighters and others in public safety have EXCELLENT retirement benefits. That includes retirement age -- 55 probably is the most common, some localities go as low as 50, and I've noticed a few as high as 60. My nephew has noted that EDH has the richest fire department in the state based on revenue per capita in the population. A factor in this is that its share of property tax revenue is higher than fire departments, the EDH FD collects the property tax share of a water district.

  • Sarah LandryMarch 22, 2011 - 2:17 pm

    Mrs Bunk, I'm not exactly sure why you're comparing a teacher, lawyer, and physician with a firefighter, seeing as each profession has a completely different set of responsibilities and inherent risks. That being said, you're not comparing apples to apples in your discussion of their compensation. You are comparing the "per employee compensation" (which includes wages, overtime, healthcare plan, and retirement) for all employees from Chief to firefighters to administrative assistants with the salary of teachers, lawyers, and doctors. If you were to review the firefighters' current contract (known as a memorandum of understanding) you'd see that a firefighter/paramedic with five years of experience earns an hourly wage of about $29/hour for a 56 hour work week. This equates to about $84K/year. While certainly a respectable income, it's not the $208K that you infer. To be fair, they can, and do, supplement this by working OT when a fellow firefighter calls in sick. They also have a generous healthcare and retirement plan. I notice that the El Dorado County of Education salary schedule states that a teacher with a masters degree and ten years of education makes $53,602 per academic year (183 days), which if my math is correct comes out to $36.61/hr. According to the City of Sacramento, the lawyer you referenced makes between $54 and $82 per hour. Is comparing the higher per hour wage of teachers and lawyers a fair comparison? Of course not, firefighters work far more hours than teachers, and would probably be about as successful in a high school classroom or courtroom as most teachers or lawyers would be at a structure fire or severe medical emergency. Mrs. Bunk, if your point is that teachers are underpaid, I agree with you wholeheartedly. If it is that firefighters are overpaid, then I respectfully disagree. As for your insinuation that all it takes is a little junior college and wham!, you're making the big bucks, think again. The pressures that these men and women face are far beyond what most of us will ever realize, and truthfully, few are able to do the job with the level of care and professionalism that EDH Fire provides. To borrow from the Marines (yes, I know they got it from the Bible), "Many are called, few are chosen." As for relying purely on volunteers, if you think that you're going to get a paramedic with the same level of training and experience as our full-time firefighters to donate enough time to come close to delivering the same level of service we currently enjoy, you're sadly mistaken. The EDH Fire Department actually does augment their staff with a group of dedicated volunteer firefighters. Asking the volunteers, most of whom hold regular jobs or go to school, to provide round-the-clock ALS service is unrealistic. These wonderful people are a stopgap measure that supplement the department response in times of critical need.

  • Medic29September 05, 2011 - 10:47 pm

    What about having a private ambulance provide the service for a lower cost?There's no reason for fire fighters to be running on all medical aids. A private company would be able to serve the community just as effectively without costing an arm and a leg. A paramedic is a paramedic, it doesn't take a fire fighter to run medical aids.



  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

  • Follow Us On Facebook

  • Special Publications »

    Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Service (updated 4/30/2015) and Privacy Policy (updated 4/7/2015).
    Copyright (c) 2017 McNaughton Newspapers, Inc., a family-owned local media company that proudly publishes the Daily Republic, Mountain Democrat, Davis Enterprise, Village Life, Winters Express, Georgetown Gazette, EDC Adventures, and other community-driven publications.