Remember when I warned that pay is declining around here for everyone in emergency services? Here is the listing for a firefighter position in Titusville, which is to my east and just across the Indian river from the Kennedy Space center. Note the starting pay for a firefighter-paramedic: $38,458. Now that doesn’t sound bad, until you remember that a firefighter works a schedule of 24 hours on, 48 hours off.

This results in 56 hours per workweek, but firefighters are special cases under the FLSA and they do not get overtime until they work more than 53 hours in a week. This means that to determine the hourly wage, we divide their annual salary by 2990. That starting pay for a firefigher-paramedic is $12.86 an hour. This is why they post the job as an annual rate instead of the hourly.

For a job that requires EMT school (3 months), paramedic school (1 year), firefighting school (5 months). as well as a number of other classes that must also be taken: EVOC, PALS, PHTLS, as well as having a spotless driving record for the past 36 months, and you are required to be available 24/7 for recall for any reason.

Pizza delivery drivers make nearly $20 an hour. The guy who fills vending machines gets $10.50 an hour, nurses (who attend about the same amount of schooling) start at $25 an hour. Do yourself a favor if you are thinking about a career in emergency services: stay away.

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