I would like to comment on your firefighter article ("L.A.'s Hottest Job," July 27). The firefighters have never gotten the publicity that the police do in a job that is probably more dangerous. The Los Angeles County firefighters in particular set a standard in bravery, professionalism and quality of service that is the envy of every agency in the world.
But the compensation for those outstanding men is unconscionable in a world of limited resources. Entry-level salaries of $35,000, journeyman at $45,000, and supervisor at $60,000 for a job that takes about one year of post-secondary education and training is just the start. Benefits of early retirement and prime medical add another 80% to 100% to the total.
The work is very easy by any standard. One fire call a day is a hard day. Most days are spent polishing fixtures, reading the paper and sleeping, so they can do some real work on their second job. If a firefighter does paramedic and actually has to respond to calls, he gets about a 15% bonus. Early retirement and second jobs make firefighters the quintessential double-dippers. With these wages, benefits and duties, it is no wonder why hundreds of applicants appear for every job opening.