So I was reading the thread about Paid vs. Vollie. As many of you know I grew up in a Volunteer Department...great picture of me on our old '41 Mack Pumper when I was 5 is still in Aledo VFD station. So Im a lifer...second generation firefighter and 7 years as a vollie.

I have to laugh everytime I read the "AMEN TO PEOPLE WHO DO IT FOR THE LOVE NOT A PAY CHECK" comments. First off, get over your holier then thou selves and take a real look at what most non-major metropolitan paid firefighters make. Really...

Here's a perfect example of doing it for the love of the job, to give back, be it what it is...we all have our reasons for fighting fire, paid or volunteer and damned few of us do it for the financial reward.
In July '06 Parker County Texas sent a task force 2 counties away to fight a cedar forest fire, in that we had 1 water tender that was staffed with paid firefighters. Now the County we went to help had count 'em, 8 firefighters. 8 people, and no volunteers, not 1. Now there were 3 on vacation so that left 5 to fight a 50,000 acre cedar forest fire. The guys who work there as PAID firefighters make $7.50 an hour starting pay.
That is $23,000 a year you really believe they do it for the money???

I see 500 guys test for 5 jobs here. There are fire academies all over the state that guys pay thousands of dollars to atend, just for the chance to test for a job, they will likely never get. Many take jobs in podunk cities just like the one I described making money just to be a firefighter, only to have a second job just to make rent. Forget ever getting ahead.

Ive known guys who make $150,000 a year with their side businesses, but wouldnt give up their career in the fire service just to make another $150,000 a year in their other job.

I left the fire service after 20 years to go into a traditional business. I got to travel to New York, Las Vegas, Milan Italy, Antwerp Belgium and the French Alps, for my business, and I walked away to go back to being a firefighter...nothing in my life has ever given me the sense of family, pride or contentment that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing that this job does.

You tell me, do I do it for the's nice, but I am a Firefighter with every fibre in my body. 24/7/365 that is who I am. When I die I want to be remembered for having been a great dad, and having been a firefighter. Nothing more.

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Well, I didn't start as low as $23K, but I do pay $4.20 a gallon for gas, $5.29 for a gallon of milk and an average (1500 sq ft) townhome starts around $230 000... seriously! lol I know I'm not alone in saying that. Some areas are just ridiculous. A small (and I mean small) bungalow goes for $309 000 on average. All of that being said, I have a second job and my credit cards (all three of them) have been racked up, paid off with the line of credit and racked up again and I don't spend frivolously, it's just damn expensive to live here and I like my child to be involved in sports.
So, the love of money has nothing to do with why I do the job, it's the love of the job. I left a job as a broker to do this job, my pay was literally cut in half, would I go back to the higher paying job? Not on your life!!

I know many vollies who do the job for the job as well, do it because they love it and because they also love their paid job enough to keep it fulltime. Some have no desire to be fulltime and that's fantastic. I, on the other hand, had a dream to a fulltimer for a long time. It's not about the money, it's about the job and the life.... and the paperwork, right Siren... lol! ;)
hahaha... that's awesome!!

Thank goodness for no residency requirements. There are other areas in this province that are the same, some travel as far as 90 minutes every shift in order to afford housing... crazy, eh?

PS - US dollars mean nothing to us anymore... hee hee!! (we're past par at this point, so it's fun to poke fun while I can, I can't imagine it lasting too long... we did head to the states to do some shopping a couple of weeks ago and our dollar was $1.10 while I was there... the prices are better already, but really, really better when our dollar is higher... wheeeee!!! haha)!
haha... Oh I did, plenty of them. My daughter has an entirely new warddrobe... no wonder I need two jobs!! haha!
I have been watching this thread for some time and a recurring theme from posters is that you took less money to do something that you truly love, but the cost of living makes it almost impossible to live your dream. That is a conundrum!
I am here to tell you that money CAN buy happiness. Don't believe me? Ask yourself: does it make you happy when you get the credit card bill and you can't make the full payment that gets you back to zero balance for another month? Does it make you happy to pay more for your license plates, hunting/fishing license, gas for your vehicles, insurance for your vehicles, groceries; especially the seasonal stuff, medical care, medical insurance, rent, house payment; because the balloon just kicked in, school; your's and your kids, cable, phone...and on and on.
We are happier when we have the money and don't have to worry about using a "Ponzi" scheme to get everyone paid each month.
We can only justify taking less money for what we love to do for only so long. That is why the unions stepped in and accelerated their membership drives. THEY need money too. They have created quite a little bureaucracy themselves over the years that takes money to run. Could they cut expenses to save? Could we cut expenses to save? Are the volunteers going to tell me that it doesn't COST you to volunteer? How much "stuff" do you have in your pockets of your bunkers, in your locker, in your car trunk that YOU purchased for your volunteer firefighting gig? And how much training/seminars have you driven to? How many have taken days off from work-paid/unpaid-to attend a fire related function? THAT costs money too.
There has been a body of thinking that's been around for awhile, probably held by people who weren't selected for a fire department, that believes career firefighters are overpaid. Part of it has to do with them "sleeping" at the fire station and getting paid to do it. Part of it has to do with them seeing the boys sitting around on the apron shooting the breeze. Part of it has to do with taxes continuing to rise. Regardless, WE know what is going on and they don't. They want US to starve so that they can eat better. "If you love the job that much, you would do it for free"! Right? I can't live on "free". I don't know about the rest of you.
We all have the right to do what we enjoy and make a livable wage. Once you cover the necessities, everything else is a "want". That's where we have to look at getting a raise, getting a part time job, cutting somewhere else to pay for it. We want everything for our kids and are willing to make the sacrifice, but I gotta tell ya; it feels great to get their college paid off, the wedding paid for and the re-model on their room done. We still pay; we have a grandson to spoil.
So, my point is: it is not how much money that we MAKE to make us happy...
It's about how much are we willing to SPEND?
And if I spend more than I make, that isn't going to make me OR my wife very happy.
Be creative. When you are willing to die for what you do, the least you can do is to be happy with your station in Life.
Sometimes, the only extra is the credit card... lol... that's my case right now. I'm still fairly new, so I have three more increases to come (so many baby steps in pay here), eventually things will even out and there will be time for wants without having to borrow. $15000 goes to rent alone... eeeks, but that's the cost of living in a nicer area and not an ant filled one bedroom where we were barely affording before... gross!! haha!

You make complete sense though. Live within your means, as long as you have the means to do so! ;)
Amen Art.

So well put, and I am another who works a second job, albeit another that I love. My wife works and makes almost 5 times ok so it is more then 5 times an hour what I make at my day gig. This allowes her to work 20-25 hours a week and be home with our kids as much as possible!
Hey Bro I couldn't agree more with you. I'm sure 99.9% of career FF are not in it for the $$$.
I have a very good friend who is a Captain on Truck Co. in the city I am close to. He started out as a vol in the same FD as me and is currently is a vol in a neighboring FD and a Past Chief there. He has not forgotten one bit where he started and will tell you that.
On the other hand I know some career guys who started as vols and have dropped that portion of thier life like a disease. Maybe peer pressure from their co-workers. Those types gall me, as far as I'm concerned.
Career FF in the city I live by kind of look down on us, oh well. I was in FDNY house (Brooklyn-Batt 38)this past spring on my to Long Island to hear Billy Goldfedder speak and those FF where just as interested in us and how we operate as we were of them. We have a standing invite to visit/ride when ever we would like.
We all perform the same service, fire and rescue situations do not differentiate between vols and career members. The only thing is the frequency of alarms, and in my county we have some vol FD's that see more action than the career houses.
As long as we protect the public in a professional manner and we all go home after the run its all that counts.
Work safe Allen, it good to read your posts.
I just joined as a vollie when I was 21. I only have 6 months in the fire service, but I've gotten my EMT-B already and Im signed up to take my FireFighter 1 Bootcamp over the Summer, and I just accepted and started as my Firehall's Chaplain. It's great to hear that someone who was volunteering for 12, 13 years can still decide and pursue to be a paid ff. Even though I don't have much experience behind myself, I find myself falling in love with it. So I'm glad you posted what you did. For me, it's telling me that yea it's hard to get one, but even after 12 years, you were still able to switch jobs. I'm in nursing school right now and I already have a degree in Surgical Technology. I'm going to take as many classes as I can and well, hopefully when the times right (whether it's in 2 years or 15 years), I can get into being a pd ff.
Hey I grew up 8 miles away from Podunk. But, I can reinerate what hes saying about here in Texas. I have known when there has been 10 people for a job on a department that everyone warned them about.
Its a very competitive market around here and theres only about 5% that want to go career. Well Im not going to say any more knowing where this forum is going.

oh and did you hold your own commission while you were out or did you start all over?
We do it because we love it....Now who is coming off like he is riding that sane high horse....? I work 50-60 hours a week at one job and then Volunteer to do another one....Not bitching now...just saying I do it because I love it.....Paul
started over... I was done.

Well so I thought, the good lord had other ideas for me.

OK and where the heck is Higgins???


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