The TEA party screams that government should be run like a business. Like a business, firefighters in the state of Florida get extra money if they have certifications that are above and beyond the basic certifications required for the job. For example:
Statewide, firefighters get $50 a month for having an associate's degree that is related to their job duties, and they get $100 a month for having a bachelor's degree. (You can only get one or the other, not both, and having more than one degree still only gets you one bonus)
Most departments pay extra for paramedics. This amount can vary from $2000 to $7500 a year, depending on your department. Since 90% of calls that fire departments answer are medical runs, this is an important incentive. Nearly every fire department in Florida requires that you be a certified EMT. Paramedics have MUCH more responsibility and work to do than their EMT counterparts.
Departments provide equipment like uniforms and PPE like safety glasses and safety shoes. Many businesses do this. The money spent on PPE is saved in reduced injury costs.
The new position? All of these incentives are "extras" that are not needed. Considering that the state recently cut the pay of all firefighters statewide 3% by forcing them to contribute to retirement plans, cut retirement benefits, and many local governments (including mine) have not only withheld pay raises for the past 6 years, but have cut hours by shutting down units to save money, and other plans to cut pay, it seems like the message is loud and clear:
WE ARE NO LONGER NEEDED OR WANTED HERE.
That is fine. I have made my decision. I am applying for Physician Assistant school this week. It was a good job while it lasted, but I cannot continue down the road that we are traveling. I went from $84,000 a year in 2008 to less than $60,000 this year. How many of you would continue to work for 25% less, if you had other options?