Vermont firefighters paid third lowest in the nation

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According to a new report by home security experts at Frontpoint, Vermont pays its firefighters third lowest in the nation. Safety experts examined government data to find how salaries for career firefighters compare across the country. On a phone call with Local 22 and 44, security experts at Frontpoint say they did this report because firefighters respond to their systems and deserve more for putting their lives on the line.

The study says, “The average salary for a firefighter in Vermont is $37,070 a year. When adjusted for cost of living, they will have a purchasing power of $36,166. ($17.32 per hour.)”

Prescott Nadeau is a Senior Firefighter in Williston. He said he wasn’t shocked by the study, but a little disappointed.

“I am somebody who loves this job. I love serving my community. I wouldn’t give it up for the world. However, at the end of the day have a young family to provide for and it does need to be a concern in the back of my head,” said Nadeau.

He said he has seen firefighters across the state struggling to make ends meet. There is also a problem with recruitment and retention rate whether they be career or volunteer.

According to the study, about 55% of firefighters in the U.S are classified as volunteer. In our region, we’re rural, so it’s much higher.  In Vermont, about 96% are volunteer or mostly volunteer. In New Hampshire, about 85% and 94% in all of New York.

Brad Carriere is the Vice president of the Vermont Firefighters Association and the Assistant Chief in Hyde Park. “It’s impossible for a family to be working one job to ask somebody to commit a bunch of hours to become a firefighter. It’s two hundred and something hours now,” said Carriere.

Carriere is an on call firefighter making $13 an hour, and although the study focuses on career firefighters, there are many similarities.  They both fell they deserve more.

Nowadays, things are more hazardous. There is a lot more that firefighters have to deal with. According to Nadeau, firefighters are dealing with hazardous material incidents, technical rescue calls, and a whole host of emergency medical problems.

“I think towns across the state need to invest in their infrastructure and their people. At the end of the day we need people to respond to these emergencies,” said Nadeau.

For more information on the study click here.

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