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Letters to the Editor

Thu., June 21, 2012, midnight

Need more pay data

Jonathan Brunt’s June 9 article, “Firefighter contract negotiations stall,” illustrates a need The Spokesman-Review could fulfill. Readers are not given enough information to decide which side’s case is meritorious.

What are firefighter wages? Brunt says they’re 5 percent below comparable departments, but the cost of living in the areas in question may differ greatly, and 95 percent of average could mean local firefighters are better or worse off than, say, a firefighter in Bellevue. The public generally believes firefighters are well-compensated. But how dangerous is their job? How does workers compensation rate their likelihood of injury compared to occupations in the private sector, and how does their pay compare to those jobs rated as of equal or greater danger than firefighting?

It’s widely reported that public employee pensions are more generous than the private sector’s. How much do firefighters get at retirement, what do they contribute, how many years do they work before retirement? How many of them take an early retirement based on alleged disability?

Would it be more cost-effective for taxpayers if firefighters worked eight-hour shifts, so we don’t have to pay them to sleep at the station?

Do some research. Give us real information!

Gary Olmsted


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