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In most cases, a person doesn’t become a firefighter for the money. Instead, it’s a calling – an innate desire to serve their community – mixed with a hint of an adrenaline junky personality. After all, firefighters put their lives on the line every day, and it takes something more than a desire to bring home a paycheck to be willing to take on that risk.

But, what exactly do firefighters make while serving their communities? Does firefighter pay make up for the level of risk?

Ultimately, whether firefighter salaries are enough depends on the person. Again, the drive to serve can run deep, creating intrinsic value that you don’t find in every other profession. However, some may be surprised to see just how little putting your life on the line can mean to your bank account.

Firefighter Pay By State

The Bureau of Labor Statistics compiled the data, showing median firefighter yearly salaries, as well as the median for first-line supervisors. Here’s what it reveals about firefighter pay.

Alabama

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $40,700

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $60,650

Alaska

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $60,790

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $84,530

Arizona

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $45,840

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $66,670

Arkansas

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $35,440

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $53,180

California

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $35,440

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $53,180

Colorado

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $54,680

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $81,910

Connecticut

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $65,360

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $82,420

Delaware

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $44,250

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $75,690

Florida

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $50,170

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $82,450

Georgia

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $36,190

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $57,600

Hawaii

Data on firefighter pay was not provided by BLS. However, here’s an estimate from Salary.com.

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $47,605

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $73,016

Idaho

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $37,130

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $57,410

Illinois

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $51,850

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $95,370

Indiana

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $49,470

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $62,760

Iowa

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $41,890

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $66,800

Kansas

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $36,250

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $58,870

Kentucky

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $30,130

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $57,150

Louisiana

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $28,980

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $56,270

Maine

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $30,880

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $57,800

Maryland

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $30,880

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $57,800

Massachusetts

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $59,770

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $83,180

Michigan

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $44,210

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $66,790

Minnesota

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $29,820

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $71,900

Mississippi

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $28,980

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $44,040

Missouri

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $47,790

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $74,260

Montana

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $50,420

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $67,850

Nebraska

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $51,370

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $66,120

Nevada

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $65,960

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $95,360

New Hampshire

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $46,820

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $72,480

New Jersey

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $75,420

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $116,230

New Mexico

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $35,140

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $52,380

New York

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $73,480

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $98,220

North Carolina

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $33,760

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $67,490

North Dakota

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $44,110

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $66,330

Ohio

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $46,360

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $71,140

Oklahoma

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $41,920

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $68,550

Oregon

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $66,880

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $88,650

Pennsylvania

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $56,240

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $75,380

Rhode Island

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $58,450

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $73,370

South Carolina

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $33,610

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $53,430

South Dakota

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $43,870

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $74,570

Tennessee

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $38,460

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $54,750

Texas

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $52,420

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $77,430

Utah

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $32,420

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $72,190

Vermont

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $38,540

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $52,070

Virginia

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $50,160

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $81,520

Washington

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $73,380

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $96,690

West Virginia

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $33,450

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $42,320

Wisconsin

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $36,580

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $75,180

Wyoming

Median Firefighter Annual Salary: $43,430

Median First-Line Supervisor Annual Salary: $69,220

A Note on Median Firefighter Salaries

By definition, a median salary represents the midpoint of all salaries within that particular field (in this case, firefighters and first-line supervisors). That means half of all people in that group earn less than that amount.

In some cases, the entry-level firefighters (those in the bottom 10 percent of the pay range) could earn wages that fall below the federal poverty line.

In 2018, the poverty guidelines for the lower 48 states for a family of four is $25,100. That means, if a firefighter was the sole provider for a family of four and in the bottom 10 percent for pay according to the BLS data, they would potentially fall below the federal poverty guidelines in these states:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Alaska’s poverty guideline for a family of four is $31,380, but even the lowest 10th percentile easily cross that mark.

Hawaii’s poverty guideline is $28,870 for a family of four. Data is not available to show whether the lower 10 percent meet that mark for firefighter pay.

Beyond Firefighter Pay

While having a reasonable salary is essential for daily survival, firefighters typically also get a range of benefits, increasing their level of compensation.

Exactly what they receive can vary somewhat by state. However, these are usually part of the total compensation package:

  • Medical Insurance
  • Dental Insurance
  • Vision Insurance
  • Retirement Options

Ultimately, firefighter pay can vary wildly from one state to the next. It’s also important to realize that some of your neighborhood heroes may be risking their lives while living on a salary that falls below the poverty guidelines for their area. So, don’t forget to show appreciation to your community’s firefighters. After all, they are willing to put themselves on the line for the safety of you, your family, and your community.

Donny Pearson – Founder of Firefighter Furnace and program director of the daily firefighter workout program HERO Elite

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